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October 20, 2005


- Six Alumni to Receive Townsend Harris Medals for Outstanding Postgraduate Achievement -

NEW YORK, October 20, 2005 – The Alumni Association of The City College of New York will present its John H. Finley Award to renowned artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude and Dr. Matthew Goldstein, ’63, Chancellor of The City University of New York (CUNY) at its 125th Annual Dinner Wednesday, October 26, 2005 at The New York Marriott Marquis.

The award, named for CCNY’s third President, who later became editor of The New York Times, is presented annually to New Yorkers in recognition of exemplary service to New York City.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude, European-born avant garde artists who have lived in the city since 1964, will be honored for their “wonderful artistic gift to New York, The Gates exhibition,” which was on display last February in Central Park.  Dr. Goldstein, the first graduate of a CUNY college to lead the nation’s most prominent urban public university, will be recognized by his Alma Mater for his unparalleled service to New York as CUNY’s Chancellor.  Dr. Gregory H. Williams, President of The City College, will bestow the awards.      

Previous Finley honorees include First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, civil rights leader Roy Wilkins, playwright Neil Simon, realtor and philanthropist Jack Rudin, actor Tony Randall, actor/activist Harry Belafonte and opera diva Beverly Sills.  

The CCNY Alumni Association will also confer Townsend Harris Medals on six distinguished alumni for outstanding post-graduate achievements:

  •  Maurice Ashley, ’93, the first ever African-American International chess Grandmaster.
  • Bert Brodsky, ’64, Chairman and Founder of Sandata Inc., and Founder of National Medical Health Card Systems.
  • Dr. Robert Kahn, ’60EE, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National Research Initiatives.
  •  Linda Kaplan Thaler, ’72, Advertising guru and President of the fastest-growing advertising agency on the East Coast.
  •  Stuart Rabinowitz, ’66, Eighth President of Hofstra University.
  •  Nathaniel K. Zelazo, ’40, Chief Executive Officer of Kearfott Guidance and Navigation Corporation and founder of Astronautics Corporation of America.

Phil Scheffler, ’50, former executive editor of “60 Minutes” and CBS News, will present the Harris medals, which were established in 1933 and are named for CCNY’s founder.  David Diaz, ’65, an award-winning broadcast journalist who is now a Distinguished Lecturer in CCNY’s Political Science and Media and Communications Arts departments, will be master of ceremony for the dinner.

The program will include a presentation of over 75 scholarships and cash awards to deserving students.  In addition, Ervin Drake, a 1940 CCNY graduate and one of America’s greatest living lyricists (“I Believe,” “Good Morning Heartache”), will perform his latest song “Our Almost Perfect Love.”

Tickets for the dinner, which cost $110 per person, are available through the Alumni office at (212) 234-3000.  The New York Marriott Marquis is located at 45th Street and Broadway, Manhattan.  Brief bios of 2005 John H. Finley Award recipients follow:

Christo and Jeanne-Claude

For 16 days in February this year, New York’s Central Park was the center of the art universe as the Christo and Jeanne-Claude masterpiece, The Gates, attracted an estimated four million visitors to its walkways to view a work of art unlike any seen before in the green oasis. Using 7,503 vinyl gates, with free-flowing saffron-colored nylon fabric panels, anchored to 15,006 steel bases on 23 miles of walkways, Christo and Jeanne-Claude created what for pedestrians appeared to be a golden ceiling over the miles of meandering footpaths.  Mayor Michael Bloomberg credited the free display with luring an unprecedented 1.5 million out-of-towners, among the millions that ambled through the walkways, generating $254 million in revenue for the city.

Collaborators in the deepest sense of the word, Christo and Jeanne-Claude have reached legendary status in the art world by creating major public art around the globe. For over 40 years since their large scale work, the 1961 Dockside Packages at Cologne Harbor and Wrapped Coast appeared, they have opened the door for artists to view the landscape as part of the canvas for their art and changed forever the way both artists and society view the relationship between art and landscape.

Among their most renowned works is Running Fence, which pushed the limits of the size and scale of sculpture to the scale of inland hills and the coastline of California.  And in Europe, the gargantuan scale and palpable mystery of The Pont Neuf Wrapped in Paris and Wrapped Reischtag in Berlin challenged how the viewer sees what is inside and what is outside, what is hidden and what is shown, as well as how humans stand in relation to their history and future.

Dr. Matthew Goldstein ’63

When he was appointed Chancellor of The City University of New York in September 1999, Matthew Goldstein became the first CUNY graduate to lead the nation's most prominent urban public university.  During his tenure, enrollment at CUNY, the nation's largest urban university with 11 senior colleges, six community colleges, a graduate school, a law school and The Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, grew to over 450,000 students.  Nearly half of all the college students in New York City attend CUNY.  

Dr. Goldstein, who earned a bachelor’s degree in statistics and mathematics from City College and a doctorate in mathematical statistics from the University of Connecticut, is one of the most preeminent administrators in academia.  He has served in senior academic and administrative positions for more than 25 years, including as President of Baruch College, President of the Research Foundation, and Acting Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs of CUNY.  Prior to being named Chancellor, he was President of Adelphi University.

A nationally prominent statistician, he has held faculty positions in mathematics and statistics at several institutions including Baruch College, the CUNY Graduate School and University Center, Polytechnic University of New York and the University of Connecticut. Dr. Goldstein has co-authored three books: “Discrete Discriminant Analysis,”  “Intermediate Statistical Methods and Applications” and “Multivariate Analysis.”

About The City College of New York

For over 158 years, The City College of New York has provided low-cost high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines.  Over 12,200 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Science, the School of Architecture, the School of Education, the School of Engineering, the Center for Worker Education and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education.