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Colin Powell should consider seeking the vacant chancellorship of the City University of New York, an influential state senator wrote in a letter to the retired general made public Monday.

"As a graduate of the system, I believe you, more than anyone else, can understand the problems of an urban university with a diverse student population," State Sen. Guy Velella, R-Bronx, wrote to Powell.

Rupa Mikki, an aide to the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declined to comment.

"I think it would be tremendous if he were willing to do that," Gov. Pataki said.

Of the 17-member CUNY board, Pataki nominates 10 members and Giuliani five. They are subject to the approval of the state Senate. The other two members are a student representative and the chair of the CUNY faculty senate.

Powell, who grew up in the South Bronx, attended City College.

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