NEW YORK, April 10, 2008 – The City College of New York (CCNY) has announced that it has received a $10 million gift from Michael “Mickey” Ross, an alumnus and writer/producer for three of the most popular television sitcoms of the 1970s, to establish the Michael and Irene Ross Center for Jewish Studies. The gift was announced last night by President Gregory H. Williams following a lecture by Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel in the College’s Great Hall.
“This transformative gift will enable us to take a Jewish Studies program that is thriving and very popular with our students and deepen and broaden it in totally new ways,” President Williams said. “This will not only have enormous influence at CCNY but throughout New York City. On behalf of the students, faculty and alumni of City College, I want to thank Mr. Ross for his generosity and vision.”
In addition to the new Center, the gift from Mr. Ross, who graduated from CCNY in 1939 when he was still known as Isidore Rovinsky, establishes the Michael and Irene Ross Chair in Hebrew and Yiddish. The College will conduct a national search to find a prominent scholar to fill this position.
The Michael and Irene Ross Center will house offices, conference space and a library for Jewish Studies faculty and students. In addition, it is expected to sponsor numerous activities including: an annual conference, annual lecture, a visiting professorship, trips for CCNY students and faculty to places of significance in Judaism and Jewish culture, and visitations to campus by important speakers and teachers. It also will provide scholarships in Jewish Studies and publish a newsletter.
Mr. Ross, who in the 1950s was directing shows at the Green Mansions resort in the Adirondack Mountains and working with the likes of Don Adams, Carl Reiner and Sid Caesar, had his television debut during that decade as a stager/director for “The Garry Moore Show.” He and his comedy writing partner and CCNY classmate, Bernie West, later worked on “The Martha Raye Show,” where they developed a relationship with Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin.
In the early 1970s, Mr. Ross was a writer and executive producer for Messrs. Lear and Yorkin’s breakout sitcom, “All in the Family,” about intergenerational conflict in a blue-collar Queens family that explored prejudice and social mores of that era. Along with Mr. West and Lee Kalcheim, he received the 1973 Emmy for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy and received an Emmy nomination with Mr. West and Don Nicholl for Outstanding Comedy Series in 1975.
Mr. Ross in the mid-1970s wrote for and executive produced “The Jeffersons,” an “All in the Family” spin-off about an upward mobile African-American family living on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. During the late 1970s, he was a writer, producer and director for another hit sitcom, “Three’s Company.”
About The City College of New York
For more than 160 years, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. Over 14,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; The School of Architecture, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture (SAUDLA); The School of Education; The Grove School of Engineering, and The Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education. For additional information, visit www.ccny.cuny.edu.
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