Borough Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) is proud to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to our programs and scholarship funds. Herbert Rosenfield is a long-time friend of BMCC and founding member of the BMCC Foundation Board of Directors on which he served for more than 30 years.
Now at age 97, Mr. Rosenfield recalls how BMCC has played a significant role in his life and why he continues to be an ally toward enhancing the college’s future.
In the 1960s, the City of New York acquired 24 square blocks along West, Washington and Greenwich Streets. This area has since become, in large part, the Independence Plaza residential project, and BMCC, whose 27,000-member student body has become a major force in Lower Manhattan. In addition, Public School 234 took up residence on Chambers and Greenwich Streets, while farther west on Chambers at the northern end of the Battery Park City landfill an additional building for Stuyvesant High School was constructed.
Mr. Rosenfield was serving as president of the Chambers Canal Civic Association during the 1980s when the city was looking to sell property in TriBeCa to encourage large-scale developments. The plan was protested by many, including Mr. Rosenfield who spoke out as an ally in support of small businesses and neighborhood schools.
In an article published by The New York Times on May 15, 1988, Mr. Rosenfield said, “Development is necessary for the city and many of the buildings here have outlived their usefulness. It has been the actions of city government that have driven many small businessmen away and with them jobs, taxes and profits.”
Today, Mr. Rosenfield recalls the events of that time. “Our association was there to support BMCC,” he says. “We welcomed the school with open arms, because we knew that having the college was important for the future of the neighborhood. Look at it now.”
A native New Yorker, Mr. Rosenfield served in the U.S. Army from 1940 to 1946 and then had a successful business career that extended more than 45 years. He was president of the Continental Converters Corporation and then Senior Partner at the Path Equities Investment and Real Estate firm. Mr. Rosenfield has also dedicated himself to community service and generously supported numerous worthy causes.
He was presented with the BMCC Distinguished Service Award at Commencement in 1984. The Abner B. Rosenfield Award Fund, which Mr. Rosenfield established to honor the memory of his father, has provided financial support and recognition to numerous students who exemplify academic excellence and participate in community service.
Gabriella Illyes, a 2004 graduate, originally from Romania, was one of the Rosenfield Award recipients who is grateful to Mr. Rosenfield’s contributions to BMCC and its students.
“The award helped me financially and it put me in a better position enabled me to focus on my academics and volunteer activities, which enhanced my senior college application,” said Illyes, who majored in Business Administration while at BMCC. “It helped get into Mount Holyoke College and I am very grateful for that.”
In addition to serving with the Chambers-Canal Civic Association and the BMCC Foundation Board, Mr. Rosenfield has also held leadership positions with Community Board 1, New York Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital, and the Athletic Club. Mr. Rosenfield has also been an active member of The National Arts Club.
He was married for 54 years to Audrey Priest Hirst, deceased, and his children are Dr. Patricia L. Rosenfield, Thomas Priest Rosenfield and Nelson An-ping Chang.