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Class of 1970...



At the end of the tumultuous 1968-69 academic year, CCNY President Buell Gallagher tendered his resignation, stating, “When the forces of angry rebellion and stern repression clash, a man of peace, a reconciler, a man of compassion must stand aside for a time and await the moment when sanity returns and brotherhood based on justice becomes a possibility.”

The Class of 1970 graduated in a year of radical transition for City College. There was an Acting President in place, Joseph J. Copeland, and a successor to President Gallagher, renowned physicist Robert Marshak, was named. Meanwhile, Tech News reported in October that CUNY Chancellor Albert Bowker had created a University Task Force on Open Admissions. Chairman of the commission, Dr. David Newton, called open admissions “New York’s Moon-shot” as he took on the mission “to mobilize the faculty-staff drive to achieve open admissions by 1970.”

Professor Osbourne Scott, named Chairman of the newly proposed Department of Urban and Ethnic Studies, declared, “We are in the midst of a revolution in education to make it more relevant to the people.”

Anti-war sentiments abounded, on campus and beyond, including a “Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam” held on October 15, 1969. Campus unrest about the Vietnam War reached a flashpoint nationally and internationally on May 4, 1970, when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on Kent State University students during a protest against the invasion of Cambodia, killing four of them.

Other events occurred on campus and off, not related to Vietnam or the issue of open admissions. The Engineering and Architecture Alumni, for example, sponsored an informal “get-together” for civil engineering alumni and current junior and senior students to “set the record straight” and “tell it like it is” at a “no holds barred” gathering at the Madison Room of the Hotel Roosevelt on February 27, 1970, initiated by George Curran ’35 CE, College Affairs Committee.

Tech News devoted a fair amount of column space to theories about the “dead” Beatle, Paul McCartney. The paper also paused to note, ever-so-briefly, the actual passing of Jack Kerouac on October 21, 1969, declaring, “With the death of Jack Kerouac the curtain is officially drawn on the beat generation.”

Itzhak Rabin, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, addressed the student body on February 10, 1970 in the Finley Grand Ballroom, at the invitation of the Jewish Student Union.

Black and Puerto Rican students, through the Onyx Society and the Black and Puerto Rican Student Community, commemorated the death and celebrated the birth and life of Malcolm X on February 20, 1970 in the second annual event of its kind. A cultural program took place in the Great Hall from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Twelve Black and Puerto Rican students and faculty met with President Elect Robert Marshak on March 24, 1970, to discuss with him, in a 90-minute session, his role in the future of City College. President Marshak would hold office from 1970 until 1979, a decade that would bring drastic changes to CCNY, in its policies with regards to admission and tuition, and to its reputation and standing in the larger world - changes well beyond anything that might have been mentioned in that 90-minute discussion on an early spring day in 1970.



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