Queens College, City University of New York

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Queens College, City University of New York
Motto Discimus ut serviamus (Latin)[1]
Motto in English We learn so that we may serve
Established 1937
Type Public
President James L. Muyskens
Academic staff 1,693
Students 18,494[2]
Undergraduates 14,384
Postgraduates 4,110
Location Flushing, New York,  United States
40°44′13″N 73°49′01″W / 40.737°N 73.817°W / 40.737; -73.817Coordinates: 40°44′13″N 73°49′01″W / 40.737°N 73.817°W / 40.737; -73.817
Campus Urban, 77 acres (310,000 m2)
Newspaper The Knight News
Colors Blue and Silver          
Athletics NCAA Division IIECC
Nickname Knights
Mascot Knight
Affiliations City University of New York
Website www.qc.cuny.edu
Queens College Logo.svg

Queens College, located in Kew Gardens Hills in the borough of Queens in New York City, is one of the senior colleges of the City University of New York. It is also the fifth oldest of the City University's twenty-three institutions of higher learning. The college's seventy seven acre campus is located in the heart of the borough, along Kissena Boulevard. Queens College opened in 1937 and has become one of CUNY's largest senior colleges.

The College is one of few schools in the CUNY system to offer on campus residence to its students. This option became available in 2009 with the construction of the "The Summit at Queens College". The residence hall has attracted students from around the world, especially aspiring artists looking to attend the internationally renowned Aaron Copland School of Music.

Queens College is a part of the City University of New York, the third largest university system in the United States, in terms of enrollment. CUNY graduates include 12 Nobel laureates, a U.S. Secretary of State, a Supreme Court Justice, several mayors, members of Congress, state legislators, scientists and artists.

History and enrollment[edit]

This marker, just outside the Student Union building, marks the original location of the one room school house that Walt Whitman taught in.

Before Queens College was established in 1937 to serve the needs of the growing borough's population, including newly arrived immigrant families, it was a home for delinquent boys. The site which is currently home to the college, used to be home to a school named the Jamaica Academy. The school was built in the early 19th century, and Walt Whitman who for a brief period of time lived in Queens taught at this one-room schoolhouse.[3] The building was located on Flushing-Jamaica Road, (which was renamed Kissena Boulevard) and the school became public in 1844. In the first decade of the 20th Century, the Parental Home for Boys was constructed on the surrounding land, opening in 1909. This was where the truant and delinquent boys of Queens were sent to be reformed. The school's unique Spanish-style buildings were named after letters of the alphabet. The one-room schoolhouse, now located on the grounds of the Home, stayed open until 1935. Buildings, such as Jefferson Hall, which was named after President Thomas Jefferson, were used as both dormitories and classrooms. All of these buildings are connected by underground tunnels however, these tunnels are no longer used.

In 1934, the school for delinquent boys was shut down amid rumors of abuse. Eventually QC's Colden Center would be named for the District Attorney that investigated the case. The site was chosen when Mayor LaGuardia decided that Queens, like Brooklyn, also deserved to have a college. Much as it does today, the college in its early years provided an affordable opportunity to New Yorkers who were eager for a quality education. In 2006, Queens College had an enrollment of 18,107 including 13,662 undergraduates and 4,445 graduate students. Students from 120 different countries speaking 66 different languages are enrolled at the school. While it is widely known as a liberal arts college, Queens College is, in fact, a comprehensive college offering over 100 undergraduate and graduate degrees at the master's level as well as a number of advanced certificate programs. Queens College itself does not grant doctoral degrees, but is part of the consortium of the CUNY Graduate Center, and is home to a variety of doctoral programs. It is also one of seven participating schools in the CUNY Honors College, a recently inaugurated competitive program that offers exceptional students a full scholarship, a free laptop, and other benefits. Upon choosing a home campus, these students are designated as University Scholars, and enroll in Honors Seminar courses for their first two years in addition to Queens College curriculum. The department for Continuing Education offers non-credit courses and enrolls over 5,000 students.

The campus and facilities[edit]

The QC Quad

The 77-acre (310,000 m2) campus, located off Kissena Boulevard, is on one of the highest points in the borough. Six of the original Spanish-style buildings dating back to the early 20th century still stand, such as Jefferson Hall, which was built in 1900[citation needed]. The college has since expanded to include over 40 buildings including the main classroom building, Powdermaker Hall, rebuilt in 2003 and named after the college's distinguished anthropologist Hortense Powdermaker. This building is considered "smart" because it is fully wireless (as it most of the campus), each classroom has both audio and visual equipment, and because it is soundproof. The college is also expanding its wireless capabilities, opening new cafés and dining areas, installing plasma boards, updating the Student Union and several other buildings, and embarking on a variety of campus-beautification projects.

Rosenthal Library

Queens College is the only CUNY college that participates in Division II sports[citation needed]. A Child Development Center, staffed by professionals, offers inexpensive child care services to students with children. Ongoing cultural events include readings by renowned writers, concerts, and theatre and dance performances. The college is also home to the Godwin-Ternbach Museum, which houses more than 3,500 works of art.

The college holds courses at several off-campus locations, including the 43rd Street Extension Center in Manhattan and the CUNY Center for Higher Education in vibrant downtown Flushing, which opened in late 2003.

The college has a low-rise 506-bed dormitory on campus called "The Summit at Queens College", which opened for the Fall semester of 2009. Queens College is one of only three CUNY campuses with dorm facilities (the other two being Hunter College and City College). The Summit was built on what used to be the tennis courts.

The campus also maintains a state-of-the-art library, The Benjamin Rosenthal Library. The library's Chaney-Schwerner-Goodman Clocktower was named after the three civil rights workers who were murdered in 1964, including Andrew Goodman, a Queens College student. Built in 1988, the library contains 752,900 books, 32,600 print and electronic materials, the college archives, and a growing collection of multimedia materials in its Media Center. The library is also home to the papers of Robert Morris and the Louis Armstrong archives. The library also houses the art library and art center, which has approximately 70,000 books and 5,000 bound periodicals, as well as 15,000 slides, and the rare books collection[citation needed]. The art center displays the works of both established and emerging artists in all media.

The college is also home to the Aaron Copland School of Music located in the music building, constructed in 1991. The building houses the music library and the 490-seat Lefrak Concert Hall with a tracker organ, electronic music studios, classrooms, rehearsal rooms, and a professional-level recording studio.

CUNY Law School was previously located to the west of the campus of Queens College; while it was always a separate administrative unit of CUNY, the building itself read "CUNY School of Law at Queens College," and was once a building for the Department of Education. The CUNY Board of Trustees approved plans for the Law School to be relocated to 2 Court Square in Long Island City, with the first semester of classes in the new facility scheduled for Fall 2012.[4] Queens College has since taken over the former CUNY Law building for future use.

Townsend Harris High School is located at the edge of the Queens College campus.

Queens College sign on the outside of Jefferson Hall
The owl, a symbol of knowledge and wisdom hangs above the entrance to Jefferson Hall.
A stele on the facade of Remsen Hall.
Many of Queens College's original Spanish-style buildings are still in use today.
Klapper Hall opened in 1955 as the college's first library. Named after the college's first president, Paul Klapper, it was renovated in 1992 after the construction of Rosenthal Library.
A view of the New York City Skyline from the QC Quad.
Hortense Powdermaker Hall is considered "smart" because it is fully wireless, each classroom has both audio and visual equipment, and because it is soundproof.

Student life[edit]

The Student Union building is home to most of the clubs on campus.
Demographics of Queens College[5]
Men Women
Asian/Pacific Islander 1,583 2,263
Black/Non-Hispanic 558 1,233
Hispanic 1,031 2,166
Native American 8 15
White/Non-Hispanic 3,583 6,046
International Students 471 615

Queens College has over 18,000 students and is located in Queens New York, the most diverse county in the nation[citation needed]. QC's 18,000 students represent 120 countries and speak 66 different native languages[citation needed]. This rich variety has influenced Queens College's curriculum, research, and outreach programs.[6] Because of the schools diverse programs, Queens College has attracted many students from all over New York State and throughout the country. In 2008 Kaplan named Queens College one of "America's 25 Hottest Schools."[citation needed]

Queens College's cultural diversity is also represented in its the clubs and organizations. Queens has 95 different clubs and organizations, these range from fraternities/sororities to cultural, religious, technology, and art clubs[citation needed]. Most of the organizations are located within the Student Union building. The Queens College Student Union serves as the campus’s “living room.” To complement the college’s educational mission, the Student Union provides various facilities, services, co-curricular activities, and programs. The Student Union offers students the opportunity to apply the knowledge they have learned in the classroom.[7]

Greek life[edit]

The fraternity crest of Kappa Sigma

Queens College consists of 5 fraternities and 4 sororities. Since Queens College is primarily a commuter school, there is not a Frat house exclusively for Greek life; so Greek Organizations usually meet in the Student Union or the Q-Side Café on campus (which is known as the "Greek Cafe" or the "Greek Corner," an area in which most fraternities and sororities spend their time). However, certain fraternities or sororities are said to have an “off-school” Frat house, in which night life festivities usually take place. The Greek organizations at Queens College have several ongoing activities throughout the year, such as rush week, charity events, banquets, festivities, barbecues, picnics and annual Greek week in which most fraternities and sororities set to compete against one another in a tournament-style setting as they partake in various contests such as pie eating, capture the flag and sporting events to name a few.

Fraternities Sororities Honor Societies
Kappa Sigma Phi Sigma Sigma Chi Sigma Iota
Alpha Epsilon Pi Sigma Delta Tau Nu Gamma Psi
Gamma Omega Delta Lambda Pi Upsilon Phi Alpha Theta
Tau Epsilon Phi Delta Phi Epsilon Phi Upsilon Omicron
Phi Iota Alpha Psi Chi
Alpha Chi Rho (colony)


The Queens College Men's Basketball team (above). QC is the only CUNY school to participate in NCAA Division II sports.

The Athletic Department at Queens College sponsors fifteen separate men’s and women’s championship eligible varsity teams in eight different sports. The longest running among these fifteen programs are the men’s basketball and baseball teams. The men's basketball team has put a team on the court in every season since its inception in 1938. On February 14, 2004 the team played its 1500th game and, in those 1500 games, has produced twenty 1,000-point scorers. Of these twenty players, twelve have achieved this milestone after the college began play in Division II (NCAA) in 1983 and four - Alan Hevesi (#5), Norman Roberts (#15), Jeff Maloney (#22) and Norman Roberts (#15) - have had their numbers retired. Although the program has a long-running record of achievement, its biggest successes have come in the last several years. In 2001 the Knights earned their first NCAA Division II Northeast Regional bid. 2002 saw the team earn their second consecutive bid along with the program’s first NYCAC championship and, in 2005, the team once again was crowned NYCAC Champions and received an automatic bid to the NCAA's.[8]

With the exception of three years during World War II, the baseball program, like men's basketball, has fielded a team since 1938. In both 1967 and 1976 the team captured the Knickerbocker Conference championship and in 1981 it won the CUNY championship. Their championships in 1976 and 1981 also earned them NCAA Division III tournament bids. More recently, the squad captured the NYCAC regular season championships in 1997 and 1998, the NYCAC tournament championship in 1998 and a bid to the NCAA Division II Northeast Regional. Individually, seven players have been drafted and nine players have gone on to play professionally with organizations including the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals. The latest of these draftees is 1998 All-American Justin Davies who, after playing in the Toronto Blue Jays organization for two seasons, has spent the four years (2000-2004) as on outfielder for the Long Island Ducks of the Independent League.[8]

The women's basketball team has also experienced some success. On March 24, 1973, the Knights, who were ranked #2 in the country, took the Fitzgerald Gymnasium court with the AIAW (Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women) National Championship at stake. On February 22, 1975 they played in the first women’s basketball game ever played in Madison Square Garden.[9][10] Three players from this era – Debbie Mason (#15), Gail Marquis (#25) and Althea Gwyn (#31) – have had their numbers retired. In the last decade the team has rebounded from a short down period to make a return to the NYCAC playoffs while producing several top-flight players, including Honorable Mention All-American in Carolyn Burke.

Some of the Knight's Softball highlights of the last decade include three NCAA Division II Northeast Regional bids and the first two NYCAC Championships in the team’s history. In the period from 1997 until 2003, the team posted a .640 winning percentage and won 30 or more games in a season three times. One of those 30 win seasons came in 1999 when the team won their first NYCAC tournament championship and earned their first NCAA bid. Two season later, third team All-American Cheryl Cosenzo helped lead the Lady Knights to their second NYCAC championship as well as an NCAA bid and in 2002 the team earned their third Northeast Regional bid in five years.

After producing nineteen consecutive winning seasons, it can be argued that the most consistently successful program at Queens College belongs to women’s tennis. In those nineteen years the team has won four conference championships while its players have won countless individual and doubles titles. At the top of the list of individual honors is the selection of Dominika Bajuk as 2004 N.Y.C.A.C. Player of the Year. The Lady Knights have also earned NCAA Division II post-season championship bids in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005; as well as in 1995 when, as hosts, they won their region and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.[8]
The men's track and field team hosted and won the East Coast Conference Championships in 2013. Tied with St. Thomas Aquinas in a highly contested meet, it was the first time the team has taken the conference title.


The Summit is Queens College's first residence hall, it opened in the fall of 2009.

Queens College was the third school in the CUNY system to open a residence hall. "The Summit at Queens College", a low rise 506-bed dormitory opened for the Fall semester of 2009. The Summit consists of three wings of varying stories to complement the heights of the surrounding buildings.The building is located in the heart of the campus, just south of FitzGerald Gymnasium (previously the site of the tennis courts). Queens College is still primarily a commuter school, having only 500 of its over 18,000 students living on campus. The Summit hall has earned a silver certificate from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), an organization that certifies buildings to have met environmentally sustainable construction standards.[11] Queens College's residence hall offers study lounges on each floor, wireless internet, laundry services, and a state of the art fitness center. Apartments also include kitchens with full size appliances, as well as dining areas, microwaves, couches, entertainment stands, and music practice rooms.[12]

The Summit has attracted students from around the country and the world to Queens College, especially aspiring artists looking to attend the internationally renowned Aaron Copland School of Music. Although it remains a commuter school, the college has become more dynamic as a result of the construction of the Summit; offering students a traditional college experience at an affordable public university.

Godwin-Ternbach Museum[edit]

Since 1957 Queens College has been collecting works of art, these collections were initially used for teaching purposes and were meant to serve the college community. The collections were eventually brought together with the establishment of the Godwin-Ternbach Museum in 1980. The Museum is now a part of the Kupferberg Center for the Arts which has joined together all the works of art on campus in collaborations of visual, performance, dance, and theater arts.[13] In the early 1990s, the museum was downsized due to budget cuts. Over the next few years, the college kept it open but on a reduced budget and staff. In 2001 however the college hired Amy Winters as director of the museum. To address the concerns of the museum Winters turned to MAP (The Museum Assessment Program); as a result not only did the museum improve their facilities but they increased their collections-related staff as well.[14] Today the museum is an integral part of the Queens College community, and it continues to serve not only the faculty and staff but the community at large.

The Museum is located in Klapper Hall and maintains a fine collection of 3,500 pieces of art, as well as artifacts from all cultures dating from ancient times to the modern day. These include works by Rembrandt Van Rijn, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Georges Braque. The museum also hosts a series of exhibitions each year. These exhibitions and events are open to Queens College students, faculty, staff and the public.

Involvement in Civil Rights[edit]

The Queens College chapter of CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) at the March on Washington, 1963.

Queens College students were active participants in the Civil Rights movements of the 1960s. The most well known activist was student Andrew Goodman, who was slain in Mississippi in 1964 with two other young men, James Earl Chaney, and Michael H. Schwerner; all three were trying to register African Americans to vote in the South. Schwerner and Chaney were on the organizing staff of CORE; Goodman was a "Freedom Summer" volunteer. The three activists were stopped and arrested for allegedly driving over the speed limit on a Mississippi road in 1964. Upon being brought into the sheriff's department and later released, the three young men were stopped by two car loads of KKK members on a remote rural road. The men approached their car, then shot and killed Schwerner, next Goodman, and finally Chaney. The murders received national attention and six conspirators were brought to trial and convicted by Federal prosecutors for civil rights violations. The Chaney-Goodman-Schwerner Clock Tower of Rosenthal Library, a highly visible borough landmark, is named in their honor.[15]

Queens College students also participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. The march on Washington is where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous "I have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial. The march is widely credited with helping to pass the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Voting Rights Act (1965).

In February 2011, Queens College inherited the personal collection of the late James Foreman. The collection and other civil rights leaders' collections are available for research at the Queens College Civil Rights Archive. A special program on February 17, 2011 included a presentation by the Honorable Julian Bond for Black History Month, as well as a formal announcement of the acquisition.[16]

Academic centers and institutes[edit]

The College is home to many centers which focus their research on various pressing social issues facing the local communities, students, faculty and the many ethnic and religious groups of the Queens area.

  • Asian American/Asian Institute

Works to integrate the talents of individual faculty and the resources of other CUNY institutes to create a community of scholars to help focus their energies on Asia and the Asian American experience.

  • Asian/American Center

Dedicated to community-oriented research that analyzes the multi-cultural diaspora experience of Asians in global and local communities.

Fosters higher education among Italian-Americans and insures that the legacy of the Italian-American experience is documented and preserved for future generations. This is accomplished through research, counseling, lectures, symposia, and administering an exchange program with CUNY and Italian universities.

  • Center for the Biology of Natural Systems (CBNS)

Conducts research that analyzes real world environmental and resource problems and their policy implications. Recent projects include a study of the impact of air pollution on asthma sufferers in the South Bronx and a continuing examination of the health workers involved in the cleanup of ground zero after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

  • Center for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies

Initiates, supports, and coordinates the teaching of Byzantine and modern Greek studies. The center also promotes Byzantine and Neo-Hellenic scholarship and publications; and relates academic research and teaching to the needs of the Greek community in Queens and beyond.

  • Center for Jewish Studies

Through outreach and research, the Center for Jewish Studies serves as a bridge between the academic program and the social community. It offers lectures on a daily basis, has a choir of students, and provides concerts, symposiums, and various other performances.

  • John Cardinal Newman Club

Run by the Catholic Newman Center, this area provides a social environment for all students of all faiths. Social and academic discussions are usually found here.

  • Center for the Improvement of Education

Forges linkages between public schools and Queens College that will allow staff from each to perform their primary functions more effectively.

  • The Michael Harrington Center for Democratic Values and Social Change

Promotes public discourse about social issues, advocates for social change, and works in partnerships with others to build a more just and equitable democratic society. The institute is primarily concerned with the employment, health, and educational needs of economically disadvantaged communities.

  • The Neuroscience Research Center

The goal of the center is to enhance the research and education of students at Queens College through the establishment of programs at both the under-graduate and graduate levels concerning neuroscience. Members of the center have established a five year NIH MARC program at the college for minorities in the biomedical research sciences. The faculty at the center have produced over 800 peer-reviewed publications over the past fifteen years, with nearly 300 in the past five years alone. Since 1990, the center faculty have also received funding for 51 external and 54 internal grants.

  • Queens College Model United Nations Team

Run by the Political Science Department in conjunction with Queens College Model United Nations team, this program provides students the opportunity to explore their interests in the international policy and the United Nations.

The Queens Memory Project, a digital archive which aims to record and preserve contemporary history across the borough of Queens, is a collaborative effort between Queens College and Queens Library that includes digitized materials from the Rosenthal Library's Department of Special Collections.

CERRU was created in fall 2009 through a sizable grant from the US Department of Education in D.C. CERRU is a non-partisan organization that facilitates cross-cultural engagement to enhance understanding. CERRU envisions a world our differences inspire curiosity, collaboration, and innovation.


  • In its 2006 edition of "America's Best Value Colleges," The Princeton Review ranks Queens College 8th in the United States.[17]
  • Queens College is ranked as one of the "25 Hottest Universities" in the Newsweek/Kaplan 2008 College Guide.[18]
Program Ranking Ranked by
America's Best Value Colleges 8 The Princeton Review [20]
Top Public Regional Universities (North) 9 U.S. News [21]
Top Regional Universities (North) 42 U.S. News [22]
Clinical Training (Graduate) 3 U.S. News [21]
Library and Information Studies (Graduate) 38 U.S. News [21]
Speech-Language Pathology (Graduate) 53 U.S. News [21]
Fine Arts (Graduate) 93 U.S. News

Notable alumni and faculty[edit]

In popular culture[edit]



  1. ^ Authored by Dr. Konrad Gries, Professor and Chair of the Department of Classics, at the request of the first president of the college, Dr. Paul Klapper (Personal communication from Konrad Gries).
  2. ^ Queens College - CUNY
  3. ^ http://www.qc.cuny.edu/communications/newsletter/Documents/fyi_Mar07.pdf
  4. ^ "CUNY Trustees Approve New Queens Home for CUNY Law School". 
  5. ^ CUNY Queens College Information, Academics, Admissions, Financial Aid, Students, Athletics, Alumni, History, Campus, Students, Faculty, Address, and Tuition
  6. ^ Diversity Web: Queens College
  7. ^ Queens College - CUNY
  8. ^ a b c Queens College Athletics
  9. ^ "NY sports history: Feb. 22, 1975". Long Island Newsday. February 21, 2011. Retrieved 08 Dec 2012. 
  10. ^ Jenkins, Sally. "History of Women's Basketball". WNBA. Retrieved 08 Dec 2012. 
  11. ^ Queens College Opens First Dorm | www.qgazette.com | Queens Gazette
  12. ^ QC Queens College
  13. ^ NYC ARTS > Museums > Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College
  14. ^ 30 Years of Excellence Through MAP | AAMblog
  15. ^ "CUNY Trustees Approve New Queens Home for CUNY Law School". 
  16. ^ Ablamsky, Jessica. "Civil Rights Titan Bond Looks Back". Queens Tribune. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  17. ^ http://www.princetonreview.com/college/research/bestvalue/default.asp[dead link]
  18. ^ http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20228437/site/newsweek/[dead link]
  19. ^ "America's Best Colleges". Forbes.com. August 13, 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  20. ^ The Princeton Review, Inc. - America's Best Value Colleges by State
  21. ^ a b c d CUNY-Queens College | Overall Rankings | Best College | US News
  22. ^ Queens College | CUNY-Queens College | Rankings | Best College | US News

External links[edit]