Theodore Gross, signed by author
CCNY–and Me describes the conflict between equal opportunity and academic excellence in American higher education. Once known as a “proletarian Harvard,” the City College of New York admitted the children of immigrants solely on the basis of achievement until a policy called Open Admissions was initiated in 1970, which offered a second chance to the disadvantaged of Harlem and other deprived neighborhoods. Emerging from the cultural revolution of the 1960s, Open Admissions tested the very meaning of public education in our democracy. As chairman of the English department, dean of humanities, and vice president for development at CCNY, David Rosen is a central figure in this conflict–torn between a beautiful, charismatic woman who is committed to the policy and a brilliant president who intends to control it so that he can transform CCNY into an urban educational model for other cities. The arc of Rosen’s absolute commitment to reconciling Open Admissions and the Urban Educational Model and his growing skepticism of their efficacy provides a human drama that cuts to the core of American democracy.