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Home » Clarion » 2013 » January 2013 » The National Pathways Petition: Signers Say Why Moratorium Is Needed

The National Pathways Petition: Signers Say Why Moratorium Is Needed


In its first four weeks, 5,000 people signed the national petition in support of a moratorium on implementing CUNY’s Pathways initiative. Fully one-third of the signers also have left a comment – a truly surprising rate for an online petition.

Clearly this is an issue that has touched a chord far beyond the City University of New York: thousands of those comments were left by faculty at other colleges and universities. A selection of those comments appears below. (Institutions and organizations are listed for identification purposes only.) You can sign the petition – and read other signers’ comments – at



Rafia Zafar
Washington University in St. Louis
Associate Dean for Diversity
Professor of English and of African & African American Studies

As a member of the City College Class of 1975, and a full professor and associate dean of the graduate school of an elite university, I urge CUNY to abandon this proposed curriculum and work with the thousands of faculty who are dedicated to their CUNY students. It was those very types of dedicated CUNY faculty that started me on the path to my position today. Don’t shortchange CUNY students at the very time more, not less, education is needed.

William North
Carleton College Associate
Professor of History

Curricular changes should involve extensive and genuine faculty input; these clearly did not, and it seems clear that coercion is being used to implement changes in a way that violates the very essence of intellectual freedom and the mission of educational institutions.

Michael Graham
University of Akron
Professor of History

Cutting back general education requirements in the name of “degree completion” only dilutes the product, and, in this case, expanding the caste system in higher education. Elite institutions (and the students who can afford them) get one product, and middle- or working-class students get a much poorer one.

Margaret Vendryes
Wellesley College
Visiting Lecturer, Art

I was tenured at York and the Graduate Center in 2006. Although I am no longer on the faculty at CUNY, I continue to support its premise to offer quality education to the city’s students. This program is a disgrace.

Eric Gawiser
Rutgers University
Associate Professor of Physics & Astronomy

CUNY is a great institution; I have colleagues there whose research and teaching I greatly respect. If this behavior continues, they will surely move elsewhere, and CUNY’s faculty will decrease in quality, further harming its educational product.

Rafael Peñas Cruz
London School of Economics
Coordinating Language Teacher

Having been informed by colleagues in New York about the Pathways plan that CUNY’s management team is trying to introduce, I am concerned about the long-term consequences that such changes may have for the working-class students who attend CUNY. It is essential that they receive as good an education as do students at Ivy League universities. I fear that Pathways offers a diluted education that will not prepare them for the challenges of an ever-changing world.

Frieda Stahl
California State University, Los Angeles Professor of Physics Emeritus

As a BA graduate of Hunter College, and as a former dean of my employing university responsible for undergraduate curriculum development, I am appalled at this proposal to cheapen the entire college learning experience.

Gordon Aubrecht
Ohio State University
Professor of Physics

A college education is meant to help develop and nurture critical thinking. In science, laboratory work is essential to supplement theory. Neither experiment nor theory is sufficient alone.

Shelley Streeby
University of California, San Diego
Professor of Literature and of Ethnic Studies

After 20 years in the classroom with students, I know how important that time in class is, for students from working-class backgrounds like myself especially. Don’t short them in the name of austerity! Listen to your faculty….

Paul Elitzik
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Director, Student Publications

I am an alumnus of CCNY who has benefited from the excellent teaching for which the college was famous. I am distressed to see the curriculum watered down and teaching devalued.

Nasser Rabbat
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Aga Kahn Professor of Islamic Architecture

I agree with the comment that Benno [Schmidt] would not have done this at Yale. A further separation between classes of the educated is no solution.

Cara Cilano
University of North Carolina Wilmington Associate Professor of English

The General Administration of the UNC system is attempting to push through an eerily similar “Pathways” initiative against which we must also take a stand.

Joel Berkowitz University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Director, Sam & Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies

As a CUNY Graduate Center alumnus (Theatre, 1995), and a former adjunct of several CUNY colleges, I applaud my colleagues for standing up for the integrity of CUNY’s educational mission.

Ana Zentella
University of California, San Diego
Professor of Ethnic Studies, Emerita

The destructive nature of Pathways is of great concern to me because I was an undergrad at Hunter and a professor there for over 30 years, and was also [on the faculty] at the CUNY Graduate Center. I am in the Hunter Alumni Hall of Fame – but I will change my will and leave nothing to Hunter/CUNY unless the cuts and intimidation end, and CUNY honors its commitment to excellent public education.

Robert Vaden-Goad
Southern Connecticut State University Associate Professor of Mathematics

At what point did society come to accept that board members know more about educating students than those who do it all day, every day?

Sharon Barnes
University of Toledo Associate
Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies

I am concerned about similar agendas here in Ohio. It is getting more and more difficult to deliver a quality education to students. We need state support for education! Investment in young people is key to our future.

Edward Sunderhaus
Cincinnati State University
Instructor of Physics

As a physics instructor, I am appalled at how little science students have learned prior to coming to the college. It is only through hands-on experience that students can learn any of the natural sciences. There is no “real” science learning without labs.

Steven Stoll
Fordham University
Associate Professor of History

A college education is not a Pop-Tart! It’s slower food and delivers more in nutrition than a quick fill on empty calories. I stand with the CUNY faculty in resisting this shortcut to budget savings.

Douglas Mao
Johns Hopkins University
Professor of English
Past President, Modernist Studies Association

The first two decades of my life were thoroughly bound up with CUNY. I attended Hunter College High School; my mother worked for the CUNY administration. And I grew up in a largely working-class environment. Since then – in part through my service in the late 1990s on the board of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies – I have observed several attempts to diminish the quality of education at this great university, each of them driven by the belief that real intellectual attainment is not to be demanded of the largely working-class students CUNY serves. This view undercuts the deeper values promoted by higher education – and, in the long run, helps diminish the practical value of the college degree in the world beyond the university.

Leslie Sharkey
University of Minnesota
Associate Professor of Veterinary Clinical Sciences

Reasons for poor graduation rates are multifactorial and difficult to assess and address. Reducing the quality of the education in response is essentially putting a piece of masking tape over your “check engine” light and expecting the problem to go away because you can’t see the warning light anymore. Do the hard work of real problem-solving to help students achieve.

Claudette Lee
University of Nebraska at Omaha Assistant Professor of Social Work

I would not want this to happen at my university.

Sherryl Kleinman
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Professor of Sociology

This is a violation of faculty governance and will result in a two-tier system for the economically privileged and the economically disadvantaged. This will only result in more inequality in society at large.

Fred Donner
University of Chicago Professor of Near Eastern History
President, Middle East Studies Association

The top-down corporate model can provide training, but not education; there’s a big difference.

Frank Sottile
Texas A&M University
Professor of Mathematics

As a product of public higher education, and coming from a non-privileged background, I oppose efforts to dilute standards and classroom time in higher education, especially at institutions that serve people who are not members of the privileged classes.

Sylvia White
University of Akron Associate
Professor of Media

We are also under pressure to graduate more students, quicker and for less money. I understand the imperative, but when it “dumbs down” the education students receive, it does no one any good.

Teri Yamada
California State University, Long Beach
Professor of Asian Studies

This is the wrong direction for public higher education.

Elizabeth Banks
University of Kansas Associate
Professor of Classics, Emerita

Same thing happening here. Can’t say that Kansas is out of the mainstream of stupidity!

David Curwen
Western Michigan University
Associate Professor of Dance

Any plan that needs to resort to threats and intimidation and that bypasses agreed-upon shared governance is doomed from the start. Start over in good faith and take the time to find a viable pathway.

Colleen Delaney-Rivera
California State University, Channel Islands Associate Professor of Anthropology

Experiential learning (lab courses) and foreign language classes are both vital in transforming students into lifelong learners, as they provide students with different ways of learning, gathering data and viewing the world around us.

Wilfred Major
Louisiana State University
Assistant Professor of Foreign Languages and Literatures

I have already seen the results of this type of programming here. Not only does it hollow out education, but it robs students of thousands of tuition dollars and leaves them unable to get jobs that are commensurate with their degree. Most students end up graduating and stuck in the same jobs that they could have had if they had never attended college in the first place. The administrators don’t care, because they are getting the money out of these exploited students…. Employers should resist this change, too, because they will not have graduates who are capable of doing the work they need done. For a couple of years of financial austerity, the economic consequences are severe and difficult to correct for decades. It’s bad business. Period.

Jane Buck
Delaware State University
Professor Emerita of Psychology
Past President, American Association of University Professors

As a past president of the American Association of University Professors, I am appalled at the administration’s arrogation of faculty prerogatives.

Olga Broumas
Brandeis University
Professor & Director of Creative Writing

Science, foreign languages and English to be cut? Could we be more backward…than we already are?

Adam Kelly
Harvard University
Postdoctoral Fellow in English

This is a disturbing moment for higher education in many countries, and anything that can be done to retain the gains of the postwar era should be done.

Aaron McGowan
Rochester Institute of Technology
Lecturer, College of Science

As the value of a college degree continues to decline, the cost continues to soar. We are approaching a tipping point.

D. Roselyn Cerutis
Creighton University
Associate Professor of Oral Biology and Pharmacology

Teaching many science courses without labs is a problem for two reasons: first, it will greatly disadvantage students’ learning, and second, it will make it harder to have those CUNY courses accepted by other universities outside that system. At a time when STEM courses should be strengthened, this represents substantial weakening….

Pauline VanMeurs
Austin Community College
Professor of Health Sciences

We are facing a similar threat here in Texas. A bill is proposed that will reduce the contact hour allotment for the associate degree from 72 hours down to 60 hours. This is a cost-cutting measure designed to be invisible to tax payers who are starting to buck the legislature’s constant direct funding cuts to higher ed…. I agree that we should all be accountable for all aspects of our mission, including how to increase graduation rates. This is not the way. We all feel the crunch of constant cuts…but the colleges, including their administrations, should be the ones fighting the hardest for quality. As we say in Texas, “CUNY admin – grow a set.”

Myra Ferree
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Professor of Sociology
Director, Center for German & European Studies

Faculty participation in governance is never more critical than when curriculum is to be decided. There can be no excuse for bypassing a faculty senate.

Margaret Vazquez-Geffroy
New Mexico Highlands University
Professor of Anthropology, Emerita

From East Harlem, my sister, my two brothers and I navigated the subways to public schools (elementary, junior high, high school and CUNY colleges). Without that preparation in the ’50s and ’60s, not one of us would have become: 1) a surgical nurse; 2) professor emeritus of education; 3) president of a community college; and 4) professor emerita of cultural anthropology in New Mexico – where I still live. My husband is also an anthropologist, and a graduate of a CUNY school. My first-generation Puerto Rican father was a restaurant worker (as was my husband’s father) all his life. All are grateful for the opportunities that were open to us – and we laud the system at every opportunity, at every academic venue we visit.

Please work diligently to derail this injustice to the children of present working-class community members. The great system of higher education at CUNY must not be compromised.

Margaret Flemming
Austin Community College
Department Chair and Professor of Biology

This has been coming down the pipeline in Texas for a while. If it has not started in your state, it will. Be proactive and fight this trend.

Terence Roethlein
Columbia University
Program Coordinator, American Assembly

The CUNY system is endowed with the honorable responsibility of providing affordable education for New York’s working-class citizens. This should not mean these students get less educational value in a stalled economy. If anything, now is the time to increase the delivery of a solid education….

John Menninger
University of Iowa
Professor of Biology

Science without laboratories is like cuisine without kitchens. Do be sensible.

Mikaila Arthur
Rhode Island College
Assistant Professor of Sociology

Pathways does not meet best practices for general education. Faculty are the experts on educational practices, and faculty should be making the decisions about curriculum.

Lillian Taiz
California State University, Los Angeles Professor of History
President, California Faculty Association

This is a critical issue for all of us, students, faculty and staff. This is a national issue and threatens to degrade the quality of education that all of us have invested our lives in providing. Those of us in California support your fight – we are all in this together!

James Shearer
New Mexico State University
Professor of Music

I am so tired of people who have never been in my classroom, who don’t know my subject, and have no clue how to do what I do, trying to tell me (and, by extension, my colleagues) how to teach. Give us the support we need and trust us to do our jobs.

Judith Pierpont
Cornell University
Senior Lecturer, John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines

Former CUNY faculty 1977-1985, Lehman College, recently retired from Cornell. I am disturbed by the cynical moves of the CUNY administration. Such deep cuts in curriculum and contact hours will undermine the value of a CUNY education.

John Gianvito
Emerson College Associate
Professor of Visual and Media Arts

Curricular decisions ought to be the province of the faculty. If the majority of the faculty at CUNY have concluded that the Pathways program erodes the quality of the education they’ve been hired to provide, then this needs to be honored.

Evie Shockley
Rutgers University
Associate Professor of English

Such strong and wide opposition by faculty – who are equally concerned with student retention and graduation – suggests that Pathways is not the best solution. The administration should be stopping in its tracks to rethink, rather than trying to railroad this plan through.

Laura Goldblatt
University of Virginia
Doctoral Student in English

Solidarity! We stand with you at UVA.

Mal Ahern
Yale University
Doctoral Student in Film Studies

I am a CUNY alumna (MA, 2011, Graduate Center) worried that the value of my degree will depreciate.

Helene Hill
New Jersey Medical School
Professor of Radiology

The suggested reforms will decrease the academic standing of a great university.

Seth Kahn
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Associate Professor of English

The diluted quality of the education aside, the way CUNY management has gone about implementing Pathways violates every tenet of shared governance I can think of. I hate to make CUNY the battleground for the soul of shared governance, but right now it kind of is.

Gordon Burghardt
University of Tennessee
Professor of Psychology

There are moves in this direction at the University of Tennessee also. Our new proposed undergraduate curriculum drops a science course requirement. The mantra is increased graduation rates here as well….

Ellen Schrecker
Yeshiva University
Professor of History

As the recipient of an honorary degree from CUNY, I am particularly disheartened by the Pathways initiative and its attempt to lower academic standards at one of our nation’s leading public institutions of higher learning.

Elaine Freedgood
New York University
Professor of English

Hunter College, BA, 1989. Mellon Fellowship, Columbia, leading to PhD, 1996. Full professor of English at NYU today. Would not have happened with Pathways.

Taner Edis
Truman State University
Professor of Physics

Science without labs? What are they thinking?

Douglas Coleman
University of Toledo
Professor of English Graduate Advisor, ESL

We do not advantage students when we “improve time-to-degree” by shortchanging education. Programs like Pathways are a disservice not just to students, but to those whose taxes support CUNY.

Darlene Evans
Cornell University
Senior Lecturer, John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines

This move by the CUNY administration does not bode well for academic rigor or higher education in general. Most of all, what a disservice to students!

David Sider
New York University
Professor of Classics

Because CCNY was tough, I benefited. Maintain teaching standards.

John Curry
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Associate Professor of History

If administrators can’t convince their own staff of the wisdom of this program, then they need to go back to the drawing board and start over.



National Petition Backs Pathways Moratorium: 5,000 Have Signed So Far
Pathways Forced Into the Slow Lane

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