Honors College, Governors Island,
Sam Roberts of the New York Times
interviewed Chancellor Goldstein on May 23 on the NY1
television show New York Close Up. Following are
excerpts from the program.
It is commencement season and the Universitys students,
faculty and administrators seem to have a lot to be proud
MG: Weve had a very good year. The launching
of our Honors College was particularly exciting. That very
motivated students are turning down very prestigious institutions
like Cornell, Penn, and Colum-bia and coming to CUNY is testimony,
I think, to the turnaround at the University in the minds
of so many New Yorkers.
SR: You have rather gingerly avoided jeopardizing the egalitarian
status of CUNY by creating an Honors College but not making
it necessarily elitist. What is the next step?
MG: There is absolutely no reason we cannot offer an
array of academic programsto students who are poorly
prepared and not given the right opportunities in lower grades
and in high school, as well as to students well prepared for
the most rigorous college experience.
We started the Honors College at five campusesBaruch,
Brooklyn, City College, Hunter, and Queensand weve
just expanded it to Lehman and the College of Staten Island.
We expect to reach a level of 1,200 to 1,400 students at any
SR: What does money from the state legislature, from
the Governor allow you to do now that you may not have been
able to do before?
MG: You know, the irony of the last ten years is that
in the 1990s a lot of liquidity and a lot of wealth was created
but not very much money was invested in the University during
that time. But I think we now have the confidence of our elected
Governor Pataki has been very gracious in his support, and
Mayor Bloomberg has publicly acclaimed what is happening at
the University. This year the Governor went out of his way
to help us integrate our capital budget and operating budget.
SR: Suddenly you found that you were inheriting Governors
Island. What are you going to do with it?
MG: I am swimming with ideas. We are now working with
the Mayor and the Governor to craft a preliminary plan for
the General Services Administration. There obviously are many
players that want to participate. I have said right from the
beginning that it was important for CUNY to reach out to partnersprivate
universities and SUNY, for example.
One idea that interests me would be a consortial effort focusing
on science that might produce a concentration of research
and commerce centers such as the ones in Raleigh-Durham, Silicon
Valley, or Route 128 in Massachusetts. CUNY could become the
anchor of an intellectual capital that could attract businesses
to lower Manhattan.
Another idea was establishing distinguished programs in teacher
education. We produce now, 4,000 teachers a year. Too many
of them dont stay in New York. I would like to create
opportunities on Governors Island to do what we cannot do
now on the CUNY campuses that produce teachers now.
SR: What about the talk of Governors Island freeing
space on CUNY campuses for high schools?
MG: We dont need an island for that! In September
we will open three new campus high schoolsat York College
in Queens, Lehman College in the Bronx and CCNY in upper Manhattan.
The concept of students by their junior year and senior year
taking classes with our professors, working in our computer
laboratories, using our science laboratories, and libraries
I just think is wonderful.
These high schools are going to be smallprobably a maximum
of about 500 students when they are fully operational. Each
one is going to have a theme. The theme at City College is
going to be math, science and technology; at Lehman College
its about American studies; and at York College on the
SR: You have also talked of expanding College Now.
MG: There are 213 public high schools in the five boroughs;
we are in 200 of those high schools with College Now. About
30,000 students now participate as early as the ninth grade;
we would like to expand this early-intervention program. Our
message to them is that the world today is a very different
place than it was when my generation was in high school. You
could graduate high school in the 1950s and get a reasonable
job. Today that no longer is an option.