October 7, 2005 | Speeches and Testimony
The Decade of Science at CUNY
by Chancellor Matthew Goldstein
In his 2005 book, The World Is Flat, Thomas Friedman called “the steady erosion of America’s scientific and engineering base” a “quiet crisis.” Indeed, since 1990, U.S. bachelor’s degrees in engineering have dropped by eight percent and degrees in math by 20 percent–and yet our students are confronting a world that, more than ever, requires them to be scientifically literate.
At The City University of New York, our current Master Plan recognizes the importance of science, technology, and engineering to the country’s future. In fact, as I recently noted, we have embarked on the decade of science at CUNY.
The University’s top-notch science faculty already enjoy an excellent reputation. This was made clear most recently when David Bauer, the first-prize winner of the 2005 Intel Science Talent Search, announced his decision to attend the CUNY Honors College at The City College. Bauer beat 1,600 entrants to win the prize and had his pick of colleges across the country. He chose CUNY, drawn by the mentorship of CCNY Professor Valeria Balogh-Nair, in whose bio-organic chemistry lab Bauer had worked while in high school.
To encourage and nurture students like David Bauer, the University is making a robust investment in the sciences–hiring more full-time faculty, supporting research initiatives, and enhancing its infrastructure.
Since 1998, CUNY has added almost 800 new full-time faculty to its ranks, in part by targeting selected areas, including photonics and biosciences, for cluster hiring. The New York State Center for Advanced Technology in Photonics Applications at CUNY, established in 1993, was recently re-designated by the New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research (NYSTAR) for 10 years, allowing for further development of photonics knowledge. Concurrently, our initiative in molecular biosciences continues to attract federal, state, and University funding for research in macromolecular assemblies, neurosciences, and cell signaling and regulation.
CUNY researchers have been increasingly successful in securing external funding to support their research. This was evident in the results of the most recent National Science Foundation major research instrumentation grant program, in which five different groups of faculty from across the University won over $1.5 million to purchase high-end research equipment, including a confocal microscope and mass spectrometers.
To allow our faculty to aggressively pursue their cutting-edge research, we are also focusing on upgrading our infrastructure. Thanks to an unprecedented $2 billion capital investment we obtained from New York City and State, we will be able to build new facilities or modernize existing science buildings at several CUNY colleges. Central to this effort is our ongoing plan for the Advanced Science Research Center, a university-wide facility that will facilitate the development of an integrated research network throughout the University.
As the University prepares to educate the best science minds in the city, we must also ensure that students are prepared for a challenging college education. Our young people must develop their science and math skills at every stage in their education. CUNY has extensive partnerships with New York City’s public schools to help students complete the coursework required to pursue a science curriculum in college. Only through a unified effort by our K-16 institutions and increased federal and state investment in science education will we be able to meet our country’s pressing need for scientists and scientific innovation. At CUNY, we are committed to addressing this most important challenge, in this decade and beyond.