November 23, 2016
To the CUNY Community,
All of us at The City University of New York are immensely proud of our tradition, dating back almost 170 years, of providing the broadest access and a high quality education to New Yorkers, especially those from underrepresented groups and low income families and the many people who come to our city and country for opportunity. We have just gone through a difficult and contentious election season, and I heard from many of our students about the understandable concerns and anxieties this has created. I wrote to the CUNY community two weeks ago to reaffirm in the strongest terms our commitment to CUNY’s historic mission. Last week, I issued a statement specifically addressing the concerns of our immigrant students, assuring them that we will do everything legally possible to ensure their security and their place at the university. For CUNY, this is not just a pledge, it is a commitment demonstrated by our history as the clear leader among universities in this country in the support and services provided to immigrants.
Forty percent of CUNY’s undergraduates are immigrants, which is one of the primary reasons this university is so full of energy and ambition, and is such a vital contributor to New York’s success. We educate thousands of undocumented students and we lead the nation in the number of students supported with private Dreamer scholarships. CUNY’s Citizenship Now! is a nationally recognized program with offices in all five boroughs, providing a wide range of free one-to-one legal services, referrals to social services, reviews off legal status and assistance with applications. In addition, our campuses are providing counselling to students and staff, forums for discussion, and referrals to services. We have hosted widely popular Facebook live sessions for the CUNY community, with immigration advice from lawyers, student affairs advisors and other specialists. As part of our ImmigrantsMatter@CUNY campaign, we will continue our longstanding services and find more ways to serve our valuable community.
We are deeply gratified that Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio have taken such strong stands on behalf of the immigrant community in New York, offering visible pledges of support, and we forwarded a special message earlier this week from Governor Cuomo to all CUNY students with important information about services the state of New York is providing. I have joined with a group of leading university presidents across the country in a letter to President-elect Trump urging that he retain the important, humane and beneficial DACA program initiated by President Obama, which helps thousands of undocumented residents and benefits our country by encouraging their contributions to our prosperity.
As we reflect on our families and communities on this Thanksgiving, as well as on our values, achievements and aspirations, I want to offer my thanks to the remarkable people, especially our immigrant students, faculty and staff, who work so hard to make CUNY special and to fulfill our mission and our promise to all New Yorkers.
James B. Milliken
November 20, 2016
“We commend Governor Andrew M. Cuomo for announcing important new steps today to combat hate crimes, expand the state’s Human Rights Law and provide legal services to immigrants. The Governor’s statement is an important message about the values we share as New Yorkers and the state’s commitment to all its people.
The City University of New York has long partnered with the New York State Office for New Americans through CUNY’s Citizenship Now program to help newcomers obtain free citizenship and naturalization services and English as a second language classes. We are especially encouraged that the state will be working even more closely with colleges and universities to safeguard immigrant rights, and by the availability of new resources to address reports of bias or discrimination.
New York has historically served as the principal port of entry for access to a better life for immigrants and CUNY has long been committed to that same venerable tradition. On Friday, I issued a statement to all members of the CUNY community affirming our commitment to immigrants, reminding them of existing services such as Citizenship Now, and advising them of new activities addressing the understandable questions and concerns our immigrant students have today. We look forward to working with the Governor and the state to further strengthen our collaborations on behalf of all New Yorkers.”
November 18, 2016
Dear Members of the CUNY Community,
Following the presidential election, many students at CUNY and at campuses across the country remain understandably anxious and concerned about the possible policies of the next administration. This is particularly true for the policies, which may not be articulated for some time, that could affect members of our community that CUNY has served since its founding – immigrants. Our immigrant community helps define who we are, where we have been and our future at this University. It brings passion, ambition, creativity and, perhaps most important, the dreams that are, in fact, the American dream. At CUNY, we have an unwavering commitment to providing opportunity to low income and underrepresented students and immigrants, a point of honor and strength that makes our mission so vital. As I wrote recently in a letter to all members of the CUNY community, this mission will not change, and the city and the country will be much better for it.
CUNY is the undisputed leader among universities in this country in the support and services we provide to immigrants on our campuses and throughout the city. That will remain the case. We have led the nation in the number of undocumented students with special scholarships to support their studies. We operate the extremely effective Citizenship Now! program, which has offices in all five boroughs, providing an array of one-on-one legal services, referrals to needed social services, reviews of legal status and assistance with applications. We also provide counseling for students on immigration issues on our campuses. This support is among the clearest statements we could make of the value we place on educating and assisting the people who have proven generation after generation that they will take their places among the greatest New Yorkers and sustain New York as one of the greatest cities in the world.
In response to the questions and concerns that have been raised by the recent election, we are taking a number of steps to support in every way we can our immigrant community. As we initiate these measures, CUNY will continue to review applicable laws and do all we can within the bounds of the law to ensure the security of all our students. Our colleges have been active in providing opportunities for counseling of students and staff, and have held forums for discussion and support.
As part of our “Immigrants Matter@CUNY” steps, we will be holding a two-hour Facebook Live session on Monday, November 21st, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. to answer questions and address concerns. We will have lawyers, student affairs advisors and other specialists on hand to provide advice and referrals where necessary. We expect to hold another Facebook Live session later. All CUNY campuses will be publicizing our counseling services and ensuring that all students are aware of the resources on which they can draw for support. We will be posting a document with frequently asked questions and answers, which will be updated as needed.
We hope all affected students will take advantage of CUNY and college resources and appreciate the great importance we place on providing you with the support and services that will help you build your futures and strengthen our university and our city.
James B. Milliken
November 11, 2016
All of us at the City University of New York salute veterans on this special day and join the rest of the country in expressing our profound gratitude to the men and women who have served our country. But we also do much more. We are justifiably proud that CUNY is the only university system in the country recognized with the coveted status of being veteran friendly, and even prouder of the more than 3,000 military veterans who have chosen to study or work at CUNY to advance their careers, supported by an array of services to help them achieve their dreams. Our veterans have stood up for us, and CUNY stands up for them, and with them, with a special salute today. To all veterans, thank you for your service.
James B. Milliken
November 10, 2016
Dear Members of the CUNY Community,
We have just experienced a long, contentious campaign and what was to many a surprising outcome. I have spoken to many of our students about their reactions to the results, and many of those range from confusion to concern to a sense of vulnerability for themselves or their friends and classmates.
We cannot be certain about whether or how statements made in the midst of a hard-fought campaign will be translated into policies beginning in January. What we can be certain about are our own values and the critical mission of The City University of New York. CUNY’s mission is the same today as it was a week ago, and it will be the same next year. For nearly 170 years, CUNY has been committed to providing opportunity to immigrants and low income and underrepresented students. This will not change, and the city and the country will be much better for it. Our students bring ambition, talent and dreams and they contribute immeasurably to making New York the world’s greatest city. In fact, it’s obvious to anyone who has paid attention that New York is what it is today because of the very students CUNY has welcomed and educated for generations.
I know that all of my colleagues at CUNY join me in proudly embracing CUNY’s history and share my commitment to sustaining its vital mission in the years ahead.
James B. Milliken
October 12, 2016
Many CUNY students, faculty and staff are mourning and in shock in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, which killed more than 1,000 people as it carved a path of devastation across the Caribbean, including Haiti, and the southern United States. On behalf of the University, I extend our deep concern and condolences to everyone in the CUNY community who is affected by this disaster.
Our campuses are offering counseling and other direct support to students, faculty and staff, even as we work with the University community to assist the victims. Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Chris Rosa is leading this University-wide effort. We urge everyone at CUNY to generously contribute their time, energy and financial support in this evolving effort.
October 08, 2016
Dear Members of the City College Community,
On Friday, I accepted the resignation of Dr. Lisa Coico as President of the City College of New York, effective immediately. I named Interim Provost Mary Erina Driscoll as Administrator in Charge, pending the appointment of an Interim President at the October 26 meeting of the City University of New York Board of Trustees. We will also soon launch a national search for a new President.
The City College of New York is a remarkable institution with a rich history and a very promising future. I can assure you that the Board of Trustees and I are focused on the steps necessary to ensure that CCNY continues to serve its students and the people of New York at the highest level. I know the devoted faculty, staff, students and alumni of City College share this goal, and I look forward to working with you.
James B. Milliken
September 16, 2016
Thank you very much, Steve. I am deeply grateful to New Yorkers for Children and your executive director, Saroya Friedman-Gonzalez, for what is a very special honor—for The City University of New York and for me—named for a person who defines the term “public servant.” I am fortunate to be the leader of an institution that has always done so much for New York and now is in a position to make such a difference in furthering the remarkable work begun by Nick Scoppetta. I like to think that as an alumnus of City College, Nick would be especially proud of our work together.
I am also fortunate that I had the opportunity to meet Nick last year at this very event and to thank him for his tremendous leadership. He taught all of us that one of our greatest callings is to create opportunities and support for children who, through no fault of their own, have not had stable homes but who, like all of us, have dreams. Today, with our extraordinary partners, CUNY is providing support on an unprecedented scale. And we’re doing it because like all of you, we see the enormous potential in the young people we’re serving. I know you will join me in expressing admiration for all the foster youth with us this evening, including 10 CUNY Youth Ambassadors.
This work is an important part of what CUNY is all about. Our mission, begun nearly 170 years ago, is to provide access to the highest quality education to hundreds of thousands of students each year, most of whom are low income, from underrepresented groups, often immigrants, and the first in their family to attend college. Over 60 percent of New York City high school graduates who go on to college choose CUNY, and it is our goal to provide each with the education and opportunity they need to be successful. Through CUNY, our students will build great careers and contribute to making this city vibrant and successful.
CUNY has been expanding opportunities to foster youth on many fronts. With First Star, we formed the first program in New York State, at our College of Staten Island, for an academy that will bring 9th graders in the foster system to campus and provide mentoring, life skills and academic training…all as a way of introducing them to college life over a 4 year period. This is critical because, as many of you know, fewer than half of foster youth complete high school and less than 3 percent finish college. We’re going to correct that. An important part of how we do that is by exposing kids to the great opportunities possible for them. We’re especially pleased that the First Star academy is supported by New Yorkers For Children, the city’s Administration for Children’s Services and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.
Working with ACS, we have established a brand new college success initiative that provides foster youth one of their most precious needs, year-round housing. We have established places for 50 students from the New York City foster care system and the first group has just moved into handsome dorm rooms this fall at Queens College and the College of Staten Island. Macy’s has stepped up once again, helping to outfit their rooms. New York Foundling is a critical partner, helping with important wrap-around services. We look forward to significant expansion of this unprecedented array of services and housing in future years.
With support from the State of New York, we are also providing structured support to 70 foster youth enrolled in our SEEK/College Discovery program. They receive everything from MetroCards to meal vouchers to emergency funding when problems arise. Our CUNY Start program provides intensive preparation for high school students on their way to CUNY, and guides them into one of the most revolutionary success initiatives in the country, which we call ASAP. This program has tripled community college graduation rates, and with the Hilton Foundation as a partner, we provide special services and support to foster youth entering 8 of our colleges. It places them on a path of success.
These programs and others further CUNY’s unique mission, and, of course, they depend on the passion and commitment of our faculty and staff, the enthusiastic and generous support of our partners, and the steady leadership from our Board of Trustees.
It takes a village to make all of this happen. I get to work every day with talented, committed people who make CUNY’s magic possible. Donna Linderman, University Dean for Student Success Initiatives, Judy Bergtraum, Vice Chancellor for Facilities Planning and Construction, and Andrea Shapiro Davis, Associate Vice Chancellor for Development, and many others — all have played a key role in making possible the new initiatives at CUNY for foster youth. And we couldn’t do this without the enthusiastic commitment of campus leaders, and I want to recognize several with us tonight: President Felix Matos Rodriquez and Richard Alvarez, Vice President of Enrollment and Retention at Queens College and Jennifer Borrero, Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services at the College of Staten Island.
We could not do this work without the strong support of the CUNY Board of Trustees, and I’m delighted that two of our Board members, Sandra Wilkin and Rita Di Martino, are with us tonight. And a person I never introduce—because she forbids it—is my wife. I’m going to make an exception because I’m not sure CUNY and I would be where we are today had Susan Burden not convinced her when we moved back to New York that she should join the NYFC Board. Nana Smith.
Tonight’s honor both recognizes CUNY’s commitment to foster youth and encourages us to do more for a wonderful, deserving group of young people. On behalf of my many committed colleagues at CUNY and our terrific foster youth students, I thank you.
September 06, 2016
Every fall, we start the new school year with a wonderful sense of possibility. This year the promise of the year ahead is great and our sense of purpose stronger than ever as we take important steps to renew CUNY’s essential mission with a new vision and a set of strategies to become the model for a 21st Century university. The new CUNY we are shaping together is even more focused on supporting the success of our students – both in the classroom and after – on giving our outstanding faculty more opportunities to engage in innovative teaching and important research, scholarly and creative activity, and on developing new and deeper connections in the city, state and world and with institutions that can help us accomplish our goals. The 21st Century CUNY will be more connected across campuses, with the city and its institutions, with the workplaces offering the most promising career opportunities, and with other universities and institutions across the globe.
My optimism results partly from the very positive steps we have taken in recent months, which strengthen CUNY significantly. We settled our labor contracts this summer with faculty and staff, agreeing on well-deserved raises for the people responsible for the great work CUNY does every day. I realize there is frustration over the time it will take to fully implement the new contract ratified by the PSC in August, but I hope you understand that no one wants to see this completed more than the Board of Trustees, the college presidents and me. We worked hard to resolve contracts that were six and seven years overdue and it is in everyone’s interest to work together to ensure that CUNY’s faculty and staff receive the increases they earned. We are working closely with the State Comptroller and the City Payroll Office to make this happen. The settlements and implementation are critical milestones, and I hope our success will reinforce our work together for a common mission.
I’m very pleased to have named new leadership this summer at Lehman College and Brooklyn College, and at the CUNY Law School and at Macaulay Honors College. In each case we are in a great position to build on a foundation of excellent leadership, while also bringing new thinking and energy.
This fall marks the launch of the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy in Harlem and also the opening of the CUNY School of Medicine at City College, building on the years of success of the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education. These programs fit well with our mission, significantly increasing diversity in the education and training in health professions and promising to bring improved health care and policy to all parts of our city. We continue to strengthen our role in the sciences and technology, increasing the number of students declaring those majors and recruiting outstanding new faculty at the colleges and at the Advanced Science Research Center. We’re understandably proud of the fact that CUNY went from 7 to 17 campuses that have been designated “military friendly,” a solid reflection of our commitment to supporting veterans and making us the only system-wide military friendly university in the country.
We came through a particularly inspiring commencement season last spring, with record numbers of graduates. It was a singular honor to have Michelle Obama give her final commencement address as First Lady at City College, but I was just as impressed by the caliber of the student leaders at our colleges and their addresses. Those students spoke movingly, with the kind of insights and maturity that I identify with our wonderfully talented and diverse student body. And our faculty collected an impressive and growing number of prestigious awards, fellowships and scholarships. I am continually reminded of the character, drive and creativity of our students and the outstanding faculty who help them achieve their goals.
I am particularly pleased that we will have the opportunity with a new Master Plan and Strategic Framework to help chart CUNY’s future, and I believe we will look back on this as a pivotal year. What we are referring to as “Connected CUNY” will place greater emphasis on outcomes and the success of our students as well as on our ability to contribute to our goals by leveraging CUNY’s great assets. We plan to employ strategies that will help us get much more out of our resources and facilities to deliver greater benefits for our students and our city and state, and we will collaborate with other institutions in new ways. Some examples of our plans include:
– We know that in the knowledge economy many of the most promising careers require a diploma or other credential, including associates and baccalaureate degrees and certificates. We will build on successful initiatives and launch others to sharply increase graduation rates. This includes the highly successful ASAP at community colleges, and similar programs at senior colleges—piloted last year at John Jay College—as well as other proven strategies adopted at individual colleges.
– Important research—some done at CUNY—as well as best practices adopted around the country required that we reexamine our policies and practices in remedial education, and University Provost Rabinowitz has led a university-wide task force that is developing compelling recommendations to improve our programs and assist our students.
– We are focused as never before on increasing opportunities for our students to participate in internships and other experiential learning programs to improve employment prospects upon graduation. Among our priorities will be opportunities in growth areas in technology, healthcare, finance and the arts.
– We will expand the availability of online courses and degrees offered by CUNY faculty. Participation in online education will continue to increase and it’s important to New York and our students that CUNY faculty offer high quality programs in this environment. We have had recent success on which to build; this summer the bachelor’s program at the School of Professional Studies was cited as the number one online program in the state and among the top 12 in the country.
– We will increase our focus on adult learners, building programs to bring them back to college and offering courses and credentials that will help them advance their careers. There are about a million city residents with some college credits but no degree, and CUNY must be the key to their getting the credentials that will provide greater economic opportunity.
– We will be expanding opportunities for study abroad and other programs that provide our students with the education and experiences that will prepare them to be competitive in the global economy.
– We are implementing plans to increase our competitiveness for outstanding graduate students and we will invest in support for faculty research and creative activity.
To achieve these and other important objectives, CUNY will work to increase collaboration and cooperation among our colleges, as well as with other institutions that share our goals. To best serve our students, we will work to eliminate barriers to the movement of students among our colleges, including students using ePermit to earn credit at CUNY colleges other than their home campuses. As part of this effort, we are launching the first online, searchable, CUNY-wide course catalogue.
More needs to be done to ensure that all New Yorkers, especially those from low income and underrepresented groups, are given equal opportunities for success and are well prepared for college. To achieve this, we plan to strengthen our collaborations between CUNY and early education programs in the city as well as the public schools to help ensure that students who wish to attend college are ready to do so. We will build on the deep connections CUNY has with the city’s Department of Education and we will continue to provide many of the teachers who can help realize these goals. We are engaging more closely with major employers and labor unions to ensure that CUNY prepares students with the education and skills needed to launch satisfying careers.
CUNY has a compelling case for stronger fiscal support from both city and state; at the same time we have an obligation to maximize the public investment in the university. We will continue the effort we began last year to ensure that we are cost-effective in our administrative operations and that our business processes are designed to best support the core academic and student success activities of the university. We have had much success in developing shared administrative and support services across the university, something more achievable at CUNY than most large systems in part because of the proximity of our colleges. And a key strategy to help support students, faculty and academic programs will be the implementation of plans to significantly increase our success in private fundraising.
Of course, these ambitious goals and others will take commitment, resources and time, but the CUNY community will start to feel the impact of our Connected CUNY strategies soon. I am excited about the future of CUNY, an institution that has throughout its history provided the pathway to a better life for generations of New Yorkers and immeasurably improved our city, our state and the country.
I look forward to working with you on our exciting agenda for the years ahead. Best wishes for a successful new year at The City University of New York.
James B. Milliken
August 11, 2016
I want to begin by thanking everyone here for joining us for this 8th annual event. Two years ago, shortly after joining CUNY, I kicked off this conference. Today, looking at the progress we’ve made, I am proud of what we’ve all accomplished together since that time.
This is a wonderful opportunity for you to get to know us and for us to get to know you and your businesses. You are part of the lifeblood of this university and this city. Your hard work and your contributions make us more successful in what we do, so we appreciate all the energy and ideas you bring to us and we hope we make you more successful and prosperous. You are important partners in the growth and success of New York City’s flagship university, and we’re proud to be pushing ahead and growing together.
I want add my thanks to the important speakers and members of the CUNY community with us today, beginning with the new chairman of our Board of Trustees, Bill Thompson, the acting chair of the construction fund, Philip Berry, Alphonso David, the Counsel to the Governor, and Rodneyse Bichotte, the very talented and incredibly energetic Assemblywoman from Brooklyn and the first Haitian-American woman elected to public office in the city as well as chairperson of the Oversight of Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises Subcommittee.
We’re delighted to be holding this event in this lovely CUNY space and I want to thank our friends at John Jay for hosting us. And a special thanks to Matt Sapienza and Judy Bergtraum, and their teams, two CUNY leaders who have played such an important role in our unwavering commitment to do more business with minority, women, and service-disabled veteran-owned enterprises.
Ensuring that we expand our relationships with enterprises owned by minorities, women, and service-disabled veterans is a high priority for Governor Cuomo, and we share his commitment to this critical objective. The goals he established will lead to a fairer and more equitable city economy in which those who are capable, competitive, innovative and committed will enjoy opportunities to shine and prosper. Your success certainly helps CUNY reach its goals of operating in an efficient and cost-effective manner so that we can focus on delivering on our very important mission – giving all New Yorkers the opportunity to obtain a high quality education and fulfill their dreams. When you do well all of New York does well.
Our goal is to expand the work we do with you, to increase our networks of suppliers and to find more local businesses that we can work with and support. We benefit from your quality and efficiency. CUNY has always been integral to this city, not just on a macro level, but deep down into dozens and dozens of neighborhoods. Our partnerships with you strengthen those community bonds and provide mutual benefits. Not only does that support the growth of all of our neighborhoods, but your growth, of course, creates what we hope will be lots of new jobs, providing opportunities for talented CUNY graduates who can help you build world-class businesses. That’s a combination of talent – your expertise and the skills and energy of our graduates – that I like.
I want to give a shout out to two colleges in this campaign — Hunter College and the Borough of Manhattan Community College. These colleges have led the way in building strong relationships with minority and women-owned businesses and succeeded in being leaders in CUNY’s supplier diversity program. And we’re proud of a similar story in CUCF’s capital program. The University and the Fund are committed to meeting CUNY, CUCF, and the Governor’s MWBE participation goals.
Thank you again for working with us to achieve these important goals. Thank you for competing hard for this partnership and for joining us in expanding our relationship in the future. Thank you for being here today to help celebrate our program and build a foundation for even greater success. Best wishes for a great day. Thanks and good luck.