York College, City University of New York

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York College, of the City University of New York
Academic Core Building
Motto Sapere Aude, Incipe!
Type Public
Established 1966
President Dr. Marcia V. Keizs
Location Jamaica, Queens, New York, USA
40°42′07″N 73°47′42″W / 40.702°N 73.795°W / 40.702; -73.795Coordinates: 40°42′07″N 73°47′42″W / 40.702°N 73.795°W / 40.702; -73.795
Campus Urban, 50 acres (20 ha)
Newspaper Pandora's Box
Colors White, Red & Black             
Affiliations City University of New York
Mascot Cardinal
Website york.cuny.edu

York College of The City University of New York is one of eleven senior colleges in the City University of New York (CUNY) system. It is located in Jamaica, Queens in New York City. Founded in 1966, York was the first senior college founded under the newly formed CUNY system, which united several previously independent public colleges into a single public university system in 1961. The college is a member-school of Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

Today, with an enrollment of more than 8,000 students, York serves as one of CUNY's leading liberal arts colleges, granting bachelor's degrees in more than 40 fields, including those in the Heath Professions, Nursing (BS) and a combined BS/MS degree in Occupational Therapy, among others. The York College Library subscribes to dozens of electronic resources, as well as print journals, to support the research needs of the faculty and students.

Based on a study conducted by The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS), NerdScholar, a scholarship information organization and website, recently listed York College as the “US College with the lowest student debt in 2013.” The national survey chose York as number one on its top 20 list of colleges and universities both private and public.

Marcia V. Keizs, a native of Kingston, Jamaica, became York College's 6th president in February 2005.[1]


On October 24, 1966, CUNY voted to create a fifth senior college, designated as Alpha College, to serve the city’s growing student population. Its first president, former Queensborough Community College President, Dr. Dumont F. Kenny, quickly renamed the school York College. Kenny hoped to build a leafy, suburban liberal arts school near Fort Totten in Queens. These plans, however, quickly fell through.

York opened its doors in the fall of 1967 without concrete plans for a permanent home. Its first classes took place in rooms rented from the Oakland Jewish Center in Bayside, Queens. An entering class of 371 students, largely white and American-born, and a full-time instructional staff of 50 occupied that site for the first academic year.

In May 1968, in response to pressure from local business, community, and religious leaders, the CUNY Board of Higher Education selected Jamaica as the future site of York’s permanent campus. While York waited for authorization to build the new campus, it relocated to rudimentary quarters throughout Queens. In 1971, when New York City Community College (originally New York City College of Technology) president Milton G. Bassin M.M.E, P.E. assumed the presidency of York, he found it housed in temporary classrooms on the campus of Queensborough Community College in Bayside, where it remained for three years before moving to a renovated former Montgomery Ward Department Store and other buildings in Jamaica.

With the fiscal crisis of the mid-1970s, York’s future seemed uncertain. Jamaica residents, eager to have the college in the neighborhood, pressured the city to keep York’s doors open. In May 1978, the CUNY Board of Trustees reaffirmed York’s permanence by authorizing construction of the new campus in Jamaica. At the same time, the College underwent expansive curricular development. While York maintained an emphasis on the liberal arts, it began to offer career-related majors in the health professions as well. The College also opened the Office of Continuing Education to give classes on practical subjects to Jamaica’s residents.

With approval from Governor Hugh Carey, construction on York’s permanent campus began in December 1980. In 1986, York held its first classes in the new Academic Core Building. At the time, student enrollment had grown to 4,276. In 1990, the college opened the Performing Arts Center and the Health and Physical Education facilities, followed by the athletic fields a year later.

Dr. Marcia V. Keizs became the president of York College in 2005 and under her leadership the college has strengthened its academic quality through a variety of initiatives. With the construction of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s regional headquarters on York’s campus, students in chemistry and biology also have opportunities for collaborative internships, fellowships, and research with world-class scientists. The CUNY Aviation Institute at York College was established in 2003 to prepare students for success in a rapidly changing industry.

In 2009 alone, York launched the Provost Distinguished Scholars Lecture Series, which attracts renowned writers, scholars, and scientists to speak to the York community. Under President Keizs’ leadership, York also strengthened its faculty roster with nearly 50 new faculty hires and reorganized its 18 academic departments into three schools: the School of Arts and Sciences, School of Business and Information Systems and School of Health Sciences and Professional Programs.

York today would be unrecognizable to an observer from 1967. The College has grown to more than 8,000 students from 120 countries of origin speaking more than 83 different languages. Despite a variety of new programs, including Nursing, Pharmaceutical Science, Physician Assistant and Journalism, many of York’s biggest changes are to come.

The College plans to build major additions to its campus, including a state-of-the-art Academic Village and Conference Center and the CUNY School of Pharmacy to further improve the opportunities for students.

List of York College Presidents[edit]

  • Dumont F. Kenny, PhD, 1966–1970
  • Milton G. Bassin, M.M.E., P.E., 1971–1991
  • Josephine D. Davis, Ed.D., 1991–1995
  • Charles C. Kidd, Sr., PhD, P.E., 1996–2002
  • Robert L. Hampton, PhD, 2003–2004
  • Marcia V. Keizs, Ed.D., 2005 – present


York College

The College is organized into three Schools: the School of Arts & Sciences, the School of Business & Information Systems, and the School of Health Sciences and Professional Programs. Each of the Schools focuses on a set of related programs and departments, and gives expression to the College’s mission. The School of Arts & Sciences provides students with the opportunity to obtain an excellent education in the arts, humanities, mathematics, and the natural sciences. The School of Business & Information Systems introduces students to all of the fundamental business disciplines then allows them a wide range of choices when selecting their major field of study. Finally, the School of Health Sciences and Professional Programs provides a diverse student population with programs that have received national recognition and professional accreditation.

Through the three Schools, York College offers B.A. and B.S. degrees in over 44 different liberal arts, sciences, and professional majors, including English, History, Spanish, Music, Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, Journalism, Physician Assistant, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Nursing, Aviation Management, and Communications Technology, as well as the combined B.S./M.S. in Occupational Therapy.

The College is distinguished not only for offering a variety of majors and minors in almost every discipline, but also for bringing professional programs in business, accounting, information systems management, teacher education, generic nursing, social work and allied health sciences to traditionally underserved populations. York College also offers certificate programs in a variety of fields that include: mortgage finance; youth work; survey research; and Spanish for professional purposes. In addition to the CUNY Aviation Institute, York College is home to the Northeast Regional Office and Laboratory of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The College’s approximately 30,000 alumni serve in practically every professional endeavor, including medicine, research, law, business and social work.

Approximately 40 percent of York's students study part-time, and in fall 2008 almost 700 new students were transfer students and over 1,000 were first-time freshmen. York College offers a variety of scholarships, both merit and retention, through the York College Foundation, Student Government Association and Auxiliary Enterprises, Inc.

With about 200 full-time faculty and some 250 part-time faculty, there is a student-to-faculty ratio of 16:1. Most full-time faculty hold terminal degrees in their disciplines and are also recipients of many national and regional awards, receiving grants from federal, state and local government agencies.


Faculty, students, and administrative staff participate in college governance, which is conducted according to procedures outlined in the bylaws of CUNY and in the York College Charter as approved by the Board of Trustees of CUNY. The York College Senate is the chief legislative body of the College. Reporting to the Senate are various standing college committees, which oversee such matters as curriculum and academic standards.


York is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and is a member of the Association of Colleges and Universities of the State of New York, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). All Education programs are registered by the New York State Department of Education and lead to New York State provisional certification after passing the written parts of the New York State Teacher Certification Examination after students pass the examination. York’s Occupational Therapy Program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); The Physician Assistant Studies Program is accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc.; York’s Social Work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education; and the Nursing Program by the National League for Nursing. A degree in Accounting at York College includes all the educational requirements to sit for the Uniform Certified Public Accounting.

Graduation rate[edit]

Since 1971, York College has conferred 30,000 undergraduate and graduate degrees. York students progress toward graduation at different rates. Most students combine the role of student with that of employee and/or parent which may necessitate part-time enrollment or temporary leaves from their academic pursuits.

Location and facilities[edit]

At the heart of the 50-acre York College campus is the Academic Core Building, which houses classrooms, lecture halls, laboratories, art studios, the library, computer facilities, academic and administrative offices, as well as dining facilities and a bookstore. On adjacent super blocks are located the 1,500 seat Performing Arts Center, the Health and Physical Education facility, which includes a gymnasium and swimming pool, Classroom and Science Buildings, Athletic Fields and parking facilities. The Performing Arts Center was renamed the Milton G. Bassin Performing Arts Center in October 2014 after the York College’s second president. Milton G. Bassin, who guided the school during the period from 1971 to 1991 and was instrumental in ensuring the school’s survival through the fiscal crisis of the 1970s.

York College Student Activities strives to complement the academic experience with co- and extra-curricular programs that promote social and personal development. York College staff advises and assists student groups in planning social, educational, and recreational programs, and provides opportunities for the development of leadership skills. Academic, social, athletic, cultural, recreational, political, and special interest groups add additional sets of valuable learning experiences for both students and faculty.

Student Activities works closely with the Student Government Association (SGA). SGA is composed of students elected by their peers to represent and advocate for all students.


The CUNY Aviation Institute (AI) at York College was established in 2003 by a grant from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to promote high quality education and research for the aviation industry. The AI is headquartered in New York City and is located on the campus of York College.

In cooperation with local, national, and international partners the CUNY Aviation Institute develops teaching materials regarding airlines, airports, service providers, civil aviation authorities, and related industries. Furthermore, the CUNY Aviation Institute develops programs of study at all academic levels, including credit and non-credit courses.

The CUNY Aviation Institute also promotes research and academic exchange of ideas in the field of aviation and assists in the training of professional educators and researchers. CUNY Aviation Institute has a partnership network comprising the private sector, educational institutions, international organizations, trade associations, governments and other bodies with interest in aviation management.[2]

- Aviation Scholarship: York College is committed to providing ten $2000 awards, per academic year, to students pursuing their B.S. in Aviation Management.[3]

– Aviation Club: The York College Aviation Club was established in the spring of 2008 to promote aviation within the York College community of students, faculty, and staff. The Aviation Club unites, guides, and supports Aviation Management students.

– Women in Aviation: Women in Aviation, International is the fastest growing aviation organization dedicated to encouraging young people to consider aviation careers as well as providing networking opportunities for women and men through the aviation industry. The organization's members represent the broad scope of aviation – general, corporate, commercial and military. WAI members include aeronautical engineers, pilots, maintenance technicians, educators, air traffic controllers, avionics technicians, airport managers, business owners, dispatchers, artists, students, flight attendants and enthusiasts.

Notable programs[edit]

Honors Program – An academic program for advanced students with the goal of providing academic, cultural and social opportunities. The program is a member of the National Collegiate Honors Council and the Northeast Regional Honors Council. York College's Honors Program Official Site

Nursing – A BS (Bachelor of Science) Nursing program accredited by the NLNAC (National League for Nursing). York College Nursing Program Official Site

Occupational Therapy (OT) – The only CUNY institution to offer a BS/MS Occupational Therapy program which is fully accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association. York College Occupational Therapy Program Official Site

Physician Assistant (PA) – It is the second CUNY campus to offer a BS Physician Assistant program (the first being City College of New York). As of March 2007, the York College PA Program is fully accredited by the ARC-PA (Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant). In accordance to AAPA accrediation guidelines, the PA program is currently transitioning to a Master's program, with the first class starting in Fall 2016.York College Physician Assistant Program Official Site

Public Health (PH) The B.S. in Public Health (effective Fall 2016) is the first official/approved Public Health undergraduate degree in the CUNY system. The mission of York College’s undergraduate public health program is to engage in teaching, learning, scholarship and service to foster and sustain a healthier New York City and to promote culturally responsive, evidence-informed solutions to reduce disparities and promote health and wellness among urban populations. The undergraduate program in public health at York College is focused on the science of protecting and improving the health and well-being of communities. York College Public Health Program Official Site

Aviation Management The B.S. in Aviation Management is an opportunity to prepare students comprehensively for management careers in the industry.

The CUNY Aviation Institute is also located on the campus of York College. Students are offered a program of study that emphasizes business, policy and the operations of key areas within aviation, including security, aviation safety, and airport planning. Aviation students have the choice of gearing their studies toward preparation for work in for-profit arenas within aviation or for employment in the aviation public sector by selecting appropriate electives from political science, psychology, business and other areas. A major strength of the major is the integration of the liberal studies areas with a business curriculum.


  • Martin Atangana, PhD, Professor of History, 1998–2013, was also a guitarist with the group African Blue Note. He died in 2013 at the age of 55.
  • George M. Bailey was Professor of Library Services and York's first Chief Librarian, 1968–1971. He had previously been Executive Secretary of the Association of College and Research Libraries (1963–1968), and went on to a long career as Associate Director of Libraries at the Claremont Colleges (1971–1989).
  • Elaine Hoffman Baruch, PhD, was Professor of English, 1967–1995.
  • Elena Borstein was Professor of Fine Arts, 1970–2002. Her art studio is in Upstate New York.
  • James Como, PhD, was Professor of Speech and Rhetoric from 1968–2013, and is the author of several books about C. S. Lewis.
  • Daisy Cocco De Filippis, PhD, was Professor of Spanish, 1983–2002. She subsequently became Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Eugenio María de Hostos Community College, and then President of Naugatuck Valley Community College.
  • Alan Cooper Professor Emeritus and Adjunct Professor of English. York College founding faculty (1967), first Chair of English (1972–92), Chair of York Faculty (1994-2000).
  • Ron Daniels, PhD, Distinguished Lecturer in Political Science, Department of Behavioral Sciences, has been active in the civil rights movement for decades and is President of the Institute of the Black World 21st century (IBW).
  • William Divale, PhD, Author, Professor of Anthropology and Former Chairman of the Social Sciences Department.
  • David Ernst, PhD, Professor of Music, taught composition, computer music and music theory from 1972-2012. His compositions have been recorded by trumpeter Jack Logan, pianists Jeff Jacob and Mark Adams, and the Slovak Radio Symphony.
  • Nancy Foner, PhD, was Assistant Professor of Anthropology, 1970–1973, before joining the faculty of the State University of New York at Purchase (1973–2004), where her career spanned from Assistant Professor to Distinguished Professor. She is currently Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center.
  • Jean-Avin François, PhD, Associate Professor of French and Creole in the Department of Foreign Languages, ESL, and Humanities, is a poet, novelist, and scholar. His fiction is published under the pseudonym A20.
  • Bruce Jay Friedman, novelist and playwright, was Visiting Professor of English, 1974–1976.
  • Reeves Gandy, Lecturer in the Business and Economics Department specializing in Aviation Management, Flight Instructor and Former Corporate Pilot. He died on April 16, 2010.
  • Ernest Garthwaite was Professor of Fine Arts, 1968–2004. His art studio is in Old Greenwich, Connecticut.
  • Uwe P. Gielen, PhD, was Assistant Professor of Psychology, 1973–1980, before joining the faculty of St. Francis College, where he founded the Institute for International and Cross-Cultural Psychology.
  • Barry R. Gross, PhD, Professor of Philosophy, 1969–1995, was author of two books on reverse discrimination.
  • Franklin Gutiérrez, PhD, Professor of Spanish Language and Literature in the Department of Foreign Languages, ESL, and Humanities, is the author, editor, or co-editor of 20 books. He was one of the founders of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, and was named one of the 2009 Dominican Educators of Excellence.
  • Nicholas A. Grosskopf, EdD, MCHES, Associate Professor of Public Health in the Department of Health & Physical Education/Gerontological Studies & Services, Coordinator of the Public Health Program and Co-Director of the Collaborative Research Group on Health Policy & Promotion + the UrbanHealth Lab
  • Fred J. Harsaghy, Jr., PhD, was Professor of Library Services and York's second Chief Librarian, 1972–1974. He had previously run libraries in Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, and Japan. After leaving York, he taught at the University of New Haven and in the Danbury school system. He died in 1996.
  • David Ignatow, poet, was Professor of English and Poet-in-Residence, 1968–1984.
  • Gladys W. Jarrett was Professor of Library Services, 1967–1985, and served as York's third Chief Librarian, 1976–1985. She was very likely the first African-American woman to be a Chief Librarian in the City University of New York system.
  • Helen Armstead Johnson (1920-2006), PhD, Professor of English from 1967-1990, was a noted scholar of Edmund Burke, and also spent her career collecting, preserving, documenting, and exhibiting the contributions of African-Americans to American theater. She was founder/director of the Armstead-Johnson Foundation for Theater Research. Her papers and photographs, and the records of the foundation, are held by the New York Public Library.
  • Gary D. Keller, PhD, was Associate Professor of Spanish, 1974–1979. He was the founder of The Bilingual Review.
  • Reatha King, PhD, was Professor of Chemistry, 1968–1977, as well as serving as Associate Dean of the Division of Natural Sciences & Mathematics, and later Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. She left York to become President of Metropolitan State University in Minnesota (1977–1988).
  • Susan Letteney, DSW, Professor of Social Work in the Department of Social Work and Co-Director of the Collaborative Research Group on Health Policy & Promotion + the UrbanHealth Lab
  • Basdeo Mangru, PhD, Associate Professor of History, Guyanese writer and academic.
  • Jonah Otelsberg, Associate Professor of Business, 1979–1996, who was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study in the USSR during 1990–1991.
  • Robert D. Parmet, PhD, Professor of History, 1967–present, is Coordinator of the History Program in the Department of History and Philosophy. He is one of the original 50 faculty members, and served as chairman of the department from 1972–1975.
  • Peter Ranis, PhD, Professor of Political Science, 1968–2003, was author of three books on Latin American politics and recipient of three Fulbright awards.
  • Sonia Rivera-Valdés, PhD, Professor of Spanish Language and Literature in the Department of Foreign Languages, ESL, and Humanities since 2001.
  • Edward T. Rogowsky, city planner, was Assistant Professor of Political Science, 1967–1979, before joining the faculty of Brooklyn College. CUNY gives an internship in his name.
  • Mark Rudman, was Associate Professor of English and Poet-in-Residence, 1984–1988.
  • Phillips Simkin, artist, taught at York from 1973 to 2011. His 1996 sculpture, Philadelphia Books of Just Hours, is installed at the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia.
  • Eileen Southern, PhD, ethnomusicologist, was Professor of Music, 1968–1974, before joining the faculty of Harvard University, where she became the first African American woman to become a tenured professor there.
  • Debra Swoboda, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology and founder and director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, 2003–present.
  • Gloria F. Waldman, PhD, Professor of Spanish from 1968–2006, specialized in Puerto Rican authors and playwrights.


  • Sal F. Albanese ('72), who was a Democratic candidate for New York City mayor in 2013 and 2017. He was elected to the New York City Council in 1982 and served until 1998, representing part of Brooklyn. After leaving the City Council, Albanese became Marketing Director for INVESCO and then Managing Director, Institutional Sales & Marketing, at Mesirow Financial.
  • Dr. Carole M. Berotte Joseph ('71), former President of Bronx Community College and of Massachusetts Bay Community College.
  • Dr. Ormond Brathwaite ('82), Professor of Biology and Chemistry at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio, who received a Fulbright Scholarship in 2011.
  • Andrew G. Campbell ('81) Ph.D., UCLA, A.M. , Brown University., Professor of Medical Science in the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University in Providence, RI [1] and Senior academic officer and 15th Dean of the Graduate School [2] at Brown University.
  • Michele Chow-Tai ('99), Director and Head of Business Development at Fairview Capital Partners, and chairperson of the York College Foundation Board.
  • Maria M. Del Toro ('72), a former member of the New York City Planning Commission, who had previously been Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Public Policy for the YMCA of Greater New York from 2004 to 2010.
  • Judge George A. Grasso ('80), who previously had been a member of the New York City Police Department since 1979, and First Deputy Police Commissioner from 2002 to 2010. He was appointed to the Criminal Court of the City of New York, Kings County by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2010, and re-appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2015 until 2024.
  • Eugene T. Kelty, Jr. ('77), Battalion Chief for the NYC Fire Department and Chair of Queens Community Board 7 in NYC.
  • Dr. Belinda S. Miles ('82), President of Westchester Community College, and previously Provost at Cuyahoga Community College.
  • Deborah Persaud, M.D. ('81), a virologist and associate professor of pediatric infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who received a $700,000 Elizabeth Glazer award for pediatric AIDS research.
  • Neilson Persaud ('04), business professional, author, and PhD holder.
  • Gerald A. Reynolds ('89), who served as Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from 2004 to 2010.
  • Dr. Henry "Hank" Sheinkopf ('73), a political consultant who is also an orthodox rabbi.
  • James Siegel ('77), author of Derailed, and Political Advisor to New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer.
  • Jeremy S. Weinstein ('71), member of the New York State Senate from 1979 to 1992, a New York State judge since 1993, and Administrative Judge of the Supreme Court, Queens County, Civil, since 2007.
  • Steve Weitzner ('72), a former journalist, who was CEO of CMP Media and Summit Business Media.
  • Jaime R. Williams ('10), member of the New York State Assembly since 2016, representing the 59th Assembly District (Canarsie, Georgetown, Mill Basin, Marine Park and Gerritsen Beach).
  • Paul D. Zucker ('73), who has been a senior marketing/management executive at several large businesses.


York competes as an NCAA Division III member of the City University of New York Athletic Conference.


External links[edit]