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Home » Clarion » 2018 » March 2018 » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor


The CUNY School of Professional Studies Governance Task Force welcomes the opportunity to correct the inaccuracies contained in the article entitled “SPS Governance Plan Cuts Faculty Input”,” which was printed in the December 2017 issue of Clarion.

First, contrary to Clarion’s claim, the CUNY SPS dean neither drafted nor issued the CUNY SPS draft governance plan, and the draft plan is not an administrative attempt to dismantle shared governance. The draft was composed by a committee made up of faculty, staff and administration, which met regularly over the course of one year, researched other CUNY governance plans and consulted with the University Faculty Senate and CUNY Legal Affairs while composing their first draft.

Further, in the spirit of transparency and inclusion, the first draft was shared with the CUNY SPS community, including all current adjunct faculty, and comments and feedback were invited via an anonymous online survey. Following the anonymous comment period, two in-person fora were held in early December with remote participation provided.

The Clarion article claims that “under the proposal, only adjuncts with three-year appointments can serve on the SPS governing council, of whom there are about five, but they are not permitted to vote.” This is inaccurate: the draft plan states that adjuncts with three-year appointments, adjuncts who are consortial faculty and adjuncts who serve as academic community leaders are all eligible to serve as voting members of the council. To be clear, at CUNY SPS, an “academic community leader” is a member of the adjunct faculty who participates in and is compensated for program-level administration and other service to the program, such as mentoring and outcomes assessment.

At the CUNY SPS discussion fora, the drafting committee heard suggestions from the community that included a call for broader representation of adjunct faculty and agreed to expand adjunct faculty participation in governance. It is worth noting that these discussions and agreements took place before the publication of the Clarion article.

In addition, Clarion states that “[T]he proposal defines ‘faculty’ to include administrative employees without underlying faculty appointments to perform traditional faculty roles,” and that “while the academic directors should have a voice in the governance of SPS, their inclusion as part of the faculty is improper.” The truth is that all academic directors at CUNY SPS hold full-time faculty appointments.

We are disappointed that Clarion did not reach out to CUNY SPS for comment or clarification before publication of their article.

The structure of CUNY SPS is indeed unique within the University and gives us the ability to be innovative and responsive in addressing the needs of working adult students. We are dedicated to our students and proud of our programs, many of which have been nationally recognized. Our draft governance plan was created by members of the SPS community to best serve the needs of SPS faculty, staff and students. We look forward to reflecting on all comments that have been received, and to composing a plan that sustains shared governance at CUNY SPS.

Otilia Abraham, Carl Grindley, Washington Hernandez, Ellen Karl, Lia Kudless, Carla Marquez-Lewis, Abi Morrison and Jennifer Sparrow
School of Professional Studies


The February 2018 Clarion article “A Closing Door? Black Admission at Queens College” accurately reports that over 140 nationalities and 85 languages are represented in the student body. Concern, however, is expressed about the numbers of Latino and black students in certain CUNY four-year units, including Queens College. The QC Strategic Plan, launched in 2015, identified that issue and calls for increased recruitment of African American and other groups underrepresented racially and ethnically among undergraduates and graduate students.

In the past five years, Latino undergraduates increased at QC from 3,708 to 4,711 – an increase of 27 percent; black student enrollment increased from 1,165 to 1,466 – an increase of 26 percent; white student undergraduates decreased from 6,632 to 4,497 – a decrease of 32 percent; and Asian students increased from 3,876 to 4,846 – an increase of 25 percent. These data do not include Native Americans or those who identify as two or more races, or as non-resident aliens – cumulatively a very small percentage of the total.

Much good work is anticipated to build upon our progress thus far, including a sustained outreach to veterans – reaching many prospective students of color – at a campus designated by respected national organizations as “military friendly.” There are many efforts underway to help us achieve our goal of increasing African American student presence on campus, among them: (1) a partnership between QC and Queensborough Community College to develop STEM “landing courses” to attract, retain and graduate minority and low-income students; (2) increased recruitment and collaborations with high schools in southeastern Queens and also with other local schools that have high African American enrollment; (3) sponsorship at Queens College of NYC Men Teach and My Brother’s Keeper programs – to recruit more African American students interested in becoming teachers; (4) more aggressive recruitment of African American faculty and staff to serve as role models and ambassadors of the College; (5) receipt of a one million dollar grant from the Give Something Back Foundation to recruit low-income, pre-collegiate students is being administered in partnership with community organizations like Upward Bound Schools and the Eagle Academies; and (6) consistent with the QC Strategic Plan, development and implementation of major multicultural events on campus, including programs sponsored by our Center for Ethnic, Racial and Religious Understanding. Furthermore, the QC Middle States Association Self-Study, completed last year, cites our continuing efforts to expand access, including the Percy Ellis Sutton SEEK Program, the Black Male Initiative, Veterans Support Services, the CUNY Opportunity for Students of Success program and Project ExCEL.

We are continuing our efforts to attract African American students – first-time freshmen, transfers and graduate – so that they can enhance the QC student experience and benefit from the great education provided at the College. We are committed to continue the good work to build on the progress made thus far.

Richard Alvarez
Vice President for Enrollment and Student Retention
Queens College


We are grateful to Clarion for publishing our opinion pieces on open admissions in the last issue.

Our goal was not merely to revisit the tumultuous origins and ultimate dismantling of open admissions, but to use the past to inform the present. The end result of the dismantling of open admissions has been the formation of a two-tier system whereby the top-five senior colleges are populated mostly by white and Asian students, and the other senior and community colleges are populated by blacks, Latinos and other minorities. Not only are these students generally poorer, but they also lack the test prep that is available to students from more well-to-do families.

This amounts to a system of academic apartheid. No longer do we have George Wallace standing in the doorway, fulminating “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” Rather, through increased tuitions and escalating SAT requirements, thousands of qualified minority applicants to CUNY’s senior colleges are rejected every year.

There is a simple remedy. Many colleges are replacing the SATs with a system of “holistic admissions” that places greater weight on high school grades, recommendations and abilities not measured by standardized tests.

We urge faculty and students across CUNY to mobilize against the racial inequalities that some would say are baked into the current CUNY system of admissions. To further this goal, we propose that PSC appoint a task force to reexamine admissions standards at the senior colleges, particularly as they impact racial minorities.

Stephen Steinberg
Queens College and Graduate Center
Maureen Pierce-Anyan
Queens College

Editor’s note: Clarion reserves the right to edit letters sent for publication.

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