March 2, 2017
After an eventful few months I do hope that the routine of the new semester has offered some equilibrium. For those who are just beginning at the Graduate Center, I extend my warmest greetings. To those faculty, students, and staff who are beginning anew, welcome back.
To state the obvious, national politics looms large and will remain in sharp focus, particularly those issues that may affect us. By now, most of you are familiar with the Graduate Center’s recent efforts in providing help and advocacy to a colleague whose return from Iran was imperiled by an executive order. For anyone familiar with 365 Fifth Avenue, those efforts came as little surprise; we’re an academic institution that believes deeply in core principles that underlie learning and scholarship, such as openness, equity, and freedom. No doubt new challenges await, but we will remain true to those principles.
Whatever the changes in higher education policies that may take place, we will continue to make the case for fundamental research and learning. In that light, I couldn’t be prouder to announce a transformative moment in the Graduate Center’s history: as of this semester, the Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC), CUNY’s premier scientific research institute, has formally joined the Graduate Center. The partnership promises to catalyze the sciences across CUNY and New York City alike, enhancing graduate education and the potential for scientific discovery.
The ASRC facility, a 200,000-square-foot, state-of-the art building on the southern edge of City College’s campus in Upper Manhattan, was designed to foster collaboration across disciplines and enhance potential for groundbreaking research. It houses five initiatives, each led by an internationally recognized scientist: Nanoscience (founding director: Rein Ulijn); Structural Biology (founding director: Kevin H. Gardner); Neuroscience (founding director: Patrizia Casaccia); and Environmental Sciences (founding director: Charles J. Vörösmarty). (A search is well underway for a Photonics initiative director.)
Unlike traditional science buildings, the ASRC’s design is interdisciplinary, and is intended to incubate a culture of collaboration among researchers in distinct and increasingly interconnected disciplines. Among the resources onsite is a 5,000-square-foot cleanroom—the largest in New York City—housing full-service nanofabrication instrumentation.
The ASRC’s Core User Facilities housed at the ASRC are open to faculty and students throughout CUNY, as well as researchers from other academic research institutions, government, and industry. The facilities and resources will attract additional world-class faculty and the most promising graduate students, while advancing our commitment to knowledge as a public good. The opportunities are extraordinary, and we look forward to this new chapter in the Graduate Center’s history.
The ASRC announcement underscores the University’s commitment to the sciences, reflected in the 2015 report led by the Graduate Center. You will soon see more about our plans for the sciences—and our institutional goals overall—in ‘Building for the Future: 2017–2022 Strategic Plan’, to be published shortly. The plan, which is the product of broad consultation and serious deliberation, identifies four ambitious but attainable goals. It is also aligned with the vision articulated in the CUNY Master Plan: a university enlivened by collaborations across campuses and a shared commitment to the work of our students and faculty.
Above all, the Strategic Plan signals renewed emphasis on the broader view. Recent budget reductions have forced us to make some difficult cuts, but we are determined that this period of contraction is to be followed by transformative growth—in academic excellence, impact, financial diversification and resourcefulness, and institutional resilience. The document will outline not only the priorities behind this planned growth, but also the specific steps for implementation. Please look for a separate communication very soon.
Overseeing the plan’s design and delivery is the Office of Communications and Marketing, led by Lori Duggan Gold, our new Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs. Lori brings to the position more than 20 years of high-level experience, most recently at Adelphi University, where as VP for Communications she oversaw marketing, internal and external communications, media relations, community affairs, and government relations. Lori has also held strategic communications positions in publishing, education companies, and government and nonprofit agencies.
I would also like to congratulate Professor David Olan (GC/Baruch, Music) on his appointment as Associate Provost and Dean for the humanities and social sciences, roles for which he has served in an interim capacity since 2013. David joined the Graduate Center’s doctoral faculty in 1984 and served as the Executive Officer of the Ph.D. Program in Music from 2001–2013. David brings a depth of expertise to his posts, and I know that our Provost, Joy Connolly, is as delighted as I am by this appointment.
In these eventful times, I remind you of our public programming, which this semester includes ‘The First 100 Days’, a seven-part series designed to help navigate this new political era. Conversation over the next several weeks will address immigration, activism, trade, inequality, and other timely themes, all featuring Graduate Center scholars and other national figures. The lineup is stellar, and I hope you will be able to join us.
I close by reminding you that spring culminates with our 53rd Commencement on Friday, June 2, at Lincoln Center. Further details will be announced in the weeks ahead, including news about our honorary degree recipients.
Thank you again for your commitment to the Graduate Center, and best wishes for a successful and rewarding semester.
Chase F. Robinson