Interim Chancellor Asks Assembly Higher Education Committee: Increase CUNY Funds and Protect TAP Grants

Seeking support for CUNY’s 1999-2000 budget request, Interim Chancellor Christoph M. Kimmich, in testimony before the New York State Assembly Higher Education Committee on February 26, pointed out that State aid for the senior colleges has decreased by nearly $140 million since 1990. During this time Medgar Evers became a senior college, sharing an already reduced level of resources.

“The University requested an increase of $86.7 million in state funds for the senior and community colleges for the first year of a five-year plan that projects a five percent increase annually.” Chancellor Kimmich said, noting important discrepancies between CUNY’s Budget Request and the recommended State Executive budget.

He cited the critical need for funding the recruitment and retention of high-quality, full-time faculty; the establishment of a Writing-Across-the-Curriculum program at all CUNYcolleges within five years, a major effort to improve teacher education, and called the proposed transfer of funds for the CUNY collaborative programs to the Board of Education unwarranted and unwise. more

The recommended Executive Budget also includes proposed four-semester limits on TAP grants; a maximum grant of 75% of tuition, down from last year’s 90%; an increase from 12 to 15 credits required for full-time study; and a further reduction if only 12 credits are completed successfully. “Proposed reductions in tuition assistance will penalize CUNY’s neediest students,” he told the Higher Education Committee, which is chaired by Assemblyman Edward C. Sullivan. “If enacted, these measures will reduce 117,000 current awards to approximately 32,000, and $129 million in aid to about $30 million, a decline of approximately 75% and well below the estimated cut-back of the $326 million total projected by the Higher Education Services Corporation.”

Chancellor Kimmich noted that the Graduate School and University Center, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and Medgar Evers College face critical mandatory cost increases this year. He also asked for support to update technical infrastructure, to modernize and computerize CUNY’s libraries and to move forward with instructional computing and distributed learning. The Executive Budget recommends that $5 million in University funding for collaborative programs with local schools be transferred to the New York City Boardof Education. These include College Now, the Summer Intensive English Language Program for students entering the ninth grade, and the CUNY high schools.

Calling for restoration of these funds to the CUNY budget, Chancellor Kimmich said, “The collaborative programs are initiated by the University in line with University specifications; they involve University faculty and staff; they run smoothly and well; they are extraordinarily effective; and they have earned wide external recognition.”

Started at Kingsborough Community College 18 years ago in partnership with the Board of education, College Now offers high school students early experience of college-level work: skills testing, course work, orientation and advising. Students in College Now require fewerremedial courses in college, stay in college longer and graduate at a higher rate. Imitated throughout the country, the program was extended this semester to all six CUNY community colleges and to 49 high schools in New York City.

Full text of the testimony