Mary Beth Labate to End Tenure as President of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in December 2020

News Date: 9/10/2020

Board of Trustees to convene search committee to fill vacancy


ALBANY — Mary Beth Labate, president of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU), has informed the CICU Board of Trustees of her intention to step down from this role at the end of her contract, effective Dec. 31, 2020. The board plans to immediately convene a search committee to identify candidates to serve as CICU’s next president.

Labate is CICU’s eighth president, serving in the role since Jan. 1, 2017. During her tenure, she strengthened connections among New York’s 100+ private, not-for-profit colleges and universities, as well as between the independent and public sectors of higher education in New York.

Throughout her tenure, Labate underscored the importance of private, not-for-profit colleges and universities to New York’s higher education ecosystem and the state’s economy, and worked to educate policymakers and the public about the vital and unique role of independent institutions of higher education. Her advocacy was evident in many initiatives that Labate spearheaded, including efforts to bring sectors together to advance mutual goals on student safety, economic development, research, and opportunities for underserved students.

Labate worked with policymakers on behalf of New York’s private college students, developing new programs and strengthening existing ones. Labate has been a strong advocate for student aid, pursuing more generous support from the state for programs including the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), and Bundy Aid to help New Yorkers pursue higher education at the college of their choice. During her time at CICU, Labate also advocated for Enhanced Tuition Awards (ETA) to provide students with aid and a guaranteed match by participating private colleges. Labate helped maintain funding for Centers of Advanced Technology (CATs) and Centers of Excellence (CoEs), increasing collaboration between private industries and institutions of higher education to expand New York’s leadership in Research & Development and innovation. Labate also actively collaborated with the State University of New York (SUNY) through the Student Conduct Institute, which works to combat sexual assault on campus.

In recent months, Labate has shepherded New York’s 100+ private, not-for-profit colleges and universities through the COVID-19 pandemic. She served on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s New York Forward Re-Opening Advisory Board and advocated for federal emergency funding for both students and institutions. With college and university presidents in both the independent and public sectors, Labate formed a task force in response to COVID-19 and developed guidelines for restarting higher education in New York state.

Labate also worked tirelessly to strengthen connections among New York’s diverse group of colleges and universities, bringing them together for regional meetings and events aimed at building bonds and finding opportunities for collaboration.

“Mary Beth has been an outstanding champion of New York’s independent colleges and universities, their students and their families,” said Christine Riordan, chair of the CICU Board of Trustees and president of Adelphi University. “Her tenure enhanced the bonds within our sector, furthered academic opportunities for countless students, and reinforced the vital role that independent colleges and universities continue to play in our state’s communities and economy. An effective leader and advocate, I admire and thank Mary Beth for her years of dedication and wish her success in her new endeavors.”

“It has been a pleasure to work with Mary Beth, both as a board member and institutional member of CICU, since the start of her tenure in this role. Her success is the direct result of her professionalism, intelligence, and dedication to private sector education,” said Margaret Drugovich, vice chair of the CICU Board of Trustees and president of Hartwick College. “Mary Beth has provided excellent leadership at a time when it has been most needed. I admire the quality of her work, and I am grateful for her service. She will earn and deserve all of the success that will result from her future work.”

Labate brought to CICU 30 years of experience in government and public policy. This includes her time as senior advisor to the chancellor for fiscal policy at SUNY, and 23 years in the New York State Budget Division, beginning under Governor Mario Cuomo and then as budget director and first deputy budget director under Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Click here to learn more about the CICU Board of Trustees’ presidential search. To confidentially express interest, email



About The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York

Founded in 1956, The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU) in New York represents the chief executives of New York's 100+ independent (private, not-for-profit) colleges and universities on issues of public policy. Member colleges compose the largest private sector of higher education in the world and confer 50% of bachelor’s degrees, 73% of master’s degrees, and 78% of doctoral and first-professional degrees earned in New York state.