ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

Benno Schmidt, Merrill Award Winner

November 3, 2010 by Michael Poliakoff

This Friday, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni will award the 6th annual Philip Merrill Award for Outstanding Contributions to Liberal Arts Education to City University of New York Board of Trustees Chairman Benno Schmidt. The ceremony will take place at the ATHENA Roundtable Conference, as The American Council of Trustees and Alumni celebrates its 15th anniversary. (Remember, we're liveblogging the conference!)

Benno Schmidt’s contributions to education and to First Amendment law have been truly extraordinary. Under his leadership, CUNY has undergone an academic renaissance. Previously, as chair of the task force appointed by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to review CUNY, Mr. Schmidt showed the dynamic leadership that has characterized his career in education: he recommended an end to open enrollment, raised academic standards and helped craft a blueprint for making the CUNY system more competitive on a national level. CUNY's renaissance in turn has been an engine of New York's resurgence in the last two decades and of its national leadership in K12 education reform. In 2005, Mr. Schmidt led a blue ribbon task force in Kansas City to develop recommendations to advance higher education and research, through partnerships among business, philanthropists and civic organizations. Benno Schmidt also has been active in developing the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a tool of ever-widening impact on higher education. CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein will offer a tribute to Benno Schmidt at the awards dinner.

Famed first Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams also will offer a special tribute to Schmidt, who is widely recognized as an expert on the First Amendment and academic freedom.

The tributes and Mr. Schmidt's acceptance speech will be published and distributed widely.

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