May 18, 2012 | Speeches and Testimony
Good morning, Chairperson Recchia, Chairperson Rodriguez, and members of the Finance and Higher Education committees. Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today about the Mayor’s 2013 Executive Budget and its effect on The City University of New York and our community colleges: Borough of Manhattan, Bronx, Hostos, Kingsborough, LaGuardia, and Queensborough, as well as the New Community College set to open this fall. I am joined by Senior Vice Chancellor for Budget, Finance and Fiscal Policy Marc Shaw, Senior Vice Chancellor for University Relations Jay Hershenson, Vice Chancellor for Facilities Planning, Construction and Management Iris Weinshall, Associate Vice Chancellor for Budget and Finance Matthew Sapienza, Senior University Dean for Academic Affairs John Mogulescu, University Dean for Libraries and Information Resources Curtis Kendrick, University Associate Dean for Enrollment James Murphy, Director of Policy Analysis Colin Chellman, Director of Collaborative Programs Eric Hofmann, and Director of the CUNY Black Male Initiative Elliott Dawes.
You have often heard me speak about CUNY as a re-energized institution. So much of our renewal is a result of your consistent support of the University. I’d like to mention a few recent successes that I think the city and the council should also celebrate. We learned in April that 16 CUNY students received prestigious National Science Foundation graduate fellowships (for $30,000 for each of three years). No public university in the Northeast has more students or alumni who have won more of these fellowships. In addition, we just learned that four CUNY faculty members have been awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation. These fellowships are given to a very select number of scholars who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for scholarship or exceptional creative ability. And last month the University completed its 10th annual Citizenship Now call-in, reaching a milestone of helping more than 100,000 people navigate the pathway to citizenship through this free service—as Chairperson Rodriguez and others saw firsthand. As a follow-up, tomorrow our Citizenship Now program will host an in-person citizenship assistance event at John Jay College, at which we hope to help 500 participants with citizenship applications. I hope you take as much pride as we do in these and our many other recent advancements. They reflect our shared goal of building a highly skilled and civically engaged workforce across the city.
We continue to maintain our record enrollment of 272,000 degree-seeking students, including almost 98,000 students at our community colleges. In addition, we are serving 223,000 adult and continuing education students, including about 130,000 at our community colleges.
We are managing enrollment carefully and working closely with our college presidents to ensure that every student can access the programs and services they need to make academic progress. This includes expanding the scheduling grid to make more courses available at night and on weekends; targeting advisement to help students define a specific pathway toward a degree; and offering both hybrid and fully online courses to give working students additional scheduling flexibility. Helping each student make true progress and earn a degree remains our most important goal.
As you know, one program that has been particularly effective in fostering students’ progress is the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs initiative, or ASAP. This is why we have prioritized expanding ASAP from its current 1,300 participants to serve 4,000 students by 2014. We recently testified to the Higher Education Committee about ASAP’s success. Participants have much higher graduation rates than peers who enter CUNY with similar levels of academic skills. The first cohort in 2007 had a 55 percent three-year graduation rate, while a comparison group had a 24 percent three-year graduation rate. The 2009 cohort, which included students with some remedial needs, has a 27 percent two-year graduation rate, while a comparison group has a 7 percent two-year graduation rate. ASAP exemplifies CUNY’s approach to meeting students’ needs: thoughtfully develop a targeted program, carefully assess the results, and, as assessment dictates, make it more widely available.
That targeted approach is partly a response to our incoming students’ very different levels of college readiness. I have spoken to you before about our “Tale of Two Tails.” We are enrolling more high-achieving students, as well as a growing number of underprepared students. For example, this year the number of applicants to the Macaulay Honors College rose by 36 percent [to 5,529 from 4,077], and accepted students have a mean CAA [college academic average] of 93.9 and a mean SAT score of 1413. At the same time, nearly eight out of 10 students who come to our community colleges from the New York City public schools need some remediation.
Our goal to enable every student to achieve academic success is also reflected in our state-required 2012-2016 Master Plan, which we are in the process of finalizing. The plan sets out the University’s priorities for the next four years. First, we will continue to focus on increasing our full-time faculty ranks. We have hired an unprecedented 1,700 new full-time faculty at the University over the last decade. However, even these significant gains cannot keep pace with our record enrollment increases. We will also emphasize the need for student support structures that improve student persistence. These include collaborative programs with the city’s Department of Education, expanded advisement and counseling, and enhanced undergraduate research opportunities. The Master Plan also includes our new community college, which, thanks to your support, will open this fall with 300 students.
In addition, the importance of robust library services is highlighted in the Master Plan. We are working toward the goal of enabling all CUNY faculty and students to have remote access through the Internet to the entire set of electronic materials subscribed to across the CUNY colleges. We have already made great strides in this regard. Last year more than 19 million searches were conducted of electronic resources available to the entire University community, and more than 7 million documents were downloaded. Our community colleges in particular benefit from the power of a system that enables access to many high-end scientific resources such as Science Direct, Nature, and Science magazine. Other highly used electronic collections are JSTOR, Lexis/Nexis, and PsychArticles. Our plans also include increasing students’ information literacy, supporting faculty research, and ensuring that our library spaces are configured to facilitate both collaborative learning and quiet study.
The CUNY Black Male Initiative (BMI) is also featured in our Master Plan. The initiative is open to students regardless of race or gender and includes projects on every CUNY campus, from mentoring programs to career workshops. Last year, more than 7,000 students, administrators, faculty members, and community partners were involved in CUNY BMI projects and programs. As I promised last year at this hearing, the development of a proposal for a BMI Institute has also been included in the Master Plan. This institute will elevate the work of the BMI to a national level. It would provide funding for fellowships to researchers or CUNY graduate students who are studying issues of equal educational opportunity, as well as issues of race, ethnicity, and diversity as they relate to education. I am very grateful for the council’s ongoing support of this essential initiative and ask for your assistance in restoring funding for the coming year.
Given these ambitious plans for the coming years, it is especially gratifying that New York State has put in place a predictable tuition policy for CUNY and SUNY. This historic five-year tuition plan enables both the University and our students and their families to plan more efficiently. Included in the policy is a maintenance-of-effort provision that financial support cannot be reduced from prior-year levels (except in cases of financial emergency). For the first time, our colleges have some measure of funding stability and can plan for the next few years more confidently.
We were also pleased to see that the 2012-13 State Adopted Budget included a $150-per-FTE increase for CUNY’s community colleges. As you know, over the last four fiscal years, state base-aid funding had been reduced by $553 per FTE, for a total reduction of over 20 percent. In addition, since FY2009, city funding per FTE student has decreased by 15 percent. I am grateful that the state has recognized the need to rebuild investment in our community colleges. As a result, the University is developing an innovative investment program for our community colleges to address urgent needs, including additional faculty, increased advisement, the expansion of library services, and investment in instructional equipment.
The 2013 City Executive Budget recommends operating support of $259 million to CUNY. The proposed budget includes an additional $2 million in support for the New Community College. In addition, the Executive Budget adds almost $23 million to CUNY’s revenue appropriations for the fall 2012 tuition increase. The budget also adds just over $3 million for mandatory cost increases in energy and rental costs. And it continues funding for CUNY Prep and the Civic Justice Corps at 2012 levels, and increases funding for the Young Men’s Initiative by $410,000.
Unfortunately, funding was not provided for the Dominican Studies Institute and the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, each of which is a leading national center for historical and cultural research. The Creative Arts Team, which provides learning opportunities for at-risk students, and the Joseph S. Murphy Institute’s campus-based worker education programs were also unfunded. Your assistance in restoring funding for these important programs is greatly appreciated. In addition, funding for the CUNY Nurse Professional Training initiative was not provided, and we ask for your help to continue a range of accelerated and transitional training programs in nursing and allied health.
While I am pleased that there is greater stability on the operating side of our budget, I am concerned about our capital program. Our facilities are truly the foundation of our academic work—not only as physical structures but as the facilitators of more robust classroom interactions, advanced research, increased student participation, and enhanced community partnerships. Safe, well-kept buildings invite engagement; neglected structures are a deterrent and a hazard. The council has always been a strong supporter of our capital needs, and I thank you for recognizing how significantly our recent enrollment increases have affected the condition of our existing facilities and the need for additional space.
In fact, with your help, we will open two major buildings in the fall: the new Fiterman Hall at Borough of Manhattan Community College in Lower Manhattan and the new North Instructional Building at Bronx Community College, which includes the college’s new library and much-needed classroom and office space. In addition, this fall we expect to move into the new, expanded home for CUNY in the Heights on Broadway between 213th and 214th streets. As I mentioned, the New Community College will also open its doors this fall. We are very grateful for your support for laboratory space and equipment at the new college. Construction on the labs will begin shortly. And just weeks ago we broke ground on the College of Staten Island’s residential living complex, which will significantly enhance the student experience at that traditionally commuter campus.
I have spoken to you before about the challenge of addressing critical maintenance work at our community colleges. Funds provided by the state to our community colleges cannot be used unless they are matched 50/50 by the city. For its part, the state has allocated critical maintenance funds to the community colleges. In fact, $71 million in unmatched funds now exists—funds the University urgently needs but cannot access without a city match. This funding would allow us to take care of some of the most serious infrastructure issues, both small and large, including upgrading fire alarms, replacing boilers and roofs, and replacing deteriorating façades.
Each of our community colleges has specific issues on their campuses. Let me offer some examples:
At LaGuardia Community College, the Center 3 building’s terra-cotta façade is nearly 100 years old and in poor condition. It needs to be replaced if the building is to be preserved. The project is currently divided into phases due to the anticipated availability of city funding. Were we to receive the $17.5 million of city funding we have requested, construction could be bid in a single phase, which would lower the cost and reduce construction time. The project is currently in design. Allocating these funds this fiscal year will allow CUNY to bid construction this upcoming winter, in fiscal year 2013.
At Hostos Community College, a complete renovation of the five-story 500 Grand Concourse facility is under way. The first and fifth floors are completed, and additional funding would allow us to begin renovation of the remaining floors. We are also working on a new facilities master plan for Hostos, which will include a recommendation for a new allied health and science building on a site CUNY already owns. We look forward to sharing that with you.
At Bronx Community College, a multi-phase project to upgrade the campus central plant and its heating, cooling, and electrical distribution infrastructure is under way. This project truly defines the “critical” in “critical maintenance.” Without upgrades, the deteriorated building systems will eventually fail, and facilities will have to be taken offline. The first two phases are in construction, thanks in part to your help. Additional funds allocated this year would enable the next phase to move into construction in fiscal year 2013, as it is already in design.
Design is also under way to upgrade the T1 and T2 buildings at Kingsborough Community College. Critical maintenance funding would enable continued upgrades to the campus-wide fire alarm system, as well as upgrades to the T7 building and the repair/replacement of three additional roofs on campus.
At Borough of Manhattan Community College, several projects at the 199 Chambers Street building demand attention, particularly the replacement of deteriorated windows with new energy-efficient ones, as well as façade repairs and other critical maintenance.
Finally, at Queensborough Community College, a roof replacement project for three roofs on campus is badly needed. In addition, ADA-accessibility upgrades to the campus theater must continue, including elevator replacement, installation of ADA ramps, restroom reconfiguration, and upgrades to the stage.
Funding we have received from the council has enabled us to make discernible progress in achieving a state of good repair on our community college campuses. We are grateful for your support. As I have said before, maintaining a state of good repair is essential to ensuring the health and safety of the thousands of people who use our campus facilities. Providing the matching $71 million of additional funds would be a significant move forward for these ongoing maintenance projects.
Chairperson Recchia, Chairperson Rodriguez, and members of the committees, you have demonstrated many times over your commitment to helping New Yorkers advance themselves and contribute to the city’s vibrancy. We deeply appreciate your continued support and look forward to working with you to sustain that commitment.