Advancing our Public Mission by Increasing our Impact

The Graduate Center will renew its public mission by expanding its range of degree and non-degree programs, improving pedagogical training and professionalization for students, and raising its institutional profile.
Advancing our public mission by increasing our impact

The Graduate Center will renew its public mission by expanding its range of degree and non-degree programs, improving pedagogical training and professionalization for students, and raising its institutional profile.

Priority 3: Advancing our public mission by increasing our impact

Melva Miller
In addition to her role as Deputy Queens Borough President, Melva Miller (Social Welfare) is a Ph.D. student—a combination she says serves her well: ‘I’m applying everything I’ve learned from research and theory, and seeing how it plays it out in the community. The experience and education that I’ve received through all my years at CUNY have been phenomenal. It’s why I do the work that I do.’

At the core of the Graduate Center’s history and identity lies our mission to disseminate learning and knowledge for the public good. During our first 50 years, we advanced this mission by building excellent Ph.D. programs, many of whose graduates teach in a wide variety of colleges and universities and work in cultural institutions, and by delivering educational and cultural programming to the public.

As needs change within higher education and society at large, our commitment to our public mission must also evolve. We must engage those seeking affordable master’s degrees, especially in interdisciplinary and emerging fields of study. We must align doctoral education with the expectations and needs of our students, who increasingly seek to complement their research expertise with state-of-the-art training in undergraduate pedagogy, and up-to-date skills for nonacademic careers. We must open the Graduate Center’s doors more widely to those whose interests lie outside of credit-based graduate education. We must also enhance our connections to the global academic world and to the broader public, using both traditional and digital means.

3.1 We will expand master’s programs and integrate master’s students into the academic life of the Graduate Center.
Minn Hurr
Minn Hur (M.A. ’16, Fashion Studies), co-founder and creative director of HVRMINN, showed his most recent men’s collection at New York Fashion Week.

From 2012 to 2015, the Graduate Center reduced new doctoral enrollment by approximately 25%, concentrating resources to provide more competitive recruitment packages. Although we have significantly increased master’s enrollment over the same period, this growth has taken place almost entirely in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program, and the relative size of this enrollment remains small. Expanding our portfolio of master’s degrees and integrating master’s programs into the Graduate Center will enhance our intellectual life, extend opportunities for graduate education to a larger population of students, complement Ph.D. enrollment, and open up teaching opportunities for faculty.

To further this goal, we will:

  • Increase the range and number of interdisciplinary and professional master’s programs.

  • Establish a system of periodic assessment of master’s programs to ensure strong admissions performance, diversity, and curricular innovation.

  • Ensure that the Office of Student Affairs has the necessary resources to address the needs of a growing master’s enrollment.

  • Offer enhanced academic and professional development support for our master’s community.

3.2 We will provide our doctoral students with exceptional training in pedagogy, becoming national leaders in graduate education.
Lee Gabay
Named a ‘2016 New Yorker of the Year’ by The New York TimesLee Gabay (Ph.D. ’14, Urban Education) teaches English at Brooklyn Democracy Academy, a transfer school for under-credited students whose education had been interrupted. His motto: ‘Students need to know how much you care before they care how much you know.’

The Graduate Center enjoys the unparalleled benefit of participating in CUNY’s mission of combining access and excellence. Doctoral students annually teach and train approximately 200,000 undergraduates, who constitute an exceptionally diverse community in the rich urban context that is New York City. Serving as models and mentors, doctoral students thus gain a distinctive education themselves. The stronger our graduate students’ training as teachers, the stronger is all of CUNY.

Significant progress has been made, particularly with the founding of the Futures Initiative in 2014 and the Teaching and Learning Center in 2015. To further our progress, we will:

  • Create incentives that partner doctoral programs with the Teaching and Learning Center.

  • Establish undergraduate teaching awards for doctoral students who are outstanding teachers and mentors for CUNY undergraduates, and awards for faculty who do outstanding service in mentoring and teaching graduate students.

  • Expand support for our work with LaGuardia Community College, currently funded by the Mellon Foundation, and seek resources to increase the scope of the program, including to other CUNY senior and community colleges.

  • Work with CUNY colleges to review the Writing Across the Curriculum and Quantitative Reasoning programs to assess their effectiveness, and explore alternative programing for the fifth year of fellowship funding.

3.3 We will model innovative methods of Ph.D. professionalization, and encourage our faculty’s focus on training students for both academic and nonacademic careers.
Adam Kavalier
Adam Kavalier (Ph.D. ’11, Biology) launched Undone Chocolate, the first bean-to-bar mak- er of premium organic chocolate bars in the Washington, D.C., area. Founded in late 2014, the company now produces more than 3,000 gourmet chocolate bars a month.

Within academia, new ideas, disciplines, and imperatives call for rethinking both the curriculum and classroom experience, and the Graduate Center is responding to this change in landscape. Our doctoral programs prepare students for careers in and out of the academy. We welcome the fact that a wide variety of skills and competencies acquired in the course of Ph.D. training—in research, qualitative and quantitative skills and techniques, and communication—are in high demand in the private and public sectors.
Much has been achieved over the last four years, especially through the work of the Office of Career Planning and Professional Development, the Teaching and Learning Center, GCDI, the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate Program, and the Futures Initiative, which are putting Graduate Center students on the frontier of new ideas and skills. But these and other initiatives are incipient. To sustain its national reputation as a leader in interdisciplinary scholarship and new digital literacies, the Graduate Center must cultivate innovation and experimentation. To accelerate our progress, we will:

  • Align academic milestones with broad professional development, such as replacing some exams with portfolios, repurposing first-year service hours, and facilitating curricular revisions to accommodate credit-bearing courses on pedagogy, classroom praxis, research, and proposal writing.

  • Integrate and coordinate activities currently sponsored by the Futures Initiative, the Office of Career Planning and Professional Development, the Teaching and Learning Center, the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate Program, and GCDI.

  • Establish a Writing Center to enhance the research and communication skills of our doctoral and master’s students.

  • Create a Statistics Center to provide faculty and students greater resources for quantitative and empirical research training.

  • Make it an expectation that all doctoral students apply for at least one source of external funding by the end of their third year, and two by the end of their fifth, and ensure that their efforts are adequately supported by faculty and staff.

  • Build an alumni community that will enrich students’ intellectual development and employment opportunities.

3.4 We will increase our impact through communications, programming, and nondegree programs that respond to public interest and reflect our faculty’s scholarly strengths and reputation.

Rarely has public and student interest been greater in inequality, globalization, urbanism, immigration, digital technologies, new art forms, social justice, brain science, and autobiography and memoir—all areas of study in which the Graduate Center stands out. Programs geared to those not seeking a degree—both inside and outside New York City—will improve our financial stability and contribute to the circulation of knowledge in the public sphere. To further these ends, we will:

  • Enrich and advertise more effectively creative public programming at 365 Fifth Avenue, concentrating particularly on the arts (with a focus on the James Gallery), the study of cities, and the sciences.

  • Design nondegree programs, such as short-term intensive seminars, summer institutes, and events that accompany scholarly conferences, with a focus on academic value and accessibility.

  • Model low-residency programs that combine conventional teaching with new methods made possible by instructional technology.

  • Build on existing efforts to share a greater amount of research with global publics through digital methods.

  • Create a coordinated strategic communications plan across all channels (digital, social, video, and print).

3.5 We will achieve greater recognition for our faculty and students by building stronger relationships with institutions in New York City and around the world.
Janet Gornick, Bill de Blasio, Paul Krugman
‘Inequality in New York City and Beyond’—a conversation featuring Professor Janet Gornick (Political Science/Sociology), Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Distinguished Professor Paul Krugman (Economics)— drew a standing-room-only audience to the Graduate Center and thousands more online.

No institution of higher education is self-contained: partnerships with other universities and research centers, businesses, think tanks, nonprofit organizations, and corporations are key to advancing faculty research and improving the support we offer our students. These partnerships also provide additional financial stability and position the Graduate Center as a locally and globally recognized source of thought and talent. We have already signed partnership agreements in Europe and Africa; we place students as fellows in institutions such as the New York Botanical Garden, the New York Public Library, the Morgan Library & Museum, and the American Museum of Natural History; and we are piloting a program in conjunction with Google that provides computer science education to students in the CUNY colleges, focusing on diverse populations.

Building on these efforts, we will:

  • Continue to raise our academic profile, creating partnerships with academic institutions on a local and global scale.

  • Deepen our collaboration with non-academic institutions locally and regionally, including digital industries and non-governmental organizations.

  • Capitalize on the ASRC’s existing partnerships with institutions locally, nationally, and internationally, and seek to develop new relationships.