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Queens College celebrates 85th anniversary honoring notable alumni

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Queens College President’s Medal recipients Robert Jacobs, class of ‘70 (l.) and Peter Archer, class of ‘85 and ‘87 (r.) with Queens College President Frank Wu at the school’s 85th anniversary celebration on Wednesday, Oct. 12. (Photo by Dominick Totino)

Queens College celebrated its 85th anniversary on Wednesday, Oct. 12, honoring notable alumni and marking the first day of classes held at the campus on Oct. 11, 1937.

Established with 400 students and 21 faculty members spread across nine buildings, the college was envisioned as a place where talented people of all backgrounds and financial means could receive a first-rate education.

Queens College President Frank Wu speaks at a ceremony held at Queens College
Queens College President Frank Wu speaks at the celebration marking the school’s 85th anniversary on Wednesday, Oct. 12. (Photo by Adrian Childress)

“Our school’s first president, Paul Klapper, had a vision to make this a place where talented people of all backgrounds and financial means could receive a first-rate education,” Queens College President Frank Wu said. “President Klapper coined our school’s civic-oriented motto, ‘Discimus Ut Serviamus — we learn so that we may serve’ to inspire students to learn to provide for the common good. For 85 years, Queens College has stayed true to those ideals by offering a rigorous education in the liberal arts and sciences under the guidance of faculty dedicated to teaching, research and service. Our 85th anniversary is a time where we can look back in celebration of all that we have achieved and look ahead with confidence that our students will continue to become leading and valued members of our societies.”

(From l. to r.) Senator Chuck Schumer, President Frank H. Wu and CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez (Photo by Dominick Totino)

The daylong celebration included a series of events such as the presentation of President’s Medals, the college’s highest administrative honor, a historical exhibition entitled “Under Construction: 85 Years of Building Futures at Queens College” and video, followed by a reception with live music.

(Photo by Adrian Childress)

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards presented a proclamation to Wu. 

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards presents a proclamation to Queens College President Frank Wu. (Photo by Dominick Totino)

During the event, Wu presented President’s Medals to notable alumni Peter Archer (class of ‘85 and ‘87) and Robert Jacobs (class of ‘70). 

Archer, a music teacher for more than 30 years at Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School 74 in Queens, served as a cultural consultant on the 2020 Disney Pixar Academy award-winning movie “Soul.” Archer’s input helped pinpoint the aesthetic of the main character’s classroom and inform the emotional tug of balancing a passion for playing music and a love for teaching. Archer earned a Bachelor of Music degree in music performance and a Master of Science degree in music education from Queens College; for his doctorate from Boston University, he wrote a dissertation on the history of the Queens College Aaron Copland School of Music. 

Recently, Archer donated his collection of personal papers — including research documents, photographs and mementos from his lengthy career as a musician, educator and academic — to Benjamin S. Rosenthal Archives.

Queens College President’s Medal recipient Peter Archer, class of ‘85 and ‘87. (Photo by Adrian Childress)

Jacobs, who earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and economics from Queens College, is a former partner at Ernst & Young. He is currently the president of Health/ROI, a company he founded that provides revenue enhancement services for hospitals and healthcare facilities in the tri-state area. 

Queens College President’s Medal recipient Robert Jacobs, class of ’70. (Photo by Adrian Childress)

After reading how a donation former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made to his alma mater ensures that no accepted student will be unable to attend because of financial circumstances, Jacobs established a scholarship at Queens College to benefit students of academic merit who need financial assistance. Then, spurred on by touching letters of appreciation from his scholarship recipients, Jacobs — together with his Queens College Phi Epsilon Pi fraternity brothers — created an endowment fund that has so far provided 13 scholarships to deserving students and continues to grow with consistent gifts throughout the year.

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