Bronx CUNY veep to lead York College

By Michael Morton

Marcia Keizs, currently vice president for academic affairs at CUNY's Bronx Community College, will take over the reins at York Feb. 14. In addition to other positions, she previously had served as the college's acting president for the first six months of 1996. Her appointment to replace Robert Hampton, who was forced to tender his resignation at the end of last year, was announced at CUNY's board of trustees meeting Monday.”The board of trustees is very pleased that Dr. Keizs will lead York College, assuring the college's stability and growth in the years ahead,” Chairman Benno Schmidt Jr. said.After Hampton announced he was leaving, several influential community leaders, including former Borough President Claire Shulman and U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans), sought Rev. Floyd Flake for the job. But Flake, a former southeast Queens congressman who heads the 18,000-member Greater Allen Cathedral in Jamaica, said he wanted to continue on as president of his alma mater, Wilberforce University in Ohio.At Tuesday's State of the Borough address, given by Borough President Helen Marshall, Shulman said the board of trustees had in the past failed to appoint a worthy president at York, leaving it to founder. As such, many community observers wanted someone from outside the CUNY system this time around to invigorate the school's leadership, Shulman said. “The last 10 years have been a horror,” she said, referring to three CUNY-appointed presidents and several interim presidents during that period. “We really needed a rainmaker.”Shulman said she would work with the new president, but hoped Keizs would forge stronger links with a federal Food and Drug Administration lab on campus and with industries and offices at Kennedy Airport, including a Federal Aviation Administration building on Rockaway Boulevard.Keizs said she understood Shulman's concerns and pledged to work with the community. “My goals for York are two: to bring stability and academic success,” the new president said. “I think we have a great foundation.”Keizs will take over from CUNY Vice Chancellor Otis Hill, who has been temporarily running the school since Hampton left. Sources said Hampton was forced to resign because he failed to connect with the community and did not institute desired changes quickly enough, among other perceived weaknesses.The 60-year-old Keizs had worked as a professor at Bayside's Queensborough Community College and later as an assistant dean and vice president at the school.”Dr. Keizs' extensive and distinguished record of academic and administrative leadership at CUNY, including two terms as an acting president, make her very well-prepared,” said Goldstein, who recommended her. He did so after several trips to York to speak to students, faculty and staff, and community members, a spokesman said. The spokesman did not disclose whether other candidates were under consideration. Archie Spigner, a former city councilman for the area, said he remembered Keizs from her short stint at York in 1996.”She appeared to then be competent, and I look forward to working with her,” he said. Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) acknowledged there was disappointment that Flake did not seek the post but said he understood the minister's decision. However, Comrie said he was not as concerned about who holds the York presidency as with the approach to the job. He wants CUNY administrators to make York a “jewel” of the system.”The school's adrift,” Comrie said. “We need the chancellor to have a hyper-focus on getting the school on a clear path.”Reporter James DeWeese contributed to this report.Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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