LaGuardia Community College Foundation Receives $225,000 From The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation

Funded by this gift, a new group of LaGuardia students, each year for the next three years, will develop research projects illuminating the history of the NYC metro area, working with faculty and staff at the LaGuardia & Wagner Archives, devoted to NYC’s social & political history

—First cohort of scholars will study the history of LGBTQ activism in Queens—

A group of LaGuardia Community College students studying at the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives.

A group of LaGuardia Community College students studying at the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives.

Long Island City, NY —The LaGuardia Community College Foundation has received $225,000 from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation to fund the Robert Gardiner—Joseph Shenker Scholars Program, named in honor of the late Robert David Lion Gardiner, a former Wall Street executive and heir to Long Island’s Gardiner’s Island and the late Joseph Shenker, the first president of LaGuardia Community College.

Each year over the next three years, a new group of Gardiner-Shenker student scholars will develop research projects that illuminate the history of the NYC metropolitan area—focusing on a theme, such as infrastructure, immigration, or housing. Faculty and staff at the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives will guide the students through their work. The Archives, a repository for NYC’s social and political history, is regularly accessed by scholars, journalists, and policy makers; it is housed on the LaGuardia Community College campus.

“We’re proud to have the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives on our campus,” said LaGuardia President Gail O. Mellow. “Its presence reflects our faculty’s dedication to scholarly work—work that is normally assumed only to occur at four-year colleges and graduate centers. Giving a select group of students the opportunity to work with our Archives faculty, and to conduct original research for a public audience, will be incredibly valuable for these students as they begin their careers.”

“We’re grateful to our dear friend Susan Shenker, the widow of our visionary first president, Joseph Shenker, for introducing the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation to our college. This gift is enormously generous and we’re thrilled to receive this avowal of support from an important New York foundation,” said President Mellow.

“The mission of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation dovetails with the objectives of the Gardiner-Shenker Program,” said Kathryn Curran, Executive Director of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, based on Long Island. “We share a commitment to increasing public awareness about the heritage of the Long Island and the New York metropolitan area, and are pleased to support this important program at LaGuardia Community College.”

Gardiner Foundation Board Chairman Joseph Attonito added, “The multi-disciplinary LaGuardia students participating in this project and their involved professors and support staff make the Gardiner-Shenker Program an innovation in the study of regional history.”
“Both Joe and Robert David Lion Gardiner were passionate about history, so it’s fitting that this initiative is named in their honor. In fact, Joe founded the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives as a tribute to the college’s namesake, Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia,” said Mrs. Shenker. “And as a pioneer of experiential learning—where students engage in studies that impact real organizations or receive on-the-job training through internships and other programs, Joe would be pleased that mentorship is a cornerstone of this initiative.”

Former Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia makes a mayoral address over the WNYC-FM airwaves (NYC’s National Public Radio station); image provided by the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives.
“The mentoring the student scholars will receive from our Archives’ sociologists, archivists, and historians will allow them to observe first-hand the process of encapsulating information for educational and archival purposes. They’ll get to work closely with academics—learning valuable story-telling, critical thinking and analytical skills that will aid them in their future careers,” said Richard K. Lieberman, PhD, professor of history and director of the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives.

First Cohort of Gardiner-Shenker Scholars Will Study LGBTQ Activism in Queens

“Despite the sizable LGBTQ population here, Queens has been largely neglected by scholars,” said Dr. Lieberman. “To address this oversight, the 2017 Gardiner-Shenker scholars will study LGBTQ activism in Queens—effectively expanding the focus of LGBTQ studies beyond Manhattan to the outer boroughs. We’re in the business of telling the real history of New York.”
“The history of LGBTQ activism in Queens that our student scholars will document honors this community’s struggles and triumphs, and will be an important resource for years to come,” said President Mellow.

A group of English and Commercial Photography majors will be selected as scholars. English faculty members Neil Meyer, PhD and James Wilson, PhD, will work with the students to produce essays, poetry and/or short theatrical works to be disseminated through blogs, Facebook, and published for libraries, historical societies, museums and online for researchers worldwide. As well, photography faculty members Javier Larenas and Thierry Gourjon will develop a public photography exhibit, for display in summer 2017.