Letter to the Community 8-26-05: Agenda & Staff Changes


August 26, 2005

Dear Friends,

Welcome back. The fall semester always suggests fresh beginnings, new possibilities. This year that sense of promise is, for me, particularly acute. I'm excited about my new position and very optimistic about the future of The Graduate Center. I was heartened by the support so many of you extended during the search process and am very grateful for the hundreds of congratulatory messages I've received in the last two months. I shall do my very best to be worthy of your confidence.

I'm proud of what we have accomplished together across the last few years, particularly in regard to student support, faculty renewal, and the enhancement of our public profile. We've come a long way, but we have other roads to travel. I will be seeking your advice about our direction and will rely on your good counsel. We have many items on our immediate agenda. Let me list a few of them:

  • Doctoral student support. We've more than tripled available doctoral student support in the last five years. How can we best deploy the funding we've achieved to recruit and retain the strongest possible student cohorts? What possible routes for additional funding might we best explore?
  • Faculty recruitment. We've hired fifty-one new GC-appointed faculty members in the last seven years. What is the most prudent way to extend that effort? Perhaps more important, how can we best integrate the talented new faculty the CUNY colleges have recruited in the last few years?
  • The structure of the doctoral science programs. The University has embarked on a process of renewal and targeted investment in the sciences. How might we advance that initiative by re-imagining the ways in which we recruit, support, and train doctoral students in the sciences?
  • The expansion of Master's level instruction at The Graduate Center. Would the development of both interdisciplinary degrees and degrees embedded in doctoral programs promote, in some programs, a more comprehensive curricula and a more efficient use of resources? How might we align such an initiative with the legitimate interests of the colleges?
  • Stabilization and enhancement of information technology services. How can we best direct and improve computer and telecommunication services? What new services should we consider for the future?
  • Public Programs. How can we best design our public programming to enhance our visibility and advance our educational, cultural, and research missions? What mix of programming will best reflect our capacities and express our aspirations?
  • Fund raising. Our initial capital campaign has come to successful closure. Quo vadis? The development of additional revenue streams is essential to our well-being. How can we sharpen our message in the interest of attracting new friends and supporters? What role can and should faculty members play in that effort?

Enough questions, I know, to produce a bad case of what the immortal George Jones called "Heartaches and Hangovers," but I'm genuinely convinced that these challenges—and the dozens of others we confront—present substantial opportunities for progress. One reason I feel that way is because of the extremely talented people with whom I will be working closely. Most of those people are familiar to you, but let me note a few key changes in our administrative staff:

  • Linda Edwards has agreed to serve as Provost. As Associate Provost, Linda was largely responsible for our remarkable gains in financial aid; given the larger canvas of the Provost's position, she will, I am confident, lead us in productive new directions.
  • Steve Brier will become Vice President for Information Technology and External Programs. Steve's responsibilities - like his capacities - are many and varied. In particular, he will oversee the development of our technological resources; he will spearhead a comprehensive review of our public programming; and he will coordinate our university center functions, our governmental relations, and the utilization of our public spaces.
  • Julia Wrigley will serve as Associate Provost. We are extremely fortunate to have enlisted Julia's talents in our cause. A former Executive Officer, as well as a distinguished scholar, researcher, and teacher, Julia brings to her new position both sense and sensibility. I am very excited about working with Julia and look forward to her good counsel.
  • Marilyn Marzolf will be leaving the Provost's Office to work directly with me. I am extremely grateful that Marilyn - who, I need not tell you, has long been the heart and the head of The Graduate Center — has agreed to undertake this new assignment.
  • Steve Gorelick has accepted a faculty position in Hunter College's Department of Film and Media. This is a shift Steve has been interested in pursuing for some time, and I'm delighted that he will be able to follow this new path. We will celebrate Steve's contributions to The Graduate Center at a reception in September and will launch a search for his successor during the fall.
  • Sarah Dwyer has agreed to serve as Acting Director of Development. Sarah will oversee that crucial office as we seek a new Vice President for Institutional Advancement. Those of you who have worked with Sarah know that she will bring great energy and intelligence to this position.

Other changes are in the works; I will keep you informed as things develop. More important, many talented people will stay in place. I am especially pleased that Sebastian Persico, Yosette Jones-Johnson, Matthew Schoengood, and Brian Schwartz have agreed to continue to serve The Graduate Center in their current positions.

A final word. We work in a wonderful institution and live lives of great privilege. Unlike most of the world's people, we are permitted, indeed encouraged, to follow the course of our imagination. We are able to spend our days teaching, writing, reading and thinking in the company of others who share our interests and nurture our growth. My cardinal task, as I imagine it, is to foster that spirit, to make conscious the joy that is inherent in our work. I pledge my efforts to do so, and solicit your guidance, your criticism, and your support.

With warm regards and all best wishes for the semester and the year,

William P. Kelly

Submitted on: AUG 26, 2005

Category: President's Office - Archive