There’s good news and bad news from Medgar Evers College, depending on your position on the longstanding dilemma about its presidential situation. The good news is that the Brooklyn CUNY campus has selected a new leader: Dr. Rudy Crew. The bad news, according to the new president’s detractors, is that the school has chosen the wrong one of the three candidates.
On Monday, CUNY’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved Crew, 62, as the president of Medgar Evers. In a combined statement from Benno Schmidt, the board’s chair, and Matthew Goldstein, the soon-to-be former CUNY chancellor, Crew was praised for his academic record, experience and leadership. Crew, they said, will lead the school to “new levels of excellence.”
They said that with Crew aboard, the school will “strengthen its role with the community.” He is expected to begin his tenure on Aug. 1.
However, a part of that community is not too excited about the appointment, charging the former New York City schools chancellor with a number of misdeeds and false steps.
“Rudy Crew is a bureaucratic hack with no creative vision on how to develop intellectual and cultural integrity and creativity for a Black, urban-centered, predominantly women’s college,” wrote educator/activist Sam Anderson, who has been following the turmoil at Medgar Evers for years. “He is loyal to the CUNY big shots and loyal to the New York City super-rich politicos. He will hasten the transformation of Medgar Evers College into either a two-year institute or a clone of Baruch College, that is, safe for Brooklyn’s rising white gentrifiers and immigrant communities.”
As many New Yorkers will recall, Crew, during his tenure as schools chancellor during the Giuliani administration, was often at odds with the mayor. They clashed most vehemently over school vouchers, which Crew opposed and the mayor advocated.
Crew’s next post after leaving New York was in Florida, where as head of the Miami school system he once again encountered difficulties and left for calmer pastures out West. His last station was in Oregon as the state’s chief education officer. He said he was contacted by Goldstein to compete for the presidency.
At the meeting in which Crew was selected, the decision was greeted with applause, according to a CUNY press release.
“I don’t recall the last time someone clapped for me, so you can do it again,” he said.
It appears that Crew got out of Oregon just in time, as he was meeting a welter of reaction for his attempt to overhaul the education system in the state.
If past is prologue, then it’s to be seen if Crew has the wherewithal, savvy and, most importantly, the cooperation to stabilize the often precarious financial situation and volatile academic climate at the school.