For more than 160 years, CUNY has been the gateway to progress and fulfillment for the millions of New Yorkers who did not begin life with great advantages, particularly those from low-income families, underrepresented groups and immigrants. The university has a remarkable record of providing a high quality, affordable education, and the returns to New York have been invaluable.
Our graduates have earned Nobel Prizes, Fulbrights, Pulitzers and Grammys. The greatest prize is what they have done for our communities and our prosperity. CUNY graduates have been instrumental in making New York the cultural, financial and business capital of the world. And generations have joined the middle class because of CUNY. With the support and guidance of this board, we are committed to ensuring that the university and our graduates continue to play these leading roles as New York prepares for the challenges of the future.
However, as Chairman Schmidt reported, CUNY’s role and continued achievements face, surprisingly, enormous risk today. This year’s budget process involves unusual and extraordinary threats. It begins with a proposed shift of almost $500 million from the state to the city, which the city has adamantly rejected. It has been said that there will be no additional cost to the city and that CUNY will not be cut, but it is not at all clear today how this will be resolved.
For CUNY to continue to serve the city and state and especially serve the more than 500,000 students who are enrolled today, several things must happen:
First, there must be a resolution to the long out of date labor contracts. This requires funding in the budget. We’re not asking for anything new or unusual, just that state’s pattern, which is one SUNY faculty and staff benefited from. Each budget—Executive, Senate and Assembly—includes funding for CUNY’s labor contracts. The number used, $240 million, is the investment we sought last year to make up for a 4% increase in 2010 moving forward. A year later, the number is higher, of course, but the point is there is no disagreement among the three parties to the state budget that an investment in CUNY’s contract is key and should be part of the final budget.
Second, there must be no cut to CUNY’s budget. The Governor has provided assurances that there will be no cut, and we are grateful for that. In fact, CUNY’s budget is underfunded and requires new investment.
Third, there must be ongoing new investment, which is also needed to fund our faculty and staff salaries. This requires either a tuition plan or funding in lieu of tuition. This Board supported a continuation of the predictable tuition plan, which was in the Executive budget. Both the Senate and the Assembly budgets freeze tuition. The Assembly budget includes funding for CUNY in lieu of tuition. The Senate budget provides funding in lieu of tuition for SUNY, but not CUNY. Of course, we believe CUNY and SUNY should be treated equitably and if tuition is frozen funding should be provided.
Without these three things happening, the important work CUNY does will be seriously threatened.
There has been much talk about administrative costs and efficiencies. And of course CUNY is obligated, like all public universities, to operate cost-effectively and focus its resources on academic programs. It has been working on this. A comparison of costs of major university systems clearly demonstrates that CUNY is spending less on administrative overhead than most of its peers. Nonetheless, I agree there is more that can be done. I initiated a cost reduction process and I am leading our efforts, together with the Fiscal Committee of the Board, to ensure that an efficient, productive CUNY continues to put its emphasis faculty and academic and student support services. As the Chair mentioned CUNY has been a leader in creating shared services among its campuses in numerous areas.
As we continue to work with state leaders on the budget, we will not lose sight of the goal of continuing to provide the highest quality, affordable education to those students who, in so many instances, prove they can do the most with it.
What I also want to make clear is that, while the budget consumes a great deal of time and energy, the investments that the taxpayers have made in CUNY continue to provide enormous returns as our colleges and leaders create new programs and new opportunities for our students, all contributing to the atmosphere of excellence at CUNY.
In that vein, the Board will be voting today on an exceptional academic step for the university, the creation of a new named professorship at John Jay College. It is hard to overstate how important this is to us and how much it will contribute to our students and the CUNY community. With generous funding by the Ford Foundation and the Atlantic Philanthropies – a total of $2.5 million – we will be establishing the Franklin A. Thomas Professorship in Policing Equity. Franklin Thomas, of course, has been an influential trailblazer, rising from a poor childhood in Brooklyn to literally changing the face of this city as the founding president of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. He was the first African-American general counsel of the NYPD and he did remarkable work for 17 years as the president of the Ford Foundation. Congratulations to President Travis and John Jay.
A second piece of very good news. Tonight I’m very pleased to report on an exciting effort to increase significantly the number of women working in technology, a very important objective that will benefit our students and especially the rapidly expanding tech industry in New York. CUNY is partnering with Cornell Tech, Verizon and some other leading companies on a new initiative called Women in Technology and Entrepreneurship. This initiative, hosted at CUNY, will be the just the first of many that will continue to demonstrate the wisdom of having Ann Kirschner join us to lead strategic partnerships. Thank you Ann. I want to recognize and thank Ann’s partner and someone who was key to making this happen, Judy Spitz, Verizon Executive in Residence at Cornell Tech, who is leading this new program. Judy?
Why is this important? Women make up more than half of our students, but, nationwide, less than 1 percent of women students graduate with degrees in technology-related fields. If that is not startling enough, the percentage of computer science degrees awarded to women has actually declined 19 percent over the past 30 years. So we’re taking action to correct that with a new partnership that, among other things, will include summer programs in tech design for graduating high school seniors, scholarships to attend CUNY and internships for those women. Thanks again to Ann and Judy and all of our partners in CUNY, at Cornell Tech, and at Verizon and other leading companies.
Listen to Chancellor James B. Milliken on WNYC Radio discuss why state and city support is important to allow CUNY to continue offering an affordable, high-quality education to students in New York. The Chancellor said: “Our view is the real discussion needs to be about the stability, the security of funding for CUNY and the adequacy of funding for CUNY.”
CUNY is increasingly positioned as a leading partner in the expansion of a growing innovation economy in New York. We are pleased to be a partner in the IN2NYC initiative, which will benefit New York and offer great opportunities to CUNY students. We look forward to continuing our work with the city and state on plans to grow the city’s and state’s innovation economy and provide experience and opportunity for our talented students.
I recently testified before the New York State Legislature on CUNY’s budget and I want to share with you a few key elements of my testimony.
For more than 150 years, CUNY has been the gateway to progress and fulfillment for many New Yorkers who do not begin life with great advantages, particularly those from low-income families, underrepresented groups and immigrants. The support the state provides to these talented young New Yorkers is at the heart of CUNY’s and, I believe, New York’s, success.
Affordability and access will always be fundamental to CUNY and its irreplaceable role in the life of the city and state, but we are focused much more than ever on our obligation to ensure that when our students leave our colleges they do so in much greater numbers with the diplomas that will change their lives and the competitiveness of New York. We are hard at work now on a new university-wide strategic plan and a new Master Plan with this in mind.
Every day we are guided by the unique mandate established when the legislature created the modern City University and later when it established the current governance structure. The New York State Legislature designed The City University of New York as an institution with a distinctive mission: that the university will be “an independent system of higher education,” that it must be “responsive to the needs of its urban setting” and operate as “an integrated system,” with close collaboration between the community colleges and senior colleges. This is critical in helping make possible the transfer of so many students from community to senior colleges, a number that doubled in the last decade.
The Legislature also declared that: “The City University is of vital importance as a vehicle for the upward mobility of the disadvantaged in the City of New York.” My colleagues and I are committed to not just carrying out that mandate, but to finding new ways to strengthen it.
About 75 percent of the graduates of New York City’s high schools who attend college come to CUNY. Forty percent of CUNY’s 275,000 students are the first in their families to attend college, and 40 percent were born in another country. CUNY is home to three-quarters of all Pell Grant recipients in New York City, a critical form of financial aid to our neediest and, I can attest, many our most dedicated students.
The emphasis on access and affordability goes hand in hand with what has long been CUNY’s outstanding academic credentials. CUNY graduates have won 13 Nobel prizes. They have won more MacArthur Genius Awards than those from any public university but Berkeley. Our students won 39 coveted Fulbrights in the past two years. I recently met a Brooklyn College graduate, a brilliant Pakistani immigrant, who was named a Rhodes Scholar and is now in her second year at the Harvard medical school. There are many such examples of students who, when given the opportunity, excel beyond our imaginations.
Our faculty are as impressive as our students. They earn Fulbrights, MacArthurs, and competitive grants in record number, and they are recognized for their excellent teaching as well as their research and creative activity. They are the reason our colleges are consistently ranked as the best values in the nation. This recognition isn’t simply a statement about cost—it is a recognition of CUNY’s high quality at a reasonable price. And our faculty are, of course, responsible for that outstanding quality.
That talented faculty has been working without a contract—and at salaries significantly lower than their peers—for more than 5 years now and thus far we have been unable to reach an agreement. Last year when I appeared before the legislature, I said we were seeking support from the state and the city for an agreement in line with other state unions. We were unfortunately in that position again this year. I told the legislature that my highest priority as well as that of the Board of Trustees and the college presidents is to get this contract settled and pay the increases to which our over 45,000 thousand faculty and staff are entitled.
A strong CUNY is vital to the future of the state and those New Yorkers who need opportunity the most. There is a need today for greater overall investment in an institution that is responsible for 500,000 students. To serve them and the state well, it is essential that the investment in CUNY be stable, secure and adequate; that, in my mind, should be the discussion we have. Of the many investments the state is asked to make, I am convinced that higher education produces one of the highest returns on investment you can achieve, and its one that changes the trajectory of generations.
The State has given CUNY a challenging and critical mandate, and in embracing this role, the university has responded with outcomes that have served the state well. We will continue to do all we can to see that the mission we share, which means so much to so many, is successful.
Thank you, Jay, and thank you to members of the legislature and Governor Cuomo’s administration for joining us as we offer our deep appreciation for the long history of important work that the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus has always conducted on behalf of the people of our state.
We are enormously proud of the fact that a number of your members have gotten here on a path that led through CUNY’s classrooms. We are also extremely proud of the fact that many of your future members are, I am certain, studying in those classrooms today, inspired by your example and supported by the funding you provide. That support is, I believe, the best guarantee that many of the most ambitious, hard-working and creative students in New York will enter a future in which the doors of opportunity that you have pushed through continue to swing open for them, too.
Those kinds of hopes have special meaning to us at CUNY because of our historic mission, which is built around academic excellence, but also an intensive commitment to inclusion and support for students who come to us from underrepresented groups and communities. Many universities have mottos and mascots, but at CUNY we have causes. Our fundamental cause, put simply, is to ensure that where you come from will not restrict your ability to reach for, and achieve, your dreams. The New York State legislature showed great wisdom when it defined CUNY’s mandate, “The City University is of vital importance as a vehicle for the upward mobility of the disadvantaged in the City of New York.”
We equip our students with the tools they need to succeed, whether it’s financial aid, an understanding of philosophy and mathematics or a caring advisor. CUNY has a long history as a pioneer in formulating innovative programs that focus on building the skills our students need to build foundations for success. SEEK – which is 50 years old — is just one important example, but it is emblematic of CUNY’s very special mission.
As anyone who has spent much time at CUNY comes to appreciate, though, the real secret to and strength of what we achieve comes from the students themselves. Whether you’re black, Hispanic, Asian American, poor or an immigrant who may not even speak English, we can provide knowledge, capabilities and hopefully confidence, but the real courage behind the degrees our students earn comes from what they find inside. As President Obama put it so eloquently, “We don’t ask you to believe in our ability to bring change, rather, we ask you to believe in yours.”
And they do. What is so heartening about what we do at CUNY, and what you make possible with your interest and support, is that many of those students who begin life without much do come to believe that they have the abilities and the will to succeed, and that’s what gives them a lifetime of motivation.
Thank you again to members of the Caucus for believing in our cause and working not just for us but for your successors, many of them hard at work in CUNY classrooms today.
Good afternoon, Chair Young, Chair Farrell, Chair LaValle, Chair Glick, and members of the Finance and Ways and Means Committees, staff and guests. I am James B. Milliken, the Chancellor of The City University of New York, and I want to thank you for providing what is my second opportunity to meet and share with you why it is such an honor to lead this unique and vital institution. A number of my colleagues are seated behind me, ready to throw me a lifeline if needed.
I want to begin with a particular thanks to you and your colleagues for your continued substantial support for CUNY and its students, attending in record numbers again this year and graduating in increasing numbers. This would not be possible if it were not for the investment the state makes, and we will do everything we can to ensure that we continue to earn your trust and confidence.
For more than 150 years, CUNY has been the gateway to progress and fulfillment for many New Yorkers who do not begin life with great advantages, particularly those from low-income families, underrepresented groups and immigrants. The support the state provides to these talented young New Yorkers is at the heart of CUNY’s and, I believe, New York’s, success. We may give our students opportunities, but what they give to CUNY, our communities and our state is unparalleled drive, ambition, talent and creativity. Our graduates have been instrumental in making New York the cultural, financial and business capital of the world, and we are actively strengthening CUNY to ensure that the university and those graduates continue to play a leading role for the benefit of this state.
We are doing that by vigorously executing CUNY’s vital, historic mission, although increasingly with new evidence-based strategies and innovations. Affordability and access will always be fundamental to CUNY and its irreplaceable role in the life of the city and state, but we are focused much more than ever on our obligation to ensure that when our students leave our colleges they do so in much greater numbers with diplomas that will change their lives and the competitiveness of New York. We are hard at work now on a new university-wide strategic plan and a new Master Plan with this in mind.
Every day we are guided by the unique mandate established when this body passed the historic legislation creating the modern City University and later when it doubled down, establishing the current governance and structure. The New York State Legislature designed The City University of New York as an institution with a distinctive mission: that the university will be “an independent system of higher education,” that it must be “responsive to the needs of its urban setting” and operate as “an integrated system,” with close collaboration between the community colleges and senior colleges. This is critical in helping make possible the transfer of so many students from community to senior colleges, a number that doubled in the last decade.
The Legislature also declared that: “The City University is of vital importance as a vehicle for the upward mobility of the disadvantaged in the City of New York.” Like you, we are committed to not just carrying out that mandate, but to constantly finding new ways to strengthen it.
About 75 percent of the graduates of New York City’s high schools who attend college come to CUNY. Graduates who earned their degrees from CUNY over the past 40 years earn $63 billion a year, nearly all of that in New York State where they go on to live and work, and that is about twice what they would earn if they held only high school diplomas. Forty percent of CUNY’s 275,000 students are the first in their families to attend college, and 40 percent were born in another country. CUNY is home to three-quarters of all Pell Grant recipients in New York City, a critical form of financial aid to our neediest and, I can attest, many our most dedicated students. Similarly, New York’s remarkable investment in the Tuition Assistance Program or TAP is key to our students’ ability to attend college. We are very grateful for TAP, but we also believe with some changes it could be even more effective and the result would be even more college graduates in New York.
The emphasis on access and affordability goes hand in hand with what has long been CUNY’s outstanding academic credentials. CUNY graduates have won 13 Nobel prizes. They have won more MacArthur Genius Awards than those from any public university but Berkeley. But, I’ll note, we just passed Berkeley as having the highest ranked public interest law program in the country. Our students won 39 coveted Fulbrights in the past two years. I recently met a CUNY Honors College graduate, a brilliant Pakistani immigrant, who was named a Rhodes Scholar and is now in her second year at the Harvard medical school. There are many such examples of students who, when given the opportunity, excel beyond our imaginations.
Our faculty are as impressive as our students, and we are grateful for your support which has allowed us to hire many more needed full time faculty. They earn Fulbrights, MacArthurs, and competitive grants in record number, and they are recognized for their excellent teaching as well as their research and creative activity. They are the reason our colleges are consistently ranked as the best values in the nation. This recognition isn’t simply a statement about cost—it is a recognition of CUNY’s high quality at a reasonable price. And our faculty are, of course, responsible for that outstanding quality.
That talented faculty has been working without a contract—and at salaries significantly lower than their peers—for more than 5 years now and thus far we have been unable to reach an agreement. Last year when I appeared before you I said we were seeking support from the state and the city for an agreement in line with other state unions. We are unfortunately in that position again a year later. I can say without equivocation that my highest priority as well as that of the Board of Trustees and the college presidents is to get this contract settled and pay the increases to which our over 45,000 thousand faculty and staff are entitled.
We know that the knowledge economy increasingly offers its most attractive opportunities to those who attain degrees beyond high school. The share of jobs that require post-secondary education has doubled since I—and perhaps some of you—went to college. Bachelor’s degree graduates earn annually, on average, more than $20,000 more than high school graduates, and their unemployment rate is about half that of those without college degrees. It’s important that our students have access to a high quality, extremely affordable education – which is CUNY’s signature value — but they will face tough odds in realizing their dreams unless they stay in school, master their disciplines and bring home diplomas. Here’s why this is so important at CUNY: nationally, half of all people from high income families have a bachelor’s degree by age 25; just one in ten people from low income families do. But here’s the good news: when children born into the bottom fifth of income distribution—many of CUNY’s students—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. Intel’s Andy Grove called CUNY, where he got his engineering degree, the American Dream Machine. I might also call it the best prescription available to reduce income inequality through opportunity.
CUNY is certainly not alone in not performing as well as we would hope in getting our students to graduation. This is a fact at most institutions of public higher education in the country. And a great many of our 275,000 degree seeking students face more challenges than most in making it to graduation. But we are tackling this head on. We have put in place – and are expanding — a number of programs to provide the support that helps thousands more achieve that goal every year. In some instances, the results have been encouraging, in others revolutionary.
For several years we have been gearing up a program for raising what had been low three-year graduation rate at our community colleges, less than 20 percent at some. Nationwide, the three-year graduation rate at urban community colleges is 15 percent. That is simply unacceptable. The students left behind face the prospect of taking on debt and yet still not obtaining the means of improving their future earnings.
To address this daunting challenge, CUNY designed and rolled out a program called ASAP, which is considered one of the most significant outcome improvement initiatives in higher education. The students must commit to studying full-time, they stay in cohorts so they enjoy the benefits of peer support, they receive large amounts of financial aid, they have advisors continually monitoring their performance, they take prescribed courses initially to eliminate the mystery and confusion of trying to enroll in numerous classes. And, modest as it may sound, one of the benefits that the ASAP students say they like best is free metrocards. It means that they can always make it to class.
And, I can tell you, they do. Three-year graduation rates among ASAP students have soared to 55 percent in the most recent class and we feel we may be able to reach 60 percent, more than triple the old level. And now, with generous support from the city and the state, we are scaling up ASAP from 4,000 students last year to 25,000 in three years, including the first full implementation at one of our community colleges and a pilot at a senior college. Eighty-seven percent of those students are black, Hispanic or Asian. ASAP’s great success and our rapid expansion is why we would like to ask that you restore $2.5 million to our requested ASAP budget.
Johnny Lozada can tell you what that success means. By his own admission, he had been in a dead-end job, a result of the fact that he did not have a high school degree. He was jolted one day, as he recalls, when his son said he wanted to be just like Johnny. That, Johnny realized with embarrassment, was the last thing he wanted, and he decided he had to teach by example. He worked hard to get his GED and then entered CUNY as an ASAP student. The close advisory support, the sense of community and ability to focus on and overcome academic weaknesses helped him earn his associate degree. That took him to New York University, where he received a degree in applied psychology.
So Johnny Lozada went from someone who firmly believed, in his words, “I didn’t think I was made for college,” to his current position; he is an outreach coordinator at La Guardia Community College’s Fatherhood Academy, where he mentors and helps young Dads make the transition he did, to college. And now his daughter, who had no interest in college either, is studying at CUNY. She is in ASAP.
There are other programs that deliver important results in our focus on attainment. We provide day care on campuses for about 1,400 children, an essential tool helping our many students with children stay in school and get the degrees so they can build healthy families. We are requesting that you restore a $900,000 request for our budget to support this care.
Another item I hope you will consider including is funding for the newly accredited CUNY School of Medicine at City College, which opens its doors next fall. This new college will build on 40 years of success of the Sophie Davis School of Social Medicine and is uniquely designed to serve the important mission of CUNY cited earlier. Almost half of the students will be from underrepresented groups—many times the national rate, and most of our graduates will practice in federally designated underserved areas. It’s a natural for CUNY and New York, and we’re asking only that the School receives the same per student funding now provided for SUNY medical schools.
I want to turn now to the items included in the Governor’s Executive budget. The eye-catcher was, of course, the suggested shift in CUNY funding, proposing that New York City assume responsibility for 30 percent—or $485 million—of operating costs and debt service. The proposal was accompanied by an investment of $240 million to help settle our bargaining agreements, which was a most welcome recognition of the importance of this resolution. Determining the appropriate level of state and city support for CUNY is an important responsibility of our elected leaders, especially in this body. My obligation, I believe, is to convince you that a strong CUNY is vital to the future of the state and those New Yorkers who need opportunity the most. I would argue there is a need for greater overall investment in an institution that is responsible for 500,000 students every day. To serve them and the state well, it is essential that the investment in CUNY be stable, secure and adequate; that, in my mind, should be the discussion we have. Of the many investments the state is asked to make, I am convinced that higher education produces one of the highest returns on investment you can achieve, and its one that changes the trajectory of generations.
The Governor has recently expressed concern about costs in higher education, at both SUNY and CUNY. CUNY has a strong record of consolidating operations, sharing services and seeking efficiencies. Just this year we cut $50 million in costs through a series of steps including hiring freezes, purchasing reductions, reductions in temporary employees and more. And CUNY has been a national leader in consolidating back office functions and implementing shared services in many areas such as information technology, human resources, admissions and financial aid, security and more. But we embrace our role as stewards of public funds, and we know we can always improve. We will continue to look at ways to shift expenditures to those areas directly affecting the outcomes of our students.
In his Executive budget Governor Cuomo provided support for a number of important programs, and we very much appreciate his recognition of the importance of those investments. The Governor has proposed a renewal of a predictable tuition policy in his budget, which has for the last five years provided an important opportunity for the university to make thoughtful investments and has allowed students to be in a position to plan ahead for moderate increases, avoiding the kinds of spikes we saw before the 2011 plan was adopted. No one likes to increase tuition, and especially at CUNY. I am very sympathetic to our student leaders who oppose tuition increases, but the truth is we have one of the lowest tuition levels in the country and today approximately 80 percent of our associate and bachelor’s degree graduates leave with zero federal debt. And we must be in a position to continue to invest in new faculty, academic advisors, and more to offer our students a high quality education and the opportunity to graduate on time.
Because of this policy, during the last four years we were able to add about 1,000 new full-time faculty and increase student success significantly. Access does not seem to have been restricted; our enrollment grew during this same period by over five percent or 13,000 students, essentially the size of a new campus, and this year we have our largest enrollment in history. During this same time, graduation rates went up at both senior and community colleges, 20 percent more degrees were awarded annually, and more credits were earned and skills proficiency achieved during the freshman year. We have committed to freezing community college tuition next year—thus 100,000 of our students will see no change. To help us make good on that commitment to our students who need it most, we are seeking an increase in base aid of $250 per student. And for the senior college students, we commit to carefully reviewing our needs each year and proposing to our Board thoughtful, required increases, not automatically charging the maximum authorized.
The continuation of the Governor’s performance funding program is also a welcome investment in innovative programs to support our students. Each of our colleges received funding to support new initiatives related to our performance measures and student success. The continuation of funding will position us to make sustainable investments that will lead to improved outcomes over time.
The Governor’s support for the DREAM Act is a priority CUNY strongly endorses. We have been more successful than any university in the country in attracting private funds to support scholarships for dreamers, working closely with the TheDream.US Foundation.
We have a number of important capital requests, beginning with the need for adequate investment in our critical maintenance. We are grateful for the $103 million in the Executive Budget, but our needs are greater. 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 among the most urgent capital issues facing CUNY. Many of our labs are dated and need to be modernized with the latest teaching tools our students deserve. In 2007, in partnership with SUNY, we conducted a study to see what it would take to bring our campus facilities to a state of good repair. The need was $3.2 billion, which was expected to double if not addressed over the following decade. The study was updated in 2012, and while progress has been made, the backlog was still estimated at $2.4 billion.
Our campuses are open seven days a week, with classes scheduled throughout the day and most evenings. We have 28 million square feet of space, but we need considerably more. There are 55,000 more CUNY students using our buildings than there were a decade ago–in other words, the equivalent of adding a university larger than Michigan using already stressed facilities. Our request includes important priorities at Baruch, Hunter, Medgar Evers, Brooklyn College, CSI, Lehman and more. Many of these are science and health professions buildings that are necessary not only to provide opportunities to our students but to meet health medical, science and technology needs in New York.
I look forward to discussing CUNY’s budget request and any other issues, and I once again offer my thanks for your continued support for public higher education and CUNY specifically. The Legislature has given CUNY a challenging and critical mandate, and in embracing this role, the university has responded with outcomes that have served the state well. We will continue to do all we can to see that the mission we share, which means so much to so many, is successful.
I am pleased to announce the third round of the Chancellor’s Research Fellowship Program to advance the research and scholarship of our outstanding community college faculty. I saw first-hand how important and successful the program is to faculty when I hosted a reception in honor of last year’s winners and learned of the exciting projects this program supports.
Under the program, the Chancellor’s office of The City University of New York will award up to 20 research fellowships of two courses of released-time each to tenured full-time community college faculty members who have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to research and publication. The two course releases may be taken over one or two semesters during the 2016-17 academic year.
Applicants for the Chancellor’s Research Fellowships should electronically submit the following to the office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost at firstname.lastname@example.org:
a cover sheet with name, department, college, rank, date of tenure, email address, home and college addresses and phone numbers;
a proposal of no more than five pages, describing the project for which they are seeking the fellowship; and
a current vitae with evidence of an ongoing commitment to research and scholarship.
The subject line of the email should read “CRF_YOURSURNAME.” The deadline for submission is April 1, 2016.
All applications will be reviewed by faculty committees. Announcements of fellowship recipients will be made in late spring 2016 and an awards ceremony will be held in May. Fellowship recipients will be asked to submit a brief progress summary on their research in the semester following the completion of their fellowship.
Please feel free to contact University Provost Vita Rabinowitz with questions about this program. Thank you for distributing this announcement to tenured full-time faculty members at your college.
When the legislature established the current structure for the governance and financing of The City University of New York, it used clear and unequivocal language to set apart CUNY’s special mission. The law provides that the university will be “an independent system of higher education” that must be “responsive to the needs of its urban setting” and operate as “an integrated system,” with close collaboration between the community colleges and senior colleges. It adds that CUNY must maintain its traditional commitments to both academic excellence and equal access to students, faculty and staff, continuing its history as a highly diverse institution.
In perhaps its most important mandate, the legislature said, “The City University is of vital importance as a vehicle for the upward mobility of the disadvantaged in the City of New York.”
As we begin the new year, we’re focused on developing a new university-wide strategic plan, a new university master plan, opening new schools and programs and finding new ways to ensure our students’ success and better serve New York. As we undertake this important work, I think it’s useful to recall our unique mandate and special responsibilities, not just to the future prosperity of the city and state, but to expanding opportunities to the many underrepresented communities CUNY has always served with enthusiasm and distinction.
Much depends on our success in continuing to raise our academic profile, to bring to scale our highly successful programs for supporting New York City students who arrive with big dreams but also remedial needs, and to attract and retain the finest faculty. Succeeding at these tasks, with the support and guidance of this Board, will ensure that the hope among our student body, one of the largest, most diverse and hard-working anywhere, gets translated into prosperity and fulfillment, as it has for more than 160 years.
CUNY is highly regarded around the world for its mission and the success it enjoys in fulfilling its essential work, and our faculty and students continue to earn important recognition. Within the last few weeks, CUNY’s online bachelor’s degree program, provided by our School of Professional Studies, was ranked number 11 in the country by U.S. News & World Report. That is gratifying recognition of our efforts to expand the availability and increase the quality of our online offerings. CUNY Law continues to gain recognition nationally, and a few days ago was cited as the number one public interest law program in the country, moving ahead of Berkeley. The new medical school we’re opening in the fall will similarly have a distinctive mission in line with CUNY’s values: its students will in many instances come from underrepresented communities and many of its graduates are expected to return to underserved neighborhoods to contribute to improvements in health care.
We have also earned recognition for our efforts to ensure that our colleges are increasingly accessible to veterans and offer support tailored to their needs. I am very pleased that the number of military-friendly campuses at CUNY has expanded from 7 last year to 17 this year. CUNY colleges are working hard to give these deserving men and women the education and skills they need to follow their service in the military with rewarding careers. We are proud to have them at CUNY.
Students clearly recognize the value of a CUNY education. We are graduating record numbers of students, giving them the capabilities and credentials they need to realize their dreams, raise families and contribute to the region’s prosperity. This is a result of very purposeful attention to student success and progress, not only access. This focus on success–particularly graduation–is part of a national movement, but in many ways, particularly with our ASAP initiative, CUNY has been leading the way.
We are keenly aware that it isn’t sufficient to be successful, but that we must do it as efficiently as possible. We are entrusted with public funds and we have a responsibility to be the best stewards possible. We have an impressive record of consolidating back office operations and sharing services among all colleges, perhaps more extensively than any other university system in the nation. And while we have had success with a number of productivity initiatives, the University will pursue opportunities for further savings. Much of this has been possible because while CUNY is one of the largest university systems in the country, its natural advantage is that it is in one city. This allows us to do things no other similarly large institution can do, combining functions that generally have to be done in many locations in other large systems. The functions almost always performed at the campus level in other systems – but that are performed at one administrative site at CUNY — include admissions, financial aid, payroll, benefits, testing, security, information technology and capital construction. This extensive shared services model allows us to reduce redundancies and keep total University administrative costs down.
As we reported to the Board of Trustees in the fall, we have also realized substantial savings at our central administration for the current fiscal year. We put in place a hiring freeze along with reductions of 10% to the purchasing and temporary personnel budgets. We project that these actions will result in year-to-year savings in the system office of at least 6% for Fiscal Year 2016, and probably significantly greater.
This is work that will never be done and we will never be satisfied. In an era of limited investment in public higher education, a more cost effective operation allows us to reallocate resources to the classroom, and that must always be our goal.
On January 13th, the Governor outlined the Executive Budget, and I want to comment briefly on some positive aspects of the proposed budget. These include the performance funding initiative, which Governor Cuomo has made a priority and which is already making a difference at CUNY colleges. The Governor’s leadership with the predictable tuition policy provides an important opportunity to supplement state investment in the university. We’re also pleased to play a key role in the Governor’s plan for education in and after transition from prison. And we enthusiastically support his renewed effort to pass a Dream Act for New York which would benefit so many CUNY students.
The Governor also proposed a major shift in funding from the state to the city, which would trigger a significant investment toward settling our labor contracts. It would appear there is to be more discussion on this proposal, but our position remains clear: our interest is the financial stability and adequate investment that will allow us to continue to serve over 500,000 students and the people of New York.
In the City Preliminary Budget, which the Mayor issued on Thursday, there was also important support for CUNY. This included additional funding for scaling up our immensely successful ASAP Program, of which the Mayor has been a great champion. He also announced funding for two collaborative programs with the city’s schools, as well as continued funding for the Civic Justice Corps Program at John Jay College. We are grateful for this support.
In the coming months we will work with the state and the city on CUNY’s budget and seek to conclude fair contracts with our faculty and staff. We will not lose sight of the real interests at stake, the education and the futures of the over 500,000 students served everyday by The City University of New York. That is the reason why the effort to maintain a financially strong CUNY and to support a talented faculty matter so much. CUNY’s success is essential to the vitality of New York and the opportunities for its people.
The City University of New York is built on many principles, but none is more important than our dedication, for more than 160 years, to opportunity, social justice and inclusion. While some universities have mottos, at CUNY we have causes, providing New Yorkers, particularly those underrepresented in our society, the education and skills they need for achieving their dreams and building better communities.
The national holiday recognizing that great American, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is particularly meaningful to us at CUNY because he articulated so brilliantly, and advanced at such cost, the values to which we, too, are committed. His struggle reminds us that constructing a just society is hard work, and that the battle against discrimination must continue so that all of us have the opportunity to set our ambitions high, and reach them.
At the heart of Dr. King’s message was a belief that the battle to overcome division benefited not just those excluded from the benefits of a free society but our entire country, which was denied the creativity and energy of those left out. CUNY was built on that principle and we – and our city and state – have thrived because of our embrace of underrepresented New Yorkers, including immigrants from all over the world, who bring optimism and fresh thinking to our classrooms.
As we recall the life and work of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, I hope we can reflect on and rededicate ourselves to his vision of justice and inclusion.
There is much in Governor Cuomo’s 2016-17 Executive Budget that supports the colleges, graduate and professional schools of The City University of New York, including performance funding that will allow us to deliver improved outcomes for our students, renewal of the predictable tuition policy, a plan to partner with education programs in our prisons, a State Dream Act, and more. These proposed investments in CUNY, the largest urban public university system in the country with more than 550,000 students, will help fuel the engine of our city and state.
The most significant item in the budget is a proposed change in the state and city share of funding for CUNY. The proposal calls for a shift of about half a billion dollars of CUNY support from the state to the city. While this suggested change appears to be budget neutral to CUNY over the long term, it would come with a much-needed investment that would contribute to settling our long overdue labor contracts. This recognition of the need for additional funding for our faculty and staff is vitally important. Settling our collective bargaining contracts has been our highest priority and this step would bring us closer to the fair contracts our faculty and staff deserve.
What must not be overshadowed in any debate are the real interests at stake — the education, careers and futures of our talented and ambitious students, many drawn from underrepresented sectors of New York. I hope all share our priority: the interests of CUNY’s 550,000 students come first and the funding for their education, regardless of source, must be secure. CUNY has been vital to New York since 1847 and with record enrollment this year and an impact unmatched by any university system, the university has never been more important to the prosperity and vitality of the city and state.