Long advocated by the University Faculty Senate and other University-wide groups, discipline-based faculty councils were given a formal status by a 1993 Resolution of the Board of Trustees on Academic Program Planning, which urged “the faculties of the University to work together within disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and professional groupings to identify ways in which each field can be strengthened across the University in areas such as curriculum, program development, faculty hiring and mentoring, and faculty development.”

Jointly sponsored by the University Faculty Senate and the Office of Academic Affairs, discipline-based councils function as forums for collegial discussion and debate and undertake activities aimed at enhancing particular disciplines on a University-wide basis.

Chairpersons of the respective departments in a discipline serves a members, or name a departmental colleague to serve in their place. The Councils organize themselves, formaulate their own goals, and plan their own activities.

The Office of Academic Affairs provides coordination and staff support for the Councils in consultation with the University Faculty Senate.

2017 - 2018


  • Review outside partnerships with CUNY
  • Evaluate new program development
  • Increase participating disciplines

Discipline Council Leaders Directory

Directory as of June, 2017
Questions? Please ask the UFS Office, 646-664-9035

Discipline Council First Name Last Name Title College Email
Africana Studies Carlton Jama Adams John Jay cadams@jjay.cuny.edu
Anthropology Jonathan Shannon Chair Hunter jonathan.shannon@hunter.cuny.edu
CBBP Chemistry, BioChem, Biology, Physics John Wahlert Chair Baruch John.Wahlert@baruch.cuny.edu
Computer Science Ted Brown Queens brown@ra.cs.qc.edu
English Gordon Tapper Chair LaGuardia gtapper@lagcc.cuny.edu
ESL Sloane VonWertz Co-Chair CSI Sloane.Vonwertz@csi.cuny.edu
ESL Karen Lundberg Co-Chair Hostos klundberg@hostos.cuny.edu
Food & Nutrition Ann Gaba Chair Public Health ann.gaba@sph.cuny.edu
Health, Physical Ed. & Rec. Leslie Rennis BMCC lrennis@bmcc.cuny.edu
History Andrew Robertson Co-Chair GC A.ROBERTSON@gc.cuny.edu
History Helena Rosenblatt Chair GC Hrosenblatt@gc.cuny.edu
Library Information Literacy Robin Brown Co-Chair BMCC rbrown@bmcc.cuny.edu
Library Information Literacy Shawnta Smith Co-Chair GC ssmith4@gc.cuny.edu
Mathematics Warren Gordon Baruch wgordon00@gmail.com
Media, Arts & Technology Janet Esquirol BMCC jesquirol@bmcc.cuny.edu
Nursing Kathleen Karsten Co-Char LaGuardia kkarsten@lagcc.cuny.edu
Nursing Margaret Reilly Co-Chair SPS Margaret.Reilly@cuny.edu
Philosophy DC Stephen Grover contact Queens Stephen.grover@qc.cuny.edu
Puerto Rican, Latino, and Latin American (PRLLAS) Council Lisandro Perez John Jay loperez@jjay.cuny.edu
Reading Joan Wilson Bronx joan.wilson@bcc.cuny.edu
Speech Communication Debra Gonsher Co-Chair Bronx debra.gonsher@bcc.cuny.edu
Theater Georgia McGill Chair Queensborough GMcGill@qcc.cuny.edu
Women’s Studies Catherine Rassiguier Hunter catherine.raissiguier@hunter.cuny.edu
World Language Study Alicia Ramos Hunter rosramos@hunter.cuny.edu

Minutes- 2016-2017

University Faculty Senate
Discipline Councils Meeting
Friday, March 10th, 2017
205 E. 42nd Street, Room 0819
1:00 p.m.

The meeting was called to order by the Chair, Katherine Conway*, at 1 p.m. Present were Professor Janet Esquirol (Media Arts and Technology, BMCC); Katherine Figueroa (ESL, BMCC and Proxy for Professor Joan Wilson of BCC); Professor Andrew Robertson (History, The Graduate Center); Professor Antonios Varelas (Psychology, Hostos Community College);—Professor Alicia Ramos (World Languages, Hunter College); Paul McPherron (ESL, Hunter College); Angela Crossman (Psychology, John Jay College); Karen Kaplowitz* (English, John Jay College);—Professor Michael Barnhardt* (Philosophy, Kingsborough Community College); Professor Hugo Fernandez (Art and Photography, LaGuardia Community College); Professor Kathleen Barker* (Psychology, Medgar Evers College); Ted Brown (Computer Science, Queens College); Professor Ann Gaba (School of Public Health); (*denotes Executive Committee member)

  1. Professor Conway began the meeting with a brief introduction of the nature, scope, and activities of the University Faculty Senate and the Discipline Councils (DCs), respectively. To facilitate discussion she identified five main points of interest that bound the two:
  2. Online education
  3. Developmental/Remedial Education
  4. Pathways
  5. Paths to Graduation & the proposed Excelsior Scholarship
  6. Proposed move of all community college campuses to a 12/6 instructional model
  7. Chair Conway brought to the DCs attention the Faculty Affairs Advisory Board (FAAB), who maintain a presence on each campus and are an invaluable resource for presenting DC issues to CUNY Central Offices. The UFS Executive Director will follow up with all DCs, providing them with their campus FAAB members.
  8. Members collectively shared with UFS representatives the following benefits of convening Discipline Councils:
    1. Cross-campus communication
    2. Peers who function as sounding boards on issues
    3. Sharing articulation agreements
    4. Discussion over where their courses belong in various Pathways “buckets”
    5. Sharing of workload when doing research related to the discipline and potential policy changes
    6. Effective communication via DropBox, email, or the CUNY Academic Commons
    7. Discussion of existing discipline councils. Absent from the list are Music, Economics, and others. Some disciplines may have had councils which are now inactive, some diciplines rea new and some simply never existed. Attendees were encouraged to share with the UFS office any contacts for other existing or potential councils. There was a question in regard to subdividing the sciences into separate DCs, and the Chair felt there was no reason not to consider that possibility. The UFS will continue to update the master list of DCs and post it on the UFS web site. One concern shared by the majority of council chairs in attendance was a need for meeting space in Manhattan. Chair Conway will inquire of Provost Rabinowitz as to space availability.
    8. Professor Figueroa observed that much of the focus on ESL is being shifted away from four-year institutions to the community colleges, and she expressed concern that developmental/remedial education was being absorbed by English Departments and not, as they once were, in Reading Departments. She voiced her concerns with EVC Vita Rabinowitz’s proposal for remediation reform on the grounds that many ESL/reading faculty were not consulted along the way. The net result of these and other top-down administrative initiatives has led to a diminishment of Reading departments altogether.
    9. Professor Varelas shared his concerns with the core equivalencies across CUNY. That is, when students are taking an introductory course in PSY (and, by implication, any introductory course in Pathways) at Hostos, there are no pre- or co-requisites, including developmental course work, and students are left unprepared for future work at the senior colleges. Political pressures prevent the department from instituting prerequisites. While this may a problem unique to Hostos, more discussion should occur with the Provost in regard to the time needed for gateway courses at the community colleges given that the students are less academically prepared and yet the course material that needs to be covered is equivalent to that of the senior colleges.
    10. Discussion also revolved around how each DC was structured and how often they meet. Participation varied from some disciplines having no clear mission statement (PSY), those that meet only once a year (Theater), and those that meet with great regularity and impactfully (Modern Languages, Nutrition, ESL, Reading, Library Information Literacy, Computer Science). Prof. Brown shared a copy of the agenda for the next Computer Science DC meeting (copy attached). Professor Robertson requested greater communication between the DCs to both generate interest in the Graduate Center and so that GC students could find more efficient channels to secure adjunct positions and, so that the Graduate programs might better identify potential graduate students.
    11. The Councils communicate in different ways: some use email. Others use the Academic Commons and others use DropBox. The suggestion that the UFS might create a web page for Discipline Council activities and posting of minutes and agendas appeared to be welcomed by the attendees.
    12. Professor Fernandez suggested that more articulation agreements among and between senior and the community colleges would assuage some student and faculty concerns regarding the transfer of credits from the community colleges and Pathways.
    13. Chair Conway suggested throughout the meeting that communication between the DCs and the UFS be frequent, reciprocal, and transparent. To increase DC membership, she also recommended that the UFS serve as a liaison to faculty, communicating the important work DCs can and still do. The UFS will aim to host a twice yearly meeting of the DC chairs.


Next steps:

  • Sharing of Discipline Council Master List
  • Providing link to FAAB members
  • Collecting mission statements, minutes and agendas from DCs and posting same to the UFS web site.
  • At a later stage possibly collecting articulation agreements.
  • UFS follow up with Provost Rabinowitz on space issues; course credit/hours of gateway courses

The meeting adjourned at 3:00.

Respectfully submitted by Matthew J. Cotter.