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June 28, 2007


Robert D. Santos Named VP for Campus Planning and Facilities Management and Esther Perález VP for Student Affairs; Karen Witherspoon to Direct Urban and Governmental Affairs

NEW YORK, June 28, 2007 – Dr. Gregory H. Williams, President of The City College of New York (CCNY), today announced three senior-level appointments to bolster the College’s administration:

  • Robert D. Santos Vice President for Campus Planning and Facilities Management
  • Esther Perález, Vice President for Student Affairs
  • Karen Witherspoon, Director of Urban and Governmental Affairs

“Our ongoing renaissance demands that we have highly capable leaders in these vital functions, and we are delighted to have attracted these truly outstanding individuals to serve in these roles,” President Williams said in announcing the appointments, which were approved by the CUNY Board of Trustees June 26.

Robert D. Santos

Mr. Santos had served as Acting Vice President for Facilities Planning since November 2005.  In his new role, he oversees all phases of facilities planning and capital projects on the CCNY campus and has managerial responsibility for Physical Plant Services and Campus Security. 

His career spans a wide-range of senior level appointments in higher education, cultural institutions, municipal government and construction.  He joined CCNY from The New York Public Library, where he served as Vice President and Chief Operations Officer from May 2000 to October 2005. 

From September 1998 to April 2000, he was Chief Administrative Officer at Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y., where his management portfolio included: campus planning, design and construction, information technology, human resources and labor relations, campus security and facilities management.

Prior to that, Mr. Santos was Assistant Vice President, Operations with Lehrer McGovern Bovis, Inc., a major construction firm, from January 1989 to August 1998.  In that capacity, he served as project executive on assignments worth almost a quarter billion dollars for several New York City municipal agencies. 

Mr. Santos held several positions in New York City government before joining Lehrer McGovern, among them: Assistant Commissioner, Department of Housing Preservation and Development, from May 1987 to December 1988; Executive Director, Flushing Meadows – Corona Park Development Corp., from October 1985 to April 1987, and Deputy Commissioner for Operations, Department of Parks and Recreation, from October 1979 to September 1985. 

His new position marks a return to CCNY for Mr. Santos, a highly decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, who served as Deputy Director of the College’s Veterans’ Affairs Office in 1974 and 1975.  Mr. Santos served as a platoon leader with the 101st Airborne in South Vietnam and earned numerous medals including two Silver Stars and two Bronze Stars for valor.  A resident of Sunnyside Gardens, Queens, Mr. Santos holds a B.A. from SUNY Old Westbury and a J.D. from University of Michigan Law School. 

Esther Perález

As Vice President for Students Affairs, Dr. Perález leads a division responsible for providing a wide range of services to help CCNY students navigate the college process and successfully graduate.  In addition, she oversees athletics, housing and the Finley Student Center.  She joins from Metropolitan State University, a public, urban institution with 8,900 students in St. Paul, Minn, where she served as Vice President for Student Affairs for seven years.

At Metropolitan State, she: wrote the school’s first comprehensive retention plan, which was based on involvement theory; developed and implemented the Gateway Student Services Center, which located student services in a single facility, and directed implementation of an early immersion program for students at risk.  Dr. Perález joined Metropolitan State in 1988 as Dean of Students and University Advising and was promoted to Vice President in 2000.

Between 1990 and 1998, Dr. Perález held a variety of student affairs positions at University of Minnesota.  She was: Departmental Director, Student Services, for the General College from 1990 to 1992; Collegiate Director, Student and Instructional Support Services, for the General College from 1992 to 1996, and Special Assistant to the Vice President, Student Development & Athletics from 1996 to 1998.

Earlier, Dr. Perález held several positions at Eastern Montana College: She was a Counselor and Instruction in that school’s Upward Bound/Special Service program from 1973 to 1978, when she was promoted to Assistant Director.  From 1982 to 1990, she served as Director of Student Opportunity Services. 

Dr. Perález received an Ed.D. in Educational Administration from University of Minnesota in 1997 and holds an M.S. in Reading from Eastern Montana College, which she received in 1977.  She earned her B.A. in elementary education in 1971 from Rocky Mountain College.

Karen Witherspoon

Ms. Witherspoon, a CCNY alumna who earned a B.A. in 1979, became Acting Director of Urban and Governmental Affairs in 2006 following the retirement of W. A. “Tony” Rogers.  She had been Associate Director since 2002.  As Director, she serves as Public Policy Advisor to President Williams and represents CCNY on the CUNY Legislative Action Committee. 

In addition, she is a primary liaison between the college and elected officials and community leaders.  She also supervises the College’s Harlem Partnership Center initiatives. 

Ms. Witherspoon came to The City College from Bronx Municipal Hospital, where she served as Director of Training and Education between 1992 and 1995.  Earlier in her career, she was a buyer with J.C. Penney, a New York City high school English teacher and a terminal supervisor with Pan American Airways.

About The City College of New York

For 160 years, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines.  Over 13,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School of Architecture, the School of Education, the Grove School of Engineering, the Center for Worker Education and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education.