The Chancellor’s Desk: What’s New This Year? A Lot!

I am delighted to welcome the entire CUNY community to the start of a new academic year — one that brings a number of promising developments across the University…

In Manhattan, just across from Bryant Park, the first class of the New Community College is already hard at work, engaged in the innovative new curriculum. Guided by the success of the ASAP initiative — a doubling of graduation rates — the New Community College is focused on supporting student achievement through elements such as a required summer bridge program, a common first-year course of study, intensive advising and a model that links learning to career experiences. The college, New York City’s first new community college in more than four decades, was awarded nearly $1 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to document its launch and evaluate the effectiveness of its programs and operating principles over a two-year period. We will closely monitor students’ experiences over this first academic year.

Elsewhere, new facilities opening this fall at several CUNY campuses will transform the educational experience for other students and faculty. In the Bronx, Lehman College will open its new science building, the first of a three-phase facility to support the college’s strong work in plant science teaching and research, while Bronx Community College will officially open its North Instructional Building and Library, the first new building constructed on the campus in more than 30 years. In Queens, students at the CUNY School of Law are now attending classes in a modern, environmentally green building in Long Island City, complete with a moot courtroom, new classroom spaces and smart technology.  At Borough of Manhattan Community College, the new Fiterman Hall, with dramatic views of downtown Manhattan, will provide much-needed space for the college’s 24,000 students.

Facilities projects at our community colleges received an additional boost this spring in the city budget: $71 million in capital funding over the next four years. Through a match with existing state allocations, this funding will help the colleges address critical maintenance issues, including urgent needs such as fire alarm upgrades, boiler and roof replacements, and façade repair. Our community colleges had a 48 percent enrollment  increase from 2001 to 2011, and the resulting increase in facilities usage has only exacerbated the need for maintenance, renovation and repair.  In addition, the University received baseline support from the city for the Black Male Initiative, a crucial measure of financial stability for this important program.  Funding from the city and state is timely and much appreciated.

The many new facilities across the CUNY colleges — whether those opening this year, those recently opened (including buildings at John Jay and Medgar Evers), or those still in progress (such as the Advanced Science Research Center expected to open in 2014) — reflect the ambitious plans for continued academic revitalization the University detailed in its 2012-2016 Master Plan.

CUNY’s master plans, submitted to the state every four years, outline the University’s academic priorities going forward. The 2012-2016 plan builds on our tremendous progress over the last decade.  It acknowledges the achievements and national prominence of CUNY’s students and faculty and details how the University will provide an environment that encourages sustained academic engagement. Anchored by four key elements of CUNY’s historic mission — maintaining academic excellence, sustaining an integrated system, expanding access and remaining responsive to its urban setting — the plan looks ahead to ensure the University’s receptiveness to the city’s changing demographics, national and local economic conditions, the labor market, and new technologies and pedagogies.  The plan emphasizes expansion of innovative academic programs, investment in new, full-time faculty, student success at every level and the construction of 21st-century facilities. These priorities will be further supported by our follow-up work to the CUNY Jobs Task Force report.

The Master Plan was developed under the guidance of Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost Alexandra Logue and the Office of Academic Affairs, with input from the colleges, the chancellery, the Council of Presidents, the Council of Chief Academic Officers, the University Faculty Senate and the University Student Senate. My thanks to all of those whose ideas helped to shape this inspired plan. In June, CUNY’s Board of Trustees adopted the 2012-2016 Master Plan, which is now under review by the State Education Department. The plan is available online:

None of these auspicious advancements would be possible without the outstanding work of our faculty, staff and alumni, day in and day out.  I am enormously grateful for your contributions and look forward to working closely with you to serve our students and our city in the 2012-2013 academic year.