February 8, 2005 | Speeches and Testimony
Good morning, Chairman Johnson and Chairman Farrell, members of the New York State Senate and Assembly, staff, and guests. Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today about The City University of New York and the FY2006 State Executive Budget.
This year has been one of great progress at CUNY, the result of an intense focus on achieving the goals we enumerated in our 2004-2008 master plan. That plan emphasized building on the strength of our academic renewal and positioning CUNY centrally among higher education institutions in the country. We are well on our way to realizing that vision, led by a talented faculty, a better-prepared and re-energized student body, and a commitment to working as an integrated institution.
Iâ€™d like to share with you just a few indications of our progress.
Â· Thanks to our widespread publicity, Iâ€™m sure you are aware of the two CUNY students chosen as Rhodes Scholars this year. Eugene Shenderov and Lev Sviridov are outstanding representatives of their respective colleges, Brooklyn College and City College, and also represent the cornerstone of the CUNY experience: opportunity. These two immigrants from the former Soviet Union found a first-rate, affordable education at CUNYâ€”and they are not alone. CUNYâ€™s enrollment is at its highest level since 1975. In fall 2004, more Asian, Black, and Hispanic freshmen were enrolled in baccalaureate programs than had been enrolled the previous fall. At our top-tier colleges, average SAT scores of admitted and enrolled students have increased significantly, first-term GPAs for freshmen have increased, retention rates have improved, and graduation rates have increased. The graduation rate for all minority students at CUNY improved at more than twice the rate for whites between 2001 and 2003. Overall, our six-year baccalaureate graduation rates jumped 8.4 percentage points in the last four years. In short, CUNY continues to meet its mission of combining access with high academic standards.
Â· This spring, CUNYâ€™s Honors College will graduate its first class, a significant milestone for the college and great news for New York, which will benefit from these accomplished graduates. Many of them are currently fielding offers of acceptance from the best professional and graduate schools in the country. Many others have accepted offers of employment from Bear Stearns, JPMorgan Chase, Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Merrill Lynch, and Deloitte and Touche. Since the Honors College was inaugurated in 2001, both its reputation and its enrollment have grown substantially. Today, more than 1,000 students are enrolled. Highly qualified applicants to the college continue to exceed the number of available spaces by a factor of seven to one, and the mean SAT score of those admitted exceeds 1340.
Â· In all ways, CUNY remains committed to maintaining the intellectual strength of the University, and our full-time faculty are the most critical component in that effort. In the last two years alone, we have added more than 600 new full-time faculty, and now have close to 6,300. Our cluster hiring, which is bringing discipline-specific groups of prominent faculty to our campuses, is enhancing our national reputation in several academic areas, including engineering at City College, small business and entrepreneurship at Baruch College, and criminal justice and forensic science at John Jay College.
Â· The effects of hiring the best faculty and encouraging a flagship environment can be seen in CUNYâ€™s increased research activity. From 2000 to 2004, total grant and contract revenue at CUNY increased 63 percent. In 2004, grants to CUNY faculty and staff were in excess of $300 million. In this last year, CUNYâ€™s New York State Center for Advanced Technology in Photonics Applications, one of 10 Centers for Advanced Technology (CAT) in the state, was re-designated, with the support of the governor, as a CAT site, and will receive $10 million over the next 10 years from the New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research (NYSTAR). The center has collaborated with nearly 60 companies over the last decade and been awarded over 50 U.S. patents. Additionally, in 2004 NYSTARâ€™s College Applied Research and Technology (CART) Center awarded the College of Staten Island close to $3 million over five years for the collegeâ€™s Center for Engineered Polymeric Materials, allowing the center to expand collaborative efforts with the private sector.
Â· Our partnerships with the public schools continue to grow, helping thousands of students to complete high school and prepare for college. Enrollment in our College Now program, our major collaboration with the New York City Department of Education jumped 70 percent from 2001 to 2004, with current enrollments of over 37,000. Last year, the Math Science Partnership, another CUNY/Department of Education collaboration, was awarded $12.5 million over five years to improve K-12 math and science education. In addition, we continue to improve our teacher education programs, and the passing rate of students in programs requiring the state tests is now 93 percent, the highest since testing began. We have also begun planning for the CUNY Teachersâ€™ Academy, which will prepare accomplished urban teachers to enter the cityâ€™s public schools, especially in the areas of greatest shortage, including math, science, special education, bilingual education, and world languages. The academy will be modeled after the Honors College, emphasizing the cohort structure.
Â· CUNY continues to respond to the educational needs of the marketplace. We have created our first Graduate School of Journalism, scheduled to open in Fall 2006. Along with the new dean, former Business Week editor-in-chief Stephen Shepard, and a top-notch advisory board, we are currently developing the schoolâ€™s curriculum. CUNY has also instituted a new School of Professional Studies, a nimble way for the University to respond to requests for special programming outside of our formal academic programs. Employers are approaching us to design customized courses of study, including a graduate program in immigrant law, training programs for boards of public authorities, an introduction to â€œgreenâ€ buildings for construction and real estate professionals, and a certificate in disabilities studies.
Â· CUNY is acutely aware of the demands on state resources, and I have testified previously about our efforts to shore up resources and to create new streams of revenue. This year, we have made significant progress toward that goal. In November, we officially launched the â€œCampaign for the CUNY Colleges,â€ CUNYâ€™s first-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign. The campaign is aimed at raising $1.2 billion in private funds in the next few years. We also hope to leverage capital expenditures through naming opportunities and other support from the private sector. In the last four years alone, during the campaignâ€™s quiet phase, we have received close to a half a billion dollars. This amplified effort is the first of its kind at CUNY, and will allow us to focus on the scholarships, equipment, research, and facilities our first-rate faculty and students need and deserve.
Our campaign is also an indication that CUNY is taking its place among the best public universities in the country. Today, we are focused on establishing CUNY as a major research presence that provides the best opportunities for students of all backgrounds.
To accomplish this goal, we need your help. We need to be able to count on you as a partner as we seek to secure the financial underpinnings of a program that will, in FY 2006, support:
Â· The continuation of our faculty recruitment efforts, so that we meet our twin goals of having 70 percent of instruction provided by full-time professors and of bringing to CUNY faculty whose scholarship and artistic activity are of the highest quality;
Â· Competitive salaries for faculty, as well as the resources they needâ€”laboratory equipment, modern classrooms, and adequate support to attract the most talented doctoral students; and
Â· Academic opportunities for all students, to allow them to succeed in their pursuit of knowledge and in their pursuit of jobs and careers that will make them productive, taxpaying citizens of our city and state.
Let me now address our request for your support in the context of the FY 2006 State Executive Budget.
With respect to our senior colleges, we are gratified to see that the State Executive Budget recommends an increase in overall funding of $88.4 million, or 7.1 percent, over the current year. This includes increased state aid of $59.7 million and a net increase in the revenue budget of $28.6 million. For CUNYâ€™s community colleges, the Executive Budget maintains current per-FTE base aid funding, but increases overall base aid by $3.2 million to allow for enrollment growth. However, both CUNY and SUNY are seeking base aid funding of $150 per FTE for the community colleges.
While the $88.4 million recommended for our senior colleges is indeed welcome and very much appreciated, the Executive Budget presents a significant challenge to our senior colleges for FY2006.
The $88.4 million in new dollars is the net difference between additional funding of $119.4 million and reductions of $31 million. The $119.4 million includes funding for mandatory increases, the continuing costs associated with anticipated collective bargaining agreements, and funding for a new PACT proposal, which I will describe later. The $31 million in offsetting reductions includes a decrease of $6.9 million representing the financial aid component of the SEEK program, and $22.2 million in operating assistance, representing the elimination of an FY 2005 unfunded appropriation. Last year, the unfunded appropriation created a gap that we funded with reductions to college base budgets and the use of budget reserves. A loss this year will require permanent reductions to college base budgets and will result in cuts in critical services. In addition, the community college budget recommends a decrease of $363,000 in College Discovery financial aid.
As I mentioned before, the $88.4 million for the senior colleges includes a net revenue budget increase of $28.6 million. The $28.6 million represents an increase in tuition revenue of $37.3 million offset by a decrease in so-called â€œother revenueâ€ of $8.7 million. The $8.7 million was, in FY2005, funding for the administration of financial aid programs at CUNY. These funds came in the form of revenue from the Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) budget. The FY 2006 Executive Budget eliminates this funding, and consequently the associated costs will have to be borne by funds dedicated for other critical purposes.
Accompanying the budget is legislation that would eliminate prohibitions against charging differential tuition changes in a given year prior to the adoption of a state budget.
In sum, the Executive Budget proposal presents CUNY with a $70.5 million operating budget challenge: first, raising $37.3 million through increases in tuition, which equates to an increase of $250 in tuition for each full-time resident undergraduate student; second, securing funding of $26.3 million for unfunded mandatory costs; and third, financing the $6.9 million needed for the restoration of the SEEK financial aid program.
These are significant challenges. A tuition increase of 6.3 percent, from $4,000 to $4,250, for full-time undergraduate residents at a senior college, will make a marked difference for our students. Six of 10 CUNY students come from households earning $30,000 or less. Seven of 10 work full or part time. All experienced a tuition increase of $800 annually in 2003. I worry about the impact of undergraduate tuition hikes combined with the withdrawal of TAP support early in the college careers of our students. We must protect, as a first priority, qualified students who cannot afford to attend college.
Tuition indexing, which has been proposed in varying forms, offers a measure of predictability in tuition levels, which would assist students and their families as they plan for college financing. But a policy of tuition indexing must only be considered in concert with a commitment to consistent public support for higher education. Spikes in tuition are often the result of decreases in public support. Any far-sighted tuition policy must first ensure adequate state support for public education.
As I mentioned earlier, the Executive Budget also recommends the creation of a new PACT program, or Partnership to Accelerate Completion Time, designed to promote higher student graduation rates at our colleges. The program, which is largely based on a program instituted at CUNYâ€™s Brooklyn College, provides financial incentives to colleges that make readily available the classes a student needs for graduation in exchange for the studentâ€™s commitment to make progress toward an â€œon-timeâ€ graduation. We appreciate efforts to focus attention on graduation incentives and are evaluating the potential impact on CUNYâ€™s senior colleges, although there are also community college models to be considered.
Regarding financial aid, the Executive Budget retains current levels of funding for TAP, the Tuition Assistance Program. However, it calls for the awards to be provided in two components for full-time freshmen: a â€œbaseâ€ award, which is one-half of the current award, and a â€œperformanceâ€ award, the remaining one-half, which would be paid to students when they attain their degree. Students would finance the performance award through federal loan programs and, on completion of their degree, receive an award payment equal to the amount of the deferred TAP awards, plus interest.
The proposal effectively changes a tuition program into a loan program. Our students need their financial aid while they study for their degrees. In Fall 2003, more than 61,000 of CUNYâ€™s undergraduate, degree-seeking students received TAP funding. The program is a critical safety net that allows these students to attend the University.
There is some good news in CUNYâ€™s capital budget.
The State Executive Budget recommends an increase of $89 million to the five-year capital plan enacted last year, for a total capital budget of $1.42 billion for fiscal years 2004-2009.
Of that $89 million increase, $69 million is for projects at the senior colleges. The remaining $20 million is for the replacement of Fiterman Hall at Borough of Manhattan Community College, the building irreparably damaged in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. We are particularly grateful to Governor Pataki for his exemplary commitment to Fiterman Hall, which is matched by Mayor Bloomberg in the cityâ€™s financial plan.
There are also challenges in our capital budget, areas that need additional funding. We urgently request that projects for the senior colleges that were added last year by the legislature be reinstated, and that additional projects in the Universityâ€™s five-year plan are funded. A total of $151 million is needed, which includes:
Â· $62 million for Critical Facilities/Infrastructure Needs;
Â· $25 million in additional funds for Network Infrastructure and Information Systems;
Â· $50 million in additional funds for Academic Building I at New York City College of Technology;
Â· $10 million for Hunter Collegeâ€™s Visual and Performing Arts Center; and
Â· $4.3 million in additional funding for the College of Staten Island.
I must particularly emphasize the crucial capital budget needs of the community colleges and Medgar Evers College. Since 1991, CUNY has received only $24 million to implement infrastructure-type projects whose funding needs now total over $130 million. The conditions at some facilities have deteriorated to such a point that, as responsible public servants, we must address them or risk potential injury to faculty, students, and staff.
To fund the infrastructure projects and to provide for academic programs and enrollment growth at our community colleges and Medgar Evers College, the University requests an additional $186.2 million. This amount includes $108 million that was added by the legislature last year but subsequently vetoed, and includes funding for:
Â· An instructional building and library at Bronx Community College;
Â· The renovation of 500 Grand Concourse for Hostos Community College;
Â· The continued renovation of Center III at LaGuardia Community College; and
Â· The Holocaust Center at Queensborough Community College.
The additional funds would be used to:
Â· Replace roofs at Kingsborough Community College;
Â· Design and construct an instructional building at Queensborough Community College; and
Â· Augment funding for acquisition and remediation of the Sanitation Department garage site being purchased for the expansion of Medgar Evers College.
The Executive Budget also includes $250 million in three-to-one capital matching grants for higher education facilities, available to CUNY, SUNY, and independent colleges. Independent colleges are guaranteed $100 million of the program. CUNY can compete with SUNY and independent colleges for the remaining $150 million by raising $3 privately for every $1 available in the program.
I am concerned that the formula for meeting the matching requirements is unrealistic for an urban public university. The University is prepared to participate in this important program, but at a matching rate traditional to public institutions: a one-to-one match, and a one-to-two or two-to-one match in specific areas.
Providing our students and faculty with the appropriate facilities, as well as the programs and academic support they need is critical to CUNYâ€™s ability to enhance research capabilities and to encourage and challenge students with rigorous curricula. Chairman Johnson and Chairman Farrell, and members of the Senate and Assembly, we greatly appreciate all you have done to assist us in this regard, and we count on your help in continuing to support our critical needs.