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June 22, 2005

PUBLIC INTEREST LAW GROUP HONORS CCNY PRESIDENT DR. GREGORY H. WILLIAMS

NEW YORK, June 22, 2005 – Dr. Gregory H. Williams, President of The City College of New York (CCNY) today received the Third Annual Felix A. Fishman Award from New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI) at the group’s annual luncheon.  The award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary advocacy on behalf of underrepresented individuals and groups. 

President Williams was honored for his commitment to increasing diversity and his success in fundraising and improving academic standards and quality at the institutions he has served over his 30-year career as a higher education administrator.  That commitment was forged through his personal childhood experiences, which were documented in his award-winning memoir Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black. 

Dr. Williams became the 11th President of The City College of New York in August 2001.  He came to CCNY from The Ohio State University, where he was Dean of the Law School and Carter C. Kissell Professor of Law.  Earlier in his career, he held administrative positions at The George Washington University and The University of Iowa and has worked as a deputy sheriff and aide to a United States Senator.  Dr. Williams holds five earned degrees, including a J.D. and Ph.D. from George Washington, and three honorary degrees.

In 2004 Dr. Williams received the “Governor’s Tribute to African-American Leaders of Excellence in State Service” from Governor George Pataki for his significant contributions to the people of New York. In 1999 he was named the first recipient of the National Bar Association’s A. Leon Higginbotham Jr. Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Preservation of Human and Civil Rights. 

That year, The National Association of Public Interest Law selected him as “Dean of the Year,” as well.  President William Jefferson Clinton invited Dr. Williams to the White House in 1998 as part of his “Call to Action” to promote pro bono work and diversity in the legal profession.

A member of the Commission on Minorities in Higher Education of the American Council on Education, Dr. Williams is also an appointee of the American Bar Association to the Board of Directors of the Council on Legal Education.  In addition, he is a past President of the Association of American Law Schools.

Amanda Masters, a former student of Dr. Williams at The Ohio State University School of Law who now is a senior staff attorney with NYPLI, nominated him for the award and introduced him at the ceremony.  Mayra Rodriguez, an advocate for children with disabilities, was chosen as a co-honoree.

The Henry & Lucy Moses Fund endowed the eponymous Felix A. Fishman Award.  Mr. Fishman, a graduate of The City College of New York and Columbia Law School, was trustee and director of the fund for 31 years and was instrumental in directing hundreds of millions of dollars to support medical, educational and charitable organizations in the New York area.

New York Lawyers for the Public Interest is a nonprofit, civil rights law firm that strives for social justice.  In partnership with member law firms, corporate law departments and other organizations, NYLPI helps underrepresented people develop legal strategies to serve their vision for themselves and their communities.  Created in 1976 to address unmet legal needs, NYLPI combines a pro bono clearinghouse with an in-house practice that blends innovative lawyering, community organizing and advocacy.

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