CUNY Master Plan 2000 | I. Background and Context

Under Section 6206 of the New York State Education Law, the Board of Trustees of The City University of New York is required to submit a Master Plan, or Master Plan update, to the Regents every four years, and to "make recommendations . . . for the organization, development, and coordination" of the University. It is in this broad context that the University's Master Plan for 2000-2004 has been prepared. The timing of this Master Plan submission assumes particular significance, for it coincides with major changes in leadership at the University and a renewed commitment to high academic standards and opportunity for the University's urban constituents.

A Decade of Planning

The tradition of assessing its developments and charting its future through the Master Plan process is as old as the University. The 2000-2004 Master Plan has been prepared within that tradition. While describing a new system architecture, it takes into account three major planning documents:

The 1992 Master Plan covered the period 1992-93 to 1995-96. It summarized the University's mission, provided enrollment projections, outlined budgetary and facilities needs, described new system-wide planning activities, and identified goals and objectives. It was approved by the Board of Regents.

The 1994 update reported on developments in enrollment, budget, facilities, academic planning, and programmatic activities.

The 1995 Progress Report was submitted to the Governor and the Legislature in response to a requirement in the State budget that public universities prepare a multi-year plan. It described actions subsequent to the adoption of two important Board resolutions - on Academic Program Planning in 1993 and on University Budget Planning and Policy Options ("37 Points") in 1995. It addressed the reallocation of budget and personnel resources to support academic and administrative changes, enrollment growth, technology, facilities planning, and policies for improving educational quality.

Among the policies and initiatives that emerged in the period since the 1992 Master Plan was adopted are several that stand as landmarks in the evolution of the University at the end of the century.

  1. The Academic Program Planning resolution directed the University to take fuller advantage of its capabilities as a multi-campus system. Among other initiatives, it called upon the colleges to undertake long-range planning with regard to academic programs and to implement periodic review of academic programs on a regular basis to assure academic quality. It also provided for the coordination of resource allocations with academic planning activities, encouraged the greater integration of the University through intercollegiate programs and collaboration, and initiated system-wide planning in doctoral education and specialized studies in a number of other areas.

  2. The resolutions approved as part of The University Budget Planning and Policy Options (which came to be known as the "37 Points") were designed to ensure the effective and efficient delivery of educational programs. They focused on various academic areas, including admissions, degree credit requirements, assessment, and remediation, and foreshadowed subsequent Board resolutions in these areas. The program which was set in motion inaugurated changes at the senior colleges that allowed them to set admissions standards criteria which, with one or two exceptions, had been unchanged since 1976. It also set limits on the time students would spend in remedial instruction.

  3. A number of Board policies aimed at strengthening standards at the University were set in motion beginning in 1996-97 and strengthened following the arrival of new leadership and new members of the Board of Trustees. These included the establishment of appropriate mechanisms to: determine readiness for college-level work; measure student progress following remediation; evaluate the effectiveness of remedial programs; and shift the administration of remedial instruction to the most appropriate locus in the University. This focus on standards led to the establishment, in 1999, of a University-wide exit from remediation test. All CUNY colleges are now required to use common, nationally-normed, objective tests to determine when students who have been placed in remedial coursework have developed the necessary skills to move on to college level classes.

  4. A multi-year planning orientation was adopted in Fall 1998, and encapsulated in the 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 budget messages. A major departure from previous practice, this new orientation opened opportunities for productive long-range thinking and planning and set the stage for the consideration of a range of possible futures.

  5. A Business Leadership Council of prominent New Yorkers was established in November 1999 to advise on job opportunities for graduates, emerging industries and careers, internship programs, best business practices, and funding opportunities.

  6. The Board of Trustees reaffirmed and strengthened University transfer policies to ensure that they are effective at removing barriers that might impede intra-University transfer. They also directed that students who have earned a City University Associate in Arts (A.A.) or Associate in Science (A.S.) Degree will be deemed to have fulfilled lower division liberal arts and science distribution requirements for a baccalaureate degree. The Board also reaffirmed that all liberal arts and science courses taken at any given City University college be considered transferable, with full credit, to every other City University college. It provided that full credit be granted for these courses in all departments and programs, and that they be recognized for the fulfillment of degree requirements even when transfer occurs before the completion of an associate's degree. The implementation of this Resolution was assisted by the development (1999) of the web-based CUNY Transfer Information and Program Planning System (TIPPS). The heart of TIPPS is an on-line course equivalency guide which provides information on how associate degree courses transfer to each of the senior colleges and how they satisfy lower division general education requirements.

    The University's Master Plan Amendment was approved by the CUNY Board of Trustees (1999) and the New York State Board of Regents (1999). The Master Plan Amendment authorized the University to change its admissions policy by phasing out remedial education in its senior colleges. Admission to baccalaureate programs at the University is now determined through an index which incorporates SAT scores, high school GPA, total number of high school academic units, and GPA in high school English coursework. Indices have been established which allow distinctions among colleges according to level of selectivity. Faculty review committees examine the applications of students whose indices do not meet the criteria of their first choice colleges and make judgments about admitting these students on a case by case basis.

  7. A partnership between the University and the New York City Investment Fund was established in AY 1999-2000 to develop an incubator plan and to design the investment and business support infrastructure for an incubator initiative. These efforts have enabled the University to respond more rapidly to commercially viable incubator initiatives and provide an internal CUNY technical support infrastructure.

  8. The CUNY Institute for Software Design and Development (CISDD) was launched in spring 2000. The Institute provides a center for promoting job growth in the software and information technologies industries in New York through the commercialization of advanced software technologies and software engineering methods.

  9. A new paradigm for collaboration between The City University and the New York City public schools was announced, in Spring 2000, by the leadership of both systems' Boards and their Chancellors. The systems have established a structural relationship focusing on two priority issues: the effective preparation of high school students for college study and the recruitment and training of talented people for teaching careers.

    A Decade of Initiatives

    The City University is often a crucible in which national education concerns and priorities are defined and refined. The issues addressed by the University in the past 10 years, and those which will shape the next four years, have been under scrutiny and are transforming higher education on a national level as well as in New York. These issues include: raising admissions and retention standards; improving the quality of teacher education and other academic programs; strengthening the collaboration with the K-12 system to provide a "seamless transition" between high school and college; promoting instructional technology and distance learning, introducing cost efficiencies; providing opportunities for life-long learning; and strengthening economic development strategies.

    At CUNY a number of specialized studies, undertaken by faculty and administrative task forces, have issued recommendations that have sought to shape the direction of new programs. These studies have addressed a wide range of student needs and sought ways to make the University most effective in responding to those needs. The reports include:

    Immigration/Migration: the CUNY Student of the Future (1995)
    Degree Credit Requirements at the City University of New York: A Comparison with National Practice (1995)
    Cross Registration and Schedule Coordination (1996)
    World Languages at the City University: Meeting the Needs of the 21st Century (1996), Succeeding at CUNY: A Report on Retention and Graduation (1996)
    Library/Educational Technology (1997)
    Doctoral Program Planning and Doctoral Faculty Replenishment (1997)
    Graduation Rates/Institutional Effectiveness (1997)
    Basic Skills and ESL at the City University of New York, an Overview (1998)
    The Language Immersion Program (1998)
    The University Summer Immersion Program (1998)
    College Now (1999)

    In addition, special, ad-hoc Board of Trustee Committees have studied the Seamless Transition from High School to College (1997-1999), Remediation, Performance and Graduation Rates (1997-1998), and the Community Colleges (2000).

    At the same time, work has proceeded, through the joint efforts of faculty and administrators, to facilitate articulation among the University's colleges. This included the development of a common calendar. New standardized tests for placement and exit from remediation have been put in place, along with a proficiency exam which students must pass to graduate from associate degree programs and to move from the lower to the upper division coursework. The studies, and the initiatives which emerge from them, are creating a framework for the new system architecture.

    The studies have also provided the context for a wide range of policy and planning initiatives to enable the University to promote its broad goals. A number of significant innovations, some of which have become national models, were developed or enhanced as a result of the studies' conclusions.

    Collaboration with the New York City public schools has moved forward considerably in this decade. The College Preparatory Initiative (CPI), begun in 1991 has significantly improved the quality of students admitted to the University. College Now, initiated 20 years ago at Kingsborough Community College, has now been expanded to all CUNY colleges and nearly half of all New York City public high schools. The College Now model has been designed to permit earlier intervention, beginning in the ninth grade, to assist participating students. Looking Both Ways, a professional development program designed to promote improvements in writing instruction and assessment in both high school and college, has enhanced the capacity of teachers in both systems to enable students to meet the standards of academic performance that are embodied in the new Regents and in CUNY's writing exams.

    The University Summer Immersion Program (USIP), "Summer Success at CUNY," designed to facilitate the transition to college through work in the areas of reading, writing, mathematics, and English as a Second Language has grown dramatically. Started in the summer of 1985 with 10 senior colleges offering pilot programs to 500 students, it has expanded by 1999 to serve nearly 18,000 students at all 17 undergraduate campuses. Studies show that students who participated in the USIP performed better and were retained and graduated at a substantially higher rate than underprepared students who did not participate.

    The CUNY Language Immersion Program (CLIP), started as a pilot program in the fall of 1995 for students who needed an extended period of time in English as a Second Language classes in order to be successful in college-level coursework. This low-cost program offered at all six CUNY community colleges and at two senior colleges, allows students to voluntarily defer enrollment for up to a year in order to concentrate on the development of English language proficiency, which is essential for success in college. While students are in the CLIP they do not use up their financial aid.

    Prelude to Success, begun in January 2000, allows groups of students provisionally admitted to a senior college to fulfill remedial requirements in one semester on a senior college campus while registered at a community college. Upon successful completion of Freshman Skills Assessment Tests students are assured of transfer to the senior college and full degree credit for all college level coursework completed.

    The Teaching Opportunity Program scholarships (TOP) were created in response to a shortage of qualified teachers in a number of areas in the New York City school system. The Program has recruited talented students who had not previously considered teaching as a career. It is supported by the University and awards from private foundations and has raised nearly $1 million to date.

    Workforce development programs, which ensure that students have the skills they need to enter the workforce, have provided a seamless transition to jobs and careers for thousands of participants. Initiatives in this area include cooperative efforts between the University and the Human Resources Administration and the New York State Department of Labor to provide educational opportunities to public assistance recipients.

    State of the art research, especially in the sciences, has allowed CUNY to build a substantial base of economic development activity. Key CUNY economic development efforts have emerged in a number of scientific, engineering, and technology arenas. Among the initiatives are photonics, software design and development and new media, biomedical engineering, and an incubator program to support economic development in New York City and State.

    Advances in technology have given faculty and students access to high speed networks to advance their teaching, learning, and research. A Digital Library Initiative, a multi-year, system-wide project, will lead to state-of-the-art library telecommunications, improve instructional laboratories in the libraries, and create a digital core collection to increase the number of reference and research resources that are available to CUNY patrons online "anytime, anywhere." At the highest level of technology–based curriculum development is CUNY OnLine, a project that brings ten CUNY colleges into a consortium to offer sequences of courses eventually leading to entire degree programs, entirely asynchronously. The CUNY WriteSite, a network-based writing resource for CUNY writers from basic to professional, is an engaging, interactive resource that builds on the national trend toward online writing laboratories.

    Despite significant pressures, including changes in higher education nationally, limited budgets and a decline in full-time faculty, the University has nevertheless been able to capitalize on its quality as an academic and research institution and provide an environment in which students and faculty have achieved the greatest distinction. These awards have covered just about every conceivable area of human endeavor.

    The 1999 Pulitzer Prize for History was won by Edwin G. Burrows of Brooklyn College and Mike Wallace of John Jay College for their book, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898.

    This year John Corigliano, of Lehman College, won an Academy Award for his soundtrack to the movie, The Red Violin. His latest work, a song cycle titled "Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan," received its Carnegie Hall premiere in March.

    Distinguished Professor David Del Tredici, of City College, has won the Pulitzer Prize and 21 ASCAP Awards for his original compositions, and Distinguished Professor Ron Carter was named an American Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts.

    In 1998 the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching named Dr. Judith Summerfield, from Queens College, the New York State Teacher of the Year, the third CUNY faculty member to be so honored by the Carnegie Foundation in four years.

    A major historical study written by Dr. Yaffa Eliach, a member of the Brooklyn College faculty, was a finalist for the National Book Award.

    Also at Brooklyn, Music Professors Noah Creshevsky and Tania Leon each received, in 1999, an American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) award for their catalogue of compositions as well as recent performances of their work.

    In 1995 Rosalind Petchesky, of the Hunter College Political Science Department won a MacArthur Foundation "Genius Award."

    In March 2000, Professor Richard Lieberman, of LaGuardia Community College, was awarded the Sloan Public Service Award from the Fund for the City of New York, for the "ingenuity, energy, and compassion" he brings to his work as Director of the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives, and to the teaching of New York City history.

    Jill Bargonetti, of Hunter College won the Presidential Early Career Award for Young Scientists for gene research related to breast cancer and AIDS.

    Also at Hunter, Professors Andrea Blum (Art), Chang Rae Lee (English) and Thomas Head (History) won Guggenheim Awards, and Professor Margaret Crahan (History) received a Woodrow Wilson Award.

    Several CUNY faculty have received the Mayor's Award for Excellence in Science and Technology including Distinguished Professor and Einstein Professor Dennis Sullivan of the Graduate Center, Distinguished Professor and Einstein Professor Andreas Acrivos, of City College and Distinguished Professor Myriam Sarachik, also of City College.

    In 1996 the Museum of Modern Art presented a retrospective of the photography of Professor Roy De Carava of Hunter College.

    Four faculty at City College (Andreas Acrivos, Herman Cummins, Melvin Lax, Myriam Sarachik), and one at the Graduate Center (Dennis Sullivan) are members of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences.

    Three faculty at City College (Sheldon Weinbaum, Reuel Shinnar, and Andreas Acrivos) are members of the National Academy of Engineering.

    This spring Vivian Ka, who attends the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education won a Fulbright Fellowship for study abroad which she will use to study traditional Chinese medicine at the University of Western Sydney in Australia. Ms. Ka, who is the second City College student to win a Fulbright since 1995, also won a place on USA Today's 2000 all-USA College First Team in February.

    Another Sophie Davis Student, Sherry Xin Hsu earned a Second Team award from USA Today with her research on how the compound pravastatin removes plaque from arteries, her work as director of a Harlem tutoring program, and her student government service.

    In 1998 two students from Queens College, Tara Helfman and Joseph Stern, won British Marshall Scholarships for doctoral study in England, out of a total of 34 awarded in the United States.

    Brooklyn College Classics major, Marcia DeVoe has been awarded a prestigious Beinecke Scholarship for graduate study, one of only twenty-one in the country.

    The American Institute of Chemical Engineer's 1998 National Design Competition was won by a team of CCNY chemical engineering students who defeated champions form five other regions.

    John Jay College of Criminal Justice was ranked number one in the country by U.S. News and World Report (1998 – Best Graduate Schools issue) for its criminal justice policy specialization in the Master in Public Administration (MPA) Program.

    The City University of New York