Jennifer Raab is marking her 15th anniversary as President of Hunter College, the largest college in the City University of New York system, with 23,000 students, five schools, and an annual operating budget of more than $250 million. Since assuming the presidency in 2001, Ms. Raab has led the successful transformation of Hunter College from an open-admissions institution to a selective, highly ranked college with a very diverse student population that includes one of America’s largest cohorts of immigrant and first-generation students. Under her leadership, Hunter’s standing in various national rankings has risen dramatically, as have both admission standards and graduation and retention rates. In 2016, her achievements and thought leadership at Hunter – most notably, her success in significantly upgrading the college’s faculty and academic status – were recognized by her election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
President Raab has also significantly expanded the extraordinary Hunter faculty by recruiting renowned professors, artists, and practitioners from around the world. She strengthened undergraduate liberal arts education and has overseen the growth of the largest and most selective Macaulay Honors program in the City University system. Her investment in the four professional schools at Hunter has led to increased enrollment and national recognition. Throughout her tenure, President Raab has fostered interdisciplinary work and community engagement across the various Hunter schools and campuses, including the acclaimed Hunter High School. Since she has assumed the Presidency, Hunter has significantly increased its government grants and awards and modernized and strengthened its fiscal management. President Raab has been responsible for securing an unprecedented $335 million in private philanthropic support for the college, the most successful fundraising campaign in Hunter history. In the area of new construction, she has launched and overseen an ambitious capital expansion plan, which includes a renovated library with a lead naming gift of $25 million; a 400,000 square-foot science research and nursing/health professions facility under construction in a unique partnership with Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital on East 74th Street; a science lab floor in the new Belfer Weill-Cornell research building; a $131 million School of Social Work and Public Health building in East Harlem; a new facility in Tribeca for Hunter’s renowned art graduate program and gallery; and the $25 million restoration of the historic 1908 Roosevelt House and its transformation into a Public Policy Institute.
President Raab’s emergence as an educational leader came after a long career in the legal world and public service. Her career in government began in 1979 as special projects manager for the South Bronx Development Organization, after which she was named Director of Public Affairs for the New York City Planning Commission.
President Raab was a litigator at two of the nation’s most prestigious law firms: Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. After building a reputation as a strong but fair advocate, she was appointed Chairman of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, a post she held from 1994 to 2001.
Crain’s New York Business named her as one of New York’s “100 Most Influential Women in Business” in 2007 and one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in New York” in 2009, 2011, 2013, and again in 2015. She has been honored by many New York and national organizations, including the Martina Arroyo Foundation, United Way of New York, the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute, the League of Women Voters of New York, and the Women’s City Club.
President Raab served on the Board of Directors of Compuware Corporation, a public mainframe and cloud-technology company based in Detroit. She is currently a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, serves on the Steering Committee of the Association for a Better New York, and sits on the boards of directors of The After School Corporation, United Way New York, and the One To World Foundation, and was a member of the 2004-05 New York City Charter Revision Commission.
A graduate of Hunter College High School (whose campus she now oversees), President Raab is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Cornell University’s School of Arts and Sciences (1977). She earned a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton (1979), and was a member of the Woodrow Wilson School Advisory Board for many years. Ms. Raab received her law degree cum laude from Harvard Law School (1985) and currently serves as a member of the Law School’s Visiting Committee.