Ragoonath, Tiffany Gonsalves, and Michael Schwemmer will be members
of the outstanding inaugural CUNY Honors College class this fall,
and they couldn't be happier.
Salma, an immigrant from Trinidad, who graduated in June from Townsend
Harris High School, believes life is too short to waste. She wants
to become a doctor and do something important with her life by helping
others. Excited at being accepted as a University Scholar at City
College, she explains, "I know that City College has a wide variety
of programs whose quality is equal to that of Ivy League institutions."
Goldstein addressing prospective Honors College matriculants
at the NYPL.
graduated from St. Francis Prep this year, pursues interests ranging
from jazz and rock guitar to softball and astronomy. Very interested
in calculus, he does not rule out a mathematics career. The son
of a Queens College alumnus, he rates acceptance to the Honors College
at Queens College as "one of the greatest things to happen to me.
It shows me that the hard work really pays off." Tiffany, a graduate
of the Academy of Mount Saint Ursula in the Bronx, intends to pursue
a career in education at the Hunter Honors College. Volunteer work
with young children has fueled her wish to study child psychology
and pre-school education. Thanks to the Cultural Passport perquisite,
she is also looking forward to free access to her favorite museum
exhibits. Strong in math, English, and foreign languages, she says,
"I knew I would get scholarships, but they wouldn't be enough to
pay for college. I'm thrilled about the Honors College."
Several hundred students recently informed of their admission to
CUNY's new Honors College (and their parents) attended a reception
organized by Chancellor Goldstein and Executive Vice Chancellor
for Academic Affairs Louise Mirrer on April 5 at the New York Public
Library. The event's setting and speakers were all planned to show
what CUNY had to offer. It must have been persuasive, for more than
200 students-double the number the University had expected-signed
up for the first Honors College class.
From its conception, the Honors College has been greeted enthusiastically
by students, parents, teachers and guidance counselors. Approximately
1,500 applications were received for a class that was originally
planned to have 100 students. The decision to double its size may
have caused a bit of a scramble, but in the end the participating
colleges-Baruch, Brooklyn, CCNY, Hunter, and Queens-are delighted
to welcome this cohort of talented, academically accomplished young
For many of them, opting to become CUNY matriculants was not an
easy choice. Selected on the basis of GPA, standardized test scores,
a written essay, and teacher recommendations, these top students
had a wide range of possibilities following high school graduation.
At CUNY, though, they would be designated University Scholars and
would receive full tuition and a stipend for books and fees. In
addition, the Honors College offered a number of special opportunities.
Students receive a laptop computer and a Cultural Passport that
will provide access to a wide range of institutions and cultural
activities in the city.
They will also have, over the course of their college careers, an
academic expense account that may be used for study abroad, living
expenses during unpaid internships, travel to scholarly conferences,
and other educational enhancements. These enticements constituted
an offer that even potential Ivy Leaguers found difficult to refuse.
In addition to participating in the Honors College, University Scholars
will attend classes and other activities as members of the honors
programs at their first-choice CUNY college. They will also participate
in a special Honors College Seminar designed by prominent faculty
from the five colleges.
These Seminars will serve to nurture a common experience for all
Honors College students and will be the basis for cross-campus projects
that teams of students from the five campuses will complete each
semester. The Seminars include experiences associated with the Cultural
Passport and will introduce students to the opportunities and challenges
of becoming active, involved citizens of this cultural capital of
the world. The first Seminar is an introduction to the visual, performing
and literary arts in New York City, and the second will focus on
New York City's patterns of immigration and migration. Development
of these seminars, under the guidance of Honors College Director
Dr. Roberta Matthews, has been a special experience for the faculty
involved. As Anne Swartz, Professor of Music and Director of Graduate
Studies at Baruch College, observed: "The first Honors College Seminar
has given me the opportunity to help design a course with talented
colleagues from across the five campuses. As a result, I have significantly
broadened my own learning experience. I have been deeply moved by
the generosity of the New York cultural institutions that have donated
freely of their time and expertise."
Other faculty involved in teaching and/or designing the first seminar
include: Paula Berggren at Baruch, Roni Natov and Dan Gurskis at
Brooklyn, Harriet Senie at City College, Michael Griffel at Hunter,
Amy Tucker and Carrie Hintz at Queens College. Faculty from across
CUNY have also begun conversations about curriculum development
for additional seminars that will explore the role of science and
technology in the city and the urban political economy.
Students will be introduced to the program and to each other at
a day-long experience in July. In August, a four-day orientation
will include a day with Outward Bound, two days working with theater
companies and studying plays, and a day-long introduction to the
technology that will facilitate learning and communication in class
and between campuses.
Technology will, in fact, play an important role in the Honors College.
Faculty have already undergone their own technology training, including
an introduction to Blackboard, which will be the platform for Seminar
management and cross-campus communication, and an exploration of
the tremendous potential of Web resources. To support the use of
technology by faculty and students, the University has created an
Honors College Technology Fellows program. The Technology Fellows
are students at the CUNY Graduate Center who have an interest in
interdisciplinary studies and background and experience with technology
in the classroom.
As the September launch approaches, new linkages with cultural institutions
are being created daily. The Honors College students are promised
free admission to the Metropolitan Museum, the Studio Museum of
Harlem, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Asia Society, the Guggenheim
Museum, the Jewish Museum, the Museum of the Barrio, and dozens
of others. Theaters, concert halls and other performance venues
are offering special discounts. Cultural Passport Coordinator, Dr.
Sharon Dunn, is working to create further linkages.
The Honors College has created a sense of anticipation far beyond
the CUNY campus, and indeed the first class will include a smattering
of students from other cities and states. Unsurprisingly, student
inquiries for 2002-2003-when two additional colleges, Lehman College,
and the College of Staten Island, will participate-have begun pouring