The 394th Plenary Session
of The University Faculty Senate
of The City University Of New York
Room 0818, 205 E. 42th Street
Tuesday, Sept 20, 2016
6:30 p.m.


  1. Approval of the Agenda
  2. Approval of the Minutes of May 17, 2016
  3.  Invited Guests
    1. Chancellor James B. Milliken, 6:30 p.m.
    2. EVC and Provost Vita Rabinowitz, 7:00 p.m.
    3. Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs Frederick Schaffer on the new Expressive Activities Policy     and on amendments to the Conflict of Interest Policy, 7:30 p.m.
  4. New Business – Resolution in Recognition of Henry H. Wasser (1919-2016)
  5. Reports
    1. Chair (including UFS reassigned time allocated this year, apportionment of UFS seats, etc.)
    2. Representatives to Board of Trustees committees (oral and/or written)

Committee meetings:

  • Community College Caucus, 3:30 pm, Room 1002
  • Status of the Faculty, 4:30 pm, Room 0755
  • Student Affairs, 4:45 pm, Room 1002

Social starts at 6:00 p.m.  Light refreshments will be served.


Baruch: Present – Edwards, Harel, Martell, Weiser and Wine. Absent – Bazzoni, Ellis, Pence and Wymbs.  BMCC: Present – Bratsis, Carson, Conway, Gosslau, Salam, Tsiklauri, Wiseman and Alternate Shneyderman.  Absent – Freas and Perdomo.  Bronx CC: Present – Harris, Kossak, Lawton and Stewart-Titus. Absent – Edwards. Vacancies – 1.  Brooklyn: Present – Chu, Cohen, Hainline, Queneau, Wild and Alternate Fischer. Absent – Adams, Ebert, Fox, Haggerty, Okome and Sowers.  CCNY: Present – Binz-Scharf, Brass, Crain, Jeruzalmi, Li, Miller and Stemberg. Absent – Dalglish, Kornhauser and Raj.  CSI: Present – Feola, Petratos, Sanchez, Simpson and Verzani.  Absent – Cason and Lavender.  CUNY Law School: Present – Kassem and Sokkar-Harker.  Graduate Center: Present – Burke, McDougall, and Alternates Nolan and Vora. Absent – Dauben, Giannikos and Wunder. Vacancies – 1.  Hostos CC: Present – Ostrin, Trachman, Worrell and Alternates August and Paskoff.  Absent – Pimentel. Hunter: Present – Hickman, Kuhn-Osius, McCauley and Nicolai.  Absent – Albrecht, Ramasubramanian, Walsh, Wirtz and Young. Vacancies – 3.  John Jay: Present – Katz, Kimora and Tovar.  Absent – Crossman, Domashevskiy, Dunham, Kaplowitz and Kapstein.  Kingsborough CC:  Present – Barnhart, Feeley, Stubin and Alternate Echols.  Absent – Hume, Majewicz, Nagel and Spear. LaGuardia CC: Present – Albrecht, Berke, Fernandez, Licari, Seo and Alternate Burdick.  Absent – Keyes.  Lehman: Present – Doyran, Rice and Tilley. Absent – Alexander-Street, Duncker, Jervis and Jitianu.  Medgar Evers: Present – Barker, Franz, Lashley and Alternate Chevalier.  Absent – Grazette.  NYCCT: Present – Bennani, Hounion and Okumakpeyi. Absent – Gelman, Grujicic-Alatriste, Van Loon and Williams.  Queens: Present – Brody, Costigan, Gandhi, McElwaine, Sanudo, Savage, Zevin and Alternate Harris. Absent – Grover, Nelson and Vesselinov. Vacancies – 1.  Queensborough CC: Present – Counihan, Ford, Pecorino, Tai and Alternates Holden and Mann. Absent – Meltzer, Murley and Rossi-Miller.  York: Present – Gerena.  Absent – Bowman, Cleary, Grosskopf, and Rooney.

Governance Leaders present included: Burke (GC), DeGloma (Hunter) Jeruzalmi (CCNY), Pecorino (QCC), Sanudo (Queens), Tyner (Guttman) and Verzani (CSI).  Guests present: Sandi Cooper (CSI), Stefan Baumrin (GC), Conor Skelding (Politico NY), Lloyd Klein (Hostos), Teresa Ober (Student, GC), Manfred Philipp (Lehman), Chancellor James Milliken, Executive Vice Chancellor Vita Rabinowitz, Vice Chancellor Frederick Schaffer, University Dean David Crook, and Frederick Wasser (Brooklyn). Executive Director Phipps, Administrative Assistant Pasela, and Secretary Blanchard were also present.

The meeting was called to order by UFS Chair Katherine Conway at 6:30 p.m. in Room 818 at 205 E. 42nd Street, NYC.   Eighty-seven of 139 voting members were present.

  1. Approval of the Agenda – Professor Crain requested that, as in the past, the plenary agenda always list New Business so that members may add a topic for discussion.  Chair Conway readily agreed to do so.  The agenda was then moved, seconded, and approved by voice vote.
  2. Approval of the Minutes of May 17, 2016 – The Minutes were approved as proposed.
  3. Invited Guests
    1. Chancellor James B. Milliken – The Chancellor touched on a number of items, many of which were mentioned in his September letter to all faculty and staff, as well as in the Leon Goldstein Lecture he gave at Kingsborough last May.  Both outline his vision for CUNY.  A link to the Kingsborough speech is here. The Chancellor’s September letter can be found here.

Items not mentioned in either but noted at the plenary include:

  • The launch of the CUNY Cultural Corps
  • Guttman Community College’s being ranked #1 in NYS for online degrees and #11 nationally
  • Macaulay Honors College receiving the highest rating for an honors college
  • The planned expansion of ASAP to reach 25,000 students by 2018

The Master Plan will be approved at the upcoming Board of Trustees (BoT) meeting; CUNY received an extension from the New York State Department of Education due to the large number of new BoT members who needed time to review the plan.  The Chancellor noted that he read all of the comments submitted on the Master Plan, which was initially posted to the CUNY website in early May. The Strategic Plan is being drafted and it will be a more concise document.

The Chancellor noted it was his request that a Policy on Freedom of Expression and Expressive Conduct be drafted (more on this below with VC Schaffer), and said he thought it was useful for CUNY to have a policy in place that would be consistently observed across the University.

The Chancellor stated he believes online education will continue to grow in importance, both fully online and hybrid.  He expects that all CUNY colleges will continue to develop online courses and programs, not just the School of Professional Studies.  The Chancellor also noted that NYS recently entered into SARA, a reciprocity agreement in regard to online courses (a multi-state effort to have similar standards for online courses).  He also indicated it is important for CUNY and the colleges to have a coherent brand strategy; towards that end CUNY has hired Siegelvision. The firm is in the process of doing interviews with various CUNY constituencies.

The Chancellor acknowledged the contributions of the late Professor Henry Wasser when serving as the ex officio faculty representative on the BoT.

Remarks from the body for the Chancellor:

  • ​What is the process for the Strategic Plan? The Chancellor responded that the Plan will be widely circulated for comment. It will be much shorter than the Master Plan although to some extent the thinking behind the Strategic Plan has already informed the Master Plan. The Strategic Plan will focus on core priorities including: student success and completion/higher graduation rates; a commitment to diversity; building and sustaining a strong faculty; commitment to broad affordable access; more student support; stronger connection with the DOE and employers in the City; creating stronger linkages with universities abroad; dealing with the reality of the new economic model for public higher education; a greater emphasis on philanthropy; and an ongoing effort to improve efficiencies.  CUNY has hired McKinsey & Company to examine operating efficiencies/processes on the administrative side (not academic programs).
  • We should continue to press NYS for funding to achieve a freeze on tuition.
  • The NYS Comptroller has issued an audit including a suggestion that CUNY do a satisfaction survey of CUNYFirst users.  The speaker suggested there was no need because the system is universally disliked.  The Chancellor commented that some system is a necessity and that CUNY will continue to improve CUNYFirst.
  • The Chancellor was asked to define the value of education and if he had “bad dreams” about the focus on employment and outcomes.  The Chancellor replied CUNY’s mission clearly is to provide an opportunity for students to earn degrees, and either pursue further education or gainful employment.  He cited Passing the Torch by Paul Attewell and David Lavin et al., which shows the intergenerational value of higher education.
  • The Chancellor was asked about the disparities among campuses in their ability to fundraise, and the limits on the use of such funds since most are restricted to narrow purposes. The Chancellor acknowledged both points and stated that he hired a consulting firm which provided recommendations for fundraising across the University.

The Chancellor was thanked for attending.

  1. EVC and Provost Vita Rabinowitz – EVC Rabinowitz discussed the findings of the Task Force on Developmental Education, which point to an urgent need to reform how CUNY handles its students’ remedial needs. She provided a great deal of information (a transcript is attached to these minutes as Exhibit A).  The essential and perhaps most controversial finding, she said, is that Math is the most significant obstacle to graduation.  CUNY wants to make a non-algebra path available to any student whose major doesn’t require algebra and to put less reliance on high stakes testing.

Based on its findings, the Task Force is proposing the following elements of reform:

  • Better placement methods and ultimately fewer students in traditional developmental education.
  • Improved effectiveness and efficiency of developmental coursework, offering flexible and accelerated learning pathways as well as alternative routes to math proficiency aligned with students’ intended course of study.
  • Removing unnecessary barriers to exit from remediation, bringing exit criteria in line with developmental coursework, and bringing CUNY policy in line with national norms.

Comments from the body:

  • The composition of the Task Force was questioned in that no one on it was a developmental math teacher, and that administrators outnumbered faculty.
  • While we must do more to remove barriers, we also need to provide alternatives for under-prepared students who do want to pursue a major that needs algebra.
  • A disconnect occurs between the need for more qualified teachers in the DOE and CUNY’s failure to offer financial support for teacher education.
  • A student’s biggest resource is access to faculty, which points to smaller class size as a key part of the solution.
  • Since the proposed changes to curriculum would have to be approved at campus senates, it did not appear that they were likely ever to be implemented.
  • Some majors require as many as 70 credits. Combined with general education requirements and developmental needs, not to mention a minor, four-year graduation is virtually impossible for many students.

VC Rabinowitz was thanked for attending, saying she appreciated the comments.

  1. Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs Frederick Schaffer – VC Schaffer addressed the Expressive Activities Policy, as well as the recent amendment to the CUNY conflict of interest policy dealing with textbooks.

In regard to the former, VC Schaffer said CUNY needed a statement on the primacy of free speech. Nothing in the policy conflicts with the First Amendment or case law, and it is consistent with the Chicago Statement, which the UFS supports.   If there are objections to specific language, he is open to improving the document further.  The proposed policy will go to the BOT in October.

Speakers said:

  • The idea of a policy on free speech is a contradiction.
  • How can this policy alleviate the pressure on Presidents from outside groups, the press etc.?  The VC responded that a President can now point to the policy as a clear statement of the University’s position. He noted that the policy will help all campuses provide protections of free speech in a more uniform manner.
  • A speaker noted that there are other protections of academic freedom (including the Contract and the BoT adoption of AAUP’s position). The VC agreed. The speaker suggested that if transparency was the goal there should be more transparency surrounding any decision made by the administration to stop a demonstration.
  • A speaker suggested that the First Amendment was clear but the policy was not (again, the VC welcomed suggestions on language).

On the textbook amendment to the conflict of interest policy, which has already been passed by the BOT and which was instigated at the request of faculty, there was a procedural question (can faculty solicit payment for copy costs related to course packets? –yes) but no debate on the merits.  The VC noted that this is one small part of a conflict of interest policy that aims to prevent self-dealing and which to a larger extent is aimed at staff responsible for procurement or at faculty involved in research.

Vice Chancellor Schaffer was thanked for attending.

  1. New Business
    1. Resolution in Recognition of the Henry H. Wasser (1919-2016) – Professor Sandi Cooper shared her memories of Professor Wasser and his importance to the UFS and to the CUNY Academy.  Professor Cooper had drafted a resolution, attached to these minutes as Exhibit B, which along with a wish of condolences to the family was passed unanimously by voice vote.  Professor Wasser’s son, Professor Fred Wasser (Brooklyn) and daughter-in-law Nancy Berke (LaGCC) were in attendance.  Professor Manfred Philipp has written a biography of Professor Wasser that can be found here [or use].
    2. Item from Professor Crain – Professor Crain explained why he requested an open item of New Business on each plenary agenda.  Lately a few important initiatives from the administration never found their way onto the plenary agenda, for whatever reason.  The Chair pointed out that to improve transparency, minutes from Executive Committee meetings as well as Standing Committees will be posted to the UFS website.  Members are encouraged to review minutes and ask questions about topics which may not come to the plenary floor. But Professor Crain added his concern that the plenary should not be satisfied with hearing what the Executive Committee alone may have contributed in a dialogue on any give initiative with the administration, but that the plenary should be able to lend its own voice.
  1. Reports
    1. Chair – There will be a Budget Workshop on Nov. 18th. Professor John Verzani, chair of the Budget Advisory Committee, will send an email shortly to FGLs to find appropriate faculty involved in budgeting at their campuses. The spring conference on April 28 will be on the topic of Governance. Professors Kaplowitz and Pecorino are working on the program now, and will be collecting data on local governance plans from FGL’s.

Included in the plenary packet was information regarding the reapportionment of senators. UFS seats are allocated 1 per 60 full-time faculty.  Also included was information on the reassigned time provided to the Executive Committee and chairs of standing committees.  Information on UFS expenditures (the largest are food for plenary and travel for conference speakers) for 2015-2016 was provided orally (an amount less than $11,000 in total).

  1. Representatives to Board of Trustees committees (oral and/or written) – As written in the Fiscal Affairs notes, the Chair noted that faculty governance bodies should be engaged with their administration regarding college financial plans. These are due from colleges at this time of year to Central.   FGL’s will be asked to report back on the extent of consultation that occurs.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:50 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

William Phipps