Compact for Public Higher Education

December 9, 2005 | The University

The Board of Trustees of The City University of New York has approved a budget request for 2006-2007 that calls for a “new compact” to expand academic programs and student services through an innovative combination of cost savings, expanded private philanthropy from donors and foundations, very small tuition increases, and a state/city partnership that would cover energy, labor, fringe benefits and other mandatory costs.

The request would support academic and research initiatives as outlined in the University’s long term Master Plan-funding for libraries, new technology, workforce and economic development and to continue adding full-time faculty, as many as 800 new professors by 2010.

Chancellor Matthew Goldstein said the concept is designed to solve a critical problem that has been impeding public colleges and universities across the nation – steadily dwindling taxpayer support for the institutions of higher learning. The University would commit itself to an “unprecedented focus on philanthropy as a permanent feature of revenue” in support of programmatic initiatives.

Overall, the budget request seeks $124.5 million or a 6.7 per cent increase in appropriations to $1.9 billion for the new fiscal year from the state and city.

Chancellor Goldstein said, “New Yorkers must begin to see an investment in higher education that will assure that these institutions are healthy and vibrant, and can meet the state’s critical need for a quality system.” The Chancellor pointed out that the next step is to work with state and city elected officials to finance their proposed share of the plan.

Trustee Joseph Lhota, who chairs the committee on fiscal affairs said, “I commend the Chancellery for developing an innovative and bold budget request-one that seeks not only new investment in CUNY but one that speaks coherently about financing that investment. In the end, the State, City, and the students of CUNY will greatly benefit from this approach.”

The compact was also commended by C. Peter Magrath, the president of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, the nation’s oldest higher education association. “The relatively generous funding public colleges and universities enjoyed, say, ten or twenty years ago, will not return,” he said. “Our mission is challenged – unless we adapt and adjust our thinking.”

In addition to increased fund-raising through alumni and other philanthropic sources, the Investment Plan commits the University to continue its productivity and cost-saving initiatives, which have saved more than $24 million so far. The request calls for a $65 or less per semester tuition increase in the first year with lesser increases to follow and an increase of $35 per semester in fourth and final year of the plan.

CUNY officials stress that a key goal of the plan is to control excessive and unpredictable tuition increases that place a heavy burden on students and could result in drops in enrollment.

Chancellor Goldstein said that under the Investment Plan, “CUNY students will not face huge and unexpected tuition increases like those of the past…The last four senior college tuition increases have averaged 31.3 percent.” Under the proposed plan, the average increase for the senior colleges over the next four years will be 2.4 percent.

CUNY already has gone past the halfway mark of the $1.2 billion fundraising goal it announced a year ago.

In other actions, the CUNY Board of Trustees recognized some of the recent donations:

In honor of Andrew Grove – the 1960 City College alumnus and former Intel Corp. chairman, who contributed $26 million to his alma mater – the Board approved the renaming of CCNY’s School of Engineering. It is now called The Grove School of Engineering.

In honor of Harold M. Hoffman – a 1949 City College graduate – and Lillian J. Hoffman – a 1951 graduate – who together donated $1 million, the Board approved the renaming of The Student Center and Forum at the college. It is now known as The Lillian and Harold Hoffman Student Center.

In honor of Harold Shames, who graduated from The City College in 1944 and donated
$700,000, the Board approved the establishment of the Harold Shames Professorship in Biomedical Engineering at the college.

In honor of Bernard Spitzer (a 1943 City College alumnus) and Anne Spitzer, who together donated $2 million to the college’s 21st Century Foundation, the Board approved the establishment of the Bernard and Anne Spitzer Chair in Political Science.

The City University of New York, the nation’s largest urban public university, includes 11 senior colleges, six community colleges, a graduate school, a law school, a Graduate School of Journalism and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education. It serves more than 450,000 degree-credit students and adult, continuing and professional education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program for 35,000 high school students, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 200 high schools throughout the five boroughs of the City of New York.