Frank Macchiarola, former New York City schools chancellor, dead at 71


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com |

Photo courtesy of St. Francis College
Photo courtesy of St. Francis College

Frank Macchiarola

Former New York City Schools Chancellor Frank J. Macchiarola died on Tuesday, December 18, announced St. Francis College, his alma mater, where he served as president for 12 years, beginning in 1996.

As president, Macchiarola would continuously go through student transcripts, looking to help those that seemed to be struggling and to reward others who showed improvements. A constant sight in the hallways and often as a professor in the classroom, students, faculty and administrators universally referred to him as “Dr. Mac.”

Under his leadership, the college completed a successful $40 million fundraising campaign which resulted in the construction of what is now called the Frank and Mary Macchiarola Academic Center, a 35,000-square-foot state-of-the-art building with a three-floor library, black box theater, HDTV studio and multimedia classroom. That money was also used to build the Anthony J. Genovesi Center, a multipurpose athletic facility that hosts home volleyball matches, intramurals, lectures and special events.

Of particular significance to Macchiarola was the creation of more than 150 endowed scholarships that help St. Francis keep to its mission of insuring an affordable private college education.

Macchiarola held a number of other positions in public and private roles, perhaps the most prominent serving for five years as New York City Public Schools chancellor under Mayor Ed Koch. Koch often proclaimed that Macchiarola was the “finest schools chancellor New York City ever had.”

Macchiarola also served five years as dean of Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law where he also taught. He was also a professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business and at City University of New York (CUNY) for more than 20 years. Macchiarola was president and CEO of the New York City Partnership, Inc., deputy director of the New York State Emergency Financial Control Board for New York City and chair of the Advisory Committee of the Columbia Business School Community Collaboration.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed Macchiarola to serve as chair of the New York City Charter Revision Commission. He mediated the 2003 strike of Local 802 Musicians Union against the League of American Theaters and Producers; chaired the New York City Districting Commission, which drew City Council District lines for the 1991 election; and acted as special referee in the case that drew New York State congressional lines for the 1992 election.

Macchiarola’s strong and deeply rooted Roman-Catholic faith, recognized through numerous awards and accolades, influenced him to focus his life’s work on helping others. In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI bestowed upon him the Papal Honor of Knight Commander of the Holy Order of St. Gregory the Great. He also received the St. Thomas More Award from the Catholic Lawyers Guild Diocese Brooklyn, the Lifetime Achievement Award from Catholic Teachers Association and the Cavalieri Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy.

Macchiarola died after an extended illness. He is survived by his wife Mary, his three sons Joseph (Michaela), Michael (Jennifer) and Frank (Sarah), and seven grandchildren; John, Joseph, Danny, Mary Kate, Erin, Maggie and Brian. He is also survived by his brothers Joseph, James and Henry.