Community Meeting 4-16-08
On the budget, President Kelly explained that the difficult economic and political climate has interfered with plans to make this a year of investment in public higher education. The State budget passed by the Assembly and Senate calls for cuts though, in this regard, CUNY fares relatively well with a $17.7 million cut to its overall $1.8 billion budget. A mid-year correction is anticipated, which would be a blanket percentage cut across all programs of all state agencies. Accordingly, the Graduate Center is developing a contingency plan, and has reserves in place to absorb such a correction. “We are insulated and prepared to react appropriately,” said the President. “We will tighten where we can and spend where we must.”
The President relayed the Chancellor’s pledge that none of these budget cuts will touch upon faculty hiring or personnel. The Chancellor has also said that the only areas in which new investments would be made are student life (including counseling) and securing health insurance for doctoral students employed by CUNY in Adjunct, Graduate Assistant, or similar positions. The President expressed his gratitude to the Chancellor for his support in this matter. He explained that although there are still many details to be worked out in negotiations with Albany, the PSC, and other agencies, the most difficult element – funding – is “near closure.”
The President reviewed recent steps in the Graduate Center’s effort to create student and faculty housing. He said that a location has been identified in Long Island City, Queens where such a residence could be built, and that the Graduate Center is working with a developer. Though there have been obstacles, including zoning issues and the community’s resistance to a “transient” student population, the initiative has progressed considerably. The local Community Board has approved the project, and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall has also expressed enthusiasm. Chancellor Goldstein is lending his full support on this initiative.
The accreditation process, conducted by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, is underway, the President said. Work on the initial self-study report has begun, and the Association’s site visit is scheduled for 2009. He explained that this evaluation is very important in that it “takes the measure” of the Graduate Center, and that it will require contributions of time and energy from many staff and faculty members.
The President encouraged everyone to attend the Employee Recognition Ceremony on May 15. He spoke briefly about the success of the Graduate Center’s public programs, and looked forward to the new Great Issues Forum, which will begin in Fall 2008 with a year-long examination of the multi-faceted theme of Power in the contemporary world.
The President also discussed plans for Commencement, which will take place on May 22 at the Manhattan Center. This year’s honorary degree recipients will be Edward Hirsch, renowned poet and President of the Guggenheim Foundation; William G. Bowen, a widely respected authority on higher education, former President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and former President of Princeton University; and Ornette Coleman, innovative jazz musician and composer. The speaker at this year’s Commencement will be President Kelly.
At the conclusion of the meeting, John Flaherty, Director of Security and Public Safety, once again stressed the importance of signing up for CUNY Alert, a system that will provide text or voice notification of weather-related closings and emergencies to members of the CUNY community. (A fast, simple sign-up process can be accessed at www.cuny.edu/alert.)
Submitted on: APR 16, 2008