Brooklyn College

Coordinates: 40°37′52″N 73°57′9″W / 40.63111°N 73.95250°W / 40.63111; -73.95250
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Brooklyn College
of The City University of New York
Brooklyn College Seal.svg
MottoLatin: Nil sine magno labore
Motto in English
Nothing without great effort[1]
TypePublic university
Established1930; 93 years ago (1930)
Parent institution
Endowment$98.0 million (2019)[2]
Budget$123.96 million (2021)[1]
PresidentMichelle Anderson
ProvostAnne Lopes
Academic staff
534 full-time,
878 part-time (2018)[1]
Students17,811 (2019)[1]
Undergraduates14,970 (2019)[1]
Postgraduates2,841 (2019)[1]
Location, ,
United States

40°37′52″N 73°57′9″W / 40.63111°N 73.95250°W / 40.63111; -73.95250
CampusUrban, 35 acres (14 ha)[1]
Colors    Maroon, gold, & grey[3]
Sporting affiliations
MascotBuster the Bulldog
Brooklyn College Logo.svg

Brooklyn College is a public university in Brooklyn, New York City. It is part of the City University of New York system and enrolls about 15,000 undergraduate and 2,800 graduate students on a 35-acre campus.

Being New York City's first public coeducational liberal arts college, it was formed in 1930 by the merger of the Brooklyn branches of Hunter College, then a women's college, and of the City College of New York, then a men's college, both established in 1926. Initially tuition-free, Brooklyn College suffered from the New York City government's near-bankruptcy in 1975, when the college closed its campus in downtown Brooklyn. During 1976, with its Midwood campus intact and now its only campus, Brooklyn College charged tuition for the first time.

Prominent alumni of Brooklyn College include US senators, federal judges, US financial chairpersons, Olympians, CEOs, and recipients of Academy Awards, Emmy Awards, Pulitzer Prizes, and Nobel Prizes.

College history[edit]

Early decades[edit]

Brooklyn College was founded in 1930.[4] That year, as directed by the New York City Board of Higher Education on April 22, the college authorized the combination of the Downtown Brooklyn branches of Hunter College, at that time a women's college, and the City College of New York, then a men's college, both established in 1926.[5][6][7] Meanwhile, Brooklyn College became the first public coeducational liberal arts college in New York City.[8] The school opened in September 1930,[9] holding separate classes for men and women until their junior years.[6][10] Admission would require passing a stringent entrance exam.[11]

Brooklyn College Library, situated on the East Quad, designed by original architect Randolph Evans

In 1932, architect Randolph Evans drafted a plan for the campus on a substantial plot that his employer owned in Brooklyn's Midwood section.[12] Evans sketched a Georgian campus facing a central quadrangle, and anchored by a library building with a tower.[13] Evans presented the sketches to the college's then president, Dr. William A. Boylan,[14] who approved the layout.

The land was bought for $1.6 million ($34,300,000 today),[15] and construction allotment was $5 million ($107,000,000 today).[11] Construction began in 1935.[16] At the groundbreaking ceremony was Mayor Fiorello La Guardia and Brooklyn Borough President Raymond Ingersoll.[11] In 1936, United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited and laid the gymnasium's cornerstone.[17][11] The new campus opened for the fall 1937 semester.[18][19] In the 1940s, Boylan, Ingersoll, Roosevelt and La Guardia each became namesake of a campus building.[20][21][22]

During the tenure of its second president, Harry Gideonse, from 1939 to 1966, Brooklyn College ranked high nationally in number of alumni with doctorate degrees.[23][24] As academics fled Nazi Germany, nearly a third of refugee historians who were female would at some point work at Brooklyn College.[8] In 1944, sociologist Marion Vera Cuthbert became the first permanent black faculty member appointed at any of the New York municipal colleges.[25] And in 1956, with John Hope Franklin joining, Brooklyn College became the first "white" college to hire on a permanent basis a historian who was black.[26]

In 1959, still tuition-free, about 8,000 undergraduates were enrolled.[27] In 1962, the college joined six other colleges to form the City University of New York, creating the world's second-largest university.[28] In 1983, Brooklyn College named its library the Harry D. Gideonse Library.[23][29]

Nevertheless, Gideonse remains a controversial figure in the college's history; as one account noted, he is "either lauded as a hero and great educator in hagiographic accounts . . . or decried by faculty and alumni as an autocrat who stifled academic freedom and students' rights."[30][31]

In addition to his curricular and student life reforms, Gideonse was known for his decades-long campaign to ferret out Communists among the college community and his testimony before congressional and state investigating committees during the Second Red Scare.[32][33][34][35][36]

On the other hand, perhaps retaining the memory of the time when, as a University of Chicago professor, he was unjustly accused of being a Communist and advocating "free love,"[37] Gideonse also attacked those who, without evidence, charged faculty, staff and students with being subversives and defended faculty free speech rights against outside critics.[38][39][40][41]

The college's third president, Francis Kilcoyne, served from 1966 to 1967.[42] The fourth president, Harold Syrett, resigned due to ill health in February 1969, when George A. Peck was named acting president.[43][44] John Kneller, Brooklyn College's fifth president, served from 1969 until 1979.[45][46][47] These presidents served during what were perhaps the most tumultuous years for Brooklyn College.

During the Vietnam War, as they did on other U.S. campuses, student protests rocked Brooklyn College. President Gideonse, in a 1965 television interview, blamed demonstrations on Communists who were "duping the innocents" into demanding more freedom on campus,[48] leading the New York Civil Liberties Union to criticize Gideonse for "his efforts to smear student groups at the college with the Communist label."[49]

Also in 1965, student protests forced the Gideonse administration to rescind new, stricter dress rules that forbade male students from wearing dungarees or sweatshirts on campus at any time and mandated that female students wear skirts and blouses even in extremely cold weather.[50] After Gideonse's retirement in June 1966,[51] a newly-appointed dean of administration, Dante Negro, said he was not bothered by the students' more casual dress "that makes it hard to distinguish between the sexes," calling it "a passing fad."[52]

On October 21, 1967, a front-page story in The New York Times reported that the college was virtually closed down by a strike of thousands of students angered by police action against antiwar demonstrators protesting U.S. Navy recruiters earlier in the week.[53] Five days later, another front-page Times story reported that students had agreed to return to classes after an agreement was reached with college administrators after negotiations.[54] A few days after that, President Kilcoyne walked out when New York Mayor John V. Lindsay appeared at the college, citing Lindsay's insult in calling the school "Berkeley East."[55][56]

Around the same time, the college's students were involved in campus protests involving racial issues. In May 1968, Brooklyn College news again made the front page of The New York Times when police broke up a 16-hour sit-in at the registrar's office to demand that more Black and Puerto Rican students be admitted to the school.[57] At trial, a Black Brooklyn judge reacted angrily when one student said they had been reacting to racism and sentenced him and 32 other white students to five days in jail for the sit-in.[58] In May 1969, 19 or 20 Brooklyn College students faced criminal charges in connection with campus disorders during the spring semester, including raids in which students allegedly ransacked files and smoke-bombed the library.[59][60][61]

In late April 1970, students demanding more open admissions and racial diversity staged a sit-in at President Kneller's office, holding him and five deans there for several hours.[62] The next week, in early May 1970, students seized the president's office and other buildings during a student strike upon the Kent State shootings and the Cambodian Campaign.[63][64][65] President Kneller terminated classes, but kept campus buildings open for students and faculty, obtaining a court order against students occupying buildings.[66][67][68]

In October 1974, 200 Hispanic students took over the registrar's office to protest President Kneller's appointment of a chair of the Puerto Rican Studies Department different than that of the person selected by a faculty search committee.[69] Defying a judge's temporary court order to leave the building, the protesters were supported at a rallies outside Boylan Hall by many student groups and the alumni association, but Kneller refused to rescind his controversial appointment.[70][71] Protests flared up again in the spring 1975 semester with another takeover of the registrar's office.[72] By January 1976, the college's faculty union voted "no confidence" in Kneller, charging that he "consistently ignored faculty rights" and failed to provide leadership.[73]

Brooklyn College, along with the rest of CUNY, shut down for two weeks in May and June 1976 as the university was unable to pay its bills.[74] Amid New York City's financial crisis, near bankruptcy, Brooklyn College's campus in downtown Brooklyn closed, leaving the Midwood campus as the Brooklyn College's only campus.[75] In the fall of 1976, with some 30,000 undergraduates enrolled, the college charged tuition for the first time.[27]

In January 1978, the college's Faculty Council approved a vote of "no confidence" in President Kneller on Wednesday and recommended to the Board of Higher Education that he be replaced.[76]

Brooklyn College's sixth president was Robert Hess, who served from 1979 to 1992.[77][78][79][80] Hess initiated major changes in the college curriculum, mandating a standard core for all students.[81][82] Implementation of the new curriculum was aided by a large grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.[83] By 1984, in a national report's otherwise gloomy assessment of humanities education, Brooklyn College was singled out as "a bright spot" among American universities for stressing the study of the humanities.[84]

In a 1988 survey of thousands of American college deans, Brooklyn College ranked 5th in providing students with a strong general education, and was the only public institution among the top five.[78][79] As of 1989, Brooklyn College ranked 11th in the US, and ahead of six of the eight Ivy League universities, by number of graduates who had acquired doctoral degrees.[85] At Brooklyn College being called “the poor man’s Harvard,” President Hess quipped, “I like to think of Harvard as the rich man’s Brooklyn College.”[86]

Vernon Lattin was the seventh president of Brooklyn College, from 1992 to 2000.[87]

Modern history[edit]

Brooklyn College's campus leafy East Quad looks much like it did when it was originally constructed.[4] The campus also serves as home to BCBC/ Brooklyn College Presents complex and its four theaters, including the George Gershwin.

The demolition of Gershwin Hall, replaced by The Leonard & Claire Tow Center for the Performing Arts for which ground was broken in 2011, is the most recent construction on an evolving campus.[11][88] Alumni Leonard and Claire Tow gifted $10 million to the college.[4] Other changes to the original design include the demolition of Plaza Building, due to its inefficient use of space, poor ventilation, and significant maintenance costs. To replace the Plaza Building, the college constructed West Quad Center, designed by the notable Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñoly. The new building contains classroom space, offices, gymnasiums and a swimming pool. It houses the offices of Registration, Admissions, Financial Aid, and the Department of Physical Education and Exercise Science. The grounds contain a quadrangle with grassy areas and trees. New façades are being constructed on Roosevelt and James halls where they once connected with Plaza Building. The 2009–10 CUNYAC championship men's basketball team now plays its home games in the West Quad Center.

This followed a major $70 million library renovation completed in 2003 that saw the library moved to a temporary home while construction took place.[4] The Brooklyn College library is now located in its original location in a completely renovated and expanded LaGuardia Hall.

From 2000 to 2009 when he retired, Christoph M. Kimmich was the eighth President of Brooklyn College.[89] In the 2003 edition of The Best 345 Colleges, the Princeton Review named Brooklyn College as the most beautiful campus in the country, and ranked it fifth in the nation for “Best Academic Bang for the Buck.”[28][90]

Karen L. Gould was named the ninth president of Brooklyn College in 2009. Michelle Anderson became the 10th President of Brooklyn College in 2016.[91] In 2016, Brooklyn College announced a new home for the Koppelman School of Business, with the planned construction of a new building, Koppelman Hall, on property adjacent to the 26-acre campus bought in 2011. This increased the campus size to 35 acres.[92]

View from the West Quad looking onto the East Quad (from left to right, James Hall, Boylan Hall, the library, Ingersoll Hall, and Roosevelt Hall)


Entry gate
West Quad Center
James Hall
Roosevelt Hall
Boylan Hall
Lily Pond

Brooklyn College has five schools:

  • Murray Koppelman School of Business
  • School of Education
  • School of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • School of Natural and Behavioral Sciences
  • School of Visual, Media, and Performing Arts


Undergraduate curriculum[edit]

Beginning in 1981, the college instituted a group of classes that all undergraduates were required to take, called "Core Studies".[11] The classes were: Classical Origins of Western Culture, Introduction to Art, Introduction to Music, People, Power, and Politics, The Shaping of the Modern World, Introduction to Mathematical Reasoning and Computer Programming, Landmarks of Literature, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Geology, Studies in African, Asian, and Latin American Cultures, and Knowledge, Existence and Values.[93]

In 2006, the Core Curriculum was revamped, and the 13 required courses were replaced with 15 courses in 3 disciplines, from which students were required to take 11.[94] In the fall of 2013, Brooklyn College embarked on CUNY's new general education alternative, the Pathways curriculum, consisting of three components: Required Core (four courses), Flexible Core (six courses) and College Option (four courses)—totaling 42 credits.[95] Brooklyn College offers over a hundred majors varying from the visual arts to Women's Studies.[96]

Division of Graduate Studies[edit]

The Division of Graduate Studies at Brooklyn College was established in 1935 and offers more than seventy programs in the arts, education, humanities, sciences, and computer and social sciences. Among those programs is the Graduate theatre program, which is the top ranked in the CUNY system and 14th in the United States; faculty include Tony Award nominee Justin Townsend.[97][98]

B.A.–M.D. program[edit]

The Brooklyn College B.A.M.D. program is an eight-year program affiliated with SUNY Downstate Medical Center. The program follows a rigorous selection process, with a maximum of 15 students selected every year. Each student selected to the program receives a Brooklyn College Presidential Scholarship. B.A.–M.D. students must engage in community service for three years, beginning in their lower sophomore semester. During one summer of their undergraduate studies, students are required to volunteer in a clinical setting where they are involved in direct patient care. B.A.–M.D. students are encouraged to major in the humanities or social sciences.[99]

The Scholars Program[edit]

The Scholars Program is home to a small number of students with strong writing ability and academic record. Being the oldest honors program in the CUNY system, The Scholars Program has served as a model for many other honors programs nationwide. It was established in 1960 and is an interdisciplinary liberal arts program. The program offers honors-level Core courses and seminars as well as small, personalized classes. Upon graduation from Brooklyn College, many Scholars continue their education in competitive programs at top-ranked universities like Princeton, Yale, and New York University. The program accepts incoming freshmen in addition to matriculated sophomores and transfer students (up to 48 credits). Once admitted, they receive a Brooklyn College Foundation Presidential Scholarship of up to $4,000 for every year of their undergraduate study at Brooklyn College and a laptop computer.[100]

Coordinated Engineering Program[edit]

The Coordinated Honors Engineering Program offers a course of study equivalent to the first two years at any engineering school. Students who maintain the required academic level are guaranteed transfer to one of the three coordinating schools—NYU-Poly, City College of New York School of Engineering, and the College of Staten Island Engineering Science Program—to complete their bachelor's degree in engineering. Coordinating Engineering students have also transferred to Stony Brook University, University of Wisconsin, University of Michigan, Cooper Union, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Students admitted as incoming First-Year receive a Brooklyn College Foundation Presidential Scholarship that provides full tuition for their two years of full-time undergraduate study in the Coordinated Engineering Program. As members of the Honors Academy, Engineering Honors students take advantage of individual advising, faculty consultation, and early registration. In the Commons they find study facilities, computer access, academic, scholarship, internship, and career opportunities, and, above all, intellectual stimulation among other talented students like themselves. Students applying to the Engineering Honors Program will also be considered for the Scholars Program.[101]

Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema[edit]

Barry R. Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema is the first public graduate film school in New York City. It is the only film school in America to have its own classroom on a film lot with the collaboration of Steiner Studios, the largest soundstage on the East Coast. The program offers a two-year M.A. in Cinema Studies, a two-year M.F.A. in Cinema Arts in the discipline of Producing, and a three-year M.F.A in Cinema Arts with five disciplines of Cinematography, Directing, Post-production, Screenwriting, and Digital Arts and Visual Effects. The school opened in the fall of 2015. The first graduating class was in Spring 2018.


Academic rankings
U.S. News & World Report[102]62
Master's university
Washington Monthly[103]84
THE / WSJ[105]358

U.S. News & World Report ranked the school tied for 62nd overall as a Regional college (North region), 6th in "Top Performers on Social Mobility", 15th in "Top Public Schools", and tied for 33rd in "Best Colleges for Veterans" for 2021.[106]


Brooklyn College athletic teams are nicknamed as the Bulldogs. The college is a member at the Division III level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA); primarily competing in the City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC) since the 1996–97 academic year (which they also competed in a previous stint from 1978–79 to 1979–80). The Bulldogs previously competed in the East Coast Conference at the Division I level during the 1991–92 academic year.

Men's sports include basketball, cheerleading, cross country, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis and volleyball; while women's sports include basketball, cheerleading, cross country, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis and volleyball.


In 2010, Brooklyn College adopted the Bulldog as its new mascot.[107] The athletic program was originally known as the Kingsmen. In 1994, the mascot was changed to the Bridges. However, after the school built new facilities and underwent other changes the athletic director pushed for a new name to reflect the new program.[108]

Notable people[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable alumni of Brooklyn College in government include Senator Bernie Sanders (1959–1960),[109][110] Senator Barbara Boxer (née Barbara Levy; B.A. 1962), Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm (B.A. 1946), Securities and Exchange Commission Chairmen Manuel F. Cohen (B.S. 1933) and Harvey Pitt (B.A. 1965), and federal judges Rosemary S. Pooler (B.A. 1959), Jack B. Weinstein (B.A. 1943), Sterling Johnson Jr. (B.A. 1963), Edward R. Korman (B.A. 1963), Joel Harvey Slomsky (B.A. 1967), and Jason K. Pulliam (B.A. 1995; M.A. 1997).

Notable alumni in business include Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu CEO Barry Salzberg (B.S. 1974), Adobe Inc. CEO Bruce Chizen (B.S. 1978), Warner Bros. and Los Angeles Dodgers CEO Robert A. Daly, New York Mets President Saul Katz (B.A. 1960), Boston Celtics owner Marvin Kratter (1937), David Geffen, New Line Cinema CEO Michael Lynne (B.A. 1961), CBS Records CEO Walter Yetnikoff (B.A. 1953), Vanguard Records co-founder Maynard Solomon (B.A. 1950), and Gannett Chairman Marjorie Magner (B.S. 1969).

Notable alumni in the sciences and academia include Nobel Prize–winning biochemist Stanley Cohen (B.A. 1943), Fields Medal–winning mathematician Paul Cohen (1953), social psychologists Stanley Milgram (B.A. 1954) and Philip Zimbardo (B.A. 1954), Harvard Law School professor and author Alan M. Dershowitz (A.B. 1959), Columbia Law School Dean Barbara Aronstein Black (B.A. 1953), California State University Chancellor Barry Munitz (B.A. 1963), City College of New York President Lisa Staiano-Coico (B.S. 1976), and NASA scientist and College of William & Mary professor Joel S. Levine (B.S. 1964).

Notable alumni in the arts include Academy, Emmy, and Tony Award–winning director, writer, and actor Mel Brooks (born Melvin Kaminsky; 1946), Golden Globe Award–winning actor James Franco (M.F.A. 2009), Emmy Award–winning actor Jimmy Smits (B.A. 1980), Academy Award–winning screenwriter Frank Tarloff (B.A.), Academy Award-nominated filmmakers Paul Mazursky (B.A. 1952) and Oren Moverman (B.A. 1992), Sopranos stars Steve Schirripa (B.A. 1980) and Dominic Chianese (B.A. 1961), director Joel Zwick (1962; M.A. 1968), Grammy Award winner Peter Nero (born Bernard Nierow; B.A. 1956), O. Henry Award–winning author Irwin Shaw (born Irwin Shamforoff; B.A. 1934); and a number of Pulitzer Prize winners: author Frank McCourt (M.A. 1967), playwrights Howard Sackler (B.A. 1950) and Annie Baker (M.F.A. 2009), journalists Sylvan Fox (B.A. 1951), Stanley Penn (1947), and Harold C. Schonberg (B.A. 1937), photographer Max Desfor, and historian Oscar Handlin (B.A. 1934).

Other notable alumni include Olympic fencers Ralph Goldstein and Nikki Franke (B.S. 1972), chess grandmaster and five-time U.S. champion Gata Kamsky (B.A. 1999), Jewish Defense League founder Meir Kahane (B.A. 1954), and civil rights activist Al Sharpton (1975).

Notable faculty[edit]


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