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Class of 1972...


The City College of New York Celebrated its 125th anniversary with a four-day conference in tribute to “the heritage and identity of ethnic groups in New York.” In his opening address, CCNY President Robert E. Marshak stated that the goal of the conference was to “to acquaint us with the backgrounds and heritages of some of the ethnic groups and …as a means of cultural and artistic appreciation of the intergroup understanding.” As part of the celebration, critic Alfred Kazin and novelist James Farrel discussed “ethnic identity or melting pot.” Ravi Shankar gave a concert and Puerto Rican, Asian, and Black student groups presented dance, music and dramatic performances. A group of 80 students disrupted the celebration charging that it was a “publicity stunt” and was unconcerned with the interest of the community.

Diversity is the predominant theme of the 1972 Microcosm. City College had more Puerto Rican students than any other college outside of Puerto Rico, it had more Black students than the majority of Black colleges in America, and more Asian students than any American college outside of California.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, offered four new ethnic studies departments: Asian Studies, Black Studies, Jewish Studies and Puerto Rican Studies were created. A new program in humanities and the Institute for Medieval and Renaissance studies were established. New curricula were developed for the Schools of Nursing, Education, Architecture and Engineers to better prepare students for urban-related careers. The College also began plans to establish a Center for Urban and Environmental Problems.

The College’s Open Admissions program, which was implemented two years early, was still hotly debated. Under the program, high school graduates in the city are assured a place on campus. Many open admission students needed additional academic preparation so CCNY expand its remedial course offerings.

Both sides of the Open Admissions debate where publically voiced when CCNY’s Chairman of the History Department, Dr. Howard Adelson challenged President Marshak to defend his support of the program during a meeting of the Bronx High School of Science Parents’ Association.

Another controversial issue among students and a target of student demonstrations was the war in Vietnam and ROTC on campus. After 45 years on campus, in the spring of 1972, the ROTC program was quietly abolished as a result of dwindling enrollment numbers and the need to create additional room for the growing student body.

The need for more student space was altering the architecture of the College. As part of its master plan, the College was constructing a new 14-story, glass and cement modern building. The new Science and Physical Education Building was completed in 1973 and named after President Marshak. Through the generous support of Leonard Davis, an alumnus of the Class of ’44, the College also began construction on the new Leonard Davis Center for the Performing Arts, a $7 million complex featuring a 750-seat proscenium theater, a 175-seat experimental theater and a 75-seat rehearsal studio-workshop.

Many of these class notes are excerpted from the 1972 Microcosm, Writer Janis Gelerter



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