Welcome to the Gerald W. Lynch Theater

Comedy Central2 @ GWLT

John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York, an international leader in educating for justice, offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. In teaching, scholarship and research, the College approach justice as an applied art and science in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law.

Since opening its doors in 1988, the Gerald W. Lynch Theater has been an invaluable cultural resource.  The Theater is a member of CUNY Stages, a consortium of 16 performing arts centers located on CUNY campuses across New York City and the CUNY Dance Initiative.

The Theater has hosted events in the Lincoln Center Festival since its first season in 1996, and subsequent Mostly Mozart & White Light Festivals, as well as the New York City Opera, Mummenschanz, and the World Science Festival. The Theater has been the site of live and recorded events including Inside the Actor’s Studio, Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concerts, Comedy Central Presents, the American Justice Summit, and the NYC Mayoral Democratic Debates. The Theater hosts premiere galas, conferences, international competitions, and graduations.


The Mission of the Gerald W. Lynch Theater: 

  • To provide diverse artistic and scholarly events that will educate, entertain and involve our academic and public communities. These events shall resonate with the goals and mission of John Jay College: EDUCATING FOR JUSTICE.
  • To provide a source of free or low cost cultural and artistic presentations to the John Jay community and the surrounding neighborhood of Clinton.
  • To provide a venue for John Jay College academic and community events.


Who was Gerald W. Lynch?

Gerald Weldon Lynch was the third president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the only institution of higher education in the United States dedicated primarily to the study of criminal justice. ( I copied the first sentence from wiki because it’s a great starting sentence ) Dr. Lynch, the college’s longest-serving president was born in Manhattan on March 24th, 1937.  He earned a bachelor’s degree from Fordham University and a doctorate in clinical psychology from NYU.  He soon became a psychology professor at John Jay in the mid-1960s.  He later became the dean of students, acting dean of faculty members, and eventually the acting president of John Jay after the resignation of President Donald Riddle in 1975.  President Lynch established the first doctorate criminal justice program in the college.  He is also most known as the savior of John Jay when CUNY was struck by the fiscal crisis in 1976.

President Lynch, a hero who saved John Jay from closing or merger because of New York City’s fiscal crisis.  CUNY system was forced by the mayor to cut nearly $100 million from its budget.  The only way for CUNY to survive was to either shut down or merging multiple schools.  Unsurprisingly, John Jay was one of the schools.  President Lynch stood up and opposed the plan.  He enthusiastically encouraged hundreds of student to protest and he was supported by high-profile people in politics and law enforcement.  Dr. Lynch himself cut nearly $3 million with an austerity budget of his own to save the college.  After a radical battle, The Board of Higher Education ended up merging with many of the other CUNY schools, but certainly not John Jay.

Lynch was officially sworn in as president in March 1977 until he retired from the office in 2004.  It is the longest serving time for John Jay College.  During his presidency, John Jay has doubled the enrollment from 7,000 to 14,000.  He also established the first doctorate program in criminal justice in 1980.  Lynch lectured throughout the United States, Middle East, Australia, Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia, and even the former Soviet Union.  President Lynch was very kind and informative to all his students in college. 

         “A student at John Jay College in the 1980s, I was often amazed at President Lynch’s uncanny ability to recognize many a student traversing the campuses between the 59th St. and 56th St. and how he would often stop, chat and take an active interest in their progress.” A former student named Adam Brill.

Gerald W. Lynch and his legacy will never be forgotten.  It is the theater’s honor to be named after him.

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