Chancellor James B. Milliken

Chancellor James B. Milliken

Appointed to start on June 1, 2014, James B. Milliken serves as Chancellor of The City University of New York. ยป

Testimony Before the New York State Assembly Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee

January 31, 2001 | Speeches and Testimony

Thank you, Chairman Stafford, Chairman Farrell, and members and staff of the Senate Finance Committee and of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee for the opportunity to testify before you and for your long-standing support. I am joined today by my colleagues from the University and would like to ask them to introduce themselves.

When I testified before you last year, I spoke of my deep sense of honor in being the first City University alumnus to hold the position of Chancellor. I described to you the emotions I felt when I returned to the Great Hall of City College shortly after I took office. I underscored my profound commitment to ensuring for future generations of New Yorkers the same opportunities that the University gave me forty years ago.

Today I come before you with a sense of pride in the progress we have made to this point.

  • Freshman enrollment at the senior and community colleges rose in the fall of 2000 for the first time in five years.
  • Preparation of new students improved significantly, a result of the University’s expansion of outreach to the high schools through “College Now” and record participation in summer immersion programs.
  • Various new initiatives, including the establishment of new academic programs, new faculty hires, and the inauguration of new scholarships for academically talented students have enhanced the University’s reputation among public institutions of higher education.
  • New collaborations with Chancellor Harold Levy and the Board of Education involving teacher training and recruitment have produced new opportunities for student success and institutional partnerships.
  • The University has opened or is currently constructing new, technologically sophisticated facilities on nearly half of our campuses. These facilities will be key to learning in the new century.
  • Our Board of Trustees’ adoption of a policy to strengthen articulation among the colleges is making it easier for students to transfer within CUNY.
  • We began offering more flexible ways to take classes, including the expansion of weekend college programs.
  • We embarked on a major partnership with the New York City Investment Fund to meet the challenge of preparing students for jobs in the 21st century’s knowledge-based economy. This public-private partnership has been structured to enable CUNY to create an incubator network that will apply the resources of the University to creating a more supportive and inclusive environment for entrepreneurial ventures in the five boroughs.

I think you will agree that the past year for The City University of New York, the nation’s largest urban university, has been an encouraging one.

We appreciate the positive actions recommended by the Governor for CUNY in the Executive Budget. These actions are consistent with our recently approved Master Plan 2000-2004, an ambitious blueprint aimed at enhancing the academic quality of the University. I will refer to that document throughout, as it is the Master Plan that provides the vision and horizon for this year’s budget request.

The Executive Budget

As I said, several significant actions are recommended by the Governor in the 2001-2002 Executive Budget. For senior colleges:

  • The Executive Budget recommends an increase in state aid of $9.1 million over the 2001 level.
  • It includes a lump sum appropriation of $20 million for services and expenses related to increased costs, full-time faculty and other program initiatives, including up to $6.3 million for operating costs of Baruch College’s new facility.
  • It provides $1 million in additional funding for the CUNY/Board of Education Summer Language Immersion program.
  • It renews last year’s appropriation of $3.7 million for full-time faculty added by the Legislature.
  • It provides for an additional $3.3 million to cover the annualization cost associated with these faculty hires.
  • It provides $4.5 million in additional funding for fringe benefits.
  • It renews last year’s appropriation of $7.1 million for academic support services.

We are concerned about the deletion of legislative add-ons for childcare, SEEK, and the Queens College Center for Worker Education and urge that this be addressed in the legislative review process.

CUNY Budget Request: Operating Priorities

As the Legislature reviews the Executive Budget, we ask that you consider several areas of need that would continue the progress we have made thus far.

1. Funding for Full-Time Faculty
First and foremost the University must replenish its full-time faculty. The excessive reliance on adjunct teaching that has come to characterize CUNY is counter to exemplary academic practice and has been identified by the New York State Board of Regents’ Commission on Higher Education as one of the greatest threats to program quality in higher education. Last year, the University was able to hire 120 new full-time faculty-an improvement-but far short of the needs of an institution that lost 1,300, or 20% of its full-time faculty between 1980 and 1999. For fiscal year 2002, CUNY has requested $16.5 million for 300 new full-time faculty. This number is consistent with the University’s goal, specified in our approved Master Plan, of providing, over the next several years, 70% of instruction by full-time faculty.

2. Flagship Environment
Last year I spoke to you about the University’s efforts to create a flagship environment. One might ask the CUNY Chancellor or the Board of Trustees, “Why don’t you establish a flagship campus at this University, like Ann Arbor, or Chapel Hill, or Berkeley?” I believe that we could do this, but such a strategy would ignore the tremendous opportunity we have to capitalize on the strength of the University as a whole. For this reason, instead of establishing a flagship campus, I have sought to create a “flagship environment.” This will result in an array of very distinguished, nationally competitive programs that deploy University resources with one imperative: that multiple campuses work together and demonstrate complementarity in hiring faculty and building on particular sets of intellectual strengths.

Already this initiative has created a sense of excitement-within and outside of CUNY-with new faculty recruits from Dartmouth, University College-London, Rice, and Johns Hopkins, among others, joining CUNY’s most distinguished professors in the development of nationally prominent programs. Consistent with the flagship initiative, we have, over the past year, made a significant investment in facilities for CUNY’s minority research scientists and we have recruited new minority research faculty in science. The creation of a flagship environment at CUNY enabled our Research Center for Minority Institutions at Hunter College to win the highest marks in the country from its NIH review team, as well as a grant renewal from the National Institutes of Health. The sense that the University is supportive of high-end research has convinced companies such as Lockheed-Martin and Syllogy to partner with us in two successful NYSTAR applications, in photonics and software design.

Also embedded in the flagship environment is the new University-wide Honors College, a CUNY first. What is the Honors College? A number of campuses already have distinguished honors programs. In terms of SAT scores, GPAs, letters of recommendation from teachers, and community service, students in these honors programs are indistinguishable from students attending the nation’s most elite campuses. But existing honors programs are not using the whole University as their campus, drawing on the faculty of our graduate and professional schools, as well as undergraduate schools, and enabling students to access programs and courses across the campuses.

The University-wide Honors College offers students seminars developed and taught by the University’s most distinguished faculty and a “cultural passport” that brings the creative forces of the entire City’s institutions into the learning process. To facilitate their success Honors College students will receive lap-top computers and academic expense accounts to pay for study abroad and other enriching academic experiences. It is appropriate that CUNY be in a position to offer such an academic environment to gifted college students, especially those who might not be able to afford the high tuition at elite private institutions, but would soar with access to the best.

Consistent with our Master Plan, we have requested $1,025,000 for our new Honors College: University Scholars Program. In addition, we have requested $13 million to strengthen University libraries, upgrade instructional equipment, for graduate fellowships and, in general, to continue a number of other activities necessary to the creation of a flagship environment.

3. Teacher Education
We are pleased to participate in the “Teachers of Tomorrow” program and welcome the call for new and alternate certification methods to recruit teachers.

Last year’s budget request included significant funding for Teacher Education. We have allocated fourteen new faculty positions in this area, but have a long way to go in order to comply with the State’s requirement that half of our coursework be taught by full-time faculty by 2003.

I am proud of the fact that we have been able to attract private funding, totaling nearly $2 million for incentive programs such as the Teaching Opportunity Program scholarship. We have also attracted more than $1 million in federal funding for a new initiative, the “Teacher Empowerment Zone.” But this important initiative will require $2.5 million in the coming year.

The concept of a Teacher Empowerment Zone emerged from the question: why do so many teachers leave the system after just a few years? It seems clear that one reason is the lack of preparedness on the part of new teachers for the culture of the classroom. The “Teacher Empowerment Zone” will help to change this.

To better prepare teacher education students for the classrooms they will experience, schools Chancellor Harold Levy, United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and I are working to link college teacher education classes to classrooms and “Master Teachers” in the New York City public schools. Students, via two-way video conferencing and other technologies, will be exposed to real life, real time classroom situations, and will be given the opportunity to participate in question-and-answer sessions with skilled teachers. Our model is a simple one. Those who have studied science know that the way you learn something is not by reading a book or watching your professor write on the blackboard; it’s by getting into the laboratory and doing the science. The “Teacher Empowerment Zone” emulates that model.

4. Community College Base Aid
The CUNY Board of Trustees convened a special subcommittee on community colleges this past year and will shortly issue a report and recommendations. Across the nation, community colleges increasingly are recognized as significant assets in promoting workforce and economic development, increasing literacy and postsecondary attainment, helping people move from welfare to work, and enhancing the quality of life for millions of Americans.

CUNY is unique among systems of higher education in the country in that our community colleges are fully integrated with our four-year institutions in planning, strategic initiatives, and day-to-day work. To support them appropriately, we have requested a Base Aid increase of $175 per FTE. The community colleges would use this increase in support of the priorities articulated in the University’s Master Plan, including full-time faculty and economic development. In this regard we seek restoration of 2000-2001 support for full-time faculty.

5. Doctoral Student Support
The University continues to face obstacles to recruiting the best doctoral candidates because of inadequate funding for fellowships and other forms of doctoral support. Most universities-including SUNY-provide a significant amount of financial aid in order to free doctoral students from full-time work obligations so they can concentrate on their studies and advance rapidly to their degrees. Aid at this level consists of tuition waivers and fellowships, especially in the first two years, teaching and research assistantships in the middle years, and dissertation support in the final year. The availability of dedicated doctoral candidates as research assistants also aids faculty in obtaining research grants in an increasingly competitive environment. In addition, the doctoral candidates are an integral part of the University’s effort to create a flagship environment. For these reasons, we have requested an additional $1.5 million for doctoral student support.

6. Services to Students with Disabilities
As the impact of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (ADA) has broadened, the demand for services by students with a wide variety of disabilities has significantly increased. Since 1985, the number of students attending CUNY who have identified themselves as disabled has quadrupled. The University currently supports approximately 7,000 enrolled students, making students with disabilities one of the fastest growing segments of the student population.

To serve these students as they deserve-and as the ADA requires-CUNY will need an additional $2.0 million–$1.5 million for senior colleges, $.5 million for community colleges.

7. Economic Development
The City University has a deep commitment to the economic development of the City and State.

As I mentioned at the start of my testimony, we have been working closely with the New York City Investment Fund, an investor network of industry and corporate leaders that backs innovative businesses in New York City which have the potential to create jobs for residents. An incubator initiative will bring capital and know-how to incubator related enterprises. With the support of the Executive and the Legislature, we can move this project forward.

We are working to develop partnerships with emerging companies in the areas of biotechnology, new media, and photonics. These partnerships will integrate the talent and support of the CUNY intellectual and research environment with the entrepreneurial spirit of small companies in areas that are important to the economy. Borough of Manhattan Community College has led the way on this model of collaboration and several of our colleges are moving in this direction. The Governor recognized the incubator and accelerator program at the University earlier this month. The University requires $2 million in operating funds to move forward on this important project.

8. Energy Costs
One issue of concern to the University that was not addressed in the Executive Budget is rising energy costs. Just last week, the University received a projected bill from the City of New York for heat, light and power costs at the senior colleges that is $10 million higher than current budgeted levels. At the community colleges, the City preliminary budget includes $3.5 million in new funding to cover the higher energy costs for the community colleges in the current year. Similarly, we need the State to provide the funds in FY 2001 and 2002 for the higher energy costs at the senior colleges.

9. The Capital Budget
The Executive Budget recommendations support the fourth year of the previously approved five-year $1 billion plan, providing $165 million for FY 2001-2002 in major bonded and minor rehabilitation projects. These funds will allow CUNY to continue crucial funding of:

  • Health and safety, facilities preservation, accessibility for persons with disabilities, and asbestos abatement projects;
  • CUNY-wide special initiatives (such as science and technology equipment, which is 100% matched by grants from CUNY scientists), infrastructure network and telecommunications needs.

    The Budget also recommends continued funding for new, state-of-the-art facilities at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Brooklyn College, for renovation of buildings at Lehman and Hunter Colleges, and for equipment at the College of Staten Island.

    Medgar Evers College and its capital needs must be addressed. As you know, Medgar Evers College was designated a senior college in 1994. Since that time, Medgar Evers has continued to outgrow its facilities and is the most overcrowded of our senior colleges. With support from the State and the City, the University is currently acquiring commercial property on Crown Street adjacent to the campus in order to provide sites for new buildings. The University looks forward to working with the State of New York and the City of New York to ensure that Medgar Evers College may continue its new construction projects, to be sited in a soon-to-be-relocated City sanitation garage, as well as upgrading existing campus facilities.


    It is a wonderful and challenging time for The City University of New York. I have highlighted in my testimony a number of areas in which additional resources will be key. Your support is critical to our ability to transform struggle into opportunity, and to carry out the goals of our Master Plan. The University deserves this funding, for nearly 200,000 degree-seeking students and 175,000 adult and continuing education students count on us to enable them to fulfill their aspirations and dreams.

    This University is prepared to guarantee to the citizens of our City and State colleges that are accountable, that are rigorous, and that confer degrees of genuine value. That is our end of the bargain and those are ideals worth supporting. The advantage to all will be a university poised to perform today so that the City and the State can succeed tomorrow.