Sunday, April 14, 2013

Who will Choose the next Chancellor?

Many of us may be happy to see the departure of Chancellor Goldstein, who has done more to abrogate faculty power than any Chancellor in recent history.  While his departure may be welcome to some, do we really have confidence in the current membership of the Board of Trustees who will pick his replacement? Goldstein’s departure seems timed in part to insure that Board Chairman, and fellow architect of the Chancellor’s agenda, Benno Schmidt, will play a central role in choosing his successor. Schmidt’s term on the Board is up this summer, but the Board will be choosing an interim Chancellor later this spring.

In addition, the timing of the Chancellor’s departure seems designed to preserve a major role for our billionaire mayor in choosing a new chancellor. This is disturbing news, given the mayor’s record in K-12. Does this mean we can expect more “education reforms” designed to facilitate additional budget cuts? Will this usher in an even greater role for the Gates Foundation and other groups who want to “enhance performance” by reducing faculty power, homogenizing and digitizing the curriculum, and reducing standards, a la Pathways?

And who will be left at CUNY Central to help guide a new Chancellor? The two top administrators are Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Alexandra “Lexa” Logue, chief implementer of Pathways and architect of the shadow system of centrally appointed committees that bypass governance and Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer Allan Dobrin, who brought us the boondoggle that is CUNY First.

The Chancellor’s resignation presents an opportunity to clean house. We need a new Board of Trustees whose primary concern is providing the best possible education to working and middle class New Yorkers, not a group of political hacks, self-interested “reformers,” and champions of corporate, top-down authoritarianism. The terms of several Board members expire this year including Schmidt, Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, Frida Foster, and Charles Shorter. Mayor Bloomberg should leave the mayoral appointed positions vacant, so that the new mayor can fill them, and Governor Cuomo should bring in new Trustees, with real qualifications.


  1. New York Students Rising’s 5 reasons Why Students Say Good Riddance to Chancellor Goldstein

    Chancellor Goldstein’s announcement of his plans to step down as chancellor of the City University of New York come at just the right time. While the NY Times article praised him for expanding CUNY, it doesn’t acknowledge that he has done so in an undemocratic and discriminatory way.

    Here are 5 key ways Goldstein has failed the CUNY community:

    1. His 14 years as chancellor have left the university system more corporatized, militarized, and inaccessible to those CUNY was built to serve, mainly working class students and students of color. Goldstein would rather spend 15 million in additional taxpayer dollars to add police on our campuses after student protests around tuition, rather than help alleviate the cost of education for students. All while making over $664,004, equal to 245 full-time semester tuitions.

    Under Goldstein, we see the resurgence of ROTC programs across CUNY campuses. Low-income students are being pushed towards enrolling in the military when they find themselves unable to pay tuition, or finding themselves unable to find a job in an increasingly unstable economy. ROTC programs have often been criticized for discriminatory practices. One in three women in the military are sexually assaulted or raped, people who are transgender are barred from serving in the military and in 2009, 27% of black and latino military officers have reported experiencing racial discrimination.

    That energy should have been used to protect and expand the TAP and PELL programs, the Vallone Scholarship (which was a way that NYC undocumented students to receive funds for college) and many other scholarship programs that have been cut or dismantled.

    2. Under Goldstein’s tenure we’ve seen tuition rise dramatically and aid reduced, making it harder and harder for students to afford an education. Diversity at senior colleges has shrunk dramatically, and more students at community colleges are taking longer to graduate, leaving them with less student aid to complete their degree due to the need to pay for remedial courses they are required to take.

    3.More and more classes are being taught by “Professor Staff”- that is, adjuncts, who teach with no job security, for little pay, and an ever increasing workload make up more than 50% of faculty on CUNY campuses. Its an epidemic that was just recently highlighted in a recent article by the Village Voice.

    4.We also saw him bully his way into our classrooms with the Pathways Initiative- meaning that the control of curriculum rests in the hands of the administration and NOT the professors. Its a decision that is deeply unpopular with faculty and students.

    5. And finally, he has failed the students, faculty and staff of CUNY in the mishandling of Medgar Evers College. Under Goldstein’s leadership the college community pushed out college president William L. Pollard, for mishandling the college financially and academically. Medgar Evers College is currently threatened with losing its degree accreditation all the while Goldstein continues to ignore the concerns and autonomy of the campus in selecting a new president themselves.

    Now is the time for a new chancellor chosen by the students, faculty, and staff of CUNY. As those who bear the brunt of the decisions made by the next chancellor it is important that our opinions and concerns be integral in the selection process.

    As students of CUNY and SUNY we care deeply about our education and want to ensure that CUNY can be a place where education is accessible, democratic, and representative of the diverse population of students for generations to come.

  2. Thanks for this quick response and clarification. His resignation represents an opportunity to demand new leadership that truly advances the cause of education as a positive investment for our community. CUNY should offer the opportunity to the poor and middle class to become productive members of our society. That opportunity is quickly vanishing with students having to assume impossible burdensome debts and now the potential of a weakened education with the implementation of Pathways. Our voices cannot be ignored.

    Anselma Rodriguez, HEO, Brooklyn College