As we approach the end of the academic year, I write with information and updates that you may find of interest.

This week was a typically busy one, with myriad activities on-campus and off. Many of these highlighted our fantastic students, who continued to demonstrate their artistic, athletic, and academic prowess through end-of-semester activities. These included both a dance recital and a choral recital, and the annual Student Leadership Awards banquet. Each of these events highlighted the ways in which our students embody the best of servant leadership, self-advocacy, and peer mentorship. The lessons they learned—and taught—are powerful and important, especially during these challenging times.

The Class of 2024 has endured tremendous pressures but showed their strength and resilience throughout their college experience. Entering college during a pandemic, they adjusted to remote and hybrid learning, and navigated the difficult waters of online education. Next week, more than 2,000 of them will proudly march across the Great Lawn to celebrate that achievement. Their journey was not easy: during their matriculation, they witnessed social unrest and upheaval. From a crippling opioid epidemic that continues to plague Staten Island to wars in Europe and the Middle East that—although half a world away—that have impacted so many members of our community. Our students have seen fractious national politics and campus-based protests drive wedges among their peers, but they have also come together in the face of tragedy to support one another in times of need. It is this sense of community and of compassion that I will remember most about these times: while others focus on pain and despair, let us strive to always seek the goodness in others, and in each other. I am heartened that the protests and demonstrations that have rocked other campuses have been conspicuously absent here at CSI. This is not, I am sure, because of disinterest or apathy, but rather it reflects a shared sense that community—and the ability to disagree without being disagreeable—is what makes a college campus community so special. College is about being exposed to new and different ideas, often uncomfortable ones. It is about having conversations that challenge our preconceptions and it is about being able to change our position on important topics. The tenets of academic freedom and freedom of speech—even when that speech can be considered hurtful or unpleasant—are paramount to a learning community.

These themes were on display this week at the last of the College Council and Faculty Senate meetings, where we discussed final plans for graduation (and approved more than 2,000 degree candidates), upcoming meeting schedules and modalities, the results of this year’s various fundraising initiatives (and it was a banner year for philanthropy!) and the results of staff satisfaction surveys (with town halls to be planned for the near future). The meetings demonstrated our common commitment to transparency, trust, and shared governance.   I also hosted New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, who toured our facilities, met with students and instructors, and who shared his vision for public higher education. We further discussed capital funding and projects, the need for infrastructure improvements and related items. My week closed with a visit from our honorary degree recipient, Rear Admiral Zeita Merchant and that evening’s celebration of our graduating student-veterans.

Next week brings Commencement and myriad end-of-year activities, including our annual Lavender Graduation celebration (Wednesday, May 22), the return of departmental graduation events (after a lengthy hiatus), and the much-anticipated Dolphin Awards (winners can be viewed here).

While summer will see a lessened degree of academic activity, campus will be abuzz, nonetheless, as we have many campus improvement projects—including a Website redesign with chatbot feature, computer upgrades to a dozen teaching labs, a pair of newly paved parking lots, new water-filling stations (thanks to the Student Government Association!), and much more—lined up for the summer months. My regular communications will likely be less frequent, but I pledge to maintain an open line of communication and transparency to keep you apprised of campus and system developments. I thank you all for the work that you do that allows our students to reach their potential and realize their dreams. I congratulate the Class of 2024, and wish you all a safe and peace-filled summer.

Until next time,

Timothy G. Lynch, Ph.D. (he/him/his)