Community Meeting 5-7-13

“On July 1, I’ll be moving to 42nd Street, CUNY’s central office,” said President William Kelly in his opening remarks at the Graduate Center’s last community meeting of the academic year on May 7. Kelly assumes the position of CUNY’s interim chancellor following Chancellor Matthew Goldstein’s retirement after fourteen years of service to the university.

Kelly’s succession marks a new chapter for CUNY and the GC community. The CUNY Board of Trustees appointed Provost and Vice President Chase Robinson to lead the center as interim president, effective July 1, 2013. Of Robinson’s appointment, Kelly remarked that the GC “is in good hands.”

The president reported that the GC’s fiscal outlook remains stable and the administration continues to focus on the Strategic Plan and investments in student support. Kelly added that the center has granted continuing students a variety of dissertation-year fellowships, which total “$1.65 million, an investment that has tripled in the last five years.”

Kelly emphasized that the GC will continue to explore numerous avenues for fiscal support, with Provost Robinson leading the way. This summer Robinson will work with the center’s administration to set aside approximately $500,000 for student research, said Kelly.

The president acknowledged the tremendous efforts the center is making to assist students with placement via the GC’s Career Planning and Professional Development Office, directed by Dr. Jennifer S. Furlong. The mission of the office is to prepare students for a postgraduate career and, declared Kelly, “We’re delighted with their work, and we’re committed to further invest in professional development.”

At the beginning of the 2013–14 academic year, in a move to enhance its research culture, the GC will launch its Distinguished Fellows Program, which falls under the auspices of the Advanced Research Collaborative (ARC) and its director, Professor Donald Robotham. Kelly noted that the program will bring “fifteen scholars to the Graduate Center for residency—eight from CUNY and seven from other universities. This will also support student research in the Praxis Network, which will bring students into intellectual discussions with distinguished visitors.”

Following his remarks, Kelly took questions from the audience on community matters, many of which focused on funding for current students in both doctoral and master’s tracks and his position as CUNY’s Interim Chancellor. On the matter of fellowships, Kelly acknowledged concerns about the financial gap that enhanced dissertation fellowships will create between incoming fellows and fellows admitted before 2013. To better position current students for an uncertain economic future, “we’re identifying vehicles for funding,” said Kelly, adding that the GC, through philanthropic efforts, is looking to expand grants to include current students. The plight of underresourced students struck a chord with the president, who empathized with their circumstances but also noted that securing funding for students is a constant battle in a publicly funded university system. With Kelly at the helm, the GC has been able to increase funding for fellowships over the years from a base of $19 million to $51 million.

Responding to questions about how he would assist graduate students as interim chancellor, the president said he could not answer hypotheticals but offered a positive note, saying that Provost Robinson—as interim president of the Graduate Center—would continue the tradition of “engaging all students in productive conversations” to create a better academic experience.

At the conclusion of the meeting, members of the audience thanked Kelly for his dedication to the center and congratulated him upon his appointment as interim chancellor of the City University of New York.

—Rachel Ramírez

Submitted on: MAY 28, 2013

Category: General GC News, President's Office - Community Meeting