Community Meeting: 10-4-10

The President’s Community Meeting
Monday, October 4, 2010

President William P. Kelly spoke of budgetary challenges and positive internal developments at the community meeting on October 4. The Graduate Center is facing a $4.9 million cut for this fiscal year, and an additional $1.1 million will be put on reserve in case of midyear budget cuts in 2011. To fill the gap, the Graduate Center will freeze new appointments and will not fill positions that become vacant. The reserved $1.1 million will be addressed, Kelly said, by cutting OTPS, or Other Than Personnel Services expenditures. With state elections around the corner, Kelly also expressed concern that New York’s new governor may be inclined to cut CUNY’s budget even further.

While there has been some talk that the GC could address its deficit by admitting more doctoral students, Kelly noted this would not be a viable solution. “Unlike undergraduate institutions which can reasonably make the claim that having a bachelor’s degree is an unalloyed good, the same cannot be said about a doctorate or Ph.D.,” he said. “These are long-term commitments, and if you admit more people than you expect to place, you do those people no favors. Further, you enter into an ethical position that is unsustainable.”

The president also spoke about the enormous progress being made with the eight-story housing facility, which will eventually serve as a revenue stream for the Graduate Center. The building shares grounds with CUNY’s Schools of Public Health and Social Welfare on the new East Harlem campus at 118th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues. The exterior is almost finished and the location of a rooftop garden can be seen on the top floor, with panoramic views of the city. The residence, which has six floors for students and two for faculty and postdoctoral fellows, will be ready for occupancy in September 2011. Interested students may register for apartments at

Over the past year, the GC has hired twelve new faculty members; eight joined the community in Fall 2010 and the remaining four are expected in 2011. Recent arrivals also include three distinguished postdoctoral scholars, who will contribute to three interdisciplinary committees created through funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and four accomplished writing fellows, who have joined the Leon Levy Center for Biography for a year.

At the request of the president, the Center for the Humanities is now supporting an exciting outreach program, Seminars in the Humanities, which brings together CUNY doctoral faculty, undergraduate faculty, and doctoral students in sustained intellectual interaction. Each seminar is organized by both a CUNY faculty member and a doctoral student, has required reading, and meets no fewer than five times a year. For more information, see
Addressing the results of the National Research Council’s (NRC) nationwide study of doctoral programs, the president remarked that, while the GC had a strong showing in multiple humanities programs, including English, French, History, and Theatre, the data NRC used for the study dates to 2005, and he cautioned against using the results as true indicators of national status, especially in regard to GC social science and hard science programs. Moreover, the financial support offered to doctoral students five years ago was not extensive as it is today, and student support, or the absence of it, was an important component of the NRC results. “Every program here, with very few exceptions, is considerably stronger than it was in 2005,” he said. “That is why our budget has almost doubled in that time.”

The president concluded the meeting by urging the community to view the work of a local artist in the GC’s James Gallery: Deep Impressions: Willie Cole Works on Paper.

Submitted on: OCT 4, 2010

Category: President's Office - Community Meeting