City Campaign: Fight for Full Funding of CUNY

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Statement on Mayor de Blasio's FY2018 Executive Budget for CUNY

Upon release of the Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2018 Executive Budget, Dr. Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY, the union representing 25,000 faculty and professional staff at the City University of New York, released the following statement:

“The PSC commends Mayor de Blasio for continuing his commitments to make targeted investments in STEM programs at CUNY and to increase funding for CUNY’s celebrated Accelerated Studies in Associate Programs (ASAP) initiative. Union members also appreciate the Mayor’s funding of the hard-won PSC-CUNY collective bargaining increases in his budget. The PSC is committed to reversing the trend of public disinvestment in New York City’s great public university system. The Mayor’s budget takes an important step in that direction, and the union will continue to advocate for the resources that full-time faculty, adjunct faculty and professional staff need to serve students well.

What’s missing for CUNY students in the Executive Budget is the $35 million investment the University requested for the Faculty Partnership for Student Success Initiative, a plan to allow CUNY faculty more time to mentor and advise students and more time to engage in academic research that is essential to high-quality teaching. A large body of research and CUNY’s own experience with ASAP shows that students are more successful and are more likely to stay on pace to graduation when they receive greater individual attention from faculty.

A recent nationwide big-data study indicated that for students who graduate, CUNY is unmatched in its record of enabling economic mobility. Now the Faculty Partnership for Student Success Initiative is essential in order to enable more CUNY students to complete their degrees. Throughout the budget process this spring, the PSC will continue to work with the CUNY administration, the Mayor and the City Council to ensure that funding for this important program is in the final budget. “

PSC Members Testify About Teaching Load

More than 60 PSC members testified at the April 19, 2017 CUNY Board of Trustee hearing at the Borough Hall in Queens. Here is written testimony from some of them about the need to implement the contractual agreement on full-time faculty workload.

Beverly P. Horowitz, Associate Professor, York College

"Adjunct faculty teach a high percentage of classes across the CUNY system. Despite their dedication they do not have sufficient time for regular office hours and student advisement on an ongoing basis. Reducing teaching requirements to 18 contact hours annually will provide full-time faculty with the additional time to develop and institute innovative curricula, provide more time for student advisement for greater numbers of CUNY students, and enable faculty to engage in additional scholarly activities, including faculty-student research endeavors." Read Horowitz's full testimony here.

Sigmund Shen, Associate Professor, LaGuardia Community College

"There is no pedagogical defense for the current workload. The only reason for it is to save money. The only reason to keep saving money in this perverse way is to regard CUNY as a business. But that’s not why we’re here. The only reason to build and defend a public higher education system is because we acknowledge, we know, that we are responsible for the next generation of leaders, and if we fail in that responsibility we will all pay the price." Read Shen's full testimony here.

David Gerwin, Associate Professor, Queens College

"I am a senior faculty member – 19 years! – in a college that lacks enough faculty to run programs, my workload is now expressed in administrative tasks. But a workload reduction that increased my full-time colleagues while also reducing my administrative burden could allow me to teach strong and innovative courses every semester, balancing my responsibilities to my program, my graduate students, and my undergraduate students, while doing the research that keeps my teaching fresh and up-to-date in the field, and provides opportunities for undergraduate mentoring and research." Read Gerwin's full testimony here.

Katherine Culkin, Associate Professor, Bronx Community College

"I love teaching at BCC, finding the students intelligent, curious, and enthusiastic. As we know, though, the students at CUNY, particularly at the community colleges, are also often unprepared and have to balance school with many other demands. The CUNY faculty’s request for a reduction in teaching load is not based on a desire to work less with students, but to serve them better." Read Culkin's full testimony here.

Lorraine Cohen, Professor of Sociology, LaGuardia Community College

"The issue of teaching load has resulted in losing some very promising faculty to other colleges whose teaching load is less onerous. One such faculty member, a historian, left my department last year while I was serving as chair; he told me that teaching load was a major factor in his decision." Read Cohen's full testimony here.