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April 28, 2006


NEW YORK, April 28, 2006 – Dr. Gregory H. Williams, President of The City College of New York, received the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art, 1st Class, one of Austria’s highest civilian honors, at a ceremony held in Vienna on April 22.

Elisabeth Gehrer, Federal Minister of Education, Science and Culture, presented the award to President Williams on behalf of Austrian President Heinz Fischer before a gathering of top education officials and faculty and administrators from Austrian universities at the Museum of Fine Arts.

While making the presentation, Minister Gehrer cited President Williams’ strong commitment to the many education cooperation programs between Austria and New York City.  “During your administration the level of cooperation has increased tremendously at the university level,” said Minister Gehrer.   

 In accepting the award, President Williams recalled his humble upbringing in a segregated town in the 1950s and 1960s and said never would he have imagined that some four decades later he would be standing in such an extraordinary museum, surrounded by the art and artifacts of 1,000 years of Western civilization to receive such an esteemed award.

“It is, I believe, testament to the transcendent possibilities of education, and it moves me very much to accept it,” he said.  “Even more importantly, I believe that ‘science and art’ may be considered shorthand for the promise of the human spirit – and that their successful intersection is the foundation of our civilization.” 

He added that, as an educator, he believed it was his sacred responsibility to develop the “habits of mind of both the scientist and the artist in the young men and women who will become the leaders of our world.” 

President Williams went to Austria to speak at the Junior Scientist Research Conference, one of the initiatives developed between CCNY and Austrian education authorities on his watch.  Conceived during a visit to the Austrian capital by City College Deans in June 2004, the conference, at the Vienna University of Technology, attracted 160 students from nine countries -- including 26 graduate-level and Ph.D. candidates from CCNY’s Division of Science and the Andrew Grove School of Engineering.

Among the CCNY participants, Thomas Radman, a biomedical engineering doctoral student, won the “Best Poster” award in the PhD-level for his presentation entitled “Amplification of Small Electrical Fields in Neurons; Implications for Environmental Risks.” 

Accompanying President Williams and the students were five City College Deans: Joseph Barba (Acting Dean of Engineering), Daniel E. Lemons (Center for Worker Education), Alfred Posamentier (School of Education), Brett Silverstein (Division of Social Science) and Maria Tamargo (Division of Science) plus Provost Zeev Degan.

About Gregory H. Williams  

Gregory H. Williams was named president of The City College of New York, the oldest municipal college in the United States, in August 2001.  Since his appointment, he has brought the College increased national recognition. 

In a single year, the CCNY increased its enrollment by 15% - including an increase in new freshman, under new, more rigorous admissions standards, of 40%.  These numbers add to a student body that, according to US News and World Reports, is tied for second as the most diverse college campus in the nation.

Under his leadership, the State of New York is investing more than a quarter of a billion dollars for new science facilities and a new home for the CCNY School of Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Design.  President Williams is also leading the first capital campaign in the College’s 159-year history, which has already raised more than $150,000,000.

President Williams has authored three books including the award-winning Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black.  This memoir was selected as the 1995 Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and named an “Outstanding Book on the Subject of Human Rights” by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in North America in 1996.

His other honors include “Governor’s Tribute to African-American Leaders of Excellence in State Service” from Governor George Pataki (2004) for his significant contributions to the people of New York, the National Bar Association’s A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Preservation of Human and Civil Rights (1999), and the “Dean of the Year” from the National Association of Public Interest Law (1999). 

President Williams holds five degrees, including a J.D. and a Ph.D. from George Washington University. A university administrator for over 30 years, he came to CCNY from The Ohio State University, where he was Dean of the Law School and Carter C. Kissell Professor of Law. He previously held positions at George Washington University and University of Iowa.

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 Grove School of Engineering, the Center for Worker Education and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education.