September 12, 2006 | CUNY Matters Columns
In August, a New York Times article noted the sharp increase of people in the New York metropolitan area who hold at least a bachelor’s degree. One of the reasons given for this growing concentration of highly educated people in our area is the increase of residents obtaining degrees–as a result of enrollment growth at CUNY.
The University’s resurgence continues, reflected in the number of students it attracts (with freshman applications increasing by more than 5 percent this year) and in the educational experiences it offers. As we welcome the growing interest in CUNY by students of all backgrounds, including more high-achieving high school graduates, we are creating innovative new ways to respond to the needs of individual learners, the community, and the marketplace. We are very proud that this fall marks the launch of some brand-new ways that CUNY will help New Yorkers advance their academic aspirations.
First, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism greeted its inaugural class in September. Led by founding dean Stephen Shepard, former editor-in-chief of Business Week, the school is the only public graduate school of journalism in the Northeast. That fact is central to the school’s purpose: students with high ambition and limited means now have access to a top-quality, intensive learning experience in the heart of the media capital of the world. The first cohort of 60 students is meeting a faculty comprising veteran journalists and industry professionals and participating in print, broadcast, or interactive tracks, a community news service, and summer internships. The school is housed in the former headquarters of the New York Herald Tribune, a truly historic setting updated with a state-of-the-art newsroom and wireless classrooms.
Students in the new CUNY Teacher Academy also began their innovative academic program this fall. Responding to the need for more high-quality math and science teachers in the New York City schools, CUNY, in partnership with the Department of Education and New York University, has developed a new approach to teacher education. Combining a rigorous program in math, biology, chemistry, or earth science and a strong liberal arts curriculum with early, hands-on experiences in New York City public schools, the academy prepares students for long careers in urban education. The selective program, based at Brooklyn, City, Hunter, Lehman, and Queens colleges and the College of Staten Island, offers four years of free tuition and stipends for internships. Drawing the best students to this noble profession is an essential goal of the academy. We know how important increased K-12 participation and proficiency in math and science are–and we also know that excellent teachers are the key to meeting those objectives.
This fall, our new Online Baccalaureate is opening up new opportunities for those whose work demands, family responsibilities, or physical disabilities have made a traditional “bricks and mortar” education difficult to complete. The online degree program is designed specifically for busy adults who have already made significant progress toward a baccalaureate degree and now want to finish it. The 300 students who have already been admitted are finding an answer to their need for a flexible and convenient program that maintains a rigorous curriculum taught by experienced faculty. I am very pleased that the University has developed this online degree option to maximize students’ ability to achieve their academic and professional goals.
An essential component of an advanced education is an appreciation of our civic responsibilities, and another new initiative this fall expands CUNY’s longtime work to help new immigrants, and all students, participate fully as citizens. Voter Awareness Month runs from September 13 to October 13, and its intent, according to Carlos Sierra, chairperson of the University Student Senate and a key organizer, is nothing less than to turn CUNY into “a powerhouse of voters.” The University is partnering with other city organizations to increase the number of registered voters in New York City by sponsoring registration drives, helping students to serve as poll workers on election days, and working to maximize voter turnout by disabled students. The effort is a natural extension of CUNY’s citizenship efforts, which include this year’s “Nation of Immigrants” Calendar, developed by the Office of University Relations and the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives, in partnership with The New York Times, JP Morgan Chase, and TIAA-CREF. I encourage CUNY staff and faculty to participate in Voter Awareness Month on their campuses and within their communities and, of course, to register to vote and exercise that important privilege.
On behalf of the University, thank you for your important role in helping more and more CUNY students advance their education. I hope you enjoy a productive and successful 2006-07 academic year.