The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Joyce F. Brown

University president Dr. Joyce F. Brown was born on July 7, 1947 in New York City. Brown attended New York City Catholic schools. She later attended Marymount College where she earned her B.A. degree in psychology in 1968. Following her undergraduate education, Brown enrolled in New York University, earning her M.A. degree in counseling psychology in 1971 and her Ph.D. in 1980. Brown worked at Borough of Manhattan Community College while simultaneously receiving her advanced degrees in counseling psychology. She served as Director of Instructional Testing and Research, Coordinator of Community Education Projects and the Director of Paraprofessional Teacher Education Program during her tenure at Borough of Manhattan Community College.

In 1983, Brown married civic leader H. Carl McCall. That same year, she was hired as Dean at Bernard M. Baruch College of The City University of New York, where she was in charge of Urban Affairs until 1987. Her other positions at The City University of New York included Acting President of Bernard M. Baruch College; Vice Chancellor for Urban Affairs and Development and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Urban Programs. In 1987, Brown served on the commission for the Task Force report, The Black Family in New York State: Current Crisis/Recent Trends. That same year, she became the Director of Boys Harbor Inc., an organization that was established to empower children through education, cultural enrichment and social services. In 1990, Brown earned a certificate from the Educational Management Institute at Harvard University. In 1993, she was appointed Deputy Mayor for Public and Community Affairs by then Mayor David Dinkins during his re-election. After Dinkin’s mayoral loss in 1994, Brown became a Professor of Clinical Psychology at the Graduate School for The City University of New York from 1994 to 1998, where she continues to serve as professor emerita.

In 1998, Brown was the first African American and first woman to be appointed as the President of the Fashion Institute of Technology, a specialized college of art and design in New York City. Brown is a member of several boards and institutions including Linens-N-Things, Polo Ralph Lauren, Neuberger Berman, Paxar Corporation, the United States Enrichment Corporation, member of the Warm Up America Foundation, former trustee of Marymount College, and a former member of the Metropolitan Chapter of The Links.

Joyce Brown was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 26, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.188

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/26/2007

Last Name

Brown

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Marymount University

New York University

Our Lady of Lourdes School

Academy of the Sacred Heart of Mary

First Name

Joyce

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

BRO45

Favorite Season

Winter

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France

Favorite Quote

What’s The Bottom Line?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

7/7/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salad

Short Description

University president Joyce F. Brown (1947 - ) was the first African American president of the Fashion Institute of Technology. She was the former dean, acting president and Vice Chancellor for Urban Affairs and Development at Baruch College; and the former Deputy Mayor for Public and Community Affairs of New York City.

Employment

Borough of Manhattan Community College

Bernard M. Baruch College of The City University of New York

New York City Public and Community Affairs

City University of New York

Fashion Institute of Technology

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
0,0:1870,72:6035,146:6630,156:7310,165:7650,170:8415,182:8755,187:12198,207:13877,234:14972,250:15264,255:15994,266:22491,428:23513,445:27060,451:28092,465:28866,476:31102,511:31876,521:37270,553:38764,577:39345,585:39843,593:40507,603:43495,662:44242,674:48608,717:49557,748:51017,775:52039,791:53061,807:53645,816:55105,849:55762,865:57441,898:59412,938:59996,957:60507,977:62770,1015:63354,1025:65398,1084:65763,1090:66274,1107:73180,1165:73817,1175:74181,1181:83808,1235:97576,1458:98122,1467:102880,1552:103426,1560:104050,1570:110123,1606:110609,1613:113201,1674:120912,1733:123670,1742:124170,1748:125570,1765:129190,1818:135691,1920:136472,1942:137537,1965:137963,1973:138602,1988:141016,2048:141371,2055:142294,2073:143217,2091:144282,2124:144708,2131:146199,2153:146625,2160:149966,2186:152532,2219:152796,2224:156476,2275:157804,2295:158136,2300:160875,2357:161539,2368:162452,2383:162784,2388:163448,2398:163863,2409:164278,2415:170794,2463:171198,2469:171602,2474:172208,2481:172612,2486:179999,2531:181943,2575:182510,2584:182996,2591:183320,2596:185426,2682:187289,2741:201091,2909:204500,2950:205340,2966:205620,2971:206110,2979:207790,3022:208490,3033:209330,3047:212060,3098:212410,3108:212830,3115:217672,3131:218680,3146:221872,3200:228570,3273:231645,3336:234670,3354:235318,3363:236290,3374:239310,3395:239735,3401:242200,3446:243220,3461:244835,3496:249340,3530:249977,3540:251797,3565:252980,3581:265890,3738:266436,3747:272442,3863:273144,3874:275250,3896:281644,3945:281920,3950:282541,3960:284266,3992:285922,4021:287026,4041:287371,4051:288475,4082:288820,4088:289234,4095:289855,4107:295910,4173:297470,4189$0,0:450,4:2325,41:3150,53:3900,66:4425,74:8690,110:13325,162:14150,177:16400,216:16775,222:17150,228:17975,243:18350,252:18725,258:19775,272:20750,288:27166,311:36860,404:40164,423:40428,429:43266,476:43596,482:43992,489:45180,512:45444,517:49145,543:54529,559:55556,575:56346,588:56662,593:58242,629:58558,634:59111,642:60612,666:70570,758:71146,769:75120,808:75380,813:80572,875:82574,908:83113,917:85346,950:88293,977:91978,1010:92824,1017:105702,1163:106118,1168:106846,1176:107782,1191:116470,1249:116920,1255:117820,1265:119260,1300:123220,1358:123580,1363:131339,1426:132450,1446:135278,1479:135884,1486:136389,1493:137399,1507:137803,1512:138308,1518:138712,1523:140429,1546:140833,1551:147300,1597:147632,1602:148379,1613:152379,1692:153069,1703:153345,1708:153966,1719:154656,1731:155346,1743:157900,1761:158600,1769:160500,1790:162500,1813:170403,1899:173562,1944:173967,1950:175425,1979:175911,1986:176478,1995:176802,2000:178260,2025:179070,2037:183201,2122:183606,2128:188534,2146:194280,2209:199080,2312:206444,2376:207708,2396:210552,2434:210868,2439:211974,2456:214210,2464:218095,2517:218705,2529:219437,2551:219681,2556:220108,2567:220352,2572:222070,2594:223750,2637:224660,2654:227580,2662:228570,2674:229065,2680:235440,2748:238800,2824:239280,2832:240560,2860:241200,2871:241680,2879:245040,2930:249100,2960:249622,2967:250231,2975:252406,3002:253972,3033:256000,3072
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Joyce F. Brown's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Joyce F. Brown lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Joyce F. Brown describes her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Joyce F. Brown describes her maternal great-grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Joyce F. Brown recalls her maternal grandmother's sewing business

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Joyce F. Brown describes her parents' work ethic

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Joyce F. Brown describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Joyce F. Brown talks about her extended family

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Joyce F. Brown describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Joyce F. Brown remembers her family's apartments in New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Joyce F. Brown describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Joyce F. Brown describes her parents' occupations

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Joyce F. Brown remembers her parents' emphasis on education

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Joyce F. Brown describes the Our Lady of Lourdes School in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Joyce F. Brown describes her relationship with her sister

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Joyce F. Brown remembers her early aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Joyce F. Brown remembers celebrating the holidays

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Joyce F. Brown remembers Marymount College in Tarrytown, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Joyce F. Brown remembers her road trip to California

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Joyce F. Brown remembers her graduate studies at New York University

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Joyce F. Brown describes the start of her career as an academic administrator

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Joyce F. Brown talks about New York City's middle college high school program

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Joyce F. Brown describes the South African business program at the City University of New York, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Joyce F. Brown describes the South African business program at the City University of New York, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Joyce F. Brown recalls her acting presidency of Baruch College in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Joyce F. Brown talks about her teaching experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Joyce F. Brown remembers serving as Mayor David N. Dinkins' deputy mayor

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Joyce F. Brown reflects upon the development of her career aspirations

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Joyce F. Brown talks about Mayor David N. Dinkins' administration

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Joyce F. Brown recalls joining the Graduate Center faculty at the City University of New York

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Joyce F. Brown describes her courses at the City University of New York Graduate Center

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Joyce F. Brown reflects upon her background in psychology

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Joyce F. Brown recalls becoming president of the Fashion Institute of Technology

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Joyce F. Brown describes New York City's Fashion Institute of Technology

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Joyce F. Brown talks about her selection as president of the Fashion Institute of Technology

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Joyce F. Brown describes her background in politics

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Joyce F. Brown describes the expansion of the Fashion Institute of Technology

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Joyce F. Brown describes the curriculum at the Fashion Institute of Technology

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Joyce F. Brown talks about her husband, H. Carl McCall's political career

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Joyce F. Brown talks about her board memberships

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Joyce F. Brown talks about the students of color at the Fashion Institute of Technology

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Joyce F. Brown describes the Fashion Institute of Technology's programs

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Joyce F. Brown reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Joyce F. Brown narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Joyce F. Brown narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

6$7

DATitle
Joyce F. Brown remembers serving as Mayor David N. Dinkins' deputy mayor
Joyce F. Brown talks about her selection as president of the Fashion Institute of Technology
Transcript
I've got to ask you to segue into the deputy mayor. What's your agenda there? What--$$Well--$$What, how long are you there and what do you do?$$Well, I'm actually only there for a year because I guess the first lesson I learned was never go in the last year of an administration.$$And whose administration are you entering?$$It was in--David Dinkins [HistoryMaker David N. Dinkins] was mayor, and we are now entering into the reelection phase where everything is focused on that. Now I'm not a novice to the political world, but, you know, it wa- if anything could send you running back to academia, this was it, you know.$$So I guess one of my questions is, what do you find is much--I guess I got the impression from looking at your materials that the city seemed a lot more, less ruly perhaps than an academic organization. They've got a lot more experience with the colleges, so maybe it's just that, but--$$The city seemed a lot less what?$$Seemed more unruly, is the more common term.$$As a system?$$As a system as opposed to the--$$Oh yeah. Yeah.$$--college scene, but it might just be you have more experience in the college scene or in the academia. What, you know, what shocked you about running a city?$$Well, I guess what was the--what was surprising and difficult to deal with was you never knew what was on the agenda. So I'd wake up in the morning and turn on the news to figure out how my day was gonna be--$$Oh, wow.$$--you know. It could be anything. I mean you, you wake up and you hear the news and you go along, you know, getting ready for your day, but you know, we had boat people showing up on the shores in Brooklyn [New York]. I mean you have riots, you have--you know, it is just a constant beat that you can't control. I mean that is, you know I used to say I could get there at seven in the morning and there would be people waiting. So then I would allow myself to leave say at nine at night only by making a list. So I'd make my list of twelve things I was definitely going to do in the morning and then when I left at nine that night, my list of twelve had now (laughter) become twenty because you, you just really can't structure your life that way. I mean it's really in many ways reactive. And that, I think we try to do too many things for too many people for all the right reasons. You know, we want, we want to be welcoming. We want people to find their place here, but it is, it's huge, it's huge. So, you know, from street fair permits to deer--overflowing gutters in, you know, one of the boroughs to, you know, you name it, that's what comes to city hall [New York City Hall, New York, New York]. So--$$Wow.$$--it was an interesting experience.$$So you thought perhaps academia?$$Perhaps all those, those internecine little battles that I thought were so important, maybe they're pretty tame (laughter) compared to all of this. At least they were about one set of things, you know, that, that--$$And you said earlier that one of the reasons you wanted to be a university president was because you could set the agenda. I mean I'm sure there are things that do not act exactly as you planned them, but do you still have a sense that as a president you have the opportunity to set the agenda?$$Yes. I think you have the opportunity to set the agenda. But you also have the responsibility to have, to create the circumstances within which people can buy into that agenda.$$Okay.$$You cannot set the agenda and ramrod it through. You will not succeed.$$I understand.$$This is a community of people, and everybody has a contribution to make to the success. While I might own all the failures, I certainly do not own all the successes. And so there has to be what I think you have the opportunity to do as the leader in this kind of community--in, in any academic community--is create dialogue and to create the participation, invite that participation. You don't always have to do what everybody wants you to do. But you do, I think, have an obligation to explain why you are doing the things that you are doing, and those things ought to be contributing to the greater good of the long range vision and the long range plan.$And when you were in the running for the presidency, were you the obvious choice? How did that, how did that selection develop?$$You know I'm not so certain. I don't, I don't really know who my competition was. I never asked once how I got here. I think they had been searching for a while. And--$$And had they had a black or female president before?$$No, no.$$And does that make a difference?$$You know, I always say it's, it's never incidental to who you are. I don't think people look at you and do not take note of your ethnicity or your gender. I think, however, there was so much work to do, we, you know, and I was very serious about the agenda of the work and I was hell bound and determined to succeed, so there were no excuses and certainly people can bring it up and they can raise it, but it's really got to be, I mean the dialogue has to be around what's important for our- us to succeed with our mission and our vision for going forward. Quite frankly, I think people have liked having a female president, and maybe they even like having an African American president. I'm not--$$Well I read one article that informed me that the rumor was that perhaps your political connections enabled you to attain the presidency. Do you think that your getting the job had anything to do with whom you're married to and the politicization of New York City [New York, New York] and state?$$Well, you know the--. I love it, I love how people get paid to sort of twist things into a headline that they think will sell their twenty-five cent newspapers. So, the, the media types decided that because my husband [HistoryMaker H. Carl McCall], how was that to work? I mean it was so convoluted that because my husband was running for governor that the sitting governor who was his opponent would name me president so that, maybe so that my husband wouldn't run or wouldn't attack. I don't really even remember, so the, I mean, if you would like to, you know, denigrate thirty years of work that lead me up to being eligible to compete for the job, I suppose that would be a reasonable thing to say. But, on the other hand, I loved the headlines. I saw it in one of the tabloids it said: "McCall's wife to head FIT [Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, New York]." This nameless person, wasn't that biblical? Wasn't it, you know, the, the wife who remained nameless and was to simply obey, so, McCall's wife. So I said that was fine as long as when he ran for governor they said, "Brown's husband running for governor." I thought that would be a fair exchange. Of course, that never happened either, I--. So no, I think it was all kind of business as usual trying to, you know, make headlines, twist things and, you know, it makes a one day story.$$Then it goes away.$$You just have to, you really do have to learn to roll with it. You have to be able to tolerate a certain dissonance in these jobs or you will not succeed. I mean you cannot indulge yourself by losing it over things that have nothing to do with what your focus is supposed to be.