Citing “the many reasons for our excitement and optimism at CUNY,” Chancellor James B. Milliken testified today at the Joint Senate and Assembly public hearing in Albany on Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s 2018 – 2019 State Executive Budget proposal. With nationally known economists finding that CUNY is “an unsurpassed engine of social mobility, lifting almost six times as many lower-income students to the middle class and beyond” as the Ivy League colleges plus Duke, MIT, Stanford and Chicago combined, he said, “New York has much to be proud of.”
The Chancellor welcomed the governor’s proposed $70 million increase for CUNY’s senior colleges for mandatory fringe benefit increases, the continuing deployment of free online textbooks and course materials and more; and the $118 million to cover the expansion of the family income threshold for state Excelsior Scholarships to $110,000 for the 2018-2019 school year.
He praised the governor’s proposal to enact a New York State DREAM Act, “which would extend financial aid to CUNY’s many undocumented students, a well-deserving group that brings ambition, talent and hard work to our campuses and our state.” Since 2015 CUNY has partnered with the philanthropic TheDream.US foundation to offer scholarships to 775 DREAMers. More than 90 percent remained in college, he said, “higher than comparable numbers for their American citizen classmates” and last year 70 percent of the 474 enrolled scholarship winners had cumulative GPAs of 3.0 or higher. Arguing for a state DREAM Act, he added that DREAMer graduates “do the jobs that make our city and state work in health care, finance, IT and the legal profession.”
The Chancellor said he was pleased with the $284 million proposed for critical maintenance at CUNY’s senior colleges and the $49 million in matching funds for work at the seven community colleges. With 272,000 degree students and more than 250,000 in continuing education and professional studies, “our 24 institutions are open seven days a week, with classes scheduled throughout the day and most evenings. … There are 40,000 more CUNY students using our facilities today than a decade ago … the equivalent of adding a university about the size of the University of Michigan.”
He thanked the governor and the Legislature for their continuing support of The City University of New York, “especially your support for CUNY’s historic mission of accessibility, inclusion and high quality.” That, he added, “is a good part of what makes me optimistic about the future of what we unabashedly call ‘the greatest urban university in the world.’”
The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in 1847, CUNY counts 13 Nobel Prize and 23 MacArthur (“Genius”) grant winners among its alumni. CUNY students, alumni and faculty have garnered scores of other prestigious honors over the years in recognition of historic contributions to the advancement of the sciences, business, the arts and myriad other fields. The University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, CUNY Graduate Center, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, CUNY School of Law, CUNY School of Professional Studies and CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. The University serves more than 272,000 degree-seeking students. CUNY offers online baccalaureate and master’s degrees through the School of Professional Studies.