CUNY RISING

July 23, 2012 | The University

Major construction projects support record enrollments — and help bolster the city’s economy.

Fueled by unprecedented enrollment increases in the past decade, The City University of New York is generating needed construction and renovation programs that support both modern facilities for current and future generations of students and economic development in New York City.

From 2001 to 2011, total full-time and part-time enrollment at CUNY campuses grew from about 197,000 to 270,000 — an increase of more than a third. During that same period, enrollment at the University’s community colleges increased a stunning 48 percent, from about 63,000 to more than 94,000. Today CUNY serves some 540,000 students at 24 institutions, including nearly 270,000 in adult, continuing and professional education.

More top students are factoring into the mix. Last fall, the University accepted about 20,200 applicants with a high school GPA of 85 or above — that’s 7.8 percent more top applicants than the previous year and a remarkable 104.5 percent rise from the fall of 2002.

“More high-achieving students than ever are recognizing the opportunity for a world-class education at CUNY,” said University Chancellor Matthew Goldstein.

20% of all NYC Construction

To meet student demand, CUNY’s capital program currently has about $2 billion of projects in the pipeline, from modern laboratories to major renovations of historic buildings. Buoyed by lower construction costs, these projects collectively account for an estimated 20 percent of all construction activity today in New York City. Over the lifetime of the work, these projects will generate an estimated 14,000 jobs and provide about 1.9 million square feet of space.

“CUNY is providing a powerful economic stimulus for the entire city,” said Iris Weinshall, Vice Chancellor for Facilities Planning, Construction and Management. Since fiscal year 2008-09 — the beginning of the last recession — the University, with the support of the state and city, has invested $2.7 billion in capital projects across 24 institutions. Leading the way among the major new projects:

City College—CUNY Advanced Science Research Center and City College Science Facility

The new CUNY Advanced Science Research Center, scheduled to open its doors in 2014, will provide a 206,000-square-foot research facility, among the most advanced in New York. It will support the concept of an integrated University, providing state-of-the-art laboratories for the University’s top faculty in nanoscience, photonics and environmental remote sensing. A second  science building will provide new facilities for City College’s Science Division.

• John Jay College — Multi-Use Facility

This 600,000-square-foot structure, which opened in the fall of 2011, provides a dramatic expansion of the college, designed to match its fast-growing student community. The facility includes new classrooms and lecture halls, modern forensic science labs, instructional and research laboratories, offices, student activities and academic support services.

• Medgar Evers College — Academic Building I

Opened in the fall of 2010, this new building has helped meet the college’s acute space deficit, providing five floors of advanced classrooms and computer labs for all disciplines, as well as instructional labs and faculty offices for the School of Science, Health and Technology. The winner of a 2012 Building Brooklyn Award from the Chamber of Commerce, the 194,000-square-foot structure also houses the college’s glass-domed dining facility.

• College of Staten Island — Residence Halls

Scheduled for completion next year, two new buildings will house 454 residents in 133 fully furnished, single- and double-occupancy apartments. The four- and five-story residence halls will help transform the campus environment into a destination of choice for students from a wide geographical area.

About half of the new buildings at CUNY are dedicated to science, and a number of these facilities incorporate environmentally sustainable strategies, certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. Other major projects include:

• The Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College — Created through a public/private partnership — and with the help of the largest gift ever to CUNY— the school’s new home in East Harlem opened its doors last year and includes the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College.

• North Instructional Building and Library at Bronx Community College — Scheduled for completion in the fall, this innovative facility will enable the college to replace out-of-date instructional space with much-needed, state-of-the-art classrooms and a modern library.

• New CUNY Law School campus — Recently completing its move to Long Island City, Queens, the Law School has renovated six floors in a 14-story, environmentally green building, with modern new classrooms, a library, clinic, moot courtroom and offices.

• Fiterman Hall at Borough of Manhattan Community College — Opening this fall, the multi-use, 14-floor facility — with dramatic views of downtown Manhattan — replaces the former office building irreparably damaged during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

• New Science Facility at Lehman College — This new building, opening in the fall, is the first of a three-phase facility that will create the cornerstone of sciences at Lehman, showcasing the college’s major strengths in plant science teaching and research.

Enrollment at CUNY institutions is expected to continue rising. Most experts predict that higher education choices over the next decade will be driven by student demand for academic value and quality with the support of state-of-the-art facilities. CUNY has plans for a high-performance computer center at the College of Staten Island and appropriate repair and maintenance projects.

“We’re always responding to the needs of the times,” Weinshall said. “We’re remaking ourselves again to provide the infrastructure, classrooms and buildings the University needs to excel in the 21st century.”