November 23, 2015
Today I’m going to spend most of my time discussing the budget, which is one of the most important responsibilities of this board.
I want to begin by briefly mention the importance of and progress we have made in one area, performance funding, which I believe holds real promise for accelerating smarter investments in our operations and improvements in how we deliver on our mission. Since we last met as a Board, the Executive Committee, with authority provided by this Board, approved many promising new investments in our 24 colleges.
CUNY has had a performance management system for many years. It assesses areas like academic quality, student success and financial management. The new funding initiative, advocated by the Governor and closely aligned with priorities of the university and our colleges, has given the colleges a chance to formulate strategies and seek funding for new targeted approaches through a competitive process.
Approximately $20 million was allocated for the first stage, in which our colleges offered proposals. We evaluated the proposals and made awards based on merit. It was a rewarding process, with proposals for areas such as accelerating development of online courses, increasing graduation rates and developing new workforce initiatives. In one example, its “We Want You Back” proposal, Queens College will create a system for contacting former students who left in good standing without degrees and try to recruit them back, offering financial aid and other assistance.
Our budget request, which will be presented later this evening, includes funding for expanding and sustaining this effort. I expect they will enhance our capabilities, provide new models, and allow us to deliver even better outcomes for our students.
We are, of course, addressing a number of other important priorities. One involves data science and data analytics. Baruch College has created three new business majors and two minors in the important fields of data science and data analytics, with the participation of leaders in the finance sector. We are leading a national effort with a number of financial services firms to develop new curriculum and educate more students in data analytics and the firms are offering internships and jobs. This is a good example of private-public partnership that I think is so beneficial to our students.
I could offer similar support for each priority in our request, but I want to use most of my time today to discuss more generally some thoughts on a number of interrelated issues central to the funding and success of this university. First, a topic that is always controversial: tuition.
Our budget request includes support for a renewal of what has been referred to as the rational or predictable tuition policy. I know some have claimed the policy is not rational because of its impact on students and their families. I think we can stipulate that no one likes tuition increases, and if I had a choice there is no question what I would choose—that the state would provide more support and the need for tuition increases would be minimized. The reality is that nationally a general disinvestment in public higher education has taken place for decades. New York, with its historically generous Tuition Assistance Program, has been one state that has invested more in higher education, although it’s clear that CUNY’s operations have not been adequately funded in the modern era.
In New York too we have seen deep budget reductions some years and in others modest increases at best. In years when there were significant budget reductions, steep tuition increases–up to 37% one year—went to make up for budget deficits. Two components of the tuition policy of the last five years are notable: first, the University was allowed to spend the tuition raised on investments in students, and second, it was accompanied by a commitment from the state memorialized in a “maintenance of effort” provision that prevented the state from reducing the state appropriation year over year to CUNY. And in all years but one, the state increased the non-tuition appropriation year over year. But as we know from the current year, when the state does not adequately fund mandatory increases in CUNY’s non-discretionary budget items such as automatic fringe benefit increases, our budgets still suffer significantly.
With the strong support of CUNY and SUNY, both chambers passed a more robust MOE provision in the last session that requires the state to fund increases in contractual salary and benefit obligations. We have also joined SUNY as well as our own students and faculty and PSC and others in urging the Governor to sign this bill. CUNY representatives were in Albany as part of a larger effort just last Friday to urge the Governor’s support.
Everyone here knows too well that our labor contracts are long out of date and I know everyone here agrees with me that we need a fair settlement. We need to do all we can to be competitive for the faculty and staff. Funds to support a contract come from three sources, and I have been open with everyone, including the PSC leadership, about this from very early in my tenure. The sources are state and city appropriations, reallocations in existing budget, and tuition. And without additional funding from the state, that leaves reallocations and tuition. Since our budgets are approximately 80 percent personnel, meaningful reallocations would almost certainly include reductions in workforce. The truth is we have too few full-time faculty and academic advisors and other support staff now. As we continue to enjoy record enrollments and face more demands, cutting important positions is not a constructive alternative. That leaves tuition. These are facts; people can disagree about choices that should be made, but I don’t believe they can dispute the possible sources and availability of funding.
What Trustees are being asked to vote on today is a request supported by the Board’s Fiscal Committee for authority to raise and invest tuition. The Board is not voting on a tuition increase, as you know. That decision can be made when we have a better sense of what the state funding picture looks like. At that time it is at least conceivable that a tuition increase may not be necessary or may be required at a level lower than that authorized. The Board will make that decision later with more information.
A couple of additional points here: First, we do not plan to ask the Board to consider an increase in tuition next year for the more than 100,000 students who attend our community colleges. There are a number of reasons for this, including the fact, that while our senior college tuition is quite low by national standards, our community college tuition is relatively high. Second, while tuition rates have increased in each of the last five years, over 65 percent of our undergraduates actually pay no tuition, mainly because of Pell and TAP support. It appears that the impact of relatively low tuition and significant financial aid makes a difference; CUNY enrollment during these same five years has grown 5 percent or 13,000 students, in that time—equal to the enrollment of a good-sized college.
The final aspect of this subject I want to address is the idea that we should use tuition revenue only for new investments, especially new investments that help students. Among the investments justly celebrated is the addition of almost 1000 new full-time faculty. This is a great thing for CUNY and our students and I fully support this investment. But the idea that we should not use tuition, if it’s the only source of available increased funding, for supporting our current faculty is wrong in my view. We can make no better investment in our students than in attracting and retaining the best faculty. And as a practical matter it is often more cost-effective and valuable to retain experienced faculty than to have to replace them. So whether the source of investment is state appropriations or tuition, my priority will always be investing in talent because I am convinced that has the greatest impact on our students’ education and success.
We have a lot of work ahead of us. We must do our best to convince the Governor and legislature to invest more in CUNY because of the incredible return on investment it provides. We will make difficult decisions on tuition later, depending on the level of state support. We will continue to do all we can to reach a fair agreement, given our fiscal condition, with our outstanding faculty and staff. And we will be driven by the goal of providing the best education for our students, helping them succeed in college and in life.
I’ll finish on a more upbeat note by mentioning an opportunity I had recently to attend a conference we organized with CUNY staff who help students apply for and obtain important awards. The keynote speaker was a remarkable Macaulay Honors Brooklyn College graduate, Zujaja Taqueer. Her family was forced to flee their native Pakistan when she was a girl and they came to Staten Island. After earning her degree here in History she won a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship and spent three years at Oxford University. She is now in her second year at the Harvard Medical School.
What was striking was not just her impressive achievements and maturity, but the thoughts she shared on how the CUNY awards staff could help our students earn more distinctions. She noted that every student she was competing against for the Rhodes, and the other winners, were from the Ivy League, but she insisted that CUNY should resist the temptation of trying to change our story to sound more like them. Our strength in the eyes of the judges for these awards, she insisted, is our narrative of diversity and, in some cases, of hardship, and that that narrative is the persuasive argument we should always make. I’ll close with Zujaja’s words:
“We should leverage rather than repudiate what makes CUNY special relative to other universities. Other students are considered privileged because of access to the social and financial capital that comes with going to a privileged elite university, but I’ve really come to realize what a privileged experience it is to be a New Yorker and go to a university with the kind of student population we have.”
I think Zujaja was on to something. Thank you.
November 13, 2015
One of the great privileges of being an educator is having the opportunity to attend events like this one today and to be able to meet and, now, celebrate our exceptionally talented award winners as well as the CUNY professionals who support our students and the organizations that provide funding and take the time to recognize so many worthy scholars. In my experience, nowhere is that satisfaction greater than at CUNY. Gatherings like this focus on much of what is extraordinary about this family of colleges, and the things that are the source of our dynamism — our excellence and our diversity.
Who better embodies that than Zujaja Tauqeer, who you will hear from soon. She is a native of Pakistan, a graduate with a degree in History from Macaulay Honors College at Brooklyn College, a Rhodes Scholar and now a medical student at Harvard. We’re honored that you have come back to be with us today.
Since 1847, no institution in this country has done more than CUNY to welcome immigrants, first generation Americans and low income students. And no institution has done more to offer them an opportunity and the tools to pursue their dreams. The CUNY family is strengthened by the fact that we include students from 200 countries and who speak 190 languages. Forty percent of our undergraduates were born in another country.
This is a special place and it must always welcome the richly diverse communities of New York and the world — a place of inclusion, not exclusion. Especially at a time when there is so much emotionally-charged debate around the country and on our own campuses, this has never been more important. Universities are places where free speech, debate and the open exchange of ideas are not just encouraged, they are necessary to our mission of exploring and understanding a diverse range of ideas perspectives. And while we will always embrace this openness to many voices, intolerant, hateful and bigoted speech, while it may be legally protected, is anathema to our values. Those voices stop rather than encourage the dialogue and real debate that makes us stronger.
Our values, the tradition of CUNY as a place of opportunity welcoming all people, the excellence and diversity we celebrate today — these are the things that define us and make this an institution so essential to the future of New York and the country.
October 30, 2015
(Remarks delivered at the 11th Annual Women’s Leadership Conference held at Hunter College on Oct. 30, 2015)
Thank you for that introduction, Marcia.
It is a special pleasure to be joining again with The New York Times in Education in hosting CUNY’s 11th Annual Women’s Leadership Conference, to have this opportunity to welcome the talented people who are participating today and, I’d like to add, to recognize all the women who contribute so much on a daily basis to the success of CUNY. Nine of our college and school presidents and deans are women and we benefit greatly from the fact that our leadership ranks are filled with exceptionally capable women who do the hard work of insuring that we provide the highest quality education in New York City.
It is customary at these events to recognize the great female leaders who got their starts at CUNY’s schools, and we are indeed proud of people like Bella Abzug, Sen. Barbara Boxer and Ruby Dee. But I wanted to underscore the importance of conferences like this one – focused on encouraging female leaders — by mentioning briefly just a few other graduates who some of you may not know of but who showed the real courage needed to break down some of the barriers unfairly holding back women and the disadvantaged. My point is that genuine leaders can set important examples and create opportunities even when the canvases they work on might be less visible to the public at large.
For example, there’s Carmen Arroyo, a Hostos Community College graduate, who was the first Puerto Rican woman as well as the first Hispanic woman in the New York State Assembly.
Jeannette Brown, from Lehman College, is a highly successful chemist and winner of the American Chemical Society’s Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into Careers in the Chemical Sciences.
And Deborah Tobias Poritz, from Brooklyn College, was the first female New Jersey Attorney General and the first female Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court.
But I take special pleasure in recalling Irene Morgan Kirkaldy, who earned a Masters degree from Queens College. Long before Rosa Parks blazed a difficult trail by defying a racist law and refusing to give up her seat on a bus in Alabama, in 1955, Irene Morgan, another African American woman, refused to give up her seat to a white person in 1944 on an interstate bus. When a sheriff tried to arrest her in Virginia, she tore up the arrest warrant and fought with the deputy who tried to pull her off the bus. She later pleaded guilty to resisting arrest but adamantly refused to pay the $10 fine for violating a segregation ordinance. Her battle worked its way through the courts and, in 1946, the Supreme Court voted to strike down the law segregating interstate buses. One of her lawyers was a young man named Thurgood Marshall.
I could go on, and some of you could add to that list. But what I want to stress is the lesson that our communities and our society benefits when we lean on the shoulders of the brightest, most articulate and creative fighters among us, especially when they happen to be women. It is especially fulfilling to know that we take that as a core principle at CUNY.
None of this is to say that we do not have hard work to do still in removing the barriers that hold back some of the best among us. Here’s one piece of good news I found: according to the Census Bureau, in 2014 women narrowed the gap between their pay as compared with men, as their earnings rose to 78.6 percent of what men in similar positions earn, up from 78.3 percent in 2013. Of course, that is unacceptable, and even more are the figures from the Census Bureau showing that the pay of African American women and Latinas actually slipped further behind men in 2014.
We like to think of the highly competitive corporate world as being a real meritocracy, but I was struck recently by research showing that the disparity in pay is even greater for the ambitious women trying to climb the career ladders in corporate America. Economists wrote a few months ago in a New York Federal Reserve Bank publication that the gender pay differences are even greater for women in executive positions than those in working-class jobs.
Female executives, these researchers found, receive less total pay than men in large part because they are likely to receive fewer stock options and other forms of incentive pay.
That should both dismay and motivate us to continue taking concrete steps to level the playing field. It is difficult work, but what could be more satisfying than helping our country release and reward this locked-up potential?
That, I believe, is an excellent way to begin my introduction to today’s keynote speaker, Donna Shalala. Donna is yet another exceptionally accomplished member of the CUNY family, having served and distinguished herself as president of Hunter College from 1980 to 1987. It is hard to think of a person for whom that expression, “locked-up potential,” has less meaning than Donna. I say this after having spent some time reading her abbreviated CV, which is 23 pages long.
After growing up in Cleveland with her family and twin sister, and after receiving her doctorate from Syracuse University’s Public Affairs school, Donna taught at CUNY’s Baruch College and Columbia. She began then taking the first in a very long series of important leadership roles in the public sector, many of them confronting some of the great policy challenges of the times.
According to a story told by her sister, Diane, even as a little girl her destiny seemed evident. Diane explained once in a newspaper article how, when they were 10 years old, their father tried to make sure they were safe in the basement of their home as a tornado raced toward their neighborhood. Suddenly, Donna disappeared. Their frantic search led them to a nearby street corner — where they found Donna directing traffic.
Fortunately for us, she never stopped. While still teaching college in New York, Donna became the director and treasurer of the Municipal Assistance Corporation, which did the heavy-lifting in rescuing New York City from near bankruptcy in the 1970s. From 1977 to 1980, Donna served as assistant secretary for policy research and development at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, under President Carter.
She was Chancellor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison from 1987 to 1993, making her the first woman to run a Big Ten conference university. Among her policy initiatives was sharply increasing minority enrollment at the university and in the faculty.
Her hallmark has always been not just her intelligence and skill, but her extraordinary effectiveness. That’s what she delivered when she joined President Clinton’s cabinet as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, from 1993 to 2001, his entire two terms in office.
She managed the welfare reform process, she made health insurance available to more than 3 million uncovered children, raised child immunization rates to the highest levels in history and revitalized the National Institutes of Health, among other things. The Washington Post described her as “one of the most successful government managers of modern times.”
That cabinet position was just a way station. After serving so ably, she became the president in 2001 of the University of Miami for more than a decade; she was the school’s first female leader. Earlier this year, she became president of the Clinton Foundation.
She has collected too many honors to name during those years. In 2008, she received one of the greatest and most deserved. President Bush presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. That is hard to follow up. But Donna, you truly do bring honor to your CUNY family and you represent the ideals we try to instill in each new generation of students.
I said I had a special presentation when we invited you, and I would now like to present you with the highest distinction we can offer at CUNY, the Chancellor’s Medal. It is difficult to imagine a more worthy recipient and it is my way of expressing deep appreciation for your service, your traffic directing skills and the example you have set, particularly for ambitious young women – like the interns here today. Thank you for your example, and we look forward to your remarks.
October 26, 2015
On behalf of The City University of New York, I wish to express our deepest appreciation to Chancellor Merryl Tisch for her tireless devotion to the enhancement of the quality and accessibility of the education of the children of New York State.
She has been a vigorous champion of college readiness and higher education opportunity, and a consistent voice on behalf of highly valued degrees that are key credentials needed for the future workforce so crucial to a vibrant, productive economy.
Her commitment to public service will remain an inspiration. We know that her future leadership activities will continue to further the improvement of education at all levels.
October 16, 2015
(Keynote address delivered at the 46th annual Association of Community College Trustees Leadership Congress on Oct. 16)
You’ve had a great program this week and I’m pleased a number of my CUNY community college colleagues have been with you.
I couldn’t pass up the chance to talk to this group of leaders in higher education. You have an extraordinarily important role in what I think is one of the key debates about the future of our country. It may not be as entertaining as some of the presidential debates, but I can assure you it is every bit as relevant to our future.
Community colleges are uniquely American inventions and I believe they hold the key to solving a number of our vexing challenges relating to national and regional competitiveness and individual opportunity. Unfortunately, by some measures we’re heading in the wrong direction.
When I was just out of college — and judging from the gray hair in the room, when many of you were, too — we were number one. That is, the U.S. was first in the world in educational attainment. But as most of you know, that has become a distant memory. Now, among the OECD countries, the club of the world’s wealthiest nations and our biggest competitors, we’re number 14 in attainment rates. Making matters worse, many of those countries are expanding their graduation rates faster than we are, so the U.S. is falling further behind.
This should unsettle most Americans and I’m pretty sure it unsettles you. It also certainly unsettles President Obama, who has said he wants the U.S. to be first in the world again by 2020.
Reaching that goal will be challenging, but it is absolutely worth striving for. Other countries have recognized the value of what the U.S. did in the post-war years – investing heavily in a new generation of college-goers, allowing vastly increased numbers of college graduates to contribute to unprecedented economic growth. Our friends and competitors came to appreciate the wisdom of that strategy, and they have been rapidly increasing the percentage of their citizens with college degrees. They are, in effect, lapping the U.S.
In addition to national destinies, higher education changes individual lives profoundly. You all know the economic numbers: a college graduate enjoys roughly double the lifetime earnings of a high school graduate. Almost 80 percent of all new jobs will require education beyond high school. The recent unemployment rate for those with just a high school degree was 5.2 percent, well above that of associate degree holders and more than double that of 4-year graduates.
And of course we also know that so many other social indicators improve with higher educational attainment: better health, higher levels of community involvement, less dependence on public assistance and less involvement with criminal justice
So for decades we have pushed college access, which is tremendously important. In a country where we believe deeply in equality of opportunity, insuring that the doors to institutions that build better careers and communities are open is in our national DNA.
The president’s free community college initiative doubles down on access. It is of course so timely because of the deep concerns over rising college tuitions and record levels of student debt. At a time when many students are taking on crippling debt community college leaders need to be loud and clear about the quality and value of what we provide.
But we must ask if reducing the cost of attendance alone is the right goal for us, or even the most important one. At The City University of New York, nearly 70 percent of our full-time community college students already pay no tuition because of federal, state and city aid, and over 80 percent of those who do graduate do so with zero federal debt.
We can and should improve access, particularly to underrepresented and low income populations, but by itself that’s not enough, and will not solve the biggest problem we face at community colleges. The key challenge today is significantly improving retention and graduation rates. This isn’t easy, but the stakes are huge and the battle is central to our mission.
And this is a battle most important for those students who face the greatest obstacles. While students from the highest income quartile graduate from college at a 77 percent rate, only 9 percent of those in the lowest quartile reach that goal. A substantial divide also exists among different racial and ethnic groups. That is simply unacceptable.
It is precisely from those underrepresented groups that community colleges generally draw so many of our students. So if there is a problem generally in educational attainment, there is a crisis at our community colleges. Our nation’s three year urban community college graduation rate is 15 percent.
In other words, 85 percent of the students in those urban community colleges are failing to graduate in 150 percent of the standard time to a degree.
Those figures look somewhat worse than they should, since a portion of those students – about 10 percent — leave community colleges to enroll in four-year colleges on their way to baccalaureate degrees. That is positive, but it should by no means mask concerns over the unsatisfactory overall rates.
And these are the students who have the most to gain from a degree. At CUNY, about half of our 100,000 community college students represent the first generation in their families to attend college and approximately half were born in another country. Half come from households that earn $20,000 or less a year, and most are underrepresented minorities.
It is not enough for us to provide only access or just an opportunity for advancement. We must take responsibility for equipping our students with the tools they need to take advantage of that opportunity, and be accountable for anything less.
The ladder up to the middle class and career success has been built on educational attainment. CUNY, a comprehensive University system with over 275,000 degree-seeking students, from high school completion to the PhD, has long been a magnet for students with modest financial resources and outsized abilities. Our graduates have won 13 Nobel Prizes and last year alone 22 of our students won Fulbrights. Earlier this year, there was a report on the undergraduate alma maters of the MacArthur Geniuses; only two public universities were in the top ten–Berkeley and CUNY.
Generations of immigrants, minorities and low-income Americans found that first rung at our community and other public colleges. These institutions have been, as CUNY alumnus and immigrant and Intel CEO Andy Grove said, the American Dream Machine.
That machine now needs retooling. Especially if we want all of our community college students to have a shot at the American Dream. Today I want to talk about some of the retooling we’re doing at CUNY’s community colleges, which is showing exceptional results. It is my hope that other schools will either embrace these models — and our optimism –-or develop their own equally successful innovations.
The great majority of our students come from New York City’s public schools, which, like those in other large urban systems have many challenges, so we begin with the view that our responsibilities must include programs that knit together high schools with our colleges so that more students enroll truly ready for the rigors of a quality college experience.
Instead of waiting for qualified students to show up at our doors from high schools, we need to help create them. Our collaborative programs with New York City high schools serve more than 25,000 students a year, in many instances helping them overcome inadequate preparation in subjects like math and reading, in other cases going much further and helping them actually earn college credits and associate degrees at the same time as their high school diplomas. And by the way, it costs the students nothing.
Like many of you, we have implemented Early College high schools, which provide intensive college preparatory and college classes, counseling and support – and amazing results. One of the schools, the Kingsborough Early College Secondary School, had a 93 percent high school graduation rate, with 68 percent of those students receiving at the same time their associate degrees.
This was a case where for me, seeing was believing. On my second day on the job at CUNY, I attended a graduation ceremony at Hostos Community College in the Bronx. At one point, the president asked students from the Hostos Lincoln Academy, another one of our Early College programs, to stand. A large group of students in the middle of the auditorium, all getting their associate degrees, rose to hearty applause from their classmates. Two weeks later those same young people walked across another stage and received high school diplomas.
A program we pioneered with IBM and the New York City public schools, called P-Tech, takes this a step further. Starting in 9th grade, it gives the students a chance to earn in six years their high school degree, an associate degree and substantial professional experience, and an increased likelihood of a job. After President Obama visited P-Tech in Brooklyn, he highlighted the program in a State of the Union address, which has led others to develop similar models.
Even with these programs, eighty percent of our incoming community college students require remediation in one or more subjects. To address this, our CUNY Start program is a sort of boot-camp designed to prepare those students in a highly supportive, intensive environment that costs them very little — $75 – and, importantly, does not cause them to burn through their financial aid.
It also works. From the fall of 2009 through the fall of 2014, two thirds of the incoming full-time students had failed all three subject areas on our proficiency tests, reading, writing and math, and one third had failed two subjects. By the end of the CUNY Start program, half had achieved proficiency in all three subjects and one third were proficient in two areas. With a new city investment, we’re doubling the size of the program.
Our newer Summer Start program provides 8-weeks of intensive math instruction for students who have been accepted at a school but have not passed our math remediation. They also attend a weekly college seminar helping them understand how to navigate college. It’s free and the students also receive MetroCards to help them get to their classes.
In addition to these CUNY-wide efforts, our colleges have their own exciting innovations, some showing great success, others great promise. These include the pioneering ePortfolios at LaGuardia, thematic academies at Queensborough, a virtual safety net at Kingsborough including a clever early alert app, and a two-generation initiative at Hostos, where almost one third of the students have children of their own.
Like you, with these programs and others, we have been trying to address, one by one, some of the hurdles that were holding community college students back. A CUNY initiative called the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs, or ASAP for short, combines many of these strategies in a comprehensive approach.
Students entering ASAP must commit to full time attendance. To make that possible, all students receive full financial aid. Since we found that transportation costs were a barrier, we provided free MetroCard passes for buses and subways.
Course choices are strictly limited – the opposite of the way many colleges operate. We felt students needed a clear roadmap and guidance, at least initially. To create a sense of community with peer support, students enter and advance within cohorts, organized by major.
Students are required to see advisors twice a month and a career specialist at least once a semester. The advisors are informed early when there are warning signs regarding academic performance or other issues. This requires many more advisors and that represents a significant, but essential investment. Under ASAP, advisors see about a third as many students as do typical CUNY community college advisors.
The results were almost immediate, and striking.
ASAP’s average three-year graduation rate has been about 52 percent overall. That compares with 22 percent for similar CUNY comparison group students and less than 17 percent for CUNY community colleges as a whole.
MDRC, a highly regarded research organization, conducted a five-year random assignment study and has concluded that ASAP’s effects are “unparalleled in large-scale experimental evaluations of programs in higher education.” In announcing its initiative for free community college, the White House also encouraged schools to adopt promising, evidence-based reforms, mentioning CUNY’s ASAP.
You know that these strategies are not inexpensive. Initially, we were spending more than $6,000 extra per student in ASAP. As we expand, that has declined to about $3,700.
We have benefited enormously from a major investment from the City of New York, which is helping in this important expansion, as well as New York State, an important supporter of the project. The budget for ASAP is growing from $26 million in the 2016 fiscal year to over $80 million in fiscal year 2019 as we take significant steps to broaden its reach.
But while the cost per student goes up, with significantly higher graduation rates, the cost per degree goes down. Let me say that again: even with a much higher investment in our community college programs, the cost per degree is less.
And the added investment yields an impressive return in other ways. Experts at the Center for Benefit-Cost Studies in Education at Teachers College at Columbia University determined that every dollar invested in ASAP generated at least $3.50 per associate degree to taxpayers in the form of things like increased tax revenues and social service savings.
From the standpoint of the ASAP students, every dollar invested in their education returns $12.20 as increased future earnings.
Given those results, we are doing all we can to broaden ASAP. Enrollment is set to rise from 4,000 students last year to more than 13,000 by fall 2017. We expect to reach 25,000 students across CUNY by 2018.
And, perhaps most significantly, as a key part of our expansion, CUNY’s Bronx Community College will become our first campus at which every full-time incoming freshman will enter ASAP.
At Bronx Community College, with some of CUNY’s lowest graduation rates, we will demonstrate that ASAP’s exceptionally promising results can be shared widely. That represents a critical next step–to show that we can obtain the same impressive outcomes as we scale a successful pilot.
In addition, we are also now expanding ASAP strategies to baccalaureate programs. With funding from the Robin Hood Foundation, CUNY is now starting ASAP with an initial group of 250 students entering a four-year institution, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice this fall.
With MDRC, we have started working with the state of Ohio, which is adapting ASAP for three of its community colleges. We’re hopeful that other states will work with us, delivering on shared goal that will have a profound impact on the country’s future.
The key to CUNY’s initiatives is not just the models, but what the students do with these tools. That is the secret ingredient in the formula. By helping them see themselves in such a positive light, by enjoying success, the programs give these young people tangible reasons for believing in themselves and their capabilities. What could offer them greater motivation than that?
As I was preparing for this event, I asked my community college presidents for their ideas, and one told me “you should urge this influential group to use their political clout and community leadership to advocate for higher funding for community colleges.” And, with declining state investment in higher education, I agree that’s a worthy goal.
But my message today is to urge us all to sharpen our focus on programs we can demonstrate are well worth the cost. It’s become almost reflexive for politicians to argue that we can’t improve schools only by throwing money at them. What we are learning in the real-life laboratory of CUNY and at many of your institutions is that by investing in well-designed tools that deliver what educators, political leaders and students and families want, the payoff to our students and our country can be tremendous.
Let’s take advantage of what we know works: smart, targeted investments with measurable impact. These investments will help us address stubborn remedial challenges, dramatically increase retention and graduation rates, provide opportunity to those who have not participated fully in our country’s prosperity, and, if we’re persistent, help America along the path of rising to number one again in educational attainment. That’s the case you and I should be making to political leaders, and I believe it’s one that is hard to argue with.
October 06, 2015
It is an honor to join you here today, and Mayor de Blasio, thank you not only for the City’s support for this exciting project, but for your recognition of the transformative opportunity provided to so many by the City University of New York. I’m grateful also for the support of this project by so many public officials, notably the City Council, New York Senate, and the Borough President. Add to that the generous support of private donors led by Barry Feirstein, and you have the kind of public/private partnership it is great to see.
At the top of the list for CUNY and its partners is preparing our students and our city for the knowledge economy by making sure we are at the leading edge of every type of new technology. That commitment is evident in the opening of the Barry R. Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema at Steiner Studios.
I put it in those terms because, as all of us who are fortunate enough to live and work in New York City know, there is perhaps no more important “technology” behind the towering reputation and stimulation of the city than the arts and culture. If by technology we mean resources that make us see and affect the world in new and smarter ways, that give us a means of leading richer lives, of transporting us while creating excellent new job opportunities, the arts are clearly among the great technologies of our times, and certainly the performing arts. Who could not go and see Hamilton, for instance, and not feel that their life had somehow been improved?
But this is why I believe this new school and these remarkable facilities will be vital both to delivering on our mission at CUNY and enhancing New York’s well-earned reputation as the cultural capital of the world. With a touch of envy, I offer my best wishes to the first incoming class. I have no doubt that, with the tools you have here, you’re going to rock Brooklyn.
At Feirstein, students will learn all aspects of advanced cinema production and post-production alongside working professionals in the field. And it will be in professional studios. For those of you who have not yet seen Steiner Studios, I encourage you to take the tour.
There’s another important reason why it is so appropriate that we are opening this program at CUNY. The real genius behind good cinema is only partly having all the right skills. That matters, but the special technology that makes it all work is ideas, fresh ideas that are bold and unique. What better place to generate those creative seeds than a university system as diverse and filled with bold perspectives than CUNY? Our students hail from over 200 countries. They speak 190 languages. Close to 40 percent were born outside the US mainland. This school belongs in the most cosmopolitan city in America, where our students will bring new directions to cinema.
This school and this industry which brings so much in revenues and jobs to New York will be a wonderful match of talent and opportunity.
To all the visionaries who helped make this school a reality, on behalf of CUNY, congratulations on a masterful job. This is a true public/private partnership and it will yield enormous benefits. I salute Barry R. Feirstein, and the many benefactors- and legislators- who have made the Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema a reality.
September 16, 2015
President Fernández to Retire After a Quarter Century of Service; Dean Kirschner Appointed Special Adviser to the Chancellor for Strategic Partnerships
Two outstanding leaders at The City University of New York — President Ricardo R. Fernández of Herbert H. Lehman College and Dean Ann Kirschner of the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY — are stepping down next year after long and exemplary service to CUNY, Chancellor James B. Milliken announced today.
President Fernández will retire following the conclusion of the academic year after nearly 26 years of leadership at Lehman College.
Dean Kirschner will step down early next year after 10 years as Dean of Macaulay Honors College at CUNY and will assume a new role as Special Adviser to the Chancellor for Strategic Partnerships.
“Throughout his remarkable tenure, President Ricardo R. Fernández has expanded Lehman College’s commitment to educational excellence and access to higher education while establishing a caring and supportive learning environment where individual achievement has flourished. With his exemplary leadership, campus facilities were modernized, programs expanded, and our beautiful Bronx campus became a vital treasure of our state,” Chancellor Milliken said.
The Chancellor praised Dean Kirschner’s outstanding leadership of Macaulay Honors College, noting that “the college went from a program to one of the few degree-granting honors colleges in the country. Applications increased by 80 percent and Macaulay has become one of America’s most competitive honors colleges.” He added that he looks forward to working with Dr. Kirschner in her new post building partnerships in key sectors of the economy to provide more opportunities for our students and graduates.
President Ricardo R. Fernández
Dr. Fernández became the second president of Lehman College on Sept. 1, 1990, and is the longest serving among CUNY’s current presidents. The many milestones achieved at Lehman under President Fernández’s leadership include offering students the opportunity to choose from some 51 majors and 42 master’s programs. The college also has a robust adult and continuing education program on its beautiful and historic campus.
President Fernández oversaw the development and completion of Lehman’s remarkable Science Hall, a $70 million research and teaching facility with state-of-the-art classrooms, labs, instrumentation, greenhouse and environmentally sustainable technologies. Science Hall, which was dedicated in the fall of 2012 and opened for classes in January 2013, is the largest, single academic investment in Lehman’s history and a campus centerpiece for research and STEM career preparation.
Last spring, President Fernández hosted President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Lehman, which brought national attention to the college’s support for the pioneering “My Brother’s Keeper” Alliance and Lehman’s own Urban Male Leadership Program. Lehman College was recently ranked by Washington Monthly magazine as among the top five “Best Bang for the Buck” colleges in the Northeast.
Dr. Fernández has encouraged the development of new majors and degree programs, including an undergraduate degree in business and graduate degrees in social work, public health, and business. He has expanded the college’s technological infrastructure and facilities, including a $15 million Information Technology Center, a $17 million campus-wide fire, security and communication system, and a $16 million Multimedia Center that supports programs in journalism and new media. In 2013, a $6.3 million Child Care Center, designed to meet the child care needs of Lehman’s students, opened its doors.
Dr. Fernández has been deeply committed to integrating new technologies into the classroom as a way to enhance students’ educational experiences. There has been a 40 percent growth in online/hybrid classes at Lehman since the spring of 2013, and one quarter of all classes were either fully online, hybrid, or Web-enhanced by last fall. In addition, Lehman has dramatically expanded the number of grants received from government agencies, leading foundations and corporations, extended its educational partnerships into the international arena and become a major resource for the economic, cultural and educational development of the Bronx.
In partnership with the NYC Department of Education and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the High School for American Studies at Lehman College was established in 2002. It has been ranked for three consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s top 100 high schools and is routinely ranked among the best public high schools in the city. Under President Fernández’s leadership, Lehman established both the Institute for Irish-American Studies and the recently named Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute, a capstone of his many years of dedicated work with the Mexican community.
Dr. Fernández is a Trustee of the New York Botanical Garden; Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center; Wave Hill, a Bronx public garden and cultural center; the Riverdale Mental Health Association; and the Bronx Chamber of Commerce. He also serves on the boards of directors of the Intercultural Development Research Association in San Antonio, Texas; Multicultural Education Training and Advocacy; and the Hispanic Educational Technology Services, a distance-learning consortium of 36 colleges and university systems in the U.S., the Caribbean and Latin America. Dr. Fernández has served as Chair of the board of directors of the American Council on Education, the major coordinating body for the nation’s higher education institutions (2007-2008) and of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.
President Fernández is the recipient of numerous award and honors, including being named by Crain’s New York Business Magazine as one of the People to Watch in Higher Education in 2014. The New York Immigration Coalition selected him for a Builder of the New New York Award (2013), and he received the NFL’s Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award (2011), the ASPIRA Education Award (2011), and the Latino Trendsetter Award (2010).
Dr. Fernández holds a B.A. in Philosophy and an M.A. in Spanish Literature from Marquette University, and an M.A . and Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures from Princeton University.
A national search for a new president of Lehman College will begin this fall, consistent with the guidelines of the CUNY Board of Trustees.
Dean Ann Kirschner
Dr. Kirschner became Dean of Macaulay Honors College in 2006. Student achievement at Macaulay soared under her leadership, with more than 73 prestigious fellowships, including two Rhodes Scholars, five Truman Fellows and 36 Fulbrights. Dean Kirschner developed signature leadership programs, such as the Goldsmith Scholars, Revson Scholars, the Kenan Fellows and the Hertog Scholars. Building on her background as an entrepreneur in media and technology, she launched the Macaulay New Media Lab and was awarded one of New York State’s 20/20 grants to develop a digital media incubator and curriculum, in partnership with Hostos Community College and Lehman College.
Before joining CUNY, Dr. Kirschner was an entrepreneur and executive in media and technology. A pioneer in online education, she founded FATHOM, an education venture in partnership with Columbia University, London School of Economics and other leading institutions. Among her startups were NFL SUNDAY TICKET and NFL.COM for the National Football League.
As the first president of the Macaulay Honors College Foundation, Dean Kirschner increased fundraising activities significantly, most notably with a $30 million gift from William E. Macaulay — the largest in CUNY’s history — which enabled the college to purchase and renovate its campus and administrative center at 35 West 67th Street. She also developed the college’s privately funded Opportunities Fund, which encourages students to customize and deepen their education with global study, independent research and internships. Seventy percent of Macaulay students have studied outside the U.S., the highest percentage of any American public institution.
There are now more than 3,200 Macaulay alumni, over 55 percent of whom are pursuing graduate or professional degrees at leading institutions around the world.
Dr. Kirschner is a distinguished writer and speaker on education, media, and technology. Her first book, Sala’s Gift, (Simon and Schuster, 2006) tells the story of her mother’s wartime rescue of letters from Nazi labor camps, and has been published in German, Polish, Italian, French, Czech and Chinese. Her latest book is Lady at the OK Corral: the True Story of Josephine Marcus Earp (HarperCollins, 2013).
She has been named one of New York Magazine’s “Millennium New Yorkers” and honored as a distinguished graduate of Princeton University and the University of Buffalo and by the Feminist Press and the Western Writers History Association. Dr. Kirschner serves on the Board of Directors of Apollo Education, Public Agenda and the Paul & Daisy Soros Foundation.
A native New Yorker who attended the city’s public schools, she earned a B.A. in English from the University of Buffalo and an M.A. in English from the University of Virginia. She received a Ph.D. in English from Princeton University, where she was named Whiting Fellow in the Humanities.
A national search for a new dean of Macaulay Honors College will begin this fall, consistent with the guidelines of the CUNY Board of Trustees.
About The City University of New York: The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in New York City in 1847, the University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the CUNY Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the CUNY School of Public Health. The University serves more than 278,000 degree-credit students and 218,083 adult, continuing and professional education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 300 high schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The University offers online baccalaureate degrees through the School of Professional Studies and an individualized baccalaureate through the CUNY Baccalaureate Degree. Nearly 3 million unique visitors and 10 million page views are served each month via www.cuny.edu, the University’s website.
September 10, 2015
As the new academic year starts there is much good news to report and so many reasons to be proud of how one of the nation’s largest and most important public universities serves the city, state and country. We have the highest enrollment in our history; we’re launching a medical school and a graduate film school; we’re investing more in doctoral education in the sciences; we’ve opened state-of-the art research facilities; and we’re recognized nationally as providing among the best values in higher education. For these reasons and more, The City University of New York continues to be an indispensable institution with an immeasurable impact.
Key to CUNY’s steady growth in enrollment and the positive local and national attention it attracts is an unparalleled value proposition. CUNY’s remarkable access is supported by low tuition, high financial aid and scholarship awards and low student debt. But every bit as important as the measures of access and affordability are those of quality. CUNY is a tremendous value because of what we provide our students, city and state: extraordinarily talented faculty in the classroom and laboratory, who are providing outstanding instruction, creating new knowledge, and contributing to the public good.
Our Highest Priority
CUNY’s quality and its many notable achievements are possible because of a dedicated faculty and staff who have worked for far too long without a new contract and across-the-board salary increases. I am committed to rectifying that situation. I have spent my career advocating for faculty, and over my first year at CUNY I have come to have the highest regard for the talent and commitment of CUNY’s faculty and staff. I have made it clear in my testimony to the State Legislature and City Council, in countless meetings and numerous speeches, at meetings with the Board of Trustees, and in every senior staff meeting that agreement on a new contract with CUNY’s faculty and staff is our highest priority. We are continuing to work with state and city leaders to be in a position to make a fair offer, while at the same time we are working at the bargaining table on non-economic elements of a proposed contract.
Over the last year, I have spoken to hundreds of CUNY faculty and staff and have heard from many more. I understand the concerns and the challenges you’re facing. Working on your behalf, I will continue to make a new contract the University’s highest priority. I am excited about the future of CUNY and we have significant plans for the years ahead, but they depend on our ability to recruit and retain outstanding faculty and staff.
The budgets from both state and city provided some important programmatic investments as well as much-needed capital funds for critical maintenance and some new projects. The state budget increased base aid for community colleges and increased investment in a number of student services programs. It also provided $12 million for performance improvement plans and included a requirement for student experiential learning. Legislation calling for state “maintenance of effort” and five-year capital plans for both CUNY and SUNY passed both houses, but at this time have not been signed by the Governor. New sexual assault legislation, championed by the Governor, was adopted and CUNY policies and practices are being changed to comply with new requirements. In addition, the Governor’s continued support for CUNY 2020 and START-UP NY provides great opportunity for CUNY colleges to be partners in New York’s economic growth.
The most disappointing outcome from the state legislative session was the failure to address collective bargaining needs as well as funding for mandatory cost increases. The failure to fund mandatory costs such as fringe benefits and the need to maintain as much flexibility as possible to address collective bargaining has led to a required budget reduction at the senior colleges and more significant cuts at CUNY’s central office.
The new city budget, most significantly, provides for a major expansion of the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs, or ASAP, eventually growing to $42 million and supporting 25,000 students. I have more to say about this game-changing investment below. In addition, the budget provides support for doubling the number of students in CUNY Start. The city provided free MetroCards for Guttman Community College students—a key element of ASAP benefits—and included funding for critical maintenance at community colleges. The City Council added $17 million for merit scholarships. The combination of these investments and others resulted in what may be the most significant city investment in CUNY in decades. We are grateful to the Mayor and City Council for their continued strong support of CUNY.
Selected CUNY Highlights
There is so much that could be said about exciting developments at CUNY, but I’m trying to keep this letter short enough that it has a chance of being read! I’ll provide only a few highlights, with apologies to those many students, faculty, programs and alumni I’ve left out. Our record enrollment is no surprise. People are increasingly recognizing the tremendous value represented by CUNY—high quality education at a very reasonable price. This was recognized most notably by The Washington Monthly magazine, which recently announced that four of the top five “bangs for the buck” in the Northeast were CUNY colleges.
We followed a record number of student Fulbright winners last year with 17 new winners this year, 15 new NSF Graduate Research Fellowships, as well as prestigious Goldwater and Truman Scholarships, and Soros Fellowships for New Americans. I did a quick calculation after looking at the Soros announcement in The Chronicle of Higher Education last week: only four schools had more Soros Fellows than CUNY—Harvard, Stanford, Yale and MIT. That reminded me of a story in the Chronicle earlier in the summer about what undergraduate institutions “MacArthur Geniuses” hail from. While it might not have been surprising that some of our nation’s leading private universities had the most MacArthur alumni, two publics were in the top ten—Berkeley and CUNY. A current CUNY graduate student won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, a recent alumnus won the National Book Award, and we celebrated our 13th graduate to win a Nobel Prize, which puts CUNY in rarefied air among universities around the world.
Joined by Governor Cuomo, we announced accreditation for a new CUNY School of Medicine at City College, building on the 40-year success of the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education and advancing a high priority of the Board of Trustees. It had become clear that the Sophie Davis model of having students transfer to complete their medical education was not sustainable, and we needed to complete the program on our own. We had a tremendous record of success in recruitment and education we needed to support: almost half the classes at Sophie Davis have been comprised of students of color, compared to approximately 10 percent on average at medical schools nationally, and the majority of our graduates have gone on to practice in federally designated underserved areas. We will build on this impressive history and the School of Medicine is a welcome addition to CUNY.
There are many exciting new programs starting this fall, perhaps most notably Brooklyn College’s new Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema, the only school of its kind in the country to be located within a working studio, in this case Steiner Studios in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The CUNY Law School launched a part-time JD program that is boosting enrollments and expanding access. There are other new and celebrated programs across the university, and I could not be more pleased with the innovation and creativity of our faculty and college leaders in recognizing important academic needs and finding ways to meet them.
One story I never tire of is the remarkable mobilization of CUNY to increase opportunities for undocumented students. Over the course of a year, all of our colleges led by our team at CUNY Central worked with TheDream.US Scholarship program to increase ten-fold the number of CUNY Dreamer scholarship recipients. We have 367 TheDream.US Scholars this year, the highest level in the nation by far and representing almost half the scholarships given nationwide. At our event last spring to recognize these CUNY Dreamers, two generous benefactors, moved I am certain by the stories of CUNY Dreamers, pledged $30 million on the spot to support TheDream.US program.
Finally, we opened some of the most advanced research space in the region recently at the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center and companion facility, the City College Center for Discovery and Innovation, as well as at Hunter College through a unique partnership with Weill-Cornell Medical College. I am especially encouraged by Hunter’s innovative partnership and convinced that there are many more opportunities for collaborative efforts that leverage CUNY investments.
High Priorities for This Year
CUNY has made remarkable progress over the last 15 years, and it is in a very different place today. A new set of strategies was implemented for addressing developmental education needs and promoting student success and transfer. While I am convinced we’re on the right track, we must admit we aren’t where we need to be. We have much hard work ahead of us addressing the stubborn challenges to success in remediation, improving retention and graduation rates, and significantly improving our students’ successful transfer to baccalaureate study, as well as entry into graduate and professional programs and the workforce. We have created a number of impressive new programs and even colleges, but our priority must be continuing to raise the level of academic quality and student success at our many colleges throughout the five boroughs. This is difficult but essential work and will require the determination of talented people across CUNY.
In one such effort, under the leadership of University Provost Rabinowitz, we will take a close look this year at our remediation programs, particularly in math, to make sure we are doing everything that we should to help our students succeed. Similarly, the University Provost’s office will be working with appropriate colleges to develop strategies for improvement in our teacher preparation and workforce development programs.
We will expand a program CUNY-wide to award associate degrees to students who have transferred prior to receiving a degree but have more than completed—or could easily complete—equivalent coursework on their way to earning a bachelor’s degree. At the same time we will create a new scholarship program to encourage community college students to earn their associate degree before transfer, a strategy that contributes to later success as well.
Our expansion of CUNY ASAP, recognized by President Obama for its success in increasing graduation rates for community college students, begins in earnest. We expect to increase our ASAP population from more than 4,000 students last year to more than 13,000 by fall 2017 and reach 25,000 students by 2018. We will be focused first on increasing STEM participation in the program, both at community colleges and in senior college pilots. We will begin our efforts to bring ASAP to scale with an exciting project at Bronx Community College.
At the same time, we plan to double over the next four years the number of students who participate in CUNY Start, a program that has demonstrated success in helping students efficiently meet their remediation requirements. We also had successful pilots at three colleges this summer with “Summer Start,” which shows great promise in helping students become proficient in a short period of time and ready for matriculation in the fall. We will expand this program as well.
To help plan CUNY’s response to the state’s call for opportunities for experiential learning, I have named a task force chaired by John Jay College President Jeremy Travis and University Dean Suri Duitch. All of us view this as an opportunity for CUNY to consider additional ways for our students to be more engaged in their studies and better prepared for graduate and professional study and a competitive work environment upon graduation, and to identify what resources will be required for us to be successful.
To develop plans for performance funding required in the state budget, I have asked University Provost Rabinowitz and Budget and Finance Vice Chancellor Sapienza to lead the university’s work on behalf of the Board of Trustees. We will increase the pool of funds for this purpose beyond the state investment for senior colleges so community colleges will also be able to participate. This provides an exciting opportunity for CUNY to identify and fund initiatives designed to advance our shared goals. More information will be available soon about our process and priorities.
We have engaged a leading fundraising consulting firm to help CUNY and all of our colleges better position ourselves for increased success in private fundraising, which is unquestionably increasingly essential to the ability of public universities to meet their objectives in providing access, building quality and achieving distinction. I look forward to implementing recommendations that will help us more effectively make what I believe is the most compelling case for private philanthropy in New York.
Listening to our students, prospective students and college leaders, we will increase opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to live and work in university housing. While every campus would understandably prefer its own housing, that is likely not feasible and, due to relative proximity, probably not essential. We will continue to support promising individual college projects but will also explore opportunities for CUNY colleges to partner with each other to serve their students.
I am convinced that online education can expand access, appeal to new learners, and facilitate degree completion and lifelong learning, and I plan to support expansion of online courses and degree programs. State legislation this year lowered the barriers to institutions from outside New York to offer online programs here, as well as better positioned CUNY to offer programs in other states. I am hopeful the Governor will also sign legislation that will allow us more flexibility with non-resident online tuition.
As you know, I launched a strategic planning process last spring, and it is well underway. The Steering Committee of faculty, presidents and others has been active, and we are continuing to solicit suggestions from CUNY stakeholders. I encourage you to visit the “21st Century CUNY” website often to check on progress and submit comments and suggestions (www.cuny.edu/21stCenturyCUNY).
CUNY continues to enjoy remarkable success and I am convinced our best days lie ahead. We have assets of scale, diversity, talent and location unmatched anywhere. There has been so much good work done to get CUNY to this point, but there is also much to be done next year and beyond. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with such a talented group of faculty, staff, students, administrators and trustees, and I will do everything I can to see that the aspirations we share for CUNY are met.
I wish you a successful and rewarding year, and I thank you for all you do for The City University of New York.
James B. Milliken
September 02, 2015
As the new academic year starts there is much good news to report and so many reasons to be proud of how the nation’s largest and most important public university serves the city, state and country. We will have another year of very high enrollment, we’re launching a medical school and a graduate film school, we’ve opened state-of-the art research facilities and according to The Washington Monthly, four of the top five best value colleges in the northeast are at CUNY. All this is possible because of a dedicated faculty and staff who have worked for far too long without a new contract and across-the-board salary increases. I am committed to rectifying that situation.
I have spent my career advocating for faculty, and over my first year at CUNY I have come to have the highest regard for the talent and commitment of CUNY’s faculty and staff. I have made it clear in my testimony to the State Legislature and City Council, in numerous speeches, at meetings with the Board of Trustees, and in every senior staff meeting that agreement on a new contract with CUNY’s faculty and staff is our highest priority. We have worked with the PSC and others to achieve new health care benefits for CUNY employees, advocate for increased funding for CUNY, support strong state “maintenance of effort” legislation and, of course, secure support for a new contract. As I’m sure you know, with regard to the financial aspects of our labor contracts the authority of the Board of Trustees has limits . As a practical matter, we must have the support of the state and city for our contract and, as important, we cannot responsibly make an offer or enter into an agreement we cannot pay for. We are continuing to work with state and city leaders to be in a position to make a fair offer, while at the same time we are making progress at the bargaining table on non-economic elements of a proposed contract.
Over the last year, I have spoken to hundreds of CUNY faculty and staff and have heard from many more. I understand their concerns and the challenges they are facing, and working on their behalf will continue to be the university’s highest priority. I am well aware of and deeply appreciate the extraordinary work our faculty and staff do every day. CUNY is the remarkable institution it is today because of their efforts and we are dedicated to reaching a contract with them that is fair and responsible.
August 31, 2015
By Chancellor James B. Milliken and City College Of New York President Lisa S. Coico
This op-ed was published in the New York Amsterdam News on August 28, 2015
With the Affordable Care Act encouraging millions of patients to visit doctors and millions more baby boomers aging into Medicare, a looming physician shortage threatens the future of health care. Hardest hit surely will be already underserved urban and rural minority communities here in New York and across the country.
The Association of American Medical Colleges predicts a national shortage of 46,000 to 90,000 physicians by 2025, including 12,500 to 31,000 primary care doctors. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that New York meets only 40 percent of its primary care needs, one of the lowest rates in the country.
Furthermore, with research showing that minority physicians are more likely than their colleagues to work in underserved communities and to care for minority, poor and uninsured patients, the Institute of Medicine says that producing a diverse and adequate supply of physicians is one of the best ways to reduce disparities in health care. However, African-Americans comprise only 4.1 percent of the physician workforce and Hispanics just 4.4 percent.
These statistics are among the reasons why Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced that the City University of New York is launching a new medical school, building on a four-decade-old program at City College, the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education. The CUNY School of Medicine will draw its students from rising fourth-year Sophie Davis students, who until now have gone on to clinical training at cooperating medical schools. In the five years from 2009 to 2013, 43 percent of the students graduating from the Sophie Davis School were Black or Latino. In 2015, this number increased to 44 percent. In comparison, just 6 percent of the nation’s medical school graduates were Black in 2014 and only 5 percent Latino, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Clearly, the CUNY School of Medicine, created in partnership with St. Barnabas Health Care System in the South Bronx, will be a medical school unlike any other, committed to graduating highly qualified physicians, many of them from minority groups, uniquely well positioned to care, in particular, for America’s increasingly diverse population. The admissions process will be highly competitive, mirroring Sophie Davis standards, in whichv each year more than 700 students apply for a freshman class that typically seats approximately 75 students.
But what happens when there aren’t enough Black and Latino physicians to care for these communities, especially their most vulnerable populations, the elderly and those dependent on community clinics? CUNY’s new medical school will directly address this issue. After earning their medical diplomas, most current Sophie Davis graduates (65 percent) hold a New York medical license, work in direct patient care (88 percent), practice in large cities (68 percent) or inner cities (43 percent) and almost half report that their patients are underserved minorities.
More than 2,000 Sophie Davis graduates have earned their medical degrees. Many have gone on to provide important service to their community and the nation. For example, Dr. Laurie Zephyrin, the first national director for reproductive health at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, was the second White House Fellow to graduate from City College after Gen. Colin L. Powell. Her mission now is to introduce new services for the growing number of female veterans across the country.
Another graduate, Dr. Edwin Moreano, opened an office three blocks from his childhood home in Jackson Heights, Queens. Since 1999, Moreano, a plastic surgeon, has led frequent medical missions to Latin America, providing free reconstructive surgery to children who were burned or born with facial deformities.
If they and the other successful Sophie Davis alumni are any indication of what’s to come from the new CUNY School of Medicine, our city, state and country will benefit immensely.