HIGHER ED TODAY
TIMESLEDGER | QNS.8 COM | APRIL 24-APRIL 30, 2020
Forest Hills mourns
loss of Joe Hennessy,
former CB 6 chairman
BY CARLOTTA MOHAMED
Joe Hennessy, former chairman
of Community Board 6, died on
Thursday, April 1, from complications
related to the coronavirus. He
was 82 years old.
Hennessy chaired the board for
30 years, which covers Forest Hills
and Rego Park, until he was voted
out in September 2019. He served as
president of the Forest Hills Co-op
and board member of Queens Community
House, a respected and still
active nonprofit social services organization.
Last month, Hennessy was honored
with a proclamation from the
Queens borough president’s office
for his dedication to the community.
“He was extremely dedicated to
everybody,” said Frank Gulluscio,
CB 6 district manager, who worked
with Hennessy for 17 years. “Joe
didn’t care what faith you were or
what political party you belonged
to, he was just there to help the constituents
of the district.”
Gulluscio recalled a message that
Hennessy shared with the board.
“Every year when new members
came on board at the first meeting,
he would always tell everybody,
‘You’re here for everybody, not your
personal agenda. We represent all
regardless, and if you remember
that, we can get the job done,’” Gulluscio
“It’s a great loss for the community,”
Hennessy is survived by his wife
of 57 years, Catherine; three daughters,
Patricia Hennessy, Karen
Bernsley and Sheila Thomas; eight
grandchildren; and brothers Jerry
and John Hennessy.
Hennessy immigrated to America
from Ireland in 1957 and served in
the Army, according to Thomas. He
later became the general manager
of Team Systems Corp., the largest
taxi fleet in New York City.
“He was generous with his time
and energy,” Thomas said. “He spent
a lot of time helping people, and taking
the community to achieve the
goals that they wanted for Forest
Hills and Park. We were very lucky
to have him with us for so long.”
According to Thomas, her father’s
dedication to service filtered
through each daughter. Thomas is
a retired police officer, Patricia is a
nurse, and Bernsley is a special education
“Without even realizing it his
example directly affected all of us,
Joe Hennessy, the former
chairman of Community Board 6, died
April 1 from complications related to
and what our children’s professions
would be as adults,” Thomas said.
State Assemblyman Andrew
Hevesi remembered Hennessy as a
true friend and gracious leader.
“Joe’s advocacy for our friends
and neighbors was unparalleled,”
Hevesi said in a statement to QNS. “I
became acquainted with Joe at the
start of my civic life, and he never
ceased to be an upstanding example
of what it meant to be a public servant:
generous, kind, receptive, responsive.
His only motive was the
betterment of our community. Joe
will be sorely missed.”
Congresswoman Grace Meng
shared her condolences on Twitter.
“A tireless advocate for Forest
Hills and Rego Park, he was wonderful
community leader who served
with distinction. His contributions
over many decades of service will
not be forgotten,” she wrote.
Hennessy was laid to rest at
Calverton National Cemetery in
eastern Long Island on April 16.
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed
by e-mail at cmohamed@schnepsmedia.
com or by phone at (718) 260–
Courtesy of Sheila Thomas
The steps we take to guide The City University
of New York through the COVID-19
crisis are born out of CUNY’s historic mission
to support our students, promote equity
and make sure the most vulnerable are not
excluded from the learning process.
We see who the coronavirus is attacking
in disproportionate numbers — it’s those
who come from our most diverse neighborhoods,
the very communities that form the
backbone of this University.
The principled imperative to make sure
that no one is left behind has set the framework
for CUNY’s decision-making from the
moment I assumed the role of Chancellor.
As I approach my one-year anniversary
on May 1, I couldn’t be prouder of the
work we have done over the last 12 months to
honor the founding values of this University,
a template of opportunity and inclusion that
led us most recently to announce the Chancellor’s
Emergency Relief Fund on April 8 to
provide an urgent lifeline to CUNY students
facing financial strain amid COVID-19.
Launched with $3.25 million including
$1 million each from the Carroll and Milton
Petrie Foundation and the James and Judith
K. Dimon Foundation, and $500,000 from
Robin Hood, the Fund has enabled us to begin
issuing grants of $500 each to thousands
of CUNY students in the first CUNY-wide
student assistance program of its kind. The
first checks were delivered this week. (Individual
contributions can be made at cuny.
With support from Governor Cuomo,
CUNY last month invested $12 million to
quickly purchase thousands of laptops and
tablets, without which a sizable number
of our students would have been unable to
make the transition to distance learning and
move forward with their courses.
We have broadened CUNY’s record of
public service from participating in relief
work in Puerto Rico to collecting and distributing
vital personal protective equipment
for health workers and helping to create
face shields from campus 3D printers.
We continue to fill our ranks with pioneering
leaders, individuals like S. David
Wu, the incoming president of Baruch,
who will be the first Asian-American college
president at CUNY. He will be joined
by Robin L. Garrell, newly appointed president
of the Graduate Center; Frank H. Wu,
tapped to lead Queens College and CUNY’s
second Asian-American college president;
and Daisy Cocco De Filippis, who will be
interim president of Hostos Community College
and the first Dominican woman to serve
as a CUNY college president. I am also proud
to have built a cabinet of tested leaders representative
of the City we serve.
As I joined a video conference on April
13 to cheer the inaugural graduating class
of the CUNY School of Medicine, I was reminded
of the school’s mission to address
health care disparities in underserved areas.
These newly minted MDs are a perfect
match for the moment as they graduate early
and embark on their careers at a time of unprecedented
demand, a shining embodiment
of the University’s mission to safeguard the
most vulnerable while creating social mobility
for our graduates.
I also have no doubt that the road to recovery
of New York City’s economy and public
health goes through CUNY. I’m proud to
see, for example, CUNY staff already working
with government and health leaders,
taking steps to train and prepare the thousands
of social tracers we will need in the
months to come.
It all underscores a truth about CUNY,
which I knew to be true 12 months ago when
I had the privilege to become chancellor, and
continues to guide me today: The ground beneath
us may shift, but our commitment to
the equity, inclusion and excellence needed
to sustain New York City’s standing as a
world-class city will never, ever waver.