A Message from the Chancellor: Enhanced Services for Students

July 23, 2008 | News from the Chancellor

On July 21, the Executive Committee of the CUNY Board of Trustees approved three measures to enhance the quality of services offered to students at the University, from health benefits to improved technology. I am deeply grateful to the members of the Executive Committee and to all of those within the CUNY community whose diligent work and careful deliberations allowed these important measures to move forward.

The Executive Committee approved an agreement that will enable CUNY to participate in the state-sponsored Student Employee Health Plan (through the New York State Health Insurance Program) on behalf of its eligible doctoral students. Providing health insurance to doctoral students has been one of CUNY’s highest priorities, and, as I noted in my visit with Graduate Center faculty in March, the University was committed to enacting a comprehensive benefit plan this year, despite difficult budget constraints. I am delighted that, because of the board’s timely action this summer, the University can extend this important benefit to its doctoral students in the coming academic year. In 2008-09, we expect that approximately 2,400 CUNY doctoral students who are employed as adjunct lecturers, adjunct instructors, adjunct college laboratory technicians, or non-teaching adjuncts will be eligible for the new health benefits. CUNY will pay 90 percent of the cost of individual coverage for doctoral students who elect to participate in the plan and 75 percent of the additional cost of dependent coverage for eligible dependents of doctoral students.

The Executive Committee also authorized the University to develop energy-efficient projects across the campuses through an agreement with the City of New York and the New York Power Authority. These construction projects are intended to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas generation at our campus facilities. The first project, at Borough of Manhattan Community College, is scheduled to begin this summer. This agreement advances CUNY’s commitment to a capital program that reduces the University’s environmental impact and partners responsibly with the city.

In an effort to enhance available technology-related services to students, the Executive Committee also approved an increase to the University’s technology fee, from $75 to $100 per semester for full-time students and from $37.50 to $50 per semester for part-time students. The fees were established in 2002, and, since then, the cost of providing a full array of technology options to students has increased by about 20 percent. The fee increase will allow the University to procure additional equipment and services for students. Individual colleges have been advised to assist students who cannot afford to pay the increase, and, in cases of financial hardship, colleges may waive the technology fee for individual students. Additional federal student assistance is also planned for the fall 2008 semester, with a $421 increase in the maximum Pell Grant. I have also asked each college’s Technology Fee Committee to meet and develop a technology plan that makes the best use of this revenue to meet the specific needs of the individual campus.

Together, the approved measures will assist the University in providing expanded services to students and building campuses that enhance every student’s educational experience. We will continue to work closely with all of the college leaders to support the best academic environment possible for our students.