Community Meeting: 3-1-10

President’s Community Meeting
Monday, March 1, 2010

At the March 1 community meeting, President Kelly spoke about the budget situation, which is dependent on Albany politicians, and then turned to the Middle States reevaluation process, the new housing facility, and the hiring of new faculty.

“Last year, CUNY’s budget cut of $53 million was absorbed throughout the university. The Graduate Center did not feel much of an impact, because our reserves allowed us to absorb the cut,” he noted. Most of the reserves were in tax-levy dollars. A CUNY budget cut of $63 million is on the table for 2010–11, and there is the possibility of yet another $20 million cut, to be taken in cuts to labor. There may also be a mid-year budget cut. That being said, the president emphasized the tremendous lack of clarity in the state’s 2010–11 budget, due to swelling deficits, turmoil in the political situation in Albany, and the rocky tenure of Governor Paterson. Nor is it clear where the budget will originate: with the governor, Lieutenant Governor Ravitch, or the New York State Senate—or perhaps all three. Regarding the CUNY budget for 2011–12, the outlook is grim. The GC is likely to face real budget restrictions, particularly due to the end of stimulus funding. These budget uncertainties make it difficult to plan for the future.

In the meantime, the president assured the assembly that the GC is sequestering as many funds as are legally allowed—two percent of the base budget—to defray future shortfalls and cuts and is keeping a watchful eye on expenditures. “It is our task to protect the students and faculty,” he said, “so we are being careful of the commitments we have beyond this year.” Despite the gloomy outlook, the president expressed confidence in the future: “We confront these difficult times from a position of strength.”

Turning to a topic of vital importance to the reaccreditation of the GC by the Middle States Association (MSA), the president announced that the final version of the GC’s Self-Study Report was submitted to the MSA visiting team on February 24 and may also be viewed on the GC Web site. From April 11 to 13, the MSA team will visit the GC to speak with members of the community. Shortly thereafter, MSA will notify the GC of its findings. The president gave particular thanks to two of the GC Self-Study Steering Committee co-chairs, Anne Humpherys (Prof., GC, Lehman, English) and Dave Adams, director of Institutional Research and Program Evaluation, for overseeing the reaccreditation process and producing such a lengthy and important document.

The new housing facility for GC students and faculty continues to move forward on CUNY’s new East Harlem campus at East 118th Street, and will break ground in late April. The facility will be located adjacent to CUNY’s Lois V. and Samuel J. Silberman School of Social Work, the CUNY School of Public Health, and Hunter College’s Centro de Estudios Puertorriquenos. The opening of the eight-floor facility—six floors for students (100 beds) and two floors for faculty or postdocs (thirteen apartments)—is projected for Fall 2011. Although the GC will undertake a mortgage of between $15 and $16 million, President Kelly expressed confidence in the future benefits of the investment. “We are going to provide a valuable service for students,” he said, “and a physical endowment that will be available for the future.”

Finally, President Kelly reported that the GC has hired seven new outstanding faculty members to various departments, three of whom were commitments from last year’s budget. They include Ruth Gilmore, History; Susan Buck-Morss, Political Science; Alva NoĆ«, Philosophy; Bryan Turner, Sociology; Kandice Chuh, English; and Juliet Blevins, Linguistics.

Submitted on: MAR 1, 2010

Category: President's Office - Community Meeting