Vivian Gornick ’57 is CCNY commencement speaker

Journalist, essayist, critic and memoirist Vivian Gornick ’57 is the keynote speaker at The City College of New York’s 171st Commencement ceremony on May 31. She will receive the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Gornick has achieved renown and has garnered many accolades for her work since she graduated from CCNY. A prominent feminist, she has written 11 books, including 1987’s Fierce Attachments: A Memoir, which was selected in 2019 as The New York Times’ Best #1 Memoir of the Past 50 Years. The book was widely acclaimed for its emotional honesty and vivid portrayal of tenement life in the Bronx of the 1950s. She has also published numerous essays and works of criticism.

She has been honored for her work, has been a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, and has served as the Bedell Distinguished Visiting Professor in the University of Iowa's Nonfiction Writing Program.

Gornick also completed her MA in Literature at New York University in 1960 and subsequently pursued doctoral studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

Being the child of parents she called “urban peasants,” Gornick believes that she and thousands of others like her attended The City College of New York during a “golden age” in which one “lived with a strong sense of the life of the mind.” Her attachment to CCNY remains deep after so many decades; she is currently at work on a memoir about her years at the College.

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 position 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 index. This measure reflects both access and outcomes, representing the likelihood that a student at CCNY can move up two or more income quintiles. Education research organization Degree Choices ranks CCNY #1 nationally among universities for economic return on investment. In addition, the Center for World University Rankings places CCNY in the top 1.8% of universities worldwide in terms of academic excellence. Labor analytics firm Emsi (now Lightcast) puts at $1.9 billion CCNY’s annual economic impact on the regional economy (5 boroughs and 5 adjacent counties) and quantifies the “for dollar” return on investment to students, taxpayers and society. At City College, more than 15,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in eight schools and divisions, driven by significant funded research, creativity and scholarship. This year, CCNY launched its most expansive fundraising campaign, ever. The campaign, titled “Doing Remarkable Things Together” seeks to bring the College’s Foundation to more than $1 billion in total assets in support of the College mission. CCNY is as diverse, dynamic and visionary as New York City itself. View CCNY Media Kit.

Syd Steinhardt