Letter to the Community 2-10-06: Development & Review

Dear Friends,

Curricular Development

During the spring semester I will ask all academic programs to review their enrollment projections and their curricular structures. In particular, I will ask the Executive Officers to consider developing master's programs within their disciplines. The point of this exercise is to consider whether enrolling masters students would enable programs to decrease doctoral enrollment (and hence increase financial aid packages) without compromising the scope of curricular offerings. Because we are not looking to expand our enrollment significantly, such master's programs could be offered, I believe, without compromising existing college programs. This is, I recognize, a complex matter that will require considerable discussion and consultation. I look forward to beginning that process this spring.

Financial Aid

Co-incident with this curricular review, I will be working with Provost Linda Edwards, with the Executive Officers, and with the Financial Aid staff to reconsider the ways in which we distribute financial aid. We have achieved tuition fellowships and guaranteed teaching assignments for a substantial number of entering students; now we need to take additional steps toward our goal of competitive recruitment packages. During the spring semester, we will rethink the distribution of all current financial aid and will develop an "all-funds" budget proposal to share with our friends at the Chancellery. Again, this is a delicate undertaking that will require the cooperation of many constituencies, but I am committed to making every effort to advance this most important priority.

Science Review

As most of you know, the Chancellor's Office has undertaken a review of CUNY's approach to doctoral education in the sciences. The goal of that process is to strengthen the science programs and to enhance CUNY's capacity to attract sponsored research. This effort will track against the substantial capital investments the university will make in its infrastructure across the next decade. A team of distinguished visitors will visit the university later this month to assist CUNY in its planning. These visitors will meet with me, other GC administrators, Executive Officers, and doctoral students, as well as with college administrators and central office managers. Their mandate is to examine all aspects of CUNY's science programs and to recommend productive reforms. We can expect significant change from this initiative, change that I believe will have positive consequences for our capacity to recruit and retain outstanding doctoral candidates. I will, of course, keep you informed as this process unfolds.


After considerable review and consultation, I decided to change the management structure of our development office. At the conclusion of the fall semester we ended our long relationship with Larry Lynn. The Graduate Center profited from Larry's advice, but we are, I believe, at a point in our history, where we will be better served by a full-time presence than by a part-time consultant. To that end, I contracted with Gail Freeman Associates, a widely respected search firm. Gail and her colleagues are well advanced in their efforts to identify a Vice President for Institutional Advancement whose skills are suited to our very particular needs. We hope to interview finalists and choose a Vice President before the close of the semester. With that new colleague on board, we will chart a comprehensive fund raising course, a strategy that will depend for its success upon everyone's active involvement.

Public Programs and Continuing Education

With the critical support of Vice President Steve Brier, I have conducted a full review of our public programs and continuing education offerings. Much has been achieved in that area under the direction of David Levine, but to a considerable extent, we have become the victims of our success. Our staff, our facilities, and our financial resources have been seriously strained by the number of events that we schedule. Further, many of our offerings have had little to do with our core mission. I have decided, therefore, to narrow our outreach. My goal is to enhance our public profile by sharpening our identity, while simultaneously relieving the pressure on our capacities. These are the consequences of that decision:

  • We will continue to offer a limited number of continuing education courses, centering on those programs that have established constituencies, particularly within the GC community. These courses will be administered by a reconfigured Continuing Education Office. We will discontinue the print catalogue we have distributed across the last six years. Instead we will rely on our website, on email, and on targeted mailings. Vice President Steve Brier will be in touch with programs and centers to help facilitate this transition.
  • Public programming will originate solely with our academic programs, centers, and institutes. We will no longer sponsor events that are developed by external entities or initiate programming outside the frame of our programs, centers, and institutes.
  • Academic programs, centers, and institutes will be responsible for all aspects of the events that they mount, including publicity, space reservations, and seating. The exception to this rule involves events that are likely to attract sizable external audiences. In these cases, the Continuing Education Office will provide limited logistical support if that service is requested well in advance of the event. Again, Steve Brier will circulate a memo detailing the services available and the procedures involved in accessing them.
  • The Center for the Humanities, under the direction of Distinguished Professor David Nasaw, will expand its scope. In addition to mounting its own programs, the Center will serve as a coordinating agency for developing and promoting interdisciplinary events that have broad public appeal.

David Levine, the founding director of Continuing Education and Public Programs, will leave the Graduate Center at the end of the spring semester. I want to thank David for his hard work, his creativity, and his devotion across the past six years.

Information Technology

The Office of Information Technology has made significant progress during the fall semester. The upgrade to a more robust and capacious email system has been successfully completed. Further, a new web-based access system, which provides more reliable remote connection to GC email accounts is also in place. And with support from the Student Technology Fee, we've been able to provide every registered GC student with a 256 MB Flash drive. The Office of Information Technology has many other initiatives in the pipeline, including a fully digitalized application and admissions process. You'll be hearing directly from Vice President Brier about these plans during the course of the semester.


As you'll notice we've moved to another format in the elevator display cases, one that features a calendar of upcoming events. These listings are a production of the Office of Public Affairs and Publications. To include your event on this roster, please complete the monthly forms circulated by that office. For additional information, contact Nan Shaw.

Community Meetings

I have been heartened by strong attendance at our community meetings (a special nod to Sam Adams in this regard), and hope that this forum will retain its popularity throughout the spring semester. It's proven to be a terrific venue for exchanging news, ideas, and information. Please join us on March 15 at 1:00 p.m. (NYC Councilmember and Speaker Christine Quinn will be our guest), and at 4:00 p.m. on April 11 and May 8.

I conclude with thanks to all of you for making the fall semester so invigorating. I look forward to a spring of joy and continued achievement.

With warmest regards,

Bill Kelly

Submitted on: FEB 10, 2006

Category: President's Office - Archive