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Chase Robinson FR'80: "I had this radical idea ... "

At a recent SYA event in New York City, Chase Robinson FR'80, historian of Islam and distinguished professor and president of The Graduate Center at City University of New York, spoke with alumni, parents and friends about a topic all present could relate to — the power of the SYA experience. In many years studying and teaching about other cultures, Robinson reflected on how the SYA experience gives one the ability to intuit, think creatively and question previously-held assumptions. 

"I had this radical idea ... that there was the rest of the world out there. And that if you experienced the rest of the world, you could see your own in brand new ways."

— Chase Robinson FR'80, addressing guests at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, New York City


About Chase Robinson FR'80

A graduate of SYA France and St. Paul’s School, Robinson continued his undergraduate and postgraduate studies at Brown University, the American University in Cairo, the University of Cairo, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Harvard University. A distinguished professor of history and the leading expert of his generation on early Islamic history, Robinson is also an accomplished author; former faculty member of prestigious international institutions; a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; and served as the provost and vice president of The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Today, Robinson is the president of the Graduate Center, a role he has held since 2014. CUNY is the third-largest higher-education system in the U.S., and The Graduate Center is its hub for research and advanced learning for thousands of students. Under his leadership, Robinson has deepened the Graduate Center’s commitment to advanced learning and education for the public good evidenced by the Center’s emerging role as a national model in doctoral education, pedagogy, and interdisciplinary approach. 

In December, Robinson assumes his new role as the Dame Jillian Sackler Director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art at the Smithsonian; these museums comprise the Smithsonian’s national Asian art museums.

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