Queens College Staffing Up on Luminaries

By Queens Courier Staff |

Queens College President Allen Sessoms is a step closer to his mission: raising the School’s profile from a good College to a great one.
His technique seems to revolve around attracting the celebrated in medicine, politics and communications to Queens College.
The first step–one that catapulted the Flushing campus into international prominence–was luring Dr. Luc Montagnier, the world-renowned AIDS researcher, to head the new Center for Molecular and Cellular Biology. Sessoms got a major assist here from Dr. Bernard Salick, a doctor-turned-entrepreneur who gave his alma mater $3 million to finance a chair and help build the center.
Sessoms’ newest "superstar" to provide luster to Queens College’s roster would be former Senator George J. Mitchell, the former Democratic Senator from Maine.
According to Ron Cannova, the College’s spokesperson, that appointment isn’t solidified yet, but "looks promising." Mitchell would head the College’s new center for international relations.
How much time Mitchell would spend in Flushing is still undecided, but like Montagnier, his appointment would give Queens College a substantial PR factor.
Another development–this one already formalized–is the addition of a new media and communications school. It will be headed by a former CBS executive, Thomas F. Leahy who has been tapped also to raise $10 million to fuel the project.
In addition, Sessoms has b brought in the Center for Educational Innovation, a group of former school administrators to create a kindergarten through second grade laboratory school in conjunction with Queens’ education school, as well as a program to train principals and superintendents.
Sessoms, is, of course, still pushing hard for what he calls "The University of Queens," a merger between his College and nearby Queensborough Community College. It didn’t get a warm reception from CUNY. In fact, Anne A. Paolucci, the chairman of CUNY’s board of trustees, dismissed the idea as a distraction.
Sessoms is regarded as an imaginative educator throughout academia. He was reportedly on the short list for the presidency of Northeastern University. But when that news leaked out, he asked to have his name removed.
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The Queens Courier/photos by Mike Kurtz