Medgar Evers College Interim President Dr. Denise Maybank.

Last week’s departure of embattled Medgar Evers College President Rudolph Crew has paved the way for college’s next chapter, with the naming of Dr. Denise Maybank as the new interim president.

Maybank, a graduate of Brooklyn College who was raised in Harlem, is joining MEC while working as CUNY vice chancellor of student affairs and enrollment management. Prior to joining CUNY, Maybank served as the vice president and associate provost for student affairs and Michigan State University.

MEC Interim President Dr. Denise Maybank. Photo: CUNY.

On Wednesday, Maybank addressed the MEC community in a virtual introduction, where she laid out her plans and priorities for her time serving as interim president and beyond. She said no matter how long she served in the role, she was committed to supporting the school’s success in the long-term.

To do so, Maybank said was bringing “many tools in my tool box” to MEC from her time working in higher education across the country, and to a student body that remained critical to her.

As a first generation college student raised in New York City, Maybank said she understood the transformative power of education.

“It is about opportunity,” Maybank said. “Medgar Evers College is about the opportunity that is set before populations of students, of community members, of those who are seeking to know just a bit more.”

Maybank said the opportunity to lead the college was a privilege and unexpected dream come true, and she would use her time in the role to live up to the legacy of Medgar Evers College and its namesake Medgar Evers, a civil rights hero.

“It is about social injustice, it is about racial injustice and it is about assuring justice for populations that live in places like the community in Brooklyn where we sit, but also all across the world.”

Maybank said there was a lot of work to do at the college, and she would use all the resources available to tackle enrollment issues, and make sure there was a long-term plan for the school.

She said the support and promotion of the college’s 4,181 students, advancing the things that mattered most to them and promoting the school and its programs were critical to success.

“As a predominantly Black institution, we become a shining light in New York City for those who think they couldn’t get it done in any other way,” she said. “We have to have arms open wide to accept them and let them know they belong at Medgar Evers College.”

CUNY Senior Vice Chancellor for Institutional Affairs, Strategic Advancement and Special Counsel Glenda Grace. Photo: CUNY.

CUNY Senior Vice Chancellor for Institutional Affairs, Strategic Advancement and Special Counsel Glenda Grace, who spoke at the address, said CUNY was committed to getting the presidential transition right, and starting with an interim president who was so committed to the school was “a big deal.”

Grace said moving forward, CUNY would be helping through the transition in three key ways. Firstly, it has established a working group of CUNY executives to “identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats,” at the school, and the group was focusing on IT, student services, enrollment and finance. The main priority, she said, was to help with any issues that existed right now, and do what needed to be done.

Secondly, CUNY Chancellor Felix Matos Rodriguez and the Board of Trustees are forming an external advisory group to assist with partnerships and vision from the viewpoint of the Brooklyn community.

Typically the internal working group and external advisory aren’t established during a presidential transition, but Grace said: “Because there’s been a lot of challenges we think this gives the new president and Medgar the opportunity to prosper and to deliver the mission that it needs to deliver on.”

On top of the two groups, there will also be the regular presidential transition team, which will help with the eventual transition to a long-term president.

In the meantime, Maybank said she was there for the long haul, no matter the duration of her time as interim president.

“I’m going to be here and I’m going to be committed,” she said. “We have to get it right, that is my objective, no matter how long I am here.”

“Medgar Evers College, it’s our time, it’s our turn, we will eat no for breakfast and we will make it happen in Brooklyn, and in New York, we will let the world know just what we’re made of.”


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Anna Bradley-Smith

Anna Bradley-Smith is Brooklyn-based reporter with bylines in NBC, VICE, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @annabradsmith.

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