Derrick Griffith (140847)
Credit: Medgar Evers College photo

The CUNY Board of Trustees renames CUNY Preparatory School in the Bronx after its founding principal, the late Dr. Derrick Griffith who died in the May 2015 Amtrak accident that killed eight people.

The Board unanimously approved the resolution, which was recommended by Chancellor James B. Milliken and the Committee on Faculty, Staff and Administration.

“Dr. Griffith was a brilliant and passionate educator, scholar and extraordinary human being who saw potential in others when it was hard for them to see it in themselves. He was a tireless force in the world of education,” the Trustees said in a statement.

Griffith’s family and members of the CUNY Preparatory School staff as well as friends and colleagues were on hand for the annoucement of the desicion.

“I was first introduced to Derrick by Senior Dean John Mogulescu, and I quickly became enamored with this most talented and dedicated educator, whom we will all miss,” Trustee and Committee Chairperson Valerie Lancaster Beal said.

Starting out as a social studies teacher in Rochester, N.Y., Griffith subsequently taught as an adjunct instructor at Hunter College. In 2003, CUNY hired him to serve as the founding principal and director of CUNY Prep, a school he helped create that has enabled thousands of out-of-school youth to earn high school equivalency diplomas and enter college.

In doing so, Griffith altered the educational landscape for out-of-school youth in New York City. Because of his early efforts to build the school, CUNY Prep has become a recognized model for re-engaging young people with an education that provides a rigorous and supportive pathway into college, especially for those traditionally considered incapable of achieving such goals.

Since leaving CUNY Prep in 2010, Griffith served as Assistant Provost at Medgar Evers College and most recently as Dean of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. He wrote his dissertation and earned his Doctorate of Philosophy in Urban Education at The CUNY Graduate Center just one month before his death. He received his degree posthumously on May 27 at MEC’s spring commecment where he was also honored.

“Dr. Griffith transformed thousands of lives of young New Yorkers who were uplifted by his encouragement as they found the resolve to pursue education and build personal beliefs in their own ability to persevere,” the resolution said. “He was a true visionary whose compassion and intelligence were paralleled only by his sense of humor and love for his students, colleagues, friends and family.”