The City University of New York on Monday appointed Vincent G. Boudreau as the next president of its flagship, the City College of New York, after addressing the concerns of prominent African-American leaders in Harlem over his relationship with the neighborhood.
Dr. Boudreau, a political scientist, had been the college’s interim president for the past year following the abrupt resignation of Lisa S. Coico, whose finances have been under investigation by the United States attorney for the Eastern District. A 26-year veteran of the college, Dr. Boudreau had the backing of Colin L. Powell, the former secretary of state, who is one of the college’s most influential alumni, and had been expected to be offered the permanent post in October.
But the announcement was postponed after a group of 20 elected officials and community leaders, including former Gov. David A. Paterson, former Representative Charles B. Rangel and former Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright, complained that their “input, insight and influence” had been ignored.
Adding to the uncertainty, as well, was the surprising decision two weeks ago by James B. Milliken, CUNY’s chancellor, to step down at the end of the academic year, amid concerns over his health and criticism of the university’s governance by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
So in recent weeks, Dr. Boudreau, aided by William C. Thompson Jr., president of CUNY’s Board of Trustees, has met with some of those leaders, many of whom have close ties to the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce and its president and chief executive, Lloyd Williams. On Friday, the group released a statement, through Mr. Paterson, that “fruitful conversations” on issues such as educational standards and workplace diversity would result in a new advisory board so “City College can gain assistance from its neighbors.”
“We will need Dr. Boudreau to be successful as the president of this heralded institution,” the statement said.
Dr. Boudreau’s appointment was approved Monday by CUNY’s Board of Trustees. His salary will be $370,000.
Moments after the vote, Dr. Boudreau addressed the CUNY board of trustees, saying, “It is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I do it in full cognizance of the fact that the mission has never been more urgent, and never been more necessary, to the fabric of our society.”
In a statement, Mr. Milliken said, “My work with Dr. Boudreau over the last year, and the support he received from faculty, students, staff, alumni, and the community provide compelling evidence that he is the right leader to preside at this important time in City College’s history, with a vigorous commitment to its mission, a deep knowledge of its academic and social traditions and a spirit of unwavering integrity.”
The selection of Dr. Boudreau, 55, culminates a search process that took longer than anticipated. He succeeds Ms. Coico, a microbiologist who was tapped in 2010 as the first CUNY alumna to serve as president of City College. She helped to expand the college’s science offerings, and to continue its recent fund-raising success, but she was also a polarizing figure even before she was the subject of a federal inquiry. She remains on the faculty of the medical school.
A former dean of the Colin L. Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership, Dr. Boudreau has specialized in studying social movements, especially in Southeast Asia. And while CUNY sought, initially, to hire an outsider with a strong fund-raising record for the permanent job, Dr. Boudreau impressed many people by restoring order to an institution reeling from scandal.
With 16,000 students, most of them undergraduates, City College, which was established in 1847, has educated generations of poor, minority and immigrant students. But more than any other CUNY school, the college has also been battered by fiscal pressures, which have resulted in cuts to its curriculum and deferred maintenance of its campus.