Community Meeting: 5-7-12

President’s Community Meeting
May 7, 2012

GC faculty, staff, and students met in the Skylight Room on May 7 for the final community gathering of the academic year. While past meetings have focused strictly on the center’s austerity measures, President Kelly was proud to announce some astonishing changes that have happened this spring, especially in April and early May, marking a new chapter in the GC’s academic and fiscal future: “We’re at the end of a long road, my friends, and that’s a good thing.”

Because of legislation passed last May that prohibits the state from cutting CUNY’s budget for five years, the GC has not had to make additional cuts to any of its programs, centers and institutes, or other resources. This development “enables us to pursue matters critical to our future,” said Kelly.

Due to wise and careful budgeting, the GC’s office of business and finance and the office of the provost have identified nearly $1.2 million to provide support for current level-three doctoral students in the form of fellowships. “We awarded twenty more dissertation fellowships this year than last; we’ve increased stipends from $18,000 with no tuition to $22,000 with tuition on major awards,” said Kelly. Moreover, $200,000 has been committed to support those students who do not currently hold fellowships.

Most noteworthy, said President Kelly, is a recent agreement reached with CUNY’s Chancellor Goldstein regarding “five-year fellowship packages carrying full health insurance, tuition remission, and $25,000 in yearly stipends.” These fellowships will be phased in over five years beginning in Fall 2013. In addition, funding for MAGNET fellows will increase in Fall 2013 from $25,000 to $27,000. The new fellowship packages will also reduce the teaching load from two courses a semester to one. “We’ll level the playing field for our students,” Kelly explained. “They will have more time to spend on their own scholarship, and teaching will become a question of professional development rather than a burden. This is a great victory for our students.”

The president emphasized the CUNY chancellery’s vital role in securing these fellowships and reducing the teaching load of graduate students. While CUNY colleges will lose teaching power, the chancellor will compensate them for that loss with additional dollars in their adjunct budgets.

These developments now make the GC competitive with top-ranking private universities. Currently, the center stands as one of the most affordable and attractive graduate institutions in the country, while it is also, Kelly added, the “third largest producer of doctorates in the humanities and social sciences, behind UC–Berkeley and the University of Texas.”

Part of the plan is to increase enrollment in the master’s programs so that the GC is more in line with the ratio of master’s to doctoral students in other universities, but President Kelly emphasized that this will take effect slowly: “We’re going to do this the right way, and that’s why we gave ourselves three years to do it.”

Submitted on: MAY 7, 2012

Category: President's Office - Community Meeting