Community Meeting 2-28-08

President William Kelly reported that the Governor’s Executive Budget (the first step in the budget process) has fully funded CUNY. All operating costs are covered and, currently, no contingency plans are requested. However, because of the troubled economic climate, the budget includes no additions or new investment. The President stated that many state agencies have been asked to absorb cuts, but CUNY has not been asked to do so. He described the budget situation as “stable.” Plans for the future, he said, include the creation of an endowment for CUNY and SUNY, though there is some debate over the wisdom of this course.

The President reported that the Board of Trustees unanimously approved the new joint Ph.D. degree programs in Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. There will now be degrees awarded jointly by Hunter College and the Graduate Center; degrees awarded jointly by City College and the Graduate Center; and degrees awarded solely by the Graduate Center. There will be a common faculty and curricula, and any changes in curricula will be reviewed by the Graduate Center’s Graduate Council. The President called this re-structuring “a huge step forward.” It acknowledges investment in the sciences made by the CUNY colleges, and results in many positive changes for graduate students in these disciplines, including vastly improved fellowship packages.

The Graduate Center has received a record number of applications and has the largest enrollment in its history. Work on faculty recruitment and the enhancement of fellowship packages is continuing and is “in solid shape,” said the President. Julia Wrigley, Acting Provost and Senior Vice President, stated that an effort is underway to obtain health insurance for CUNY graduate students in positions at CUNY paid by New York State that is comparable to the plan currently available to SUNY graduate students employed at SUNY in such positions. The President also spoke briefly about plans to invest resources in infrastructure by upgrading some of the building’s public spaces.

The President discussed two exciting new initiatives. The Global Responsibility to Protect project, which was officially launched with a reception at the UN on February 14, will be housed within the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies at the Graduate Center. It will serve as a catalyst in moving the R2P (Responsibility to Protect) principles, designed to improve the international response to genocide and mass atrocities, into practice, and will serve as an information clearinghouse and resource for governments, international institutions, and non-governmental organizations involved in this effort. The Leon Levy Center for Biography will bring innovative approaches and fresh voices to the genre of biography by serving as a hub for writers, scholars, students, and readers of the genre. It will support Biography Fellows, Dissertation Fellows, and Graduate Student Fellows, as well as a conference. Over a dozen distinguished biographers, including winners of the Pulitzer Prize, attended the reception that celebrated its establishment.

At the conclusion of the meeting, John Flaherty, Director of Security and Public Safety, stressed the importance of signing up for CUNY Alert, a system that will provide text or voice notification of weather-related closings and emergencies to members of the CUNY community. (A fast, simple sign-up process can be accessed at

Submitted on: FEB 28, 2008

Category: President's Office - Community Meeting