U.S. Rep. John Lewis is CCNY Commencement speaker, May 31 Commencement honors for Edward Plotkin ’53

John Lewis, U.S. Representative (D-GA 5th), and a veteran Civil Rights leader, is the keynote speaker at The City College of New York’s 173rd Commencement Exercises on May 31. He will receive the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters.

City College will also honor Edward S. Plotkin, ’53, one of its distinguished alumni, at the 9:30 a.m. ceremony on the South Campus Great Lawn, 135th St. and Convent Ave., Manhattan.  A renowned civil engineer, Plotkin will receive the honorary degree Doctor of Science.

Hailed as “one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced,” John Lewis has dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties, and building what he calls “The Beloved Community” in America.  His dedication to the highest ethical standards and moral principles has won him the admiration of many of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the United States Congress.

Born in Alabama, Lewis was inspired by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., to join the Civil Rights Movement.  

His career highlights include:

  • An architect of and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington, August 1963;Participated in the Freedom Rides, challenging segregation at interstate bus terminals in the South;
  • Co-founder and chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee;
  • Staunch believer in nonviolence despite numerous physical attacks, serious injuries and more than 40 arrests;
  • Elected to Congress in November 1986 and served as U.S. Representative of Georgia's Fifth Congressional District since then;
  • Has served as Senior Chief Deputy Whip for the Democratic Party; member of the House Ways & Means Committee; member of its Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support; and Ranking Member of its Subcommittee on Oversight.

Edward Plotkin earned a B.E. degree in civil engineering from what’s now CCNY’s Grove School of Engineering in 1953. He has since been a distinguished engineer who has been a leader in design, contracting and consulting. He’s also served as Commissioner of Public Works for Westchester County, and is a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

His other career highlights include:

  • Assistant Director with DeLeuw Cather (now Parsons Transportation) for the 1970s plans for the 2nd Avenue Subway, later consultant with the AECOM team for the present 2nd Avenue Subway project; co-chair, NYSSPE Task Force, Tappan Zee Bridge replacement study (2002 to 2012);
  • Vice President for tunnel contractor Maclean Grove, serving as project manager on subway projects in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C.;
  • Adjunct professor of physics at Manhattan College and environmental science at Mercy College; past president of the CCNY Engineering School Alumni Board, and member of the Alumni Association of CCNY’s Civil Engineering Advisory Group.

About The City College of New York
Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided a high quality and affordable education to generations of New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. CCNY embraces its role at the forefront of social change. It is ranked #1 by the Harvard-based Opportunity Insights out of 369 selective public colleges in the United States on the overall mobility indexThis measure reflects both access and outcomes, representing the likelihood that a student at CCNY can move up two or more income quintiles. In addition, the Center for World University Rankings places CCNY in the top 1.2% of universities worldwide in terms of academic excellence. More than 16,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in eight professional schools and divisions, driven by significant funded research, creativity and scholarship. CCNY is as diverse, dynamic and visionary as New York City itself.  View CCNY Media Kit.

Jay Mwamba
p: 212.650.7580
e: jmwamba@ccny.cuny.edu

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