CUNY Announces New Strategic Vision for the Future

The City University of New York is embarking on its new strategic framework, a comprehensive vision and set of strategies that will result in better performance and greater success for students in advancing the university’s historic mission for the knowledge economy.

This is a pivotal moment – and a time of great optimism – for the 170-year-old university as it reengineers its strategies and revitalizes its programs to ensure that all New Yorkers, but especially those from low-income families, underrepresented groups and immigrant populations, enjoy the benefits of a high quality education and a college diploma. Higher education is a proven means of providing opportunities and mobility, allowing students to achieve their dreams and contribute to New York’s prosperity.

The framework enhances CUNY’s commitment to providing an accessible, affordable, high quality education by adapting its programs to the challenges of the economic era we are entering.

The strategic framework is called “Connected CUNY,” because our success in the future depends on how well we collaborate across the university and with our many partners, including government, the public schools, other leading universities and the private sector. We have designed and will be launching new initiatives that will increase the number of high school students prepared for college-level studies, get the large numbers who aren’t fully ready through our remediation programs more effectively, improve graduation rates at our colleges so that more New Yorkers will enjoy the benefits of a quality diploma, and we will offer more internships and other experiential learning opportunities so that CUNY graduates will enjoy improved career prospects.

“CUNY has for generations been a beacon of hope and a remarkable engine of mobility for New York, and our new framework will significantly improve how we deliver on that vital mission,” said CUNY’s Chancellor, James B. Milliken. “Our plan is focused on our core mission and how we can scale innovative, successful strategies, leverage our efforts through more effective collaboration with schools, government and the private sector, and streamline our operations to invest every dollar we can in the work of our students and faculty.”

The complete framework text is available:

A recent groundbreaking study by a group of respected economists, part of The Equality of Opportunity Project, ranked universities by economic mobility and quantified the opportunities that CUNY’s students enjoy. As summed up in a New York Times article: “The new data shows, for example, that the City University of New York system propelled almost six times as many low-income students into the middle class and beyond as all eight Ivy League campuses, plus Duke, M.I.T., Stanford and Chicago, combined.”   It is the very real prospect of improving on this success that drives our new strategic plan.

CUNY’s framework is well suited to this new economic era by connecting our students and campuses better across our large university system, taking full advantage of all of our resources, adopting technology to meet our goals, including significant growth of online programs, and building more collaborations and partnerships with other institutions, public and private, domestic as well as international, to leverage our strengths.

  • The plan begins with Governor Cuomo’s bold Excelsior Scholarship Program, which will offer free college tuition to many more New Yorkers. This initiative will increase affordability, access and enrollment at CUNY;
  • Second, we will dramatically raise graduation rates so students will stop paying and start earning earlier. We commit to doubling our associate degree graduation rates and leading the nation in successful attainment for urban community college students. We have a similar strategy for sharp increases in bachelor’s degree graduation rates;
  • Third, we will launch new programs and scale up existing programs to help the city’s high school graduates get ready for college, through better preparation of teachers, many of whom come from CUNY, and programs such as early college, where thousands of high school students enroll free in college courses and get a head start on earning degrees. For those students who are not college ready, we will reform our remediation programs to use evidence-based, national best practices to move students effectively through developmental education and into credit bearing courses as soon as possible;
  • Fourth, we are expanding and developing innovative internships and experiential learning programs, giving students increased workplace experience as well as workplace networks that can improve job and career prospects;
  • Fifth, we are implementing a new business model that relies on a more efficient administration, saving tens of millions of dollars a year, which can be devoted to investments in students and faculty. We are reviewing all business operations with the goal of providing better services.  We are also investing in fundraising, with the goal of significantly increasing annual gifts from foundations, alumni and individuals who share our vision.

“Public higher education has always been an investment that delivers among the best returns for taxpayers, and our new vision ensures that every dollar provided to this university will change lives and build stronger communities,” said Chancellor Milliken. “CUNY will be more accountable, more transparent and a better partner to the state, the city and to other institutions.”

Our strategic framework will improve on that historical performance and better prepare New Yorkers for success in the knowledge economy at a scale unmatched by any other university in the country.