By Ellen Keohane
Hunter College’s Latin motto, Mihi Cura Futuri, translates to “The care of the future is mine.” Jennifer Raab, the college’s president since 2001, said she takes these words very seriously.
“We’re a public college committed to supporting the future of the city,” Raab said. Most Hunter students are from the city or tend to stay here after graduation, she said.
Raab said Hunter is filling an important need. “Private education is really pricing itself out of the range of most average New Yorkers and Americans,” she said.
As president of Hunter College, the largest college in the CUNY system, Raab also administers Hunter College Elementary School, Hunter College High School and Manhattan Hunter Science High School.
“Jennifer has a passionate belief in the transformative potential of quality public education,” Vita Rabinowitz, Hunter College’s provost and vice president of academic affairs, said via email. “From the start, her priority has been to raise the academic profile of the college while maintaining our richly diverse student body, and in this she has succeeded brilliantly.”
Since her appointment more than 10 years ago, Raab, 55, said she has seen SAT scores of entering students increase alongside the school’s U.S. News and World Report ranking. “We’re very proud in general of the rising standards,” she said.
One important milestone has been the opening of the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College. “We have over 50 doctoral students in our new school,” Raab said. Accredited in 2011, the new School of Public Health shares space with the Hunter College School of Social Work in a newly constructed building in East Harlem.
Another accomplishment has been the restoration of the Roosevelt House, a double townhouse on East 65th Street. The house was a wedding gift from Sara Delano Roosevelt to her son Franklin and his wife, Eleanor. Hunter College had owned the townhouse since 1941 but it had fallen into disrepair. “We were able to obtain the funding and have them totally renovated according to historic standards; now they are the home of a flourishing public policy institute,” said Raab, who previously ran the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.
A graduate of Hunter College High School, Raab earned her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a master’s degree in public affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. She also has a degree from Harvard Law School.
Originally from Washington Heights, Raab now lives in the Bronx with her husband, Michael Goodwin, a columnist for the New York Post. Their daughter Miranda graduated from Bronx High School of Science last year and is now a freshman at Duke University. Raab’s stepson Scott and his wife, Jennifer, live in Manhattan.
Before her stint at the Landmarks Commission from 1994 to 2001, Raab worked as an urban planner, campaign manager and corporate lawyer.
Raab said her 10 years as a litigator prepared her to be the “ultimate advocate and cheerleader” for the college. As a litigator, you have to advocate for your client, she explained. Indeed, when talking about the school, Raab’s enthusiasm is impossible to ignore. “Hunter is a place where every day we get to see the American dream come true,” she said. n
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