CUNY Master Plan 2000 | Preamble: The new millennium

The Master Plan 2000-2004 of the City University of New York reflects, for the first time, the long-range goals of CUNY's new leadership: CUNY Board Chairman Herman Badillo, Vice Chairman Benno C. Schmidt, Jr., and Chancellor Matthew Goldstein. These goals emanate from significant changes in policy and practice at the University, including, principally, those recommended by the Mayor's Advisory Task Force on CUNY ("Schmidt Report"). The Task Force was chaired by the Vice Chairman of the City University Board of Trustees; CUNY's Board Chairman was a member.

The Task Force proposed, above all, that the University's new Chancellor engage "in a comprehensive strategy of institutional renewal." The University's Master Plan 2000-2004 rejoins this proposal, responding to specific Task Force recommendations with strategies that will enable CUNY to constitute itself over the next four years as an effective system, based on high standards and accountability.

Already the University has taken concrete and positive steps to determine a system architecture fashioned by:

  • A commitment to raise academic standards by communicating clear, objective standards of college readiness; instituting a congruence between the new Regents requirements for high school graduation and the University's expectations; establishing performance as a condition of graduation from all degree programs; and insisting on quality in every University program on every campus.

  • A commitment to provide educational opportunity and ensure diversity within the context of high standards.

  • A commitment to render service by collaborating with government agencies and the corporate community to the greater economic, intellectual, and technological good of the City and the State of New York.

  • A commitment to account for the way the University carries out its plans, meets its goals, and spends its resources.

    In providing both the starting point and a framework for rethinking strategic planning, the Task Force Report has begun to alter the University landscape in significant ways. Specifically:

  • The Task Force recommended that CUNY's leaders design a university system that includes first-rate graduate and professional programs and highly selective colleges. The University accepts these recommendations.
  • The University has redesigned admissions criteria at all senior colleges, admitting students through an index that includes academic performance in high school and, for the first time, standardized test scores. Each college has a separate index which, with progressively increased admissions requirements at its most selective colleges, will result in greater differentiation and selectivity over the next four years. Colleges have also been required to constitute admissions review committees that promote a more comprehensive and holistic approach to student achievement.

  • The University has begun to bring in groups of nationally prominent, external consultants to assess CUNY's unique resources for providing high quality programs and determine the investment and emphasis to be placed on basic, applied, and interdisciplinary research. Selected programs will define a "flagship environment" at the University.

  • Faculty positions have been strategically allocated to the colleges in support of the flagship environment.

  • The University has begun to structure an Honors College, which will afford special benefits, including a "cultural passport," to the most highly qualified students at selected colleges. The Honors College is described in more detail in the section, Vision for the Future – Creating a Flagship Environment with a University-wide Honors College.
  • The Task Force recommended that the University organize itself around clear and objective standards.
  • The University has introduced standardized tests as a component of admissions requirements at the senior colleges.

  • The University has determined to ensure that remedial instruction offered is effective by establishing clear standards of readiness for entrance and exit from pre-collegiate coursework.

  • The University has incorporated the new Regents standards into its determination of student preparedness for college-level work.
  • The Task Force recommended that CUNY replace its student assessment program with nationally-normed placement and exit instruments, and that senior colleges admit only those students who are prepared to succeed in college-level work.
  • The University has introduced new, nationally-normed assessment instruments for placement. These are described in Section III, Admissions, Assessment, Recruitment, Retention and Enrollment Projections 2000-2004.

  • All colleges are now required to use nationally-normed, common objective tests to determine when students who have been placed in remedial courses qualify for exit from remediation.

  • Remedial courses are being phased out of the senior colleges.
  • The Task Force recommended that congruence be established between the K-12 curriculum and the demands of college-level study.
  • The University and the New York City Board of Education have embarked on a major collaboration to align K-16 standards. An expanded "College Now" outreach program will provide opportunities for college preparatory and credit coursework to high school students, beginning in the ninth grade. The College Now program will eventually involve all of the University's colleges and all of the public high schools in the city. A special focus of the program is performance on Regents examinations, with a view towards aligning Regents standards with University standards and minimizing the need for remedial coursework to be offered at CUNY.
  • The Task Force recommended that CUNY strengthen the quality and consistency of its teacher education programs.
  • The University has hired a new University Dean for Teacher Education who is specifically charged with reforming curricula and improving student performance.

  • The University has moved aggressively to initiate activities to raise teacher education program performance and to ensure that all new State requirements for teacher education programs are attained.

  • In response to the critical need that public education plays in contemporary urban society, the University is planning a Ph.D. program in Curriculum and Policy Studies in Urban Education to be offered at the Graduate School and University Center.

  • The University has raised nearly $1 million in private monies to attract and train highly qualified students for the teaching profession.
  • The Task Force recommended that the University rethink system governance.
  • The University has modified its reporting hierarchy to make presidents directly accountable to the Chancellor.

  • The Chancellor has undertaken a major reorganization of the Chancellery to increase efficiency and to ensure a good fit between CUNY's overall institutional strategy and policies and the particular plans and priorities of the individual campuses.

  • The Chancellor has introduced performance evaluations for senior administrators across the University to ensure the vigorous enforcement of University policies, including student transfer and program duplication.
  • The Task Force recommended University-wide fiscal management and accountability and performance-based budgeting.
  • The Chancellor has defined a new position, Chief Operating Officer, to undertake a thorough reform of systems, including budget, facilities, and human resources operations, with the goal of requiring budget accountability, increased efficiency, and greater decentralization of personnel decisions.
  • The architecture for managing and assessing the University created by the Task Force will support the further strengthening of the University and will enhance the availability of high quality educational opportunity as CUNY goes forward into the 21st century.

    The following pages of this document describe in some detail a reinvigorated University much more within the mainstream of colleges and systems of quality throughout the nation. In key areas, such as admissions and assessment, articulation, mission differentiation, program improvement, and performance standards and accountability, CUNY has looked beyond its borders—to institutions, for example, in California, Texas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Virginia. These models, and a thorough review of the literature and data, have enabled CUNY to begin to rethink institutional organization, admissions, and assessment policies, and to take the first steps towards thoughtful coordination of the missions of its campuses.

    This coordination presumes a commitment, on the part of CUNY's leadership, to setting priorities and making choices, and a rededication to focusing activities and ensuring access to programs that will preserve and enhance the academic quality of the University.

    Core Curriculum

    An important aspect of CUNY's reinvigoration is its consideration of what it is that constitutes a college education. A strong, comprehensive representation of the liberal arts, whether in the form of a core curriculum or a distribution requirement, is a fundamental component of the undergraduate curriculum of a liberal arts college. Recently, many have argued that it is also a central component of a "civic education," that is, an education which fosters the development of the skills, attitudes, and dispositions necessary for responsible participation in the democratic process. Over the past several years, CUNY faculties have been reviewing their colleges' general education requirements. This process represents an opportunity for modeling core curricula that can ensure, without sacrificing the distinctiveness of individual campus programs, that all CUNY colleges confer upon their graduates a set of competencies appropriate to a quality institution. It also represents an opportunity to ensure that there is sufficient parity throughout the system for students to be able to transfer easily among CUNY campuses and for the liberal arts component of their degrees to be comparable.

    In order to rekindle and redirect discussion of the liberal arts core and the competencies that it should foster, the University plans a new, Chancellor's initiative, to begin in 2000-2001. The initiative will entail:

  • A high-profile, University-wide forum on liberal education. Discussion will bring together the University community in an examination of educational goals. It will stimulate campus-by-campus reexamination of the foundations of a university education, the teaching-learning relationship, and educational outcomes, and draw public attention to the goals of higher education.

  • Definition and adoption of a common set of educational goals for our liberal arts components.

  • Movement toward establishing core curricula throughout the University.

    It is expected that over the next four years, the University will have achieved the following objectives:

    At all colleges

  • To ensure that all students receive the support they require to excel in a demanding academic environment.

  • To improve the ratio of full-time to part-time faculty in order to ensure quality and availability of course work needed for timely graduation.

  • To undertake meaningful programmatic review to ensure the continuing stature of the colleges' best programs and the improvement of those programs that most directly serve to enhance undergraduate, graduate, and professional education.

  • To provide professional development opportunities for faculty, particularly in the use of technology to enhance instruction, and to offer leadership opportunities for students.

  • To produce an educated and productive citizenry and job force for New York City and State with excellent communication skills in English and the ability to function effectively in a multi-lingual environment.

  • To generate and preserve knowledge by conducting high-quality research, scholarship, and activities in the arts.

  • To prepare students to work in diverse environments and to use new technologies.

  • To provide facilities, including laboratories, appropriate to all programs and accessible to all students.

  • To develop clear performance standards and accountability measures at all levels.

    At the six community colleges

  • To capitalize on the historic mission and on the experience and strength of the community colleges in helping determined students who lack appropriate preparation obtain degrees at the University.

  • To draw upon the greater reliability of assessment instruments in reassuring senior college faculty of the level of preparation of students transferring to their colleges. The use of nationally-normed, common objective tests to determine when students who were placed in remedial coursework can move on to credit-bearing coursework ensures quality by ensuring preparedness in math and English.

  • To ensure the enforcement of the University's articulation policy by strengthening and aligning the core curriculum component of lower division coursework.

  • To explore, through faculty discussion, ways of ensuring students' preparation for civic responsibilities through exposure to coursework pertaining to American history.

  • To develop more flexible programming so as to better respond to changing workforce needs.

  • To expand the community colleges' outreach mission through closer ties to unions, business, and industry.

    At the eleven senior colleges:

  • To refine admissions standards to appropriately reflect student achievement and likelihood of success in individual colleges and programs, and to set progressively more rigorous entrance requirements at the University's most selective colleges.

  • To recruit a cadre of highly talented students into the University through college honors programs and the new CUNY Honors College.

  • To ensure, for all students, core curriculum requirements and liberal arts programs of the highest quality.

  • To explore, through faculty discussion, ways of ensuring students' preparation for civic responsibilities through exposure to coursework pertaining to American history.

  • To work closely with colleagues across the University to ensure transferability of coursework.

  • To provide appropriate coursework in the major, or as prerequisites to the major, so that students can complete degree requirements in a timely manner.

  • To recruit talented students into teacher education programs and to provide teacher education programs of the highest quality.

  • To expand outreach through closer ties to unions, business and industry.

    For graduate and professional programs at CUNY:

  • To develop an array of flagship programs that allows the University to take its place among the top institutions in the nation.

  • To recruit faculty with national and international reputations in support of the flagship environment.

  • To provide a broad range of programmatic options, both traditional and innovative, within and across schools. To recruit talented students into teacher education programs and to provide teacher education programs of the highest quality.

  • To expand ties to unions, business and industry.

    Implicit in these goals is the University's continuing commitment to workforce diversity and development. The statutory charge, defined by the New York State Education Law, to create a diverse workforce that reflects the unique population that the University serves is as necessary and important today as it was decades ago. To this end, the University will continue to act aggressively to adopt policies and procedures designed to ensure that all qualified individuals are given full and fair opportunity to be represented in the workforce. The measure of CUNY's commitment to date is apparent in the statistics. Currently, the University's full-time instructional staff is 16% Black, 9% Hispanic, 7% Asian, and 8% Italian-American. Women comprise 46% of the full-time instructional staff. On the classified staff, 36% are Black, 21% are Hispanic, 5% are Asian, and 6% are Italian American; 49% are women.

    Building upon the legal imperatives of equal employment opportunity and affirmative action, the University enters the new millennium with a renewed commitment and an even more expansive mandate. The goal of this expanded initiative will be to provide an environment that eliminates barriers to retention, fosters upward mobility, and encourages full participation by all CUNY employees at all levels of the institution. To this end, the University will increase its training component through the introduction of a faculty and staff training and development initiative designed to strengthen administrative leadership, broaden effectiveness through the use of new technology and enhance the development of required competencies for job growth and success. These opportunities for training, development and continuous learning will facilitate progress within the organization that is based upon fair, consistent and clearly defined measures.

    Recognizing that the success of the University is directly attributable to the success of its human resources, this initiative will strategically place the University in a position to continue to meet its mission to serve and reflect the diverse citizenry of the City and State of New York.


    The pages of this document spell out a specific, programmatic vision for the future, with examples from all colleges. This vision includes:

  • Creating a flagship environment with highly selective colleges and a University-wide Honors College;

  • Improving teacher education;

  • Expanding the use of technology in teaching;

  • Supporting academic achievement through K-16 collaboration and innovative college and outreach programs;

  • Establishing a CUNY-wide economic development initiative.

    It is a vision that recognizes not only the imperatives of modern life and the needs of the City and State. It also recognizes and reinforces the traditional role of a University in developing academic and intellectual potential and the centrality of the liberal arts and sciences in the development of that potential. Our ability to fulfill our historic mission will rest, to a great extent on our ability to attract the finest faculty, for teaching is, in reality, the heart and soul of the University. Our ability to meet the challenges of the new millennium will depend, finally, on whether or not we can produce a generation of critical thinkers.

    Realizing this vision will require attention to enrollment trends, budget and revenue trends and opportunities, academic planning, student needs and services, and facilities planning, as well as the needs and expectations of the environment in which we conduct our business. It will also require, over the next four years, additional steps toward operating as a comprehensive and fully integrated system of senior and community colleges, graduate and professional schools. A major effort, entailing faculty research and partnerships with business and industry, will be required to strengthen the University's role in the economic growth of New York and the development of a workforce prepared to meet the needs of the 21st century.

    The University is only as strong as its constituent colleges. Standing alone, however, the colleges lose the opportunity for strength that lies in cohesion and collaboration. Thus one more system priority must be to provide the colleges with the support and flexibility necessary to enable them to capitalize upon their unique strengths and chart a course within the broad mission of the University.

    The 2000-2004 Master Plan will require resources. Mindful of the need to be stewards of the public funds and student tuition dollars which the University now receives, CUNY has made a renewed commitment to achieve productivity and program savings and to identify external funding sources to offset partially the cost of new and ongoing initiatives. Annual budget requests to the City and State will reflect the need for resources above and beyond current funding levels to ensure the success of the blueprint described in the following pages. We have had some success in raising funds, centrally, from foundation and corporate sources. Such private funding will continue to be sought but it is always in the context of supplemental support. Budget requests and lobbying efforts will ask the City and State for in principle agreement with a Plan that is long-range and therefore dependent on their renewed support through the first years of the new millenium. CUNY is, after all, a public University, and it should be supported by the public it serves.

    Only by setting a course and holding steady to that course can the University achieve its objectives; only by holding fast to those objectives can it avoid being buffeted by both internal and external forces.





    The City University of New York