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Class of 1980...


The City College of New York was in an extended transitional stage when the Class of 1980 graduated. Robert E. Marshak had resigned as president and accepted an offer to become University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech in 1979; Bernard W. Harleston would be installed as CCNY’s 9th President in the fall of 1981. “During the time we had the acting presidents there was a feeling that we were marking time,” an alumnus on the search committee that recommended Dr. Harleston later noted in The New York Times.

Marking time or not, the 1980 edition of Microcosm shows a busy, active CCNY campus, with ample candid photographs illustrating such broad philosophical sentiments stated in words as: “We pitch in and share our knowledge with our youth...Long live early childhood education” and “We promote and encourage, ‘each one teach one.’”

Events of the day are also recorded photographically, including “The Day That Transit Stood Still... But New Yorkers Didn’t.” Pictures show people on bicycles, people on roller-skates, and people simply walking. It was the famous transit strike in the spring of 1980, which lasted from April 1 through April 11. And what followed the strike? A fare increase, from fifty cents per token to sixty cents per token.

Other captions in the yearbook include “NO NUKES” and “STOP THE NUKES!” This was the time of MUSE, Musicians United for Safe Energy, founded in 1979 in response to the nuclear accident on Three Mile Island in March of that year. A series of “No Nukes” rallies and concerts happened in New York City, and a film record of the events was released in 1980, making nuclear energy a “hot topic” at CCNY and elsewhere.

The yearbook cited the words of City College founder Townsend Harris: “Open the doors to all. Let the children of the rich and the poor take their seats together and know of no distinction... save that of industry, good conduct, and intellect.”

What followed was an interpretation of those sentiments in 1980 terms: “These words are dreams of many of us here at the City College of New York, and are truer these days than ever before. The thoughts live and thrive on and are ever more evident through the diverse ethnicticity that comprise the City College populace.

“It’s such a rewarding experience to share the lines, knowledge and cultures of so many corners of the world. Thank you, City College.”

These class notes are largely excerpted from the 1980 Microcosm, Editor-in-Chief Terence M. Brewer.




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