February 8, 2007 | Speeches and Testimony
Good morning, Chairman Farrell, Chairman Johnson, members of the Ways and Means and Finance committees, staff, and guests. Congratulations again to Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari on his ascent and for his exemplary leadership as Chairman of the Assembly Higher Education Committee.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today about The City University of New York and the FY 2008 State Executive Budget. I am joined at the table by colleagues from the University and would like them to introduce themselves, starting from my left. [Colleagues introduce themselves]
I would first like to express my deepest appreciation to the Legislature for your significant investment in CUNY and public higher education last year. You recognized the leveraging effect that investment in CUNY has on all of New York and on our ability to provide New Yorkers with access to a first-rate, high-quality education. This is my eighth appearance before you, and in the years since our first meeting, CUNY has evolved from a system harshly criticized, both fairly and unfairly—referred to in 1999 as “An Institution Adrift”—to an integrated university system that is flourishing on numerous levels. To name just a few:
- CUNY’s enrollment stands at its highest level in over 31 years.
- By fall 2007, CUNY’s full-time faculty will have increased by 1000, or 18%, since FY 1999.
- Pass rates on teacher certification exams, which hovered around 60-70% several years ago, are now above 97%.
- The bar exam pass rate at the CUNY Law School is the highest in the school’s 23-year history, and with the appointment of a new dean, we anticipate further progress.
- CUNY’s performance management system, directly linked to compensation, has assured accountability.
- Our students are receiving highly-competitive national awards, including Rhodes, Truman, Goldwater, Marshall and Fulbright scholarships.
- The Macaulay Honors College is now serving over 1200 students with a mean high school average of 94% and SAT scores averaging 1376.
- The new CUNY Graduate School of Journalism led by former Business Week Editor, Stephen Shepard, opened its doors this fall.
- The CUNY School of Professional Studies (SPS), continues to create programs to serve the private sector, government, and nonprofit organizations, serving individuals working in all fields, at all stages of their careers, who must constantly learn new skills. This fall, SPS also launched the University’s first online baccalaureate program, mobilizing the deep interest and talents of many of our faculty in developing courses and programs given in an online format.
These accomplishments have required the efforts of the entire University, including CUNY’s Board of Trustees, the college presidents and other administrators, faculty, and, of course, our students. The goals enumerated in the University’s state-approved 2004-2008 Master Plan remain priorities throughout CUNY, including having 70 percent of instruction provided by full-time professors; the enhancement of our research environment, with facilities, equipment, and support for cutting-edge scholarship; and the best academic opportunities to challenge every student.
We are grateful to see that the State Executive Budget recognizes the need to support these priorities and are very much encouraged by Governor Spitzer’s recommendations, which clearly demonstrate his desire to strengthen CUNY and build on the investment begun last year. The Executive Budget adds $71.8 million in support for our senior colleges. This amount includes $67.8 million for mandatory cost increases, such as fringe benefits, collective bargaining, and inflation, and $4 million in Empire Innovation Program funding. The Executive Budget also recommends an increase of $100 per full-time equivalent student in base aid to our community colleges.
With respect to financial aid, we are very pleased that Governor Spitzer has ended the longstanding unenlightened approach of proposing in the Executive Budget undue restrictions on access to student financial assistance. Reducing Tuition Assistance Plan (TAP) funding jeopardizes family planning for college costs and diverts legislative and higher education community energies away from improvements in academic quality and toward fixing budget holes.
While we view the Governor’s overall recommendations as welcome and significant progress toward enhancing the State’s investment in CUNY, the fact is the University needs $24 million more for our senior colleges and an additional $25 per full-time equivalent base aid for our community colleges in order to close the gap that remains to fund the investments outlined in our FY 2008 Budget Request, which was adopted this past November by the CUNY Board of Trustees. We have worked hard to develop tough policy changes along with performance mandates, resulting in a University better equipped to invest significant resources for the academic experience and benefit of all our students. That investment can no longer wait; we must do it now!
Looking ahead, overall trends in the labor force make access to higher education ever more important. Most of us agree that public higher education must be responsive to the needs and expectations of a global marketplace—the demand for a highly skilled workforce, the need to strengthen the state’s economy, and the importance of creating knowledge to help society. Here are the facts:
- Baby Boomers are retiring: Four in ten American workers will be close to retirement by 2010. The Center for an Urban Future states that this “threaten(s) to cause significant employee shortages in more than a half dozen industries” in New York City.
- The workforce is becoming more diverse: The younger workforce is far more racially and ethnically diverse than the workforce about to retire. Some projections state that, unless we reverse current trends in which racial and ethnic minorities go to college at much lower rates than whites, we will end up with an undereducated workforce, unable to fulfill the requirements of 21st century jobs. Immigration trends also add to the diverse nature of this country’s workforce—immigrants and their children account for 55% of New York City’s population.
- Jobs in many growth areas require postsecondary education: 75% of jobs in high wage, high demand occupations require at least some college; the majority require at least a bachelor’s degree.
- Global competition is increasing: While the numbers of US college graduates have plateaued, those in other countries have grown. For example, between 1999 and 2005, China went from graduating fewer individuals from college than did the US, to now graduating double the yearly number of US college graduates. This is just one example of the competitive, challenging global environment.
Closer to home, we are working very closely with the CUNY Business Leadership Council, which comprises prominent chief executive officers and senior level executives of major companies and firms, and is chaired by Seymour (Sy) Sternberg, the Chairman and CEO of New York Life Insurance Company. The Business Leadership Council advises on workforce needs, trends, and opportunities for training programs and public/private partnerships to leverage resources and career advisement at the University. Many of its members are alumni, including Sy, who recently announced on behalf of the New York Life Foundation a $10 million contribution to The Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies at The City College of New York
But that is not enough. The necessary financing must be put into place to address these urgent needs and expectations. The investment that you made in CUNY this year was an important step in addressing the challenge before us. Your continued support will be needed. We believe that the investment plan that we have outlined—the CUNY COMPACT—can lead to a sustained investment over the next decade.
You heard from me last year about the COMPACT, and you have a before you brochure that describes its features. The COMPACT is CUNY’s multi-year approach to financing our Master Plan, the blueprint that governs the priorities of the University and its constituent colleges. It calls for shared responsibility among the University’s partners (the State and City; friends of the University; our students and the University itself) and creates opportunities to leverage funds for investment.
The current fiscal year represents year one of the COMPACT. With the COMPACT, the State and City commit to providing tax-levy funding to cover the University’s mandatory costs, and at least 20% of the investment in the programmatic priorities of the Master Plan. In turn, the University commits to working with its other partners to fund the balance of the investment plan through a combination of sources that include:
- Philanthropy: a system-wide focus on philanthropy as a permanent feature of revenue in support of programmatic initiatives;
- Restructuring: the University’s commitment to reshaping the University’s budget to achieve greater efficiencies and to redeploying existing resources to meet the Master Plan priorities;
- Managed Enrollment Growth: the assumption that the University will continue to attract more students, with the revenue from these new students directed toward investment;
- Tuition Revenue: a series of very modest, predictable tuition increases over the next four years averaging 2.5 to 3%. These increases will result in no additional tuition expense for the approximately 30,000 of our neediest students who receive full TAP awards. The increase for most other students will be covered by increased TAP and other financial aid such that the average “out of pocket” is estimated to be less than $30 per semester. Eligible students also receive increases in Pell Grant awards. Virtually all TAP recipients with family incomes under $50,000 would see no increase in tuition. No needy student would be denied the ability to continue their studies as a result of the proposed tuition increase. I have directed that colleges use scholarship resources if necessary to assure that no student is put in harm’s way.
It is with these proposed tuition increases that CUNY enters into a COMPACT with the students of the University. The tuition revenue will go exclusively toward funding improvements in the quality of academic programs and student support services. Just as important is the unprecedented role the students play in shaping University and College priorities through consultation with faculty and administrators in the development of the college investment plans. The COMPACT also assures that students will not face huge and unexpected tuition increases like those of the past that were enacted to fill budget gaps.
You have heard me say many times that investment in full-time faculty is essential to the University’s vitality. These scholar-teachers infuse our colleges with a burst of intellectual energy and excitement and represent the most critical component in building disciplinary strength.
I hope that you all had an opportunity to read the January 12 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education wherein it was reported that ten of the CUNY Graduate Center’s doctoral programs rank among the top ten in the US, with six of those ranked among the top five! These rankings were based on the scholarly activity and recognition attained by our doctoral faculty using the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index developed by Academic Analytics. Specifically, the programs ranked in the top ten in the country include:
- Classics: second
- French: second
- Philosophy: second
- Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages (Hispanic Studies): third
- Music: fifth
- Theater: fifth
- Criminal Justice (Criminology and Justice Studies): eighth
- Art History: ninth
- Linguistics: ninth
- English: tenth
The Index also evaluates Ph.D. programs in broader, aggregate areas, where The Graduate Center placed number one in “Philosophy and Religion” and number four in “Humanities” (following Harvard, Yale, and Princeton). By extension, this accolade reflects the productivity of the faculty throughout the CUNY system, as the Graduate Center draws on faculty University-wide through a consortial arrangement.
We must build on this success. Over the next year, we hope to hire about 200 new full-time faculty across the University. Where there are too few full-time, tenure system faculty in a public university, the educational experience of, particularly undergraduate, students suffers. This is felt most palpably in General Education Courses, the heart and soul of our liberal studies model; Gateway Courses, which serve as pre-requisites for upper-division classes; and in First-Year Learning Communities, where students are initiated into the culture of the college.
New studies point out that full-time faculty can have a positive relationship to retention and graduation rates and that the corollary may also be true: that contingent, or adjunct, faculty are less likely to have a positive effect on our ability to retain and graduate students. Research is making patently clear the importance of students learning from full-time faculty who are committed to the institution. Richard Light of Harvard University reports in a longitudinal study that students throughout the country say that connecting with faculty is paramount to their success in college.
While adjunct faculty are very important to an institution, we look to them primarily as teachers. They are not available to take part in governing the institution such as by participating in long-term institutional planning and institutional research or by taking part in standing committees: e.g., personnel and budget, college curriculum, faculty governance, standards and policies, and scholarships. Furthermore, an over-reliance on adjuncts, who often teach at multiple institutions, leaves too few faculty available to develop new academic programs, create new majors, maintain departmental and disciplinary structures, and respond to the needs of students.
If the CUNY Master Plan is funded through the CUNY COMPACT, CUNY will be well on its way to meeting its Master Plan goal of having 70 percent of its instruction taught by full-time faculty.
In addition to hiring excellent full-time faculty, CUNY must provide both faculty and students the necessary infrastructure to accomplish its research agenda. A major priority is to support those factors necessary for current faculty to move forward with their research programs and to attract outstanding new faculty to CUNY campuses. Such faculty provide intellectual leadership while mentoring junior faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates. The higher the quality of research and scholarly or creative activity in which the student is involved, the better the quality of the educational experience.
So important is science and academic research to the society in which we live that we have declared 2005-2015 the “Decade of Science” at CUNY. The University has affirmed its commitment to opening the pathways for serious advancement in the areas of science, mathematics, technology, and engineering—training students to teach in these areas, and encouraging young people, particularly women and people of color, to study these disciplines.
Our country’s strength, security, and advancement depends on scientific literacy. The decline in student participation and proficiency in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields imperils this country’s competitive advantage in science and technology. Our Decade of Science initiative could not come at a better time:
- The Business Roundtable recently led a call to double the number of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics graduates by 2015. The National Academies convened a panel of experts that recently made an urgent plea to increase this country’s scientific competitiveness.
- The New York State Business Council has called for an increase in students receiving postsecondary education in science, math, and engineering, as well as the education of new, highly qualified teachers of math and science.
- Governor Spitzer has emphasized the importance of investing in the high-tech, high-wage, strategic industries that will create the jobs and businesses of tomorrow in order to revitalize New York State’s economy. In focusing on the need for a concentration on math and science, Governor Spitzer has stressed that from grammar school to our universities, we must all do a better job a preparing our young people for the 21st Century economy and workforce.
Over the next decade, the University will invest in science in the several ways:
- We will expend about $1 billion across the University on the construction and modernization of science facilities, most notably the CUNY-wide Advanced Science Research Center—which will concentrate on emerging disciplines such as nanotechnology, biosensing and remote sensing, structural biology and macromolecular assemblies, and neuroscience—and science facilities at Brooklyn, City, Hunter, Lehman, and Queens colleges.
- We will revitalize our Ph.D. programs in the laboratory sciences, leading to new investments in graduate student support for highly competitive students, Ph.D. degree-granting authority for selected campuses, and an expansion of master’s programs.
- We will encourage enrollment in CUNY’s math, science, and engineering degree programs, which over the last five years, has increased by 26 percent (compared to total enrollment growth of 12 percent) and included more than 11,000 undergraduate and graduate students in Fall 2005.
- We will continue to run summer science programs and expand summer programs in mathematics through CUNY’s extensive College Now program, which prepares students in the public schools for college enrollment. As part of the College Now program, the University is also introducing a new “Science Now” program for middle and high school students. CUNY will work with the New York Academy of Sciences and New York City’s Department of Education to foster interest in the sciences through after-school and summer courses and workshops; an annual science competition that extends existing competition models to students who have not traditionally participated in such contests; and an interactive television program featuring science activities and innovations.
Science is not made in a laboratory; it is made when a young person gets that initial spark of inspiration, that flash of exhilaration. Through the University’s Decade of Science, we hope to encourage and sustain that sense of excitement and curiosity, whether in budding scientists or seasoned researchers.
To put a face—or, more accurately, faces—on our plans to bolster science education at all levels, I am delighted to be joined here today by some of my faculty colleagues whose work we so greatly admire. They represent just a small sampling of the extraordinary talent we are privileged to have recruited to CUNY:
- Professor Daniel Akins, Director of the CUNY Center for Analysis of Structure and Interfaces, studies the synthesis of semiconductor and magnetic oxide nanoparticles, as well as the fabrication of carbon nanotubes within various matrices. He is Professor of Chemistry at City College and received his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley.
- Professor Hiroshi Matsui, Associate Professor of Chemistry at Hunter College, was recently elected as a Frontier Member of the National Academy of Engineering and is recognized for his work on non-lithographic fabrications of devices such as sensors, by fabricating peptide-based nanotubes (antibody) and functionalizing them with various recognition components (antigen).
- Distinguished Professor Ruth Stark, Director of the CUNY Institute on Macromolecular Assemblies at the College of Staten Island, uses NMR techniques to study the molecular structure and organization of fatty acid binding proteins as well as plant biopolymers.
- Professor Derrick Brazill was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2005 for his work on cell sensing and control of cell growth during development. He is Associate Professor of Biology at Hunter College and received his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley.
- Professor Lynn Francesconi, Associate Professor of Chemistry at Hunter College, studies the chemistry of elements such as technetium, with a goal of developing the chemistry as it relates to the medicinal uses of their radioisotopes.
- Professor Steve Greenbaum, Professor of Physics at Hunter College, performs spectroscopic investigations of solids by magnetic resonance and synchrotron x-ray absorption, applied mostly to materials for electrochemical energy storage and conversion. Professor Greenbaum was the recipient of 2002 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.
- Professor Christine Li is a developmental neurobiologist studying how communication is established between cells in the nervous system. She is Professor of Biology at City College and received her Ph.D. from Harvard University.
- Professor Elli Wurtzel, a researcher on provitamin A carotenoid biosynthesis in cereal crops, was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2006. She is Professor of Biology at Lehman College.
- Alex Couzis is the Herbert G. Kayser Professor of Chemical Engineering at City College. His research on the adsorption of organic material from solution onto solid surfaces impacts critical areas such as food science and packaging, microelectronics, optics and delayed drug release.
- Professor Cathy Savage-Dunn studies the roles and mechanisms of cell-cell signaling during animal development. Dr. Savage-Dunn is Associate Professor of Biology at Queens College and received her Ph.D. from Columbia University.
- Professor Harry Gafney has recently assumed the Directorship of the CUNY Center of Advanced Technology (CAT) in Photonic Applications. Professor Gafney works closely with New York-based companies such as Corning Inc., and is also a guest scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratories. He is Professor of Chemistry at Queens College.
- Professor Vinod Menon joined CUNY from Princeton University where he carried out his postdoctoral studies on Photonic devices for quantum information processing. He is Assistant Professor of Physics at Queens College.
- Professor Richard Magliozzo has been consistently funded by the National Institutes of Health for his research studying the structure and function of a bacterial heme enzyme responsible for activation of an antibiotic used to treat tuberculosis, and another bacterial enzyme that catalyzes radical reactions. He is Professor of Chemistry at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center.
- Professor Edward Kennelly runs a research program in the area of biologically active phytochemicals, with specific interests in those with antioxidant activity that may help to prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease. He is Associate Professor of Biology at Lehman College.
- Professor Probal Banerjee is affiliated with the Center for Developmental Neuroscience at the College of Staten Island. One area of his studies focuses on the role of the serotonin 1A receptor (5-HT1A-R) in the survival and maturation of brain neurons during development. He is Professor of Chemistry at the College of Staten Island.
Consistent with our Decade of Science initiative, CUNY is also seeking investment in its new Teacher Academy, which welcomed its first class of students this past fall. This exciting program aims to prepare a new generation of exceptional teachers who will in turn inspire middle and high school students’ interest in mathematics and science and contribute to student achievement. If we want students to have an abiding love for math and science, then we must focus on and support the development of great math and science teachers. That is what the unique Teacher Academy does. Through a partnership between CUNY and the New York City Department of Education, Teacher Academy students learn their craft from exceptional teachers and go into schools to witness what makes great teaching and what motivates students. They are also challenged to master their field—whether mathematics, biology, chemistry, or earth science. Through an excellent liberal arts and sciences program, Teacher Academy students learn to bring out the best in themselves and future students.
Also consistent with our Decade of Science initiative, planning is now under way to create the first public Graduate School of Public Health in New York City, to be located at Hunter College. The need is clear: In 2007, half of the world’s population is expected to be in urban areas. By 2030, demographers tell us, three-fourths of the earth’s population will live in these areas. These urban environments already face major health challenges: obesity, diabetes, tuberculosis, AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases. We hope to address these and other issues through research and education. The new school will provide a University-wide focus to CUNY’s public health training and research activities and will offer a platform from which those activities will be significantly expanded. It will enable CUNY to better serve New York City and New York State in the critical areas of urban public health and related health sciences, providing significantly greater variety, extent, and quality of services.
Instrumental to our pursuit of CUNY’s Decade of Science are the University’s capital needs. The primary objective of CUNY’s Capital Building Program is to design and build, in support of the University’s mission, new state-of-the-art facilities while preserving and enhancing existing physical plant assets. New construction and building renovation projects are designed to the highest standards of quality attainable within available resources, thus affording our students the best possible learning environment.
The University appreciates the efforts by the Governor and the Legislature to secure multi-year capital funding in support of CUNY’s mission. The Governor’s Executive Budget recommends an increase of $265.8 million and the reappropriation of $2 billion for a total of $2.3 billion for the FY2004-FY2009 University Five Year Capital Improvement Plan of $2.3 billion. The capital plan includes $1.92 billion for the Senior Colleges and $356 million for the Community Colleges and Medgar Evers College. We are grateful for funding for the Advanced Science Research Center and New Science Building at City College, for continued rehabilitation of the Marshak Building at City College, and for support for the replacement of Fiterman Hall at BMCC and the Academic Building at Medgar Evers College.
However, the executive recommendations do not include additional funding we requested, such as $50 million in continued funding for the NIT/Information Systems & Administrative Applications project (the University’s ERP Initiative); $18 million to address escalation increases due to recent economic changes for projects already in construction; $72 million in additional funding for the above-mentioned Advanced Science Research Center and the New Science Facility at City College; and $5 million to complete the Visitors’ Center for the Louis Armstrong House Museum and Archives at Queens College.
We are pleased that the Governor has pledged to “begin an effort to make our higher education system the best in America.” We welcome the creation of a Commission on Public Higher Education to lead the way and are eager to work with the Commission to develop strategies that protect the interests of all students.
I would also like to publicly thank Mayor Bloomberg for his support of the new Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP). The ASAP program will, through our community colleges, help New Yorkers living in poverty progress more quickly toward completing their degrees and consequently securing upward educational, economic, and social mobility and success.
Year one of the CUNY COMPACT proved that the funding that the University seeks for investment is sought in earnest and that the University relentlessly pursues the quality improvements that produce the return on that investment. We recognize the benefits of an educated New York come in many forms. Let us remember how closely linked—indeed, inseparable—education is with other threads in our shared social fabric: our economy, our workforce, our technology, our culture and our overall well-being.
Our joint efforts and those of the friends and alumni of CUNY, our students, and our faculty have lifted us out of the rough and onto the fairway. But we have not yet reached our goal. Together, we must keep pushing forward. We must build on our investment. We must continue to honor the importance of academic research and the inestimable value of talented full-time faculty. And we must maintain our overarching commitments and promises to the students to do our very best to serve their interests.
Chairman Johnson and Chairman Farrell, and members of the Senate and Assembly, we greatly appreciate all you have done to assist us in this essential and multifaceted enterprise, and we look forward to continuing to build on that productive partnership. Thank you.