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Testifying before the New York City Higher Education and Finance Committee at City Hall, CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein vowed Friday to hire more full-time faculty members, saying that excessive usage of part-time faculty and instructors was giving students an inferior education.
"While CUNY has benefited from a highly talented adjunct faculty, the university's excessive dependence on adjuncts diminishes the quality of its students' educational experiences," Goldstein said.
"An institution that relies excessively on adjunct faculty cannot offer, in regular sequence, the courses students need to proceed steadily toward graduation," Goldstein told the committee.
In the fall 1998 semester, adjunct faculty taught 48 percent of undergraduate course sections and 49 percent of community college courses at the City University of New York's campuses. Goldstein said he deeply regretted the loss of one out of five full-time faculty members since 1980 as the result of state and city budget cutbacks.
A CUNY spokeswoman said that because of city budget cuts, the university had come to rely on a large number of adjuncts. Since 1980, CUNY has lost 20 percent of full-time faculty because of the decrease in funding.
The university is seeking $4.5 million from the city, $3.5 million of which would pay for full-time faculty, and $1 million for faculty support positions that include laboratory technicians, teaching assistants and other support staff.
The state executive budget recommends increased funding of $28.2 million for senior colleges.
Goldstein added that accompanying the state executive budget is proposed legislation recommending a change in the state education law to allow SUNY and CUNY to modify tuition levels in graduate and professional programs. "This would allow consideration of demand, cost, and other market factors," Goldstein said.
"If there is an increase in tuition, the chancellor wants to make sure there is financial aid to make sure poor students can pay for it," the CUNY spokeswoman said. "He wants to ensure that the neediest students are not precluded from pursuing a graduate degree in a specified field.
The spokeswoman said that if tuition is raised, the chancellor wants to see it support graduate and professional programs, not used as a substitute for state funding.
The 2000-2001 preliminary budget recommends $343.8 million for the university's six community colleges - Queensborough, The College of Staten Island, LaGuardia, Borough of Manhattan, Bronx, and Hostos - a decrease of $5.6 million. This decrease consists entirely of reduced tuition revenue because of a drop in enrollments at the community colleges.
The city's contribution to the community colleges remains essentially unchanged at $88.2 million, with the rest coming from the state.
Last year, CUNY got $690.9 million in state funds, $120.5 million from the city and $525.7 million from tuition for a total of $1.34 billion.
This year, the university wants an increase of $1.4 billion, consisting of $773 million from the state, $135.5 million in city funding, and the remainder from tuition revenue.
The mayor's office did not include the Merit Scholarship Program, which the City Council initiated in its preliminary budget.
The program's elimination would reduce the budget by $6.5 million. Goldstein said the program is very important for students and told the committee he welcomed efforts to restore funding for the program, which was introduced by City Council Speaker Peter Vallone (D-Astoria).
The university's city budget request is for $15 million and focuses on three areas: 1) support for full-time faculty and faculty support staff; 2) support for the expansion of College Now, a preparation program for high school students; 3) financing of mandatory cost increases, adjusted for inflation, so that current service levels can be maintained.
CUNY wants an overall budget increase of $10 million - $5 million from the state and $5 million from the city to extend College Now into 150 high schools and to develop a College Tomorrow program.
That will extend College Now to the ninth-grade level, the first phase of its expansion.
Goldstein said CUNY will eventually need $20 million to provide for the entire College Now package.
The state executive budget recommends $10 million in bonded funds for CUNY's capital budget, which goes toward fixing and maintaining university buildings and other structures. Goldstein asked the city to match the amount from the state, which would boost the total to $20 million.
"Absent the city's match, no bonded funds will be available to improve the community colleges' buildings and infrastructure," Goldstein said.
Capital improvement needs to be addressed in Queens include designing new instructional facilities for technology programs at Queensborough Community College.
The university also plans to upgrade CUNY-wide technology, telecommunications, and information systems.
©2000 Community Newspaper Group
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