In the physics department at my school, we have one professor from CUNY (a recent graduate). He is a REALLY bright guy and beat out a lot of other impressive people for the faculty spot. He always says how great CUNY is, but he also complains how hard their qualifiers are. Things may have changed since he attended the school, but he said CUNY was known for extremely hard qualifiers (He could also be full of it).
There is a mathematician at my uni that is equally smart and talented. He also recently graduated (4 years ago) from CUNY. He got a masters in physics along with his PhD in math. He says a lot of good things about the physics and math departments at CUNY.
And let's not forget that Michio Kaku is there.
Hope this helps.