Dr. Joseph Shenker, Recently Retired C.W. Post Provost, Passes Away at 68
Brookville, N.Y. - Dr. Joseph Shenker, a leader of New York area college campuses since his late 20s whose belief in cooperative education led tens of thousands of students to mix real-world work experience with their studies, died on Saturday, September 20 after a brief battle with pulmonary fibrosis. He was 68.
In July, Dr. Shenker retired as provost of the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University after 13 years as the Campus' chief executive officer.
Prior to coming to C.W. Post, he led a distinguished career in New York City higher education. He became one of the youngest college presidents in the nation at age 29 when he was appointed acting president of Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, and never held a position with less authority for the remainder of his 40-year career.
At the age of 30, Dr. Shenker became the founding president of Fiorello H. LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, Queens in 1970. From 1988 until 1995 he was president of the Bank Street College of Education in New York. In 1995 he became provost of the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University in Brookville, N.Y.
In May 2008, President Steinberg awarded Dr. Shenker an honorary doctorate of humane letters at C.W. Post's commencement exercises.
When LaGuardia opened in 1971, it was the first college in the nation to require that all full-time day students participate in cooperative education internships to gain professional work experience prior to graduation. Dr. Shenker continued to emphasize the value of hands-on learning at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University, devoting significant resources to the campus office of Professional Experience and Career Planning, which grew to nationally in prominence for its Cooperative Education and internship programs.
On August 14, 2008, LaGuardia Community College renamed its main campus building as Joseph Shenker Hall. Dr. Gail O. Mellow, LaGuardia's third president, said of Dr. Shenker: "His ability to envision ground-breaking programs and put them into place is what made LaGuardia the gold standard for community colleges it is today." Dr. Shenker also opened two high schools during his tenure at LaGuardia - the LaGuardia Middle College High School and the International High School.
During Dr. Shenker's leadership of the C.W. Post Campus, enrollment increased significantly, new academic programs were developed, the Campus earned respected accreditations, and partnerships were formed with school districts, corporations and organizations that greatly benefited college students. He presided over major renovation and construction projects, including the Patsy and Al Kahn Discovery Center, the Pratt Recreation Center and the Winnick Student Center.
In addition to his supervisory duties at C.W. Post, Dr. Shenker oversaw Long Island University's Rockland Graduate Campus and Brentwood Campus, and the University's newest location in Riverhead.
Dr. Shenker received his B.A. in psychology and was the first graduate of the M.A. in economics program at Hunter College. He received his Ed.D. in higher education administration from Teachers College of Columbia University. He served as a trustee for UNICEF America from 1993 through 1997 and was a member of the board of directors for the Wallace Foundation.
He is survived by his wife, Susan Smyth Shenker, a teacher in the C.W. Post School of Education, and his four children, Deborah, Karyn, Sarah and Jordan. He also is survived by his grandchildren, Joshua and Rachel Singer and Ava Gould, and son-in-laws Gregg Singer and Shannon Gould.
Posted: September 22, 2008