December 20, 2007 | York College
York College President Dr. Marcia V. Keizs and other members of Governor Eliot Spitzer’s Commission on Higher Education (CHE) earlier this week submitted their preliminary report calling for a Compact to ensure New York’s public higher education institutions are adequately funded and equipped to prepare the state’s students for twenty first century careers and leadership roles.
Comprised of public and private university chancellors and presidents, such as Keizs, Queensborough Community College president, Dr. Eduardo Marti, CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein and members of the New York State Senate and Assembly and even a Queens College student, the Commission called for the hiring of an additional 2,000 full-time faculty over the next five years.
It is expected to kindle change in the system of public higher education, creating a fund to support research proposals with significant economic development promise. The impact is expected to trickle down to the lowest grades according to a statement released by the Executive Chamber.
“It is a remarkable experience being part of a movement designed to shape the future of education in our state,” said Dr. Keizs, whose focus on the commission was the improvement of the math and science performance outcomes for the state’s middle school children. “Being part of this diverse group of intellectuals dedicated to the goal of educating our young people to take their places in the leadership of our country and indeed, our world, is an awesome responsibility.”
The Commission, chaired by Hunter Rawlings, president emeritus, Cornell University, was created last spring by Governor Spitzer to identify ways in which New York State’s public higher education can be improved. But the Commissions’ findings do not stop at higher education. According to Keizs any meaningful change in higher education has to start in K through 12. The Commission recommends a program that would guarantee free college tuition for seventh and eight grade students who meet math and English Language standards, as well as high school graduation requirements. These “Education Partnership Zones,” would be based in high-need school districts.
According to Senate Democratic Leader Malcolm Smith, who nominated President Keizs to the Commission, this is a good thing for Southeast Queens.
“I applaud the thoughtful and creative recommendations of the Commission, particularly the creation of Education Partnership Zones,” said Smith. “Once created, these Zones will help the children of Southeast Queens obtain the college readiness skills they need to become successful, starting at the earliest ages and continuing on through high school, with guaranteed access to higher education for students that meet adequate standards. This would be a tremendous opportunity for the children of my district.”
Among the Commissions initial recommendations in the 85-paged document, are the establishment of a $3 billion research fund, the Empire State Innovation Fund, “to support meritorious research important to New York’s future;” creating a low-cost student loan program for residents attending college in New York State; establishing the New York State Compact on Public Higher Education to delineate shared responsibility for public higher education resources; rebuilding CUNY and SUNY faculty ranks by the strategic hiring of at least 2,000 full- time additional faculty including 250 “eminent scholars,” over the next five years.
The recommendation also includes the modification of SUNY’s governance structure and system executive staff to provide more focused attention and support for the research campuses; providing meaningful regulatory relief for SUNY and CUNY by removing restrictions that impede campuses’ autonomy to adapt quickly and promote quality; developing educational partnership zones in high-need school districts, bring together higher education and P-12 resources to improve student outcomes and enhance college participation.
The Commission also recommends ensuring high school graduates are well prepared for college through a College Readiness Act; strengthening transfer of academic credits between colleges throughout SUNY and CUNY for a more seamless transfer between similar programs by 2011-12 and addressing the backlog of “critical maintenance” at SUNY and CUNY with a sustained program of capital re-investment.
It seems public school children are not the only ones taking home work packets with them for the holidays. The Commission has given the governor his homework for the break as well.
“I look forward to evaluating this report and taking the Commission’s recommendations for how my administration can create policies and programs that will make New York’s higher education system second to none into consideration,” said Governor Spitzer. “Excellence in higher education is a key to our state’s future and the Commissionâ€™s recommendations will go a long way towards achieving that goal.”
CUNY Chancellor Goldstein also had high praises for the recommendations.
“By delineating shared responsibility for public higher education resources, the New York State Compact for Public Higher education would renew public investment in our public universities,” said Goldstein, who not only serves as CUNY’s Chancellor, he is also a product of the nation’s most prominent public university system as a graduate of
City College; and once served as president of Baruch College. “As the City University of New York has affirmed since introducing the CUNY Compact two years ago, a partnership among stakeholders is critical to generating the resources necessary for true investment.”
York College is ready and willing to take its place in preparing the children and young adults in our area to take advantage of this great opportunity initiated by our governor,” said Keizs. “I look forward to the governor’s response to our recommendations and I am thankful to Senator Smith for the confidence he has placed in me with this appointment.”