October 24, 2017 | Academic Affairs

By Sandi CooperPath thru dark grey woods covered with red and orange leaves
The following testimony was presented before the CUNY Board of Trustees at the Public Hearing, held at Baruch College in Manhattan on October 16, 2017:

My name is Sandi Cooper and I am a Professor Emerita in History from the College of Staten Island and the City University Graduate Center.  Forty-seven of my fifty-five years as a college professor were spent at CUNY.  I also served as chair of the University Faculty Senate for six years (1990-1996; 2010-2012).

I have come to plead with you to revisit a Board Resolution of June, 2011, that created “Pathways.”  This presumably student-friendly policy was devised by a former Vice-Chancellor with the help of hand-picked faculty.  In her recent book lauding the “reform” process, I play the role of a villain.  Ostensibly, Pathways addressed the presumed issue of obstacles facing transfer within CUNY.  Parenthetically a study by statisticians on our faculty determined its claims were exaggerated but we were ignored.  Our motives were suspect—we were presumably “protecting turf.” Were any of you to have experienced the education provided by Pathways, I doubt if you would be sitting here. As a CCNY graduate of 60 years ago, I assure you that Pathways would have been my path to permanent employment at Woolworth’s.

In my college, for instance, the Curriculum has eliminated required classes in literature, history, languages, and many of the other Liberal Arts.  Given our student body drawn from all over the world, you would think we might want them all to learn something about our history, not to speak of the histories and cultures of other parts of the globe.

The elimination of General Education distribution requirements which Staten Island, Brooklyn, and other colleges had painstakingly designed, replaced by categories or “buckets” of “outcomes,” is a fitting curriculum for Trump’s America.  We are engaged in undereducating thousands of students who will never be able to separate fake from real knowledge.

CUNY was once committed to introducing our student body to the thrill of new knowledge and new vistas. But how much “global knowledge” would a student gain from one semester of Spanish?

Pathways is a perfect program for insuring tribal rivalries in the American body politic.

Sandi Cooper is a Professor Emerita of History at the College of Staten Island.  She served twice as Chair of the University Faculty Senate, from 1994-1998, and then again from 2010-2012.

The UFS Blog is a forum for CUNY Faculty, and welcomes the expression of all points of view, Emily S. Tai, Editor.

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Photo:  M. Spitz,  CC ShareAlike 3.0.