Ex-York President Kidd dies at 76

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Charles Kidd, the former York College president who broadened the school’s reach in southern Queens, died last week at the age of 76.

Kidd was York’s fourth president, serving from 1996-2002, and a lifelong advocate of providing education to minority youths.

“During Dr. Kidd’s tenure, new academic programs were added and new community partnerships forged,” Marcia Keizs, the current president of York College, said. “President Kidd extended the college’s reach into Far Rockaway to bring that area of our Queens community into the CUNY fold. It was also under his stewardship that the CUNY Aviation Institute at York College was born from a partnership between the college and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.”

Kidd was born Aug. 9, 1936, in Washington, D.C., and as a young student he excelled in technical sciences, earning a scholarship to Case Institute of Technology in Cleveland, Ohio, and a degree in civil engineering. After serving in the U.S. Air Force, he obtained a Ph.D. in environmental health sciences from the University of Michigan, where he held the position of assistant professor of radiological health.

He was selected as the University of Michigan’s associate vice president for student affairs in 1971 and the following year he established a black student cultural center. After leaving Michigan in 1972, he and his wife moved to Chicago, where Kidd worked on the Illinois Board of Higher Education and later as the president of Olive Harvey College and then the vice president at Chicago State University.

His passion for minority education led him to Florida A&M University, where he served as the dean of the College of Engineering, Sciences, Technology and Agriculture. There he successfully won millions of dollars in grants for the school and established several scholarship funds.

When Kidd got to York in 1996, he had already built a reputation as an academic and an administrator.

“He taught for many years. Most of his professional life was as an administrator,” Ronald Thomas, York’s vice president for administrative affairs, said. “I think by the time he got to York he was a seasoned administrator with very strong ties to faculty and research.”

During his time at York, Kidd spearheaded efforts to develop pipeline programs for students in southeast Queens high schools to make their way to the college and with the assistance of his wife created the York College Quilt Committee.

“I think he will be remembered for his community outreach work. One thing that he was quite instrumental in was, in the absence of a York College foundation, he established a group to support the institution financially,” Thomas said. “Until recently there was no York foundation, and it was the primary way to raise funds.”

Kidd died Dec. 10 from natural causes. He is survived by his wife, five children and eight grandchildren. A memorial service is scheduled for Dec. 29 in Washington, D.C.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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