CUNY Board Appoints William Fritz President of College of Staten Island

The Board of Trustees of The City University of New York today appointed Dr. William J. Fritz, an internationally renowned field geologist, as President of the College of Staten Island. Dr. Fritz has been serving as Interim President of the College since August 2012. Interim Chancellor William P. Kelly recommended Dr. Fritz to the Board, which gave its unanimous approval.

Board of Trustees Chairperson Benno Schmidt said: “Dr. William J. Fritz is an outstanding administrator, prominent scholar and researcher with an impressive track record of collaboration with faculty and a commitment to student success. He has demonstrated exemplary leadership at the College of Staten Island. He believes deeply in the College’s mission of offering its students access to a high quality education.  He will continue to bring great distinction to an institution of vital importance to Staten Island, our City and our State.”

Interim Chancellor William P. Kelly said:  “In the two years that Dr. Fritz has served as interim president of CSI, he has set a bright course for the future.  Among many other achievements, he has established a School of Business, School of Education, and a School of Health Sciences. Under his leadership, CSI has opened its first residence halls, has made significant progress with its advancement efforts, and has played a leading role in statewide initiatives such as CUNY 2020 and Start Up NY. CSI’s profile within the borough and throughout CUNY has been sharpened; the college enjoys warm relations with many external partners.”

Dr. Fritz said: “My focus as president of the College of Staten Island centers on helping our students fulfill their creative, aesthetic, and educational aspirations through competitive and rigorous undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. A central part of our mission involves embracing the strength of the College’s diversity, fostering civic mindedness among our students, and nurturing responsible citizens for our city, state, nation, and the world.”

Prior to assuming the position of Interim President, Dr. Fritz was Provost and Senior Vice President of the College of Staten Island, where he functioned as its Chief Operating Officer, and had previously been the Senior Associate Provost for Academic Programs and Enrollment Services at Georgia State University. As a distinguished field geologist, he has published more than 50 articles and guidebooks on sedimentation around modern and ancient explosive volcanoes, as well as on sedimentology, stratigraphy, and paleobotany.

Under Dr. Fritz’s leadership the College of Staten Island was named for the first time last year as one of America’s Best Colleges in the North by U.S. News & World Report; while Washington Monthly magazine recently named CSI one of “America’s Best-Bang-for-the-Buck Colleges.” Business Insider, the leading business and technology news Website, named CSI to its list of top schools in the country with great academics and high acceptance rates that challenge the myth that a college is necessarily better if it is more difficult to gain entrance, criteria which mirror CUNY’s mission. Only one school per state was chosen, with CSI representing New York. The College is also consistently listed as a top military-friendly school in the country by G.I. Jobs magazine.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and state lawmakers have secured $10 million for a major computer project for the College of Staten Island in this year’s state budget. State Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) and Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D-Mid-Island) announced that the $10 million will go toward CSI’s Interdisciplinary High-Performance Computer Center, a state-of-the-art research and learning facility to be built on the Willowbrook campus, which is already home to a super computer. Dr. Fritz has stated that the new center, which will also include lecture halls, classrooms, offices, and research space for faculty, will have a transformative effect on the College of Staten Island.

Reflecting CSI’s rising national profile, Dr. Fritz recently launched the $20 million “Campaign for CSI: For College and Community” to raise funds for faculty and student support, capital and construction projects, and to increase the College’s endowment. In addition, following consultation with the College of Staten Island’s governance bodies and faculty, Dr. Fritz succeeded in creating two new academic departments in the School of Education — the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and the Department of Educational Studies — in place of the former Department of Education. These two new independent departments are designed to enhance the ability of faculty members within each discipline to refine their programs to reflect emerging trends in their fields, and strengthen CSI’s ability to recruit faculty who prefer to work within discipline-specific departments. Additionally, four new departments were created in the School of Business—Accounting and Finance, Economics, Management, and Marketing—as well as four new departments in the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences – Philosophy, Political Science and Global Affairs, Sociology and Anthropology, and Social Work.

Dr. Fritz earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Biology from Walla Walla College and his Doctorate in Geology from the University of Montana. His research interests are on the volcaniclastic sedimentation and tectonics of southwestern Montana in response to the Yellowstone hotspot, and volcanic controls on sedimentation in Ordovician rock in Wales and Ireland.

He has authored two textbooks and a popular book on the Roadside Geology of the Yellowstone Country, convened a prestigious Penrose Conference, published in Nature and Science, and participated in international initiatives. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy. An expert on storm surges, he has gathered an interdisciplinary group of College of Staten Island faculty colleagues to conduct long-term research on the impact of future superstorms in the New York area.

After graduate school, Dr. Fritz worked for two years as an exploration geologist before joining the faculty at Georgia State University, an urban doctoral/research-extensive university of 28,000 students. There he enjoyed two exceptionally successful careers over 27 years — one as a renowned faculty member in the field of geology and the other as an administrator, where his responsibilities ranged from Director of Freshmen Studies at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to Senior Associate Provost for Academic Programs and Enrollment Services.

In 2008, Dr. Fritz became the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at the College of Staten Island. He is also a tenured Professor of Geology and a member of the Earth and Environmental Sciences Doctoral faculty at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Dr. Fritz continues to give invited lectures, accept speaking engagements, participate in research, and publish. He is also actively involved in the Staten Island community and serves on the boards of numerous organizations in the borough.