May 15, 2009 | CUNY Matters Columns
In 2004, The City University of New York launched the first CUNY-wide fund-raising campaign with a goal of raising $1.2 billion by 2012.
When Chairman Benno Schmidt and I announced the “Invest in CUNY” plan, we were met with some skepticism. A billion-dollar campaign at a university not well known for its strong tradition of giving was considered audacious at best.
Now, of course, it is well known that we did reach our goal—four years earlier than expected.
What we have found is that there is a hunger among our alumni and friends to contribute to the institution that has made such a difference in their lives.
For example, in the 1950s Andrew Grove fled Hungary in such a hurry that he didn’t have school transcripts or any proof of his education when he came to the United States. Yet someone in the admissions office at City College saw his talent. He was admitted and ended up graduating first in his class. Later, he helped found Intel Corporation. And in 2005, he gave the City College School of Engineering a $26 million gift, saying, “This institution is a veritable American-dream machine. I hope to keep it that way.”
Bernard and Anne Spitzer recently gave City College an extraordinary gift of $25 million for the School of Architecture. Anne went to Brooklyn College and Bernard attended City College—and they attribute much of their success to their CUNY education. Transformative gifts such as Bill and Linda Macaulay’s $30 million donation to the Honors College and Larry and Carol Zicklin’s numerous contributions to Baruch College are indicative of the generosity of our alumni and their strong ties to the University where they got their start.
These and many other gifts are enabling CUNY to ensure that faculty are positioned to do their best work and that students have the tools they need to compete in an economy that demands a high level of skill, creativity, and talent. The support of our alumni and friends allows the University to leverage state support and invest in scholarships, academic programs, and facilities. We are tremendously grateful for every contribution.
Today we are expanding the Invest in CUNY campaign, with a goal of raising $3 billion by 2015. We are emboldened by the great strides that have been made at the University over the last decade.
In the last few years, we have established the Macaulay Honors College, the School of Professional Studies, and a new Graduate School of Journalism. You will read in these pages about the development of a new School of Public Health and a new community college. We are also planning a school of pharmacy.
Our enrollment is expected to reach record levels this fall, with over 250,000 degree-seeking students. CUNY faculty and students continue to be nationally recognized for their outstanding work. Most recently, six CUNY faculty members were selected as 2009 Guggenheim Fellows. This spring, another CUNY student won a Truman Scholarship—the fifth CUNY Truman winner in five consecutive years—and three students won Goldwater Scholarships.
We must maintain this momentum. We have an obligation to make sure that future generations of students who come to CUNY with the will and tenacity to learn will find every opportunity to succeed in their academic goals.
I deeply appreciate your partnership in building a University of great academic distinction, accessible to every deserving student. I look forward to continuing to work with you to help our students achieve their own version of the American dream.