Thompson Nominated as Next Board of Trustees Chair; Governor Thanks Outgoing Chair Benno Schmidt For 16 Years of Dedicated Service to CUNY, Including 13 Years Leading Its Board of Trustees
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today nominated Bill Thompson and Fernando Ferrer to serve on the City University of New York’s Board of Trustees. Mr. Thompson has been nominated to replace outgoing Chair Benno Schmidt, who was originally appointed to CUNY’s Board in 1999 and has served as its Chair since 2003. Both nominations require confirmation by the New York State Senate.
“As a beacon of opportunity for hundreds of thousands of students each year, CUNY fulfills an integral role in the promise of New York,” said Governor Cuomo. “For more than 16 years, Benno Schmidt has promoted that promise and provided a tremendous service to CUNY and its students. First as Vice-Chair of CUNY’s Board of Trustees beginning in 1999 and then as Chair since 2003, he has had a profound impact on this system, and his leadership will have a lasting benefit for future classes as well. I thank Benno for his commitment to public service.”
Governor Cuomo also said: “I am proud to nominate Bill Thompson and Fernando Ferrer to the CUNY Board of Trustees. Bill brings a tremendous diversity of experience to this role – in both the public and private sectors, and as a former President of the New York City Board of Education. Fernando is eminently qualified from his work serving the people of New York, and I believe he will also be a strong addition to CUNY. The world-class education that CUNY provides is integral to students across New York City and the surrounding communities, and I am confident that the system will continue to reach new heights under Bill’s and Fernando’s leadership.”
CUNY provides high-quality, accessible education for hundreds of thousands of degree-credit students and adult, continuing, and professional education students at campuses across New York City.
Mr. Thompson served two consecutive, four-year terms as Comptroller for the City of New York from 2002 until 2009. In that role, he led a team of 720 employees, managed a $66 million annual operating budget and the country’s 5th largest pension fund, a multi-billion-dollar fund that was rated among the top 20 in the world. As New York City Comptroller, Thompson was the custodian and investment advisor to the five Boards of Trustees of the Five New York City Pension Funds. They include the New York City Employee’s Retirement System; the Teachers’ Retirement System of the City of New York; the New York City Police Pension Fund; the New York City Fire Department Pension Fund; and the New York City Board of Education Retirement System.
Prior, he served as Brooklyn Deputy Borough President from 1983 to 1992. He was also a five-term President of the New York City Board of Education from 1996 until 2001, and a member of the board from 1994 to 2001.
In February 2010, New York State Governor David Paterson named Mr. Thompson to serve as Chairman of the Board of The Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority, a position he held until 2012. He previously served on the New York State Gaming Facility Location Board. In 2011, Governor Cuomo selected Mr. Thompson to Chair his MWBE Task Force. Since 2015, he has served as the Chairman of the New York State Housing Finance Agency and Chairman of the State of New York Mortgage Agency.
Mr. Thompson is currently a partner at Siebert Brandford Shank where he underwrites loans for schools, roads, bridges and infrastructure projects. He is a Trustee Emeritus at Tufts University and a former Board Member of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation and KeySpan/Brooklyn Union Gas Company. He is a graduate of Tufts University.
Mr. Thompson resides in Harlem with his wife Elsie McCabe and their three children.
Mr. Ferrer served as the Bronx Borough President for almost 15 years from 1987 - 2001. During his tenure, he created housing for about 66,000 families. The borough also saw a significant drop in crime, particularly in the South Bronx, and a steady rise in business and real estate investment.
Prior to being elected Bronx Borough President, Mr. Ferrer served in the New York City Council where he represented communities in the North Bronx from 1982 until 1987.
Mr. Ferrer currently serves as Vice-Chairman of the Metropolitan Transit Authority and served as Acting Chairman of the MTA in 2013.
Mr. Ferrer is a Partner and Co-Chairman of Mercury Public Affairs, LLC. He also serves as Director of Sterling BanCorp and Sterling National Bank, one of Sterling BanCorp’s subsidiaries. Prior, he was the President of Drum Major Institute for Public Policy from 2002 to 2004.
He earned a B.A. from the University Heights College of Arts and Sciences of New York University, and an M.P.A. degree from Baruch College of the City University of New York. Mr. Ferrer has been awarded honorary degrees from Manhattan, Mercy, Herbert H. Lehman and Metropolitan Colleges. He received the Eugene J. Keogh Public Service Awards from the Alumni Association of New York University, and hundreds of awards from schools, community groups, institutions and faith communities.
Mr. Ferrer currently resides with his wife, Dr. Aramina Vega Ferrer, in the Bronx.
Mr. Schmidt was appointed as Chair of CUNY’s Board of Trustees by Governor George Pataki in April 2003. He was reappointed to the Board for a seven-year term in June 2006.
Previously he served as Vice Chairperson upon his appointment in August 1999. Mr. Schmidt is Chairman of Avenues, the global private school network, and currently serves as the Vice Chairman of Edison Schools, Inc., having served as its Chairman from 1992 until fall, 2007. Before joining Edison Schools, Inc., he served as Yale University’s 20th president, where he was best known nationally for his defense of freedom of expression and the academic values of liberal education.
During his tenure at Yale, which began in 1986, Mr. Schmidt launched one of the largest building programs in Yale’s history; he became Yale’s most successful fund-raiser; he fashioned a model partnership between the University and the city of New Haven; and helped build a number of new interdisciplinary programs, especially in environmental science, molecular biology, and international studies. During his presidency, Yale’s endowment grew from $1.7 billion to nearly $3 billion, the highest rate of growth of any private university during that time.
Before joining Yale, Mr. Schmidt was the Dean of Columbia University Law School, where he joined the faculty in 1969 and became, four years later, one of the youngest tenured professors in Columbia’s history. He was named Harlan Fiske Stone Professor of Constitutional Law in 1982. He is one of the country’s leading scholars of the Constitution, the history of the U.S. Supreme Court, the law of freedom of expression, and the history of race relations in America. Mr. Schmidt served as law clerk to Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. Mr. Schmidt received both his college and law degrees from Yale University. He is a trustee of the National Humanities Center and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was also Chairman of Mayor Giuliani’s Task Force on The City University of New York. In November 2010, Mr. Schmidt received the sixth annual Philip Merrill Award of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni for Outstanding Contributions to Liberal Arts Education.
About the City University of New York
The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in New York City in 1847, the University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the CUNY Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the CUNY School of Public Health. The University serves more than 274,000 degree-credit students and 218,083 adult, continuing and professional education students. CUNY serves students from remarkably diverse backgrounds, with family heritage linked to over 205 countries. More than 40 percent of undergraduates were born outside the United States; about 44 percent are first- generation Americans; and about 20 percent are the first in their families to attend college.