Frank Macchirola, “Father Frank,” RIP

Frank Macchirola, who died this week, is best-known for being New York City’s “standard bearer” as Schools Chancellor.   He was also a gifted educator, for many years a professor at CUNY, in later years as president then chancellor of St. Francis and in between, when I knew him best, as dean of Cardozo Law School.

Frank was dean when Cardozo hired me as an assistant professor, and I have always credited him with leadership in getting that appointment done.  He was a great adviser to me in those early years of my law teaching career.  Wisdom and faith were trademarks.

I read testimonials everywhere today about how Frank put students at the center of every educational endeavor he touched, including law school.  Believe it or not, that can be controversial at law schools, at least when deans opt, as he did, to spend most of their time talking with students rather than, as many would have recommended, with alumni and others, building endowment.

But that was how this devout Catholic, leading the nation’s first law school under Jewish auspices, thought he should spend his time.  That is why his devoted fans affectionately referred to him as “Father Frank” or “Monsignor Mac.”  He will be missed.

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