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Former provost at Hunter named Queens Col. prez

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Dr. James Muyskens, the head of technologically oriented Gwinnet University Center in Atlanta, was named the new president of Queens College Monday.

The appointment represents a return to the borough and the City University of New York system for Muyskens, who lived in Flushing while serving as associate provost and active provost at Hunter College, a member of the CUNY system, from 1984 to 1987.

“Queens is very well positioned,” said Muyskens, speaking of the school. “It has incredible potential. It has a very strong faculty.”

Muyskens, 59, was an undergraduate at Central College in Iowa. He earned his master’s of divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Michigan. He began teaching at Hunter in 1970, rising to the position of active provost. He also served as chairman of Hunter’s philosophy department and director of the school’s religion program.

In 1988, Muyskens moved onto the position of dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Kansas.

Muyskens then moved to the University System of Georgia in 1995. There he worked as senior vice chancellor for academic affairs in a system of more than 205,000 students and 34 campuses.

In 1999, Muyskens created the Gwinnett University Center in Atlanta, a new campus in the Georgian system, where he became the chief executive officer and dean of faculty. Known as the “brick and clicks” school, Gwinnett offers classes designed to be taken on computers.

CUNY’s board of trustees appointed Muyskens after the school’s chancellor, Matthew Goldstein, recommended him.

The Queens College Presidential Search Committee, chaired by the college’s trustee and Flushing developer Wellington Chen, had narrowed down its nationwide search to Muyskens and Dr. Eugene Buccini, vice president for academic affairs at Western Connecticut State University.

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall had written a letter to Goldstein on April 2 asking him to keep interim president Russell Hotzler on at the school. The letter was signed by all of Queens’ assembly and state senate representatives.

However, Goldstein said considering Hotzler would violate CUNY’s guidelines and soon decided on Muyskens.

“Dr. Muyskens will provide exemplary leadership to a first-rate institution of higher education,” Goldstein said.

“We are very pleased to welcome him back to CUNY,” said CUNY Board of Trustees Chairman Benno Schmidt Jr.

Muyskens’ appointment comes two years after the school’s last permanent president, Allen Sessoms, resigned.

Sessoms left Queens College, long regarded as the crown jewel of the CUNY system, in a cloud of controversy. He was criticized for failing to raise enough money to construct a planned AIDS research center, to be headed by Dr. Luc Montagnier, the co-discoverer of the AIDS virus.

The Queens College campus newspaper, the Quad, also criticized Sessoms, reporting he had made derogatory comments about remedial students.

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300 Ext. 141.

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