I am writing to share with you the status of the New York State Budget negotiations in Albany with respect to The City University of New York. The Governor and leaders of the Assembly and Senate are working to reconcile the Executive Budget and the “one house budget bills” adopted earlier this month. During my meetings in Albany this week, all indications were that the parties are working hard to meet the statutory March 31 deadline for State budget adoption. We expect final decisions to be made over the next few days, and we are working with our partners and supporters to urge the adoption of important CUNY priorities.
Our top priority continues to be the funding needed to help reach a successful resolution of collective bargaining with faculty and staff. As I have said many times at Trustee meetings, public appearances and in numerous meetings with state and city elected officials, if CUNY is to attract and retain talented faculty—both full-time and adjunct—and staff, we need an agreement with competitive salaries and benefits, including retroactive increases. Without significant support from the state, it’s hard to see how we can be in a position to fund this essential obligation, and certainly not without heavy reliance on tuition and deep reductions in the university’s budget. And to this point, in my testimony before the fiscal committees of the New York State Legislature in February, I reminded legislators that the portion of CUNY’s budget supported by tuition revenue has grown significantly over the last four years.
As I indicated in the Chancellor’s Budget Request presented to the Board of Trustees last November, CUNY also needs significant additional funding to cover other mandatory costs, such as fringe benefits, salary step increments, energy costs and building rentals. We have also asked for improved funding for full-time faculty positions, capital repair and construction, community college base aid and the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP).
When the rational tuition plan was passed in 2011, it was clear that the State Legislature intended that additional tuition dollars would help provide funding for increased full-time faculty, academic programs and student support services important to improve retention and graduation. While tuition dollars were not intended to pay for mandatory costs, the “maintenance of effort” called for in the 2011 legislation has not provided for support of basic, mandatory costs. We are urging the Governor and the Legislature to clarify this important issue.
In February and early March, all campus presidents and their government relations teams—as well as students, faculty, alumni and civic friends—lobbied in Albany or held meetings in legislators’ district offices to stress CUNY’s budget priorities. In addition, borough meetings were organized with assembly members, senators and city councilmembers in conjunction with the borough presidents, to advocate for a strong investment in CUNY. Thousands of emails and letters from students, faculty, staff, parents and alumni have reinforced these efforts.
The 1979 New York State Education Law, which established the organization and funding of the modern City University of New York, eloquently framed the mission of CUNY. “The legislature’s intent is that the City University be supported as an independent and integrated system of higher education on the assumption that the university will continue to maintain and expand its commitment to academic excellence and to the provision of equal access and opportunity for students, faculty and staff from all ethnic and racial groups and from both sexes… The university must remain responsive to the needs of its urban setting and maintain its close articulation between senior and community colleges units… Only the strongest commitment to the special needs of an urban constituency justifies the legislature’s support of an independent and unique structure for the University.” It would be hard to conceive of a university with a commitment to this mission stronger than that of CUNY, which has demonstrated over the years the wisdom of this legislation and the importance of its support by the state.
New York has enormously benefitted from the almost one million alumni, reflecting the great diversity of our city and state, who have graduated from CUNY colleges. After ten years, over 80 percent of CUNY alumni live and work in New York. They contribute to a stable tax base, an educated workforce and strong communities. CUNY’s ability to serve the next generation of New Yorkers with the same commitment and effectiveness as in the past is to a significant degree a function of the state’s investment.
We will continue to deliver these important messages during the next few days of budget discussions and throughout the session when additional decisions on compensation and maintenance of effort may be made. I deeply appreciate the support of our faculty and staff in this effort, and I am grateful for all you do every day for CUNY and New York. Thank you.
In his March report to the Board of Trustees, Chancellor James B. Milliken remarked on ASAP’s national recognition, new support for STEM programs, and the need to remain competitive in retaining talented faculty and staff. Chancellor Milliken reiterated that his top priority remains the resolution of collective bargaining agreements to recognize the commitment of faculty and staff. The Chancellor said: “If CUNY is to attract and retain top talent, we need an agreement with appropriate salary and benefits.” Chancellor Milliken added that the University’s dedicated adjunct faculty deserves recognition and long overdue raises for providing “a critical component to our ability to offer a high quality education to our students.”
To listen to podcast of the Chancellor’s Report, click here.
Full text of Chancellor’s remarks:
I am happy to welcome all of you to the March Board meeting.
I join Chairperson Schmidt in commending Senior University Dean John Mogulescu, University Dean Donna Linderman and their team for their tremendous success with ASAP, and their outstanding work. I also compliment the Community College Presidents for their work to make ASAP a great success. First Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris participated in MDRC’s announcement of the impressive ASAP results and clearly took pride in the city’s investment in our success.
ASAP now operates at seven CUNY Colleges and we are about to launch a pilot program for ASAP at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. ASAP’s stunning results in boosting graduation rates deserve the national attention the program has received. According to MDRC’s study, not only are more than half of ASAP’s students graduating within three years; more than forty percent graduate in 2½ years, compared to fifteen percent in the comparison group. Best of all, because the program generates so many more graduates, the cost per degree was actually lower, despite the substantial investment to operate the program. So ASAP produces more graduates in less time for less money.
There is good reason that ASAP and CUNY were singled out by President Obama as a program that others should emulate. Chairperson Schmidt noted Tennessee Governor Haslam’s interest as well. Today I sent the Governor a packet of material and hope we can work together to expand ASAP. If more community colleges develop ASAP-like programs, the community college expansion in this country could be significantly changed for the better.
We now have both the Governor’s Executive Budget for Fiscal 2015-2016, and the Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2015-16 City Preliminary Budget in hand. Both offer some positive developments, as I have outlined previously. The multi-year $150 million commitment from the Mayor to support STEM graduates and to expand ASAP will enter its second year as planned.
I am going to ask Vice Chancellor Sapienza to review a few key points regarding the state budget when I’m finished, including changes since the last meeting of the Board through the 30 day amendment process, but first I want to provide a few comments of my own.
Our top priority remains the resolution of collective bargaining with our faculty and staff. As you know, the University’s contract with our faculty expired in 2010. It is essential that we get the state’s support for the terms of an agreement that would be in the line with those of other unions, including retroactive increases that would recognize the commitment of our faculty and staff.
Years without across the board increases are, of course, creating a deepening problem. We are in a competition for talent, and our faculty salaries are well below other public universities in the region. With record enrollments and a universally recognized need to increase educational attainment levels, we cannot afford to lose qualified faculty or be unable to recruit new faculty. The imperative of reaching a resolution for our faculty and staff is clear. If CUNY is to attract and retain top talent, as we must, we need a collective bargaining agreement with appropriate salary and benefits. I have made this clear in every single conversation I have had with our state and city officials.
In that regard, it has been suggested to me that I could be more clear in making it known that I’m including CUNY’s dedicated and hard-working adjunct instructors when discussing the need for a new contract. I didn’t realize there was confusion, but let me be very clear: our adjunct faculty deserve recognition and long overdue raises. They provide a critical component to our ability to offer a high quality education for our students and we are grateful for their contributions.
Even without taking into account a contract with our faculty and staff, the proposed Executive Budget represents a significant cut to the senior colleges of $51 million, or a little over 4 percent of the senior college base aid budget. This includes unfunded mandatory needs of $25 million for fringe benefits, $10 million for energy costs, $8 million for building rentals and $8 million for salary steps. It’s clear from the 2011 State Higher Education Act that these amounts were not to be funded from tuition; however, that is in fact the only source of additional available incremental funding in the budget. So unless this shortfall is addressed by the Legislature, we are left in a difficult position.
In addition to the fiscal matters in the budget, there are a number of substantive policy changes that, we believe, require much discussion and review before adoption. These are matters that go to the heart of academic decision making and governance and I will ask Matt to review them with you when he discusses the budget.
I know you join me in urging the Legislature to address these matters, both fiscal and policy. As a first step in that process, on February 10th I appeared before the New York State Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means Committees joint committees, and have had the opportunity to meet several members of the leadership for further discussions.
I also want to mention the very good work that the presidents, their staff, the faculty and students have been doing in carrying the same message to our elected officials. We are very pleased to have so many delegations going to Albany on an ongoing basis. I had dinner with Trustee Awadjie last Thursday and he was having trouble keeping his eyes open. I assumed it was my company but he assured me that it was getting up at 4:30 that morning to join six busloads of students traveling for a lobby day in Albany. We could not have authentic and effective advocates on CUNY’s behalf and I want to thank Trustee Awadjie, his colleagues, and the USS for their enthusiasm and their efforts.
Within days of my testimony I made a second visit to Albany which was downright celebratory. As Chairperson Schmidt mentioned, we held the CUNY Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus Luncheon Awards. I was delighted to join Trustees Berry, DiMartino, Foster and Awadjie, members of the central office leadership, many of our college presidents, staff and students. We had the honor of presenting The CUNY Educational Leadership Award to Ms. Arva R. Rice, President and CEO of the New York Urban League, an institution that for 90 years has helped underserved communities surmount educational and economic obstacles, and most recently published the Parents’ Guide to STEM. The second award went to David C. Banks, a CUNY alumnus and founder of The Eagle Academy Foundation, dedicated to providing young urban men quality education and supporting them to achieve their highest aspirations. We look forward to enrolling their graduates, and I know that CUNY will be in competition for them. I had the opportunity to meet one of these graduates at the 100 Black Men Benefit Gala two weeks ago; he had applied to and received 22 college offers!
We were also joined that day by many of our State legislators, including the newly elected Speaker, Carl Heastie, Secretary of State, Eric Schneiderman, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and City Controller Scott Stringer. We received great media coverage for the event and it was terrific to see the support CUNY had from so many of our state legislators. If you haven’t been to one of these events, I urge you do attend in the future. Not only is it a great showing of our students and friends in Albany, but you get to see why Jay Hershonson is a leading candidate to replace Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.
There are a number of developments relating to CUNY’s ongoing work in sustainability in many areas. I plan to report more fully on this in the future. But today I am pleased to report that CUNY will receive an $860,000 grant from the federal Department of Energy to help develop the market for resilient solar power in New York City and New York State so that solar installations can operate during power outages. This investment will be increased by the state to total 1.3 million. This project is conceived and managed by University Director for Sustainability, Tria Case.
The latest New York City Executive Budget includes three new positions for Solar Ombudsmen, to continue CUNY’s work in making the city and state make greater use of renewable energy. We are pleased to play a role in helping the city develop sustainable energy.
Our ongoing work in Jamaica Bay, to make the federal marshlands more resilient to storm damage is continuing to progress.
The New York City Department of Administrative Services announced that CUNY’s community colleges will receive an additional $2 million, for a total of $8 million to make our campuses more energy efficient.
A $500,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority) will fund a new project by Sanjoy Banerjee, Director of the CUNY Energy Institute, to develop a next generation battery for energy storage that is long lasting, high energy, low cost and safe for urban environments.
In sum, CUNY is deeply involved in efforts to find strategies in sustainability in many areas across the federal, state and local levels.
This year, CUNY has received an unprecedented eight regional Emmy award nominations. I want to commend CUNY TV and director Robert Isaacson for this impressive showing. Stay tuned for the announcement of the winners on May 2nd.
I’d like to now ask Vice Chancellor Matt Sapienza for his analysis of the state budget initiatives that have a significant academic impact.
I heartily commend Governor Andrew Cuomo’s exemplary “Enough is Enough” campaign to strengthen the reporting and investigation of sexual assaults at New York’s colleges, which The City University of New York has been actively addressing with new comprehensive policies as well as system-wide staff and student training and other measures.
CUNY’s policy for the reporting and adjudication of sexual assault and harassment crimes, defines consent, encourages reporting and eases repercussions when students report assaults that occur while they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
We greatly appreciate the efforts of the Governor to keep the issue of protecting our campus communities at the forefront, and for demanding clear, transparent procedures for reporting and confronting sexual assault complaints.
CUNY, which revised its sexual assault and harassment policy through a year of intensive review, revision and community input, and discussion with the Governor’s staff, stands ready to assist the Governor’s “Enough is Enough” initiative. We have much to share. The University would be pleased to lead efforts to coordinate and share information, best practices, and solutions on campus sexual violence by convening a New York City working group of higher education institutions. By working together, public and private colleges and universities can become even more effective in preventing and stopping campus sexual assault.
CUNY’s new policy, approved by the Board of Trustees on December 1, states, “Every member of the CUNY community, including students, employees and visitors, deserves the opportunity to live, learn and work free from sexual harassment, gender-based harassment and sexual violence.”
It clarifies the concept of consent, which is key to these cases, and details student rights in sexual assault matters. These rights include the right to file a criminal complaint and seek an order of protection with the college’s assistance, to make a formal on-campus complaint as the first step in a disciplinary process, and to report sexual harassment or violence experienced while under the influence of alcohol or drugs without being disciplined for the alcohol or drug use, subject to certain conditions.
CUNY’s policy defines consent as “an informed, voluntary and mutual decision to engage in agreed upon sexual activity,” and provides for the education of students and staff about sexual and gender-based harassment and sexual violence.
I am proud of our University’s initiatives to establish new, proactive policies to protect students and help end these unacceptable incidents. The strong campus protection initiatives put in place at CUNY, and requested by Governor Cuomo statewide, are critical to understanding and ending the scourge of campus sexual assault, and to sending the message that “Enough is Enough.”
In his budget testimony to the New York State Legislature, Chancellor James B. Milliken said CUNY’s core priorities remain: recruitment of more full-time faculty, increased academic support and broadening student services. The Chancellor said the University is requesting additional state funding for expansion of online programs, digitalization of libraries, and critical maintenance of aging classrooms and buildings. Chancellor Milliken said: “All of the requested investments … are important because of what they allow CUNY to do for over 500,000 students each year and for the city and state of New York.”
TEXT OF CHANCELLOR’S TESTIMONY ON NEW YORK STATE BUDGET:
Good morning. Chairman De Francisco, Chairman Farrell, Chairman LaValle, Chairperson Glick, members of the Finance and Ways and Means Committees, staff and guests. I am James B. Milliken and I have had the honor of serving as Chancellor of The City University of New York since June of 2014.
I went to school and began my career in New York, and while it took me 25 years to get back I like to think I have returned to my adopted home with some useful experience that helped prepare me for this exceptional opportunity. While I have had the opportunity to meet a number of you, this is the first time I have appeared before you formally, and I thank you for the opportunity.
I am fortunate to have joined an exceptional group of senior leaders at CUNY, some of whom are with me today and I’d like to introduce them. To my immediate left is Matthew Sapienza, Vice Chancellor for Budget and Finance. To Matt’s left is Frank Sanchez, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. To my immediate right is Judith Bergtraum, Interim Vice Chancellor for Facilities Planning, Construction and Management. And finally, to Judy’s right is Jay Hershenson, Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Secretary to the Board of Trustees.
First and foremost, thank you for your longstanding support of CUNY and its students. Coming from the outside, I can assure you CUNY has held a revered place in public higher education. From its origins as The Free Academy in 1847 throughout the twentieth century and into the 21st, CUNY has been the place of first resort to so many talented New Yorkers, to successive waves of immigrants, to the first in their families to attend college and now to many of their children. A CUNY education has enabled those from every borough of the city and every rung on the economic ladder to reach their full potential. The Governor’s support for the Dream Act, which would extend state tuition assistance to New York college students whose parents are undocumented immigrants, would assist in continuing this long history and it continues to be a priority for us.
I chose a great year to join CUNY, although perhaps every year is like this. I was able to celebrate with a record number of student and faculty Fulbright award winners, who won these prestigious nationally competitive awards to work and study abroad. Washington Monthly magazine’s respected “Bang for the Buck” national ranking, which measures greatest value delivered by a college or university, ranked as its top three colleges in the nation Brooklyn College, Queens College and Baruch College. That is an amazing result and one New Yorkers should take great pride in. CUNY’s innovative ASAP program has been recognized nationally, including most recently as the one program singled out by the White House in connection with the President’s recently announced community college initiative and the subject of recent positive editorials in the New York Times, The Daily News and Bloomberg News.
When I first arrived at CUNY last summer, I visited students, faculty and staff at each of CUNY’s 24 campuses. The enormous breadth of the university truly comes into focus when you visit every campus, but its depth and breadth can be seen across the city every day.
One day in June, I delivered the commencement address at Hostos Community College, where 820 graduates received Associate degrees –68 percent were female, 32 percent were supporting children under 18, 60 percent spoke a native language other than English, and 79 percent had an average income under $30,000. Later that same day, I joined Nobel Laureate Harold Varmus to speak at the CUNY Graduate Center Commencement, where 545 students were granted masters and doctoral degrees in 34 fields, from anthropology to physics, poised to become thought leaders in their fields. Suzanne Tamang, the student speaker, was awarded her doctorate in Computer Science. She included in her remarks the following observation: “If an institution like CUNY did not exist, it is unlikely that I and many others would be here today.” In that single day, I saw the full range of possibility that CUNY offers New Yorkers.
Today, the university offers approximately 2,100 degree-granting programs: 70 at the doctoral level, 660 at the master’s level, 700 at the baccalaureate level, 260 associate degrees, and nearly 400 graduate and undergraduate certificate courses. Even those impressive numbers need to grow. We face new challenges and new demands to prepare the 21st century workforce.
It is critical that universities attract students and enable them to receive a degree. The share of jobs that require post-secondary education has doubled over the last forty years. Nationally, half of all people from high income families have a bachelor’s degree by age 25; today, just one in ten people from low income families do.
The good news: when children born into the bottom fifth of income distribution get a college degree, their chances of making it to the top fifth nearly quadruple. Their chances of making it out of the bottom increase by more than 50 percent.
Today, CUNY’s enrollment stands at an all-time high of 274,000. We serve an additional 260,000 adult and continuing students- a total of over half a million students. Fifty-eight percent of 2012 New York City public high school graduates who enrolled in college did so at CUNY and three quarters of CUNY freshmen come from New York high schools. The vast majority of our graduates tend to remain in New York; their education enables them to earn higher wages and this in turn increases the tax base of the state.
This past year, CUNY graduated 48,000 students – that is more students than Yankee Stadium has seats. Our students won more than 100 national awards, including 17 National Science Foundation Fellowships, 5 Jack Kent Cooke Scholarships, 2 Ford Foundation Pre-doctoral Fellowships, a record breaking 29 Fulbright Student Awards. Just this year, we had record-breaking numbers of students attending our winter session and more students transferring from community college to senior college than ever before. Each one of these students is forging a new career, either by continuing their education or by taking their place in the changing workforce.
I am mindful of the even more critical role higher education needs to play if our workforce is to remain competitive. We are deeply grateful to you and to the Governor for understanding the critical role education plays in the lives of New Yorkers and for the investment you make that secures its promise.
Let me now turn my attention to the operating budget.
CUNY’s core priorities remain: the retention of talented faculty and staff, the recruitment of more full time faculty, increased academic support and broadening our student services. Over the last decade, we have achieved a 23 percent net increase in full-time faculty. However, these gains have been countered by an unprecedented growth in enrollment during the same period, slowing our ability to increase the percentage of classes taught by full-time faculty. This year we are working to hire 325 new faculty members. And through our FY2016 budget request, we hope to hire 500 more. While this may seem at first blush ambitious, let me offer some historical perspective. In 1974, CUNY had over 11,000 full time faculty and 249,000 students; we now have 7,500 full-time faculty and 274,000 students.
We must compete for talent in a national and in some cases international marketplace and nothing is more important than our ability to attract and retain the best faculty. This fall, we have already hired 250 new, full-time faculty across our colleges, many of them scholars of international renown. Each of them brings a wealth of scholarly and pedagogic experience to our classrooms.
The University’s collective bargaining agreement with our faculty expired in 2010 and the faculty and staff covered under this agreement have not had a raise since October 2009. The University is seeking support of the State and the City for an agreement that would be in the line with those of other State unions.
In 2011, the Governor and the Legislature reached agreement on a new funding model for public higher education in New York. The state agreement has brought much-needed fiscal stability to our colleges and has enabled us to develop and to execute effective strategies. For our students and their families, predictable tuition costs have eliminated the unanticipated spikes that, in the past, undid budgets and derailed prospects. Fiscal Year 2015-2016 is the final year of this five-year model; its impact has been positive, its benefits measurable. CUNY continues to have among the lowest tuition levels in the country and our colleges are hailed nationally on the value they offer.
While the Governor’s executive budget proposal provides a relatively stable budget for CUNY in fiscal year 2015-2016, there remain many areas that we hope you will address in order to provide our students with the higher education experience they deserve, and to ensure that employers are being served with skilled graduates that are ready to enter the workforce.
The executive budget recommends a flat rate in community college base aid funding. That recommendation—$2,497 per FTE—is significantly below the Fiscal Year 2009 level of $2,675. Both CUNY and SUNY are seeking an increase of $250 per year over the next three years. That increase will enable the community colleges to perform the multi-year planning that enables us to meet the varied needs of their students and to advance their critical mission.
In addition, the Governor’s budget does not fund the $1.7 million legislative appropriation for the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs. As you may know, in recent weeks ASAP has garnered a great deal of national attention, especially when The White House, as part of President Obama’s proposal for free tuition at community colleges across the nation, singled out CUNY’s ASAP. They noted the impressive gains that ASAP has made in college persistence and degree completion.
The most recent independent studies show that 63 out of every 100 students who began ASAP three years ago have either graduated or transferred to a bachelor’s degree program. The national average graduation rate at urban institutions is 16 percent. Students in ASAP graduate at more than three times the national average for urban community colleges. The program has been held out as a model to be emulated, and the state of Ohio has already made plans to replicate it at several of their community colleges.
Based on the program’s truly impressive results, we are planning a major expansion, extending the program to more of our community college students. In Fall 2014, we enrolled 4,000 students and are working towards an enrollment goal of at least 13,000 students by Fall 2017. The program actually saves money by shortening the time it takes for students to receive a degree. But to extend its impact we need restoration of state support. I am hard pressed to think of an investment more likely to yield high returns.
The executive budget also reduces child care funding at the community colleges by $544,000. Twenty percent of CUNY’s community college undergraduates support children. Quality and affordable child care is essential to the retention and the long-term success of these students. Research demonstrates that not only their career prospects but those of their children are considerably enhanced by the completion of associates’ degrees. Flexible, licensed, on-campus care will meaningfully advance that much-to-be desired end.
We are pleased that the Governor’s proposal includes support for the state Dream Act, which would extend state tuition assistance to New York college students whose parents are undocumented immigrants. This is the very first time that the Dream Act has been included in the Executive Budget and if the legislation is adopted, it will have great impact for our students.
Over $1.1 million in legislative support for the SEEK and College Discovery programs was also eliminated in the executive budget. These are two higher education opportunity programs designed to assist high-potential, low-income students who otherwise might not be able to pursue a college degree because they are not academically well prepared for college-level work.
We also seek operational support for a number of other needs critical to our students and to the State of New York.
The University is requesting additional funding to expand its online programs, which offer many benefits. With CUNY students often times juggling multiple roles as student, worker, and family caretaker, additional online education can provide them with more flexibility while increasing time to completion rates. Online degree programs offer our students significant additional opportunities. Because there are no geographic barriers or schedules to online learning, students can find a diversity of course material that may not be available to them where they live or work, or at a time convenient to them. Online education prepares students for a competitive future, since many of them will need to refresh their skills through online learning and we want them to have that opportunity with CUNY programs.
Globalization of markets and information technology have made global education increasingly important to graduation. CUNY requests funding for an international education initiative aimed at instilling in students an awareness of both opportunities and obligation as 21st global citizens. Funding will enable students to study abroad and provide CUNY faculty with opportunities to work collaboratively with international colleagues. To compete and thrive in the transnational environment, it is no longer a luxury, but a necessity, to bring CUNY to the world and the world to CUNY.
We are truly concerned about the impact of unfunded mandatory expenses. First, the Executive Budget does not include any growth in spending in CUNY’s fringe benefits costs for senior colleges. The overall State financial plan, however, includes a 6.8% increase in pension contributions and a 4.2% increase for health insurance for non-CUNY employees. The University’s fringe benefits’ budget should be funded consistent with similar cost increases contained in the State’s financial plan. This inequitable treatment of the same expense at CUNY will cost senior colleges an additional $25 million that will have to be reallocated from existing college priorities. This impacts students.
Second, almost all of CUNY’s instructional staff are on a salary schedule that provides for annual step increments. This benefit is built into the state and city approved collective bargaining agreement with the Professional Staff Congress. Historically, the annual costs associated with salary step increments at the senior colleges have been covered by the state. In the FY 2015-2016 Executive Budget, however, there is no appropriation for these mandatory costs, as has been the case for the prior three fiscal years. Each year the gap widens $7.9 million at the senior colleges, and each year our capacity to close it without reducing the services we offer our students diminishes.
A final, significant mandatory cost item relates to the new Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC), a facility that will be formally opened in 2015 and is poised to become one of the region’s major centers for advancing scientific knowledge. We have internationally known researchers to spearhead ASRC’s work. The Center’s importance to the university and to the region, both through the employment opportunities it provides and the venture capital its discoveries will attract, make this project a crucial investment. The state provided the funding to build ASRC; we now need corresponding funds to staff and maintain it.
Let me note, in broad strokes, a few other areas of operational need before I turn to our capital concerns.
Currently, more than 4,000 student veterans and reservists are enrolled at CUNY. As you can understand, veterans experience considerable challenges in their transition from military to college and civilian life; those circumstances place them at high risk for attrition. In order to support this important segment of our population, CUNY hopes to appoint a specially-trained student affairs professional on each campus whose sole responsibility is to coordinate services for veterans. We want to ensure that we are among the most veteran-friendly institutions in the country.
Also of critical importance, CUNY’s libraries are straddling the digital age: many of our most important resources are textbooks and books that are not digitized. But the new generation of learning and scholarly materials are being produced online. Our libraries must be redesigned to support a variety of instructional modes. We must also install tools that allow our digital materials to be easily accessed. However, our libraries continue to be challenged by the price increases that outpace inflation and students continue to struggle to purchase necessary textbooks and course materials. CUNY’s libraries have the capacity to help students in this regard, and sufficient funding would enable us to invest in costly textbooks for use by students and to purchase electronic texts, together with the means to display and catalogue them.
The exposure of students to a wide range of career possibilities is an important aspect of the education process. Campus Career Development Centers provide students with a comprehensive set of services and resources that enable them to discover their strengths and skill areas and connect them to potential careers. As a result, New York State and City are better able to retain our graduates’ brainpower. Additional funds would enable the University to expand and enhance services, including fostering and promoting internship experiences, providing certificate and licensure opportunities, and building public-private partnerships with companies and city agencies to create pipelines for employment.
The CUNY Linking Employment, Academics, and Disability Services (CUNY LEADS) program is a unique partnership with the New York State Education Department, established to facilitate successful academic and career outcomes for these students. CUNY LEADS provides students with disabilities academic support, career-readiness training and job placement services. Participants have an 84 percent retention rate; those who are job-ready have a 70 percent employment rate after graduation, compared to the 56 percent national employment rate for people with disabilities. This program has demonstrated extraordinary efficacy, and it merits your support.
The Black Male Initiative (BMI) was instituted by the University, based upon an innovative model at Medgar Evers College, to address education, retention, graduation and underrepresentation of African American men nine years ago. The CUNY Black Male Initiative aims to increase the inclusion of underrepresented groups, particularly Black males, in higher education and to improve their prospects for employment. In the decade since its founding, BMI has amassed an impressive record of mentoring, outreach, placement and related activities, aimed at maximizing academic success for underrepresented minorities. During this same period, only the City of New York, through the New York City Council, has provided funding. We are hopeful that the state will initiate an Urban Male Initiative modeled after the BMI, to match the city’s allocation.
In 2009, CUNY partnered with Single Stop USA, a national program which offers one-stop assistance to students for benefits screening, tax preparation, legal services and health care assistance. The goal is to increase student retention by connecting low-income students with government benefits and services that they and their families are entitled to, but not receiving. Between 2009 and 2012, CUNY’s community college students accessed benefits, including tax refunds, legal services, and food stamps valued at $133 million. Single Stop should be expanded to CUNY’s senior college population, where so many students are of low income and would greatly benefit by Single Stop’s interventions.
The Governor’s executive budget also included several major new higher education initiatives, including the creation of college performance plans. We currently have a Performance Management Process designed to ensure clarity about University and college priorities and expectations for the year, to recognize and acknowledge progress on important goals at all levels and to ensure that the Master Plan guides the plans and priorities of the colleges. I am happy to share more about that process.
Turning to our capital program, we are grateful for your continued attention to our facility needs, which remain urgent. We are thankful for the more than $3.8 billion that the state has provided CUNY since 2008 in support of our academic mission. This funding has allowed us to open new facilities as well as maintain our 24 campuses. Despite this strong support, much more needs to be done.
In the last decade, because of rising enrollment, an additional 56,600 students are using our facilities. Our campuses are open seven days a week, with classes scheduled throughout the day and most evenings. Not surprisingly, our classrooms and common areas are experiencing significant wear and tear. The average CUNY building is more than 50 years old, and some are more than 100 years old. Our aging building stock and a history of deferred maintenance are the most significant issues affecting our capital program. We have 28 million square feet of space, and we need more. In addition, many of our labs and classrooms are dated and need to be modernized with the latest teaching tools so our students are prepared. In 2007, in partnership with SUNY, CUNY completed a study of its needs to bring the campuses to a state of good repair. In 2012 we updated the critical maintenance study of the state of good repair of our campuses; the study identified a $3.2 billion dollar backlog of critical maintenance needs, which will grow to nearly $6 billion if not addressed over the next 10 years.
CUNY has several projects that are in design, each of which will alleviate serious space deficits and support important academic progress at our colleges. We are asking for additional funding for key programmatic projects, including:
the Roosevelt Hall Science Complex at Brooklyn College.
the Academic Village and Conference Center at York College;
The College of Staten Island’s High Performance Computational Center; and
Hostos Community College’s new Allied Health and Sciences Building.
Projects like these are critical to our academic growth, helping to improve classroom instruction and research capacity and create good paying jobs. With your support, we hope to continue this important work.
The executive budget recommends $103 million in new critical maintenance funding for the senior colleges. We sought $181 million to allow CUNY to continue work on hundreds of ongoing projects that will address electrical, heating, cooling, roof and other maintenance issues we need to provide a safe learning and working environment. The executive budget also recommends $21 million in state matching funds for CUNY community colleges for projects that have received funding from the City of New York during the city’s adopted budget last summer. Most of this will address important critical maintenance issues with the exception of a matching allocation for the new Allied Health building at Hostos Community college.
Colleges and universities are, as you know, catalysts for development. I am gratified to see the Governor’s recognition that universities are economic drivers, as evidenced by his additional funding for CUNY 2020. We will soon have the opportunity to demonstrate that those investment dollars yield rewards.
The executive budget also recommends a third allocation of $55 million for the CUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program. We are working with the Governor’s office as we advance the first round of CUNY 2020 funding to create innovative projects that provide significant economic impact through job creation, advance academic research and student success, encourage collaborations, and leverage other funding sources. We look forward to implementing round two and are excited about its potential benefits.
I want to take a moment as well to update you on the current status of major projects you have funded in prior budgets.
As noted, CUNY’s Advanced Science Research Center and the City College Center for Discovery and Innovation have just completed construction. The complex will be the jewel in the crown of scientific research at CUNY. The two buildings offer 400,000 total feet of space where faculty will work across disciplines to engage some of global science’s vital challenges. State-of-the-art laboratories are provided for CUNY’s top research faculty in fields such as nanoscience, photonics and environmental remote sensing.
We recently completed construction of a wonderful library renovation and expansion project for Medgar Evers College. This project modernized and reorganized the library and added 12,000 feet of student study space.
At Brooklyn College, construction continues on the new performing arts center, scheduled for completion later this year, which was funded with state and city funding and a sizable donation from the Tow family.
Also part of Brooklyn College, the new Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema is under construction at Steiner Studios in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The Feirstein School will be the first film school in the U.S. located on a working studio lot. This facility will simulate a working film studio, and include a sound stage, production classrooms, screening room, and labs for scoring, motion capture and editing, among other functions. We expect to complete the project this fall as well.
We broke ground in 2013 on the new academic building at New York City College of Technology—the new facility will be in construction for two more years. City Tech is CUNY’s only technical college and it has some of the oldest facilities in the system. The new facility will add 350,000 square feet of premiere instructional and lab space, in addition to allied health education facilities, a large auditorium and physical education facilities. Considering New York City’s efforts to cultivate its tech industries, this new modern facility could not be better timed.
The first phase of infrastructure renovations has begun at Baruch College’s Field Building at 17 Lexington Avenue. This 16-story building has not had significant upgrades since it opened in the 1920s.
And at Bronx Community College, the third phase of construction of major utility upgrades for the campus is underway. This is the third of six phases that will completely replace the campus central plant, including all heating, cooling, and electrical distribution infrastructure on campus.
We are also initiating construction on several important projects, thanks to your support.
At LaGuardia Community College, the façade of the massive Center 3 Building is being replaced. Center 3 is a 100-year old, 9-story facility whose terra cotta façade is failing and must be completely replaced to ensure the safety of the community and the integrity of the building. This is the highest priority of all of our community college projects.
A major upgrade of Lehman College’s central plant is underway.
And system-wide, hundreds of infrastructure projects are underway, funded by over $1 billion in critical maintenance appropriations that CUNY was generously provided over the last five fiscal years.
All of these projects were years, even decades, in the making, and we are completing them at a critical time: when New York City needs good paying jobs. There is no doubt that New York City profits from our capital program. For every $10 million spent in construction, 60 jobs are created at the job site and 30 paying jobs are created offsite in materials fabrication. A multi-billion dollar construction program is therefore generating an estimated 14,000 jobs.
Projects like these are critical to our academic growth, helping to improve classroom instruction and research capacity and create good paying jobs. With your support, we hope to continue this important work.
In the end, all of the requested investments, whether in faculty and staff and other operating needs or in critical maintenance or new facilities, are important because of what they allow CUNY to do for over 500,000 students each year and for the city and state of New York. CUNY is a public university in every sense of the word and one in which I hope you will continue to make wise investments.
I want to thank you for the attention you have shown me. I am happy to address any questions you may have.
Governor Cuomo has delivered an ambitious and thoughtful State of the State message, and I want to commend him for his strong leadership and support in recognizing high-quality education — the key driver of economic opportunity — as the critical investment in New York’s people and future.
We welcome the governor’s announcement that the state will pay full CUNY and SUNY tuition for high-achieving high school graduates who commit to teach for five years after graduation. This move underscores the essential role of New York’s public institutions in producing highly qualified, dedicated teachers to provide a strong educational foundation to future generations.
CUNY is eager to build upon its strengths in teacher training to help our city and state place greater emphasis on effective early childhood education. The governor’s support is reflected in his budget allocation for early childhood education programs administered by the New York Early Childhood Development Institute.
His pledge to further invest in NYCUNY 2020 challenge grants, and to expand funding for his successful Start-Up NY program, fostering economic partnerships between new businesses and our college campuses, reflect the critical connection between education and economic development in this state.
Finally, we applaud his support for the New York State Dream Act, which would extend state tuition assistance to New York college students whose parents are undocumented immigrants. This issue is close to CUNY’s heart and mission as an American Dream Machine for generations of immigrants.
Through our Citizenship Now! initiative, our University for almost two decades has provided free, quality advice and legal services to the CUNY community and other New Yorkers navigating the nation’s immigration system or seeking immigration and citizenship information.
In the weeks to come, we look forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature on the details of the budget, as partners in providing the high-quality, effective educational opportunities and preparation necessary to build a strong and productive New York future.
The national holiday recognizing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. provides an important time to stop and reflect on the life of this great American.
In 1963, Dr. King gave the commencement address to the graduates of The City College of New York. Much has changed since that June day half a century ago, but some of the issues Dr. King spoke of are still too familiar. He addressed the racial disparities that troubled the nation and the great economic gap between rich and poor. He reminded his audience that, despite these divisions, we are all tied together in “a single garment of destiny.” Dr. King spoke powerfully about the centrality of education, the importance of non-violence and his hope for a more equitable and just world.
While we have made much progress since Dr. King’s CCNY commencement speech, we have not completed the journey. This day should be a time of rededication to the principles Dr. King so effectively advanced.
President Obama’s plan for free tuition at community colleges sends a powerful signal of the importance of access to a quality education and of these vital front-line higher education institutions to America’s future. We look forward to reviewing the details of the plan and working closely with the White House, United States Congress and leaders in New York in order to assess the likely impact on CUNY’s 100,000 degree-seeking students in attendance at our seven community colleges and prospective applicants.
We are particularly encouraged by the President’s recognition of CUNY’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) as a national model of effectiveness and successful student outcomes. In 2014, ASAP produced a three year graduation rate of 57%, over triple the rate of urban community colleges nation-wide. Overall the graduation rate since the program’s inception has been over 50%.
We join with President Obama in offering ASAP as a national model to be expanded both here in New York and throughout the nation. Here at CUNY, more than seven out of ten full-time community college students attend tuition-free due to federal and state financial aid. We will be looking closely at the remaining costs in order to determine how the President’s plan might assist greater numbers of students to achieve student success.
The issues of sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, and sexual violence on college campuses have commanded national attention this past year. We at CUNY recognize that these issues, including rape, sexual assault, stalking and intimate partner/domestic violence, can affect anyone, of any age, gender or background. We are deeply committed to preventing sexual misconduct and providing a safe and respectful learning and working environment for all students, employees and visitors.
On December 1, 2014, the Board of Trustees adopted a new University-wide CUNY Policy on Sexual Misconduct. The policy applies to all members of the CUNY community, including visitors, and is a comprehensive document that details the rights of accusers and accused, clarifies procedures for reporting and investigation of complaints, and specifies training procedures for employees across all campuses and offices. College Title IX coordinators will train employees who are required to report sexual or gender-based harassment or sexual violence, and ensure that appropriate educational programming be provided to students. Student complainants have the right to receive appropriate support for their medical, emotional and academic needs.
The concept of consent, central to many sexual misconduct complaints, is defined by the policy as “an informed voluntary and mutual decision to engage in agreed upon sexual activity.” Consent can be given by words or actions as long as they create clear permission regarding willingness to engage in (and the conditions of) the sexual activity. Silence or failure to resist does not, in and of itself, demonstrate consent.
Revised student disciplinary procedures are sensitive to accusers while safeguarding the rights of the accused. Students have the right to file a criminal complaint and seek an Order of Protection with college assistance; and to make a formal complaint on campus, and have it investigated promptly, impartially and thoroughly by appropriately trained individuals. A complainant also has the same opportunity as the accused to participate in a disciplinary hearing before a faculty-student disciplinary committee. Both complainant and accused have the right to receive notice of charges, be represented by a person of their choice including an attorney; present evidence; call and cross-examine witnesses, receive notice of the hearing’s outcome, and appeal.
Student complainants also have the right to report sexual harassment or violence they experienced while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, without being disciplined for the alcohol or drug use, subject to certain conditions. Student Complainants’ Bill of Rights.
I would like to commend the working group, which included members of three CUNY departments—the Office of the General Counsel, the Office of Student Affairs and Office of Human Resources Management—for their diligence and teamwork in revising CUNY’s policy. Thank you also to the CUNY community members who commented on the revisions, suggesting valuable improvements. As the policy states, “Every member of the CUNY community, including students, employees and visitors, deserves the opportunity to live, learn and work free from sexual harassment, gender-based harassment and sexual violence.”
Announcement Made at President Obama’s College Opportunity Day of Action in Washington D.C.
Chancellor James B. Milliken announced at the White House-sponsored College Opportunity Day of Action that The City University of New York is committing to graduating 15,000 additional associate-degree students over the next decade including 6,500 by 2020, by expanding CUNY’s highly successful preparatory initiatives. The event was hosted by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama and attended by higher education leaders from across the nation who committed to programs to help more college students complete their degrees.
“CUNY is pleased to work with the Administration to improve college readiness and student success. The University will substantially expand its programs that have proven track records. As a matter of public policy, these models are deserving of greater replication and support,” said Chancellor Milliken.
The key driver of CUNY’s pledge to raise associate-degree graduation rates will be to scale up the University’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP), a nationally recognized model, in six CUNY community colleges and three senior colleges that offer associate degrees. ASAP has produced an average three-year graduation rate of 52 percent for participants in five cohorts graduating between 2010 and 2014, more than triple the graduation rate at urban public community colleges nationwide. The most recent of the five ASAP cohorts, students who started in 2011 and graduated this year, had a three-year graduation rate of 57 percent.
ASAP, offering a highly structured, full-time degree program with comprehensive student supports and financial resources for three years, has been rigorously evaluated by the prominent research organization MRDC, which described the CUNY program’s impact as “unparalleled.” ASAP also was determined to be highly cost-effective in a Columbia University Teachers College cost-benefit study.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Council have committed to a major expansion of ASAP. Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature provided additional support last year to increase the number of students served by ASAP.
The University’s commitment to increase the number of graduates is also supported by CUNY Start, a low-cost pre-community college program that is producing strong results. The intensive preparatory initiative helps students eliminate or significantly reduce remedial needs before they matriculate, while preserving their financial aid for college. Of the 3,253 CUNY Start full-time students who participated between Fall 2009 and Spring 2014, 68% had failed CUNY Assessment Tests in reading, writing and math, and 31% had failed two subjects. Upon completion of CUNY Start, half of the students were proficient in all three subjects and remaining students significantly reduced their remedial needs.
As part of the commitment announced in Washington today, CUNY will also work to expand remedial math alternatives at the associate degree level, increasing access to the Carnegie Foundation’s Quantway and Statway alternative math pathways for non-STEM majors. CUNY is also “planning dedicated efforts to expand the number of STEM graduates produced through the ASAP program to ensure they graduate ready to enter the workforce with high-demand skills and strong earning potential,” Chancellor Milliken said.
Speaking at a meeting of the Association for a Better New York, Chancellor James B. Milliken outlined an ambitious agenda for CUNY in the next decade that includes building research and technology development, expanding global opportunities and increasing digital education. The Chancellor said, “The most important city in the world should have the best public university in the world.”
One hundred sixty seven years ago, CUNY opened its doors as the Free Academy on the site of what is now Baruch College. Founder Townsend Harris said at the opening of the Free Academy in 1847: “let the children of the rich and poor take their seats together and know of no distinction save that of industry, good conduct, and intellect.” That vision remains vital today.
Over the first 100-plus years since CUNY’s founding, the Free Academy evolved into City College, other colleges were added throughout the five boroughs and then in 1961, the public higher education campuses in New York City—graduate, senior and community colleges—were organized into The City University of New York. The list of notable CUNY alumni, including 13 Nobel Prize winners, is far too long to review, but suffice it to say that among others, many, many talented, immigrant, first- generation and low-income New Yorkers got their start at CUNY, giving testament to its role, according to City College alumnus and Intel co-founder Andy Grove, as “the Great American Dream Machine.”
The record in the second half of the 20th century is more mixed, with very important, positive movement made in access and diversity, but the consequences of an undifferentiated system of colleges with remediation necessary at every campus took its toll on CUNY’s quality, reputation and value to its students, the City and the State.
The last 15 years was one of the great watershed periods in CUNY’s history. Former Yale President Benno Schmidt’s 1999 report prescribed a number of steps required for CUNY to rebuild quality and reclaim its former glory. Then, as chair of the CUNY Board of Trustees, Benno Schmidt, Chancellor Matthew Goldstein and an able group of Trustees, together with senior university leadership and college presidents, led the difficult and sometimes controversial work of raising standards, increasing quality and at the same time developing successful strategies for student access, mobility and success. We have seen a steady rise in CUNY’s value and reputation.
The outstanding accomplishments of this modern era include the creation of a new model for a community college, graduate schools of journalism and public health, a highly selective Macaulay Honors College, which competes with top colleges in the nation for its students. Linda Macaulay, who with her husband Bill Macaulay endowed the school, is here this morning with some very talented Macaulay students. These achievements and others put CUNY in the enviable position it’s in now.
But a new day brings new challenges…and opportunities. The landscape of higher education is changing dramatically. At a time when educational attainment is universally recognized as a key to economic competitiveness, we have lost our lead. For most of our lifetimes, the United States ranked number one in educational attainment. Today we rank 14th. At the same time, there is greater media scrutiny and public skepticism about higher education than ever before. High costs of tuition are roundly criticized, the amount of debt students incur is astounding, and the quality and relevance of higher education is being questioned.
CUNY, more than most, has a strong rejoinder to the criticism.
This year CUNY has 274,000 degree seeking students—a record—and 260,000 adult and continuing education students. Think of that impact; here is one university in one city with a student body larger than the population of, well, Omaha. Forty percent of those students were born outside the US mainland. Our students hail from 205 countries and speak over 190 languages.
And if there is any institution doing something about income inequality, it’s CUNY.
Three quarters of CUNY freshmen come from New York City high schools. And at a time when there is much attention to the value added of higher education, CUNY serves many students who otherwise would have little or no opportunity. Forty percent of our students come from families with a household income of under $20,000. CUNY has some of the lowest tuition levels in the country, but even our rates would be way out of reach to many of our students, if not for federal, state and local financial aid programs. As it is, 65 percent of full-time CUNY undergraduates pay no tuition. And at a time when the nation’s student loan burden tops one trillion dollars, 80 percent of CUNY graduates leave with no debt from the federal student loan program.
CUNY should make no apologies for its pursuit of quality over the last 15 years. The fundamental mission of public higher education is to provide both access and excellence. One without the other serves our students and society poorly. Let me make this clear: on all counts CUNY is delivering on its promise far more than it did a generation ago. Innovative new programs such as ASAP (Accelerated Study in Associate Programs), which has tripled community college graduation rates, and CUNY Start, which allows students with remediation needs to address them in a pre-matriculation “boot camp,” without paying tuition and without using up precious financial aid, are national models. Now over half of the undergraduates at our most selective colleges, such as Baruch, Hunter, Brooklyn, Queens and City, start as community college students, meet remediation requirements, and then transfer to a senior college. CUNY is providing a pathway that gives students a meaningful opportunity to succeed.
Take Layla Quinones, for example. She was a high school dropout who received her High School Equivalency and then Associates degree from LaGuardia Community College, went on to NYU on an academic scholarship and she is about to enroll in a PhD program in physics. Or consider Katherine Mateo, who arrived in the US from the Dominican Republic speaking no English. She attended College Now, Lehman College and Macaulay Honors College. She graduated from Stanford Law in June. She is back at Lehman now, helping fellow students before beginning her career as a lawyer in January. I hear CUNY stories like this every day and in my visits to all 24 CUNY campuses this summer I met many people like Layla and Katherine.
It’s no surprise the value proposition at CUNY is receiving national attention. In its annual rating of best values this fall, Washington Monthly magazine named as the three best “bangs for the buck” in the country Brooklyn, Baruch and Queens Colleges. Further evidence of what a gem New York has in CUNY.
Is CUNY where it needs to be today? Despite all the progress, the answer is we have lots to do.
Our goal should be for the university to achieve its full potential in serving the people of New York. So how do we build on a rich history, the successes of the last 15 years, and the rich assets of today so that CUNY is the world’s leading urban university serving the world’s leading city?
Maintain Broad Access and Promote Success
Our challenges are significant, but the payoff is enormous. Among the challenges: there are still too many students who arrive not ready for college. We need to deepen our partnership with the New York City schools, which provide three quarters of our new freshmen. Eighty percent of the students who enroll at our community colleges require remediation. We need to challenge our thinking about traditional remediation to most effectively serve students who arrive at our community colleges unprepared for college work.
Nationally there are far too many students who do not earn their degrees within a reasonable time, and CUNY is no exception. At the most basic level, such as addressing students’ remediation needs, or providing an Associate Degree in a reasonable time that leads to a job or a senior institution, or moving senior college students towards a degree, we still have much work to do. We have some great programs, but we must address the challenges of scaling them effectively. But even if we do a much better job of overcoming these basic challenges, what else is on CUNY’s agenda for the next 10 years?
Prepare the workforce for the 21st century.
To prepare a modern workforce, we must, among other things, increase the emphasis on STEM education. Both the Governor with his scholarship program for STEM students and the Mayor with his historic new investment in STEM programs at our community colleges are strong supporters of this goal. CUNY has a key role to play here but real work needs to start in the public schools, where students’ decisions about pursuing science and math are most often made and essential preparation takes place. This calls for new levels of collaboration among the schools, CUNY, government, labor and the private sector. There has been some good news on this front in New York, such as P-Tech and other similar programs, and we must build on these.
CUNY has developed critical pathways from community colleges to senior colleges, giving tens of thousands of students a year a chance to continue their education, which is wonderful. But community colleges are more than an entry point for a four-year degree. Nationally, community colleges are considered the most nimble, responsive of our institutions, working closely with business and labor to develop courses, programs and certificates. Last month, I met with leaders in the tech sector in New York, who are desperate for well-trained programmers, software developers and gamers—many of whom can come directly from our community colleges, with less time to degree, less cost and a quicker path to earning a very good living. ABNY’s own report on the New York City Tech Ecosystem makes it clear that there are growing numbers of good jobs that do not require a four-year degree. This is a very attractive path and one that may be perfect for many CUNY students.
Strengthen Public-Private Partnerships
CUNY has some exciting programs with private companies, but despite its location in an international hub of commerce with many of the leading businesses in the world, including a rapidly growing technology sector, the engagement of CUNY faculty and students with business falls far short of where it should be. We need more internship opportunities for students that can lead to full-time jobs, and more mentoring opportunities for students who are often the first in their family to attend college. We should provide interested faculty with more opportunities to work collaboratively with the private sector. We’re seeing much more of these kinds of public-private linkages across the country; New York is a rich commercial environment and has tools others don’t have—such as StartUp New York and CUNY 2020. We must take full advantage of these and other assets.
Build a Robust Research Enterprise
A related strategy involves our potential in research—particularly in the sciences and engineering—and in technology development. Opportunities in the 21st century include businesses that didn’t exist in the 20th, and our faculty and students can be an integral part of the development of new knowledge, technologies and processes. We’ve made some impressive investments in science facilities with more to come, but we must also double down on recruiting and retaining the best scientists and students to reap the full advantage of these investments. We’re in a global race for talent and we simply must be competitive. We also need an institutional culture that supports, rewards and nurtures faculty who are interested in commercially developing their intellectual property. And we need an administrative infrastructure that reduces, not increases, the friction involved in that development.
Address the Challenges Facing Cities
While much of this new spirit of engagement is about developing knowledge and a skilled workforce for the new economy, there are other benefits to the city. CUNY should be a leader in research, education and engagement that addresses grand challenges in an increasingly urbanized global population, attracting leading urban university partners around the world. Our STEM and other programs provide platforms for these key challenges, from the built environment and sustainable energy to public health and education. And our arts and humanities programs play a critical role in the culturally rich environment so important to New York’s position in the world.
And speaking of the world in the 21st century, CUNY should become “Global CUNY.” Every major university must be global in outlook and scope, and few universities are better positioned than CUNY. We have an enormous advantage: a student body with 40 percent born outside this country and students who speak almost 200 languages. But that alone isn’t enough. Our recent success with the highly competitive Fulbright program clearly demonstrates that our faculty and students can compete on the highest level with their peers anywhere. Last year CUNY set a record with 22 student Fulbright winners and 11 faculty Fubright recipients, and several of our award-winning students are here this morning. I want our graduates to be competitive with graduates from the best universities anywhere, and without an understanding of the world that comes, in part, from a strong academic component, they will not be. The task for us is to take advantage of one of CUNY’s and New York’s most valuable assets—our great diversity—and do what’s always been in CUNY’s DNA—create the best value added for our students.
Similarly, CUNY should become Digital CUNY. In another of what I’m discovering are the paradoxes of CUNY, I am told that one reason we have not focused as much as some on the use of technology in education is because “who needs ‘distance education’ when we have a college a subway stop away?” But technology is contributing to the transformation of higher education in ways that have little to do with geographical distance. We are developing new technological tools, new classroom platforms and blended learning opportunities that are transforming the way subjects are taught and learned. At Nebraska a few years ago, we learned that 70 percent of the many students enrolled in our online undergraduate classes were students matriculating—often living on—our campuses. Despite the fact that courses can be delivered to students thousands of miles away, they are often delivered around the corner.
And no matter how many locations we provide for our course offerings, it is hard to beat the 24 hour, asynchronous delivery that digital courses can offer. Many students simply enjoy and thrive learning online. And our faculty should have every opportunity to be involved with technology that is changing the environment for teaching and learning. I want our students to leave CUNY very comfortable with online learning, so when they have to retool or decide to pursue another degree or certificate, which is becoming increasingly important, they will be able to do so. And all the better if they do it with CUNY!
Making the Case for Public and Private Support
How do we do all we need to do when we know government—from federal research agencies to states across the country—is having difficulty maintaining, let alone increasing its investment in higher education? Despite the fact that New York has been more generous than many other states, CUNY cannot achieve its potential and adequately serve New York with only public funding and modest tuition. We are becoming much less competitive for faculty—and there is no such thing as a university better than its faculty.
Although I am convinced that a continued strong public investment is essential and that the case for it is compelling, there can be no doubt that the economics of public higher education are changing.
As recently as a generation or two ago, most public institutions were not aggressively—or successfully—raising large amounts of private support, and CUNY certainly was not. Potential donors viewed public institutions as obligations of the state or city. But public obligation or not, we know that is not enough. Private philanthropy has become an increasingly important part of funding public university needs, capital and programmatic, faculty support and student scholarships. And it is only going to become more important.
CUNY has seen impressive growth in private fundraising. In 15 years, CUNY’s university–wide annual fundraising has grown from $40 million per year to $240 million. That’s a very positive development, but I don’t believe there is an institution in New York that can make a more compelling case for private support. This Great American Dream Machine serves over 500,000 students every year, the vast majority of whom will live, work, and contribute to the economy, tax base, and quality of life in New York. There is no greater way to leverage a gift than to invest in CUNY.
The University New York Deserves
CUNY has a rich history, and in recent years we have become even better. The environment for public higher education is changing in ways that make CUNY more essential than ever. We have an ambitious agenda for CUNY which I hope you will support. If we are successful, the returns to students and to New York will be tremendous. The most important city in the world should have the best public university in the world—educating its young and old, addressing the challenges that it faces, partnering in its economic growth, contributing to the health of its people and enriching its cultural and civic life. The best city deserves the best public university. That’s New York and that’s CUNY.