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Home » Issues » Testimony from the CUNY Board of Trustees Hearing – April 1, 2024

Testimony from the CUNY Board of Trustees Hearing – April 1, 2024

Testimony from the Brooklyn Borough Hearing
of the CUNY Board of Trustees
The Theater at City Tech
April 1, 2024

James Davis, President, Professional Staff Congress: You can’t cut $11 million from the adjunct budget, as CUNY has this year, without impacting the departments, to say nothing of the instructors themselves. You can’t reduce the community college ranks by more than 400 full-time positions overall since 2021 without compromising the services we provide and undermining morale. I want to challenge you and every member of the Board to fight with every fiber for what our colleges need in the state and city budgets being negotiated as we speak. That is your responsibility as Trustees. (Read James Davis’ full testimony.)

Andrea Vásquez, First Vice President, Professional Staff Congress: When we call for investment in CUNY, we want you to direct funds toward our students’ future by creating new professorial lines for doctoral lecturers and adjunct faculty, raising wages, and making our jobs secure. (Read Andrea Vasquez’s full testimony.)

Penny Lewis, Secretary, Professional Staff Congress: CUNY leaders are seeking to turn the bylaws, which state principals that have successfully guided shared governance for decades, into a constrained and corporate set of personnel guidelines that strip college presidents of their core academic role, and degrade and constrain the academic judgement and roles played by faculty and department chairs. (Read Penny Lewis’ full testimony.)

Kevin Adams, Medgar Evers College: We must strive to do more than to return to the way things used to be after the setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Read Kevin Adams’ full testimony.)

Sofya Aptekar, Associate Professor, School of Labor and Urban Studies: I am deeply concerned about the insecurity of adjuncts, who often do not know from semester to semester what they will teach, how much they will be paid, and whether they have health insurance. To state the painfully obvious, the most important thing that happens in college happens in a college classroom. How can we ensure that our students thrive when this is how we treat the workforce that teaches them? (Read Sofya Aptekar’s full testimony.)

Jay Arena, Associate Professor, College of Staten Island: While we are starved for funds, NYS officials provide billions of welfare to a billionaire for a stadium, the wealth of the top billionaires doubled just since the pandemic with no wealth tax to claw back their unearned riches, and there is an endless stream of dollars for war and genocide. (Read Jay Arena’s full testimony.)

Jeff Ballerini, HEO, Queensborough Community College: Instead of pushing for more spending cuts and savings by attrition, the Board must lead the charge for greater investment. To this end, we call upon management to support the New Deal for CUNY. (Read Jeff Ballerini’s full testimony.)

Carolina Bank Muñoz, Brooklyn College: CUNY leadership has accepted the model of the neoliberal university, the same model that is endangering public education across the country. It prioritizes cost cutting over investment and sees students solely as a “revenue stream” rather than the next generation of change makers. CUNY leaders need to challenge these logics and fight for adequate public funding to support CUNY’s transformative mission. Our city and state leaders need to invest in this incredible institution. (Read Carolina Bank Muñoz’s full testimony.)

Lara Beaty, LaGuardia Community College

Craig Bernardini, Professor, Hostos Community College: Do the RIGHT thing, CUNY. Adjuncts need more job security, not less, and they need pay parity. (Read Craig Bernardini’s full testimony.)

Tim Cusack, Adjunct Lecturer, Hunter College: Institutional knowledge is real, the systems in place here at the university are bureaucratically complex, and this constant turnover of folks leads to unnecessary mistakes, delays, and wasted money. (Read Tim Cusack’s full testimony.)

Holly Clarke, John Jay College: Job security provides predictability for our students. They can plan to take future classes with us if they want. They can recommend a course to others. They can find us for recommendations in future semesters.  Having experienced teachers, especially in students’ initial college courses, where adjunct faculty predominate, contributes to student success and student retention. (Read Holly Clarke’s full testimony.)

Jessie Daniels, Hunter College

Jessica DeCoux, Adjunct Lecturer, NYC TechGood business people do not toss out competent and experienced employees at the first sign of downturn, only to spend money and time rehiring less experienced people a few months later when the numbers rebound. (Read Jessica DeCoux’s full testimony.)

Ann Delilkan, Professor, NYC Tech: Deans and Provosts are not elected by faculty and they are not qualified to judge effective pedagogy… The University needs to pay Department Chairs the respect that is owed them as elected officers; as representatives of their faculty; as stewards of their department’s academic office.

Jonathan Epstein, John Jay College

Jen Gaboury, Hunter College

Carole Harris, City Tech

Steven Harris, Queens College

Sándor John, Hunter College: CUNY runs on on adjunct poverty and disposability as part of it’s corporatization – an attempt to turn our University, the largest urban public university in the United States, into some type of Walmart U.

Mobina Hashmi, Brooklyn College

Jack Kenigsberg, Adjunct Lecturer, Hunter CollegeIf I were to lose even one class due to low enrollment, or any other reason, I would not only lose income; I would lose my health insurance and, with it, my access to the medical care I need to control my diabetes and keep my eyesight. And so I spend every August and every January obsessively checking the number of students enrolled in my classes, my stomach twisting into knots for fear the number of enrolled students will dip below whatever the cutoff is for the class to run.  (Read Jack Kenigsberg’s full testimony.)

Helen Pfeffer, Adjunct, Brooklyn College: …it isn’t easy to make a living solely as an adjunct – the pay is low, the job security tenuous, the benefits rare. So why do any of us do it? (Read Helen Pfeffer’s full testimony.)

Jeffrey Sigler, Medgar Evers College

Nancy Romer, Professor Emerita, Brooklyn College: …only 8% of all CUNY buildings were found to be in “good repair”. People in this room could easily offer dozens of stories of dilapidated buildings, freezing or overheated buildings, leaky roofs, rodent infestations, strange odors, and dangerous conditions at myriad CUNY buildings. (Read Nancy Romer’s full testimony.)

Irene Sosa, Brooklyn College

Jeanne Theoharis, Distinguished Professor, Brooklyn College: Ten years ago, I told you how proud I am to teach at CUNY. Now I come here today to demand that you be as proud of our students and their potential as I am, and push for full funding and a new deal for CUNY, and reject these bylaw changes. (Read Jeanne Theoharis’ full testimony.)

Lynne Turner, Substitute Lecturer, School of Labor and Urban Studies: Our historic university is more than a balance sheet. It is time to shoulder responsibility and correct course. Our students deserve more. CUNY communities deserve more. We, CUNY’s dedicated instructional staff deserves more and we will continue our fight to achieve more. (Read Lynne Turner’s full testimony.)

Maria Contel, Professor, Brooklyn College: When you invest and allocate resources, you can hire faculty members who in turn will excel, providing outstanding education, scholarship, prestige, grants, initiatives, and resources for their colleges and the university, enhancing the overall university classification ranking and students’ education experience. (Read Maria Contel’s full testimony.)

Brad Rappaport, Assistant to HEO, Hunter College: …if CUNY is intended as a vehicle to propel students into the middle class, the same should hold true for its faculty and staff members… (Read Brad Rappaport’s full testimony.)

Emmy Thelander, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Hostos Community College and Hunter College: If the Board of Trustees cares about the quality of education at CUNY and cares about racial justice, it should care about providing minimum quality of life conditions for the majority of CUNY’s teaching force because it is clear that providing basic security to adjuncts allows us to focus more energy to our teaching and mentoring, rather than searching for and executing jobs outside CUNY. (Read Emmy Thelander’s full testimony.)

Published: April 1, 2024 | Last Modified: May 14, 2024

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