LaGuardia Community College receives largest-ever endowment for city archival project

Photo courtesy of LaGuardia Community College

LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City has received its largest-ever endowment to support a program training future historians.

The LaGuardia Community College Foundation announced the major grant of $1,090,000 from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation to endow the Robert D.L. Gardiner-Joseph Shenker Student Scholars Program, through which a cohort of LaGuardia Community College students are selected each year to collaborate with historians and researchers at the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives, a repository of New York City history.

“This is the largest grant the college has ever received to endow a program at LaGuardia,” LaGuardia Community College President Kenneth Adams said. “For years to come, LaGuardia students will have opportunities to learn from faculty and staff of the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives, a distinct program at LaGuardia.”

The Robert D.L. Gardiner-Joseph Shenker Student Scholars Program provides students with valuable experiential learning opportunities about historic preservation work, preparing them for careers as historians. This generous funding on our 50th Anniversary brings us closer to raising $15 million, an amount we have targeted to significantly expand resources to help students whose lives have been upended by COVID-19.”

(Left to right) Molly Rosner, director of Education Programs, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives; Stephen Petrus, director of Public History Programs, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives; Kenneth Adams, LGCC president; and Kathryn M. Curran, executive director, Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation. (Photo courtesy of LaGuardia Community College)

In the inaugural year of this endowment, students will work with political science professors Anja Vojvocic, Ph.D. and Nichole Shippen, Ph.D., as well as commercial photography professors Maureen Drennan and Lidiya Kan on a project exploring women in New York City government. Through interviews and archival research, the students will investigate what it means to have women in leadership roles, set within the global fight for gender equity.

A historic period for women in New York City politics is currently underway with the first-ever woman majority on the City Council, as well as its female Speaker Adrienne Adams from southeast Queens. Mayor Eric Adams also appointed five women as deputy mayors.

“The Women in Government Archival Project, made possible by the Gardiner-Shenker Student Scholars Program, allows students to take part in creating a living archive, one that captures a momentous occasion in New York City Council politics including the unprecedented election of women of color, most of whom are children of working-class immigrants,” Dr. Shippen said. “Perhaps students will see people like themselves in office and consider running for public office one day.”

The LaGuardia and Wagner Archives chronicles the past 150 years of New York City history, with a growing focus on Queens and the outer boroughs. Housing more than two million documents, and with 100,000 photographs digitized and accessible on its website, the Archives serves students, scholars, journalists, policymakers and exhibition planners.

“The Gardiner-Shenker Student Scholars Program exemplifies how mentoring is the best form of teaching and is key to undergraduate learning. The result is often meaningful relationships that help students blossom and realize their potential,” said Richard Lieberman, Ph.D., director of the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives. “Additionally, Archives collections will be enhanced with the unique perspectives of LaGuardia students who share their life experiences and views of our city.”