"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. " Dickens's famous description of revolutionary France is also appropriate to Baruch's first seven years as an independent college, to be described in this chapter and the next. The best included substantial growth in space, faculty and enrollment, but the worst in many ways vitiated those gains. Beyond any doubt, what the fledgling institution on 23rd Street needed was a period of stable leadership, appropriate space and an absence of trauma while it formed a credible image that would set it apart from City College. What it got instead was three interregnums separated by one short-term presidency (Weaver's) and one somewhat longer one (Wingfield's). Additional space was found, but it was slow in arriving, often rented and no substitute for a permanent campus. Trauma, however, was abundant. Open Admissions, student unrest and a monumental fiscal crisis, to mention only the most prominent difficulties, had enormous impact on the City University as a whole; Baruch did not escape its share of the troubles. Truly, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, could a college conceived and dedicated amid such turmoil, survive?
On July 1, 1968, a new senior college was born, but in spite of the year of preparation that had preceded its arrival, it was far from ready to survive outside the womb of City College. Indeed, its basic framework was not yet in place. In August, a two-school structure was agreed upon in principle but was not fully planned until November. Controversial issues such as departmental placement took even longer to resolve. Both the School of Business and. Public Administration and its partner, the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, needed new by-laws; so did the newly established general faculty. All of this took more months to write, discuss and approve. The structure that finally emerged provided for considerable inter-school cooperation. Representatives of the faculty of the School of Liberal Arts voted on School of Business decisions, and vice-versa.
A dual committee arrangement was provided so that each faculty could control its own curriculum, academic standards and personnel decisions, but there were also to be joint committees of the general faculty to iron out the inevitable disputes. A separate Graduate Division with funds of its own was part of the final plan. The Board of Higher Education had expected eventual faculty agreement on structure and had approved an administrative hierarchy for the new college before the faculty committees had completed their work. There was to be a dean for each school as well as one for administration, one for students and, in view of plans for a move to Brooklyn, one for campus planning. By late 1968, the basic structure was in place, but serious problems remained.(1)
6.1 "Annual Report 1970," The Baruch College Fund.
6.2 Assorted Memos, By-Laws etc., The Baruch College Fund.
To begin with, the college had a severe identity problem. Two years after its creation, the media still referred to it as the Baruch School, and among the public at large, it was still "downtown City." Several years later, Baruch College was still unknown in the business community. The fact that a good many unhappy alumni had refused to join the new Baruch College Alumni Association but instead remained with the School of Business unit of the City College Alumni Association may have been partly to blame for this. Fortunately, there were many others who gladly accepted the new identity of their alma mater; they even made donations and served as board members of the Baruch College Fund, which was established in September 1969 to raise money for the variety of college activities not covered by tax levy funds.
In general, Baruch did not lack for wealthy alumni whose generous gifts enriched the lives of students, faculty and administrators. Equally significant, many alumni contributed to Baruch by their achievements. One of these, whose prominence makes him a symbol for the accomplishments of many, is George Weissman. This graduate of the Class of '39 achieved the highest status in corporate America while retaining his loyalty to his native city and contributing enormously to all segments of its life. As the chief executive officer of Philip Morris, Inc., he made his mark on the city's economy; as chairman of the Lincoln Center Trustees, he helped to shape its culture. Truly, as a senior administrator of the College who knows him well has said, "he has been a perfect son of Baruch and City College. "(2)
Alumni, loyal or otherwise, did not fully understood the "urban mission" assigned to Baruch College by Francis Keppel and his associates. Neither did many of the people at 23rd Street. Some believed that the report called for two semi-autonomous but interrelated schools. Others called for a business college with a strong complementary liberal-arts component, while still others believed that the new institution was meant to be a college for the administrative sciences (of which business administration would be one) with strong input from the social sciences.
One of the few certainties was that the School of Business had to keep its accountancy program registered with the State Education Department and at the same time meet the standards for AASCB accreditation. These constraints, while not ruling out innovation, certainly limited it. The School of Liberal Arts, however, was free to go in almost any direction (indeed, its primary accrediting agency, the Middle States Association, had urged it to take new approaches), but was unable to do so. An ad hoc curriculum committee labored through most of 1968 but could only bring forth a limited, tentative program for the 100 liberal-arts freshmen expected in September 1969.
A combination of factors: inexperience (most liberal-arts departments had taught courses that were planned uptown), a burning desire to give courses previously offered only at the main campus, concerns over turf, deference to the wishes of the School of Business (generally lukewarm to innovation) and the absence of representation from certain departments such as sociology, then just getting underway, led the school to adopt a course of study that, while somewhat innovative in structure, was filled to the brim with courses from the catalogue of the College of Arts and Sciences uptown.
The first permanent version, brought to the faculty in December 1969, was a "Chinese menu," like thousands of others being adopted all over the United States, including City College. As though they were diners in a Chinese restaurant, students were to choose a designated number of credits from various columns. In the Baruch version there were four columns instead of the customary two. It was the fourth, a catch-all category which listed "interdisciplinary, innovative, experimental, and pre-professional courses," that led to the downfall of the entire proposal. Appalled by this grocery basket of items linked by little more than the fashions of the day, Emanuel Saxe, still active as one of the representatives of the School of Business to the School of Liberal Arts, moved to table the entire proposed curriculum, a step that was not debatable and was soon accomplished.
Eventually an expanded curriculum committee was instructed to go back to the drawing board and return with something better. After several weeks of deliberation, in April 1970 they presented the faculty with something different, if not necessarily better. There were now to be six divisions: Social Sciences, Language and Literature, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Communication Arts (English Composition, Journalism, Library, Speech, Television, Radio) and Behavioral Sciences. Innovation had largely disappeared, as had any mention of interdisciplinary or interschool courses. After some tinkering, the proposed base curriculum became official for Liberal-arts students entering the college in September 1970.(3)
The smorgasbord-style liberal-arts curriculum had been designed, in part, with the hope of attracting large numbers of BA candidates. Their rivals in the School of Business, afraid that this ploy would succeed, jumped the gun and revised their own very structured, rigid base curriculum even before the School of Liberal Arts faculty had adopted theirs. When the College was created, in 1968, BBA candidates were required to follow a highly prescriptive cultural base. In 1970, however, a liberated business faculty cut nineteen credits from this base and gave their students much greater choice in the Social Sciences and Humanities Divisions. Only written English, speech, mathematics, physical education and economics were mandated; everything else depended on the student's choice. The blow fell most heavily on the humanities, where increased options made it possible to entirely avoid either history or philosophy or literature.
Reducing the total number of required liberal-arts base curriculum credits was a contradiction of the idea that the AACSB, the reports that had led to Baruch's creation and statements made by leaders of the School of Business itself had emphasized: the need of a broad-based education for prospective business managers. Credits removed from the cultural base were now used for additional courses in the business base, such as more economics and statistics; technically these were liberal-arts courses, but they were certainly not a substitute for the humanities. Later action on the part of the business faculty was even more out of step with the spirit of the Keppel report. In 1973, the Student Handbook advised Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) candidates that economics, statistics and finance courses, if numbered below 100, could be used in place of electives in the humanities and social sciences to make the total of sixty-four non-professional credits needed for their degree.(4)
These moves were popular with the generally vocationally minded BBA students, including the thousands of community college graduates who came to the School of Business in the late sixties and seventies. Although the FTE (Full Time Equivalent) credits generated by the transfers were welcome, the students themselves presented problems. First of all, they increased the crowding. Even more serious in the eyes of the faculty were continuing questions regarding the quality of the professional courses they had taken to earn their associate degree, an issue greatly exacerbated by the Higher Education ruling that mandated acceptance of sixty-four credits from every AAS graduate without investigation of quality.
After much discussion, the School of Business faculty agreed to accept the credits but not necessarily the courses, an interpretation of board rules that led to ongoing friction with CUNY administrators and the community colleges. In December 1973, CUNY Dean Berger urged closer cooperation, and soon after Dean Bertha Newhouse, who had replaced Frank Saidel as assistant dean for curricular guidance in the School of Business, met with Vice-Chancellor McGrath and representatives of the community colleges. In spite of lengthy conferences, four years later the problem was still not resolved.
The School of Business continued to demand assurance that upper-level business courses taken at the community colleges were equal in content to those offered at Baruch. To accomplish this validation, AAS holders had to pass qualifying examinations in management, marketing and finance or pass a higher level course in the same discipline before proceeding further with their professional courses. Community-college presidents continued to protest. Despite the slurs cast on the quality of their degrees, community-college graduates continued to arrive at 23rd Street in large numbers. At one point in the early seventies, Henry Eilbert, dean of the School of Business after Jules Manson resigned, told the faculty that students who had begun college elsewhere made up two-thirds of Baruch's graduates.(5)
Even if the transfers had been intimidated by the hard line followed at Baruch, the School of Business as a whole would not have lacked for students because its Graduate Division, in spite of the fact that its faculty refused to abandon a much-criticized thesis requirement, expanded. Although there were temporary dips in 1970 and 1971, graduate enrollment went from 3,307 in 1968 to 4,258 in 1975. Plans were underway in 1970 for an MPA in Educational Administration, expected to be very attractive to ambitious school teachers hoping to become supervisors. The appointment of Theodore Lang, former personnel chief at the Board of Education, as director of the program, enhanced its value. At the same time, Jerome Cohen, whose interests in the Graduate Division remained strong even when he became Acting President following Weaver's departure, appointed a committee to expand the MPA in public administration into a Ph.D program.(6)
The School of Liberal Arts attracted few community-college transfers and, except for those seeking an MS in Education, no graduate students. As a result of this and its failure to enroll many majors, there was serious concern that it would be abandoned. The ratio of ten applications to the School of Business to one for the School of Liberal Arts, established in 1970, did not change very much in spite of painful high-school visits by members of the Speakers' Bureau who were met with "Whaddyah mean go to Baruch? That's a business school!" when they made a pitch for liberal arts. The earnest and varied efforts of a full-time recruiter also produced few results.
Under pressure, the registrar and admissions director (who often padded their estimates out of sympathy with their colleagues in the School of Liberal Arts) were compelled to reveal the enormous gap in enrollments between the two schools. Thoroughly alarmed, some members of the School of Liberal Arts asked the acting president to accept as many liberal-arts as business freshmen in September 1971, even if they were not as qualified, but Cohen would not agree to do so.
In the end, a Committee on Educational Development, headed by Michael Wyschograd, the chairman of the philosophy department, was established to explore Baruch's confused educational mission and recommend ways to revive the faltering School of Liberal Arts, which was still performing an almost exclusively service function. At approximately the same time--fall 1970--City University Vice Chancellor Robert Birnbaum had prepared a report for the benefit of the committee that was searching for the next president of Baruch. He had gathered his data solely and secretly from ten senior faculty and administrators, most of whom knew very little about the liberal arts.
In spite of trying to keep the study quiet, word leaked out, prompting Wyschograd to ask the chancellor for a copy of the report. Bowker complied, but in his cover letter said that it was not a policy statement on Baruch's future. The disavowal was well advised; without it the faculty would have had a collective nervous breakdown because Birnbaum found that the College was "a drift" and could give only two reasons not to merge or dismember it.(7)
One was merely negative: unlike other CUNY campuses, there was no racial polarization. The other was familiar and positive: the School of Business was needed to "provide opportunities for the upward socio-economic mobility of the youth of the city." But the College, he said, could not continue on its present path: "developing a third rate liberal arts college [sic] on top of a second rate business school." Only a strong president, one who would adopt a single realistic objective, was prepared to take risks and could accept the hostility of entrenched faculty "who do not wish to see the College change," could turn things around. But in what direction should such a paragon, if indeed he could be found, lead? Birnbaum came down hard in favor of an "urban oriented school of administrative sciences" (public administration, urban administration, educational administration, health care and business administration) that would integrate the professional departments of the college with strengthened social-science departments and eliminate the distinction between liberal arts and business, per se.(8)
Birnbaum's words did not fall on deaf ears. The next president was trained in public administration and was a strong leader. But not strong enough (who could be?) to revolutionize a college with Baruch's history. The recommended administrative sciences became reality, but the traditional business and liberal-arts offerings remained intact, as did the strained relations between the schools. An example of the mistrust was one of the recommendations of Wyschograd's Committee on Educational Development. The committee proposed the creation of a freshman college with a genuinely innovative first-year program, which would shield the newcomers from upperclassmen who might lead them to the business side of Baruch.
The hostility inherent in these words was one more example of the interschool rivalry that, as we have seen, deeply affected curricular matters. In addition, the School of Liberal Arts was hindered in its recruitment of freshmen by a ruling (later changed) that under the terms of Bernard Baruch's will, written when the School of Business was the only school at 23rd Street, scholarship aid from the Baruch Endowment Fund could not be offered to prospective liberal-arts students as it was to those planning to enroll in business. Again and again, news that the School of Liberal Arts was to receive more lines than the School of Business (although rational men certainly understood why the newer School needed them) brought complaints from the latter.
An innovative CUNY-wide proposal for an ad hoc baccalaureate degree that could be student designed and completed with courses taken at any CUNY college brought exclamations of horror from the business faculty. It will lower standards, said Nathan Seitelman of Accounting, and should therefore be limited to liberal-arts students. When newcomer Norman Storer, chairman of the growing sociology department and a specialist in the sociology of science, asked his school to approve a new course on medical sociology, School of Business representatives to the liberal-arts faculty opposed it on the grounds that it overlapped with their graduate program in Health Care Administration.(9)
The rivalry might have been worse without Baruch Today, a reincarnation of the "Faculty-Staff Newsletter" that, as we have seen, had appeared in the previous decade. Shortly after Weaver arrived, the new chief of the College Relations Office, Robert Seaver, began to produce a weekly publication designed to provide information about events in the College, a task it performed very well. Other efforts to bring the faculty together, however, notably several well-meaning attempts to have them lunch together, failed. Interschool cooperation worked best when the "old boys," regardless of affiliation, saw a common need.
Both schools at Baruch were controlled by relatively small groups of chairmen who by dint of long service had worked their way into positions of leadership. Their basic concerns were similar: to protect what they had in the way of lines, money and FTE credits and, if possible, to expand. Such attitudes characterized academic (and indeed bureaucratic) life in general; Baruch was certainly not unique and, as far as the School of Business was concerned, perhaps not unduly harmed. The story was different, however, in the infant School of Liberal Arts, which needed creative, courageous and unselfish leadership more than anything else, even money and space. Such leadership, however, was not forthcoming.
As we have seen, the permanent members of the liberal-arts faculty, most of whom had been subchairmen at 23rd Street, could have moved to St. Nicholas Heights when the Baruch School separated from City College. They chose instead to remain at 23rd Street, where, freed from the uptown departments that had both neglected and circumscribed them, they could gain promotion and wield the power so long denied them. They were extremely devoted to the College and were well-liked by the students. Indeed, various members of the group received the Faculty Service Award from Alumni Association. In 1981, when Louis Levy of the Speech Department was the recipient, he was praised for his involvement in college affairs and for his benign influence on the speech patterns of the thousands of boys from immigrant families who had come under his tutelege.
Levy's career, however, also explains why the "old boys" were feared. He had been chairman of his department for thirty-six years and had chaired the Liberal Arts Personnel and Budget Committee since its inception. This gave him a seat on the College Personnel and Budget Committee and a chance to shape the faculty of the College in a way that few other individuals ever had. The power of the senior faculty was great, but it was not always used in the best interests of the College. In order to retain control, appointments, promotions and tenure decisions were often made on the basis of favors done and owed rather than on merit. The same forces often dominated curricular matters. Being experienced infighters, the "old boys" when challenged resorted to parliamentary maneuvering and on occasion, to questionable interpretation of the rules.(10)
At a meeting of the School of Liberal Arts faculty on December 14, 1970, Thomas Frazier of the history department proposed that the composition of the School Curriculum Committee be democratized by substituting elected faculty for the current group, which consisted of chairmen chosen by other chairmen who made up the School Personnel and Budget Committee. Frazier's motion, which was tabled, came at the end of the meeting but before the body had adjourned. In spite of this, in February, at the next convocation of the liberal-arts faculty, Walter Nallin, the secretary of the general faculty and chairman of the music department, moved to get Frazier's proposal deleted from the minutes of the December meeting on the grounds that many members of the faculty had already left when it was presented and thus had not had time to consider it (the minutes of that meeting having been distributed just prior to the February gathering).
The December meeting may indeed have lacked a quorum at its end, but in the absence of a call, academic procedures dictate accepting the illusion that one exists. Nallins ex-post-facto attempt to block the possible broadening of a most important committee reflects the old guard's fear of losing control of a school that to a great extent they had created. The ploy worked; Frazier's motion was deleted and for the time being disappeared. Other attempts to weaken the network also failed.
But the older faculty did not win every contest. Law professor Frank Macchiarola, later to claim fame as an innovative and energetic chancellor of the New York City school system, exhibited the same qualities when he introduced a plan for a Baruch College Faculty Senate and asked the general faculty for approval. His interest was in large measure the result of his desire to break the hold of the entrenched interest groups on the College by giving representation to every part of the faculty. Recognizing the threat, Levy, among others, questioned the need for a senate. Their opposition, however, was not heeded; the general faculty approved Macchiarola's motion by a vote of 65 to 16. (11)
The attitudes, methods and goals of the "network" retarded the development of the School of Liberal Arts, but it would be untrue to say that their activities were the sole or even the most prominent cause of the school's failure to attract students. Indeed, the leadership wanted students; they lived in constant fear that low enrollment would lead to a reorganization of the College that might remove them from power. They did not, however, want growth at the cost of sharing their influence. Self-protection also led them to support Andrew Lavender, who was acting dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences from 1969 to June 1971, in spite of the fact that his considerable talents did not include the ability to organize a new school.
Lavender was, justifiably, one of the best-liked members of the faculty because he was warm, friendly, eternally optimistic and a fine teacher whose courses were very popular. As dean, however, the burdens overwhelmed him. His difficulties were recognized; both Raymond Kestenbaum and Morris Winokur were appointed in 1970 to assist him, but he remained, although only as acting dean, until just prior to the arrival of new president Clyde Wingfield when he and Winokur (Kestenbaum went on to other chores earlier) were replaced by Gerald Leinwand and Thomas Frazier.
At bottom, however, neither a prepared, united school, nor a strong dean would have caused large numbers of BA candidates to come to Baruch, because there was really no reason for them to do so. If science was their bent, Baruch laboratories, equipped to teach only basic courses, were not inviting; City College had excellent laboratories. If they sought the classics, Hunter College had a strong reputation. If they wanted a campus, Brooklyn, Queens and newly created Lehman College could offer the grass and trees that Baruch could not. Indeed, it could not even offer adequate indoor space.
Furthermore, vocational goals, the reason why most students went to any of the municipal colleges, would not be well served at Baruch's School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Unless a student wanted to teach (and there was a glut of teachers in the sixties), there was little to be done with the traditional majors, which in its early days was all the new school could agree upon. Truly, as its public relations staff was later to emphasize, "Baruch meant Business" and little else. Even after 1970 when Open Admissions swelled enrollments generally, the number of students attracted to liberal arts or education remained disproportionately low.
Could anything have brought liberal-arts majors to 23rd Street? Programs that utilized the expertise of business with the talents of an increasingly able liberal-arts faculty might have made a difference. Certainly one such program, business journalism, proved to be a success. The establishment of successful bridge programs, however, required the faculty to give up its dreams of teaching English literature, medieval history and theoretical mathematics to more than a handful of students and concentrate instead on devising truly imaginative programs that would be both practical and intellectually stimulating. This was a tall order for an institution with erratic leadership, lack of vision and lack of space.
In truth, the college acquired more space in those early years than it had ever had before but it was not permanent space because plans to locate it at the Atlantic Terminal site were still very much alive. While waiting for a new campus, plans were made for the renovation and utilization of the recently acquired 24th Street building, which was to be home to the library, computer center, registrar, Student Life Department and top administrators. CUNY construction projects, however, even when all parties agree and funding is in place, move at a snail's pace; work on the Baruch Annex, its official but not much used title, did not even begin until May 1, 1970.
Trying for a light touch, Baruch Today, the faculty-staff newsletter, headlined its October 10, 1969, issue "JAMPACKED"and Acting President Jerome Cohen asked the New York Traffic Commissioner to close Lexington Avenue between 22nd and 23rd Streets because increased enrollments and insufficient facilities had forced students to congregate out on the sidewalk. Unfortunately, his request was denied. Even before the first Open Admissions class was enrolled in September 1970, the crowding exacerbated existing competition betweeen the departments, requiring Cohen to set up a Committee on Space Allocation whose decisions, it was emphasized, would be final. Its czar was to be Maurice Benewitz, the colorful, loquacious, cigar-smoking dean for administration.(12)
Thus far, this portion of Baruch's history has offered precious little evidence that its early years as an independent institution could be considered good ones, let alone the best. In one regard, however, there were outstanding gains. Lines that accompanied the creation of the new college were, in many departments, filled by young, well-educated instructors who provided much-needed new blood. Products of the postwar expansion of higher education in general and especially of graduate education, they came pouring out of the universities at exactly the same time that CUNY was expanding, and in many cases a felicitous match took place.
Those who came to teach the arts, humanities and social sciences at Baruch knew that the college was a bastion of business education but were told that this was soon to change. Some were idealistic about Baruch's urban mission, especially after Open Admissions began; others were simply eager for employment in culturally rich New York City at salaries that compared favorably with the national norms. In any case, 122 young scholars (87 in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences and 35 in the School of Business) joined the college between 1968 and 1973, providing Baruch with a volume of talent and expertise it had not had before.(13)
There was, however, a large fly in the academic ointment. The new appointees had been chosen for their erudition and were expected to earn tenure and promotion by scholarship, but although in theory their research and writing should have enriched all the courses they taught and attracted students to their electives, this did not happen. Instead, their need to fulfill a two-part role--researching the narrow and teaching the broad--led to academic schizophrenia. The gap was particularly large in the English department, where most of the faculty, especially after 1970, were teaching remedial writing courses far removed from their research interests. Every department, however, faced similar problems.
In the absence of viable specializations and their inability or unwillingness to establish interschool courses, the liberal-arts faculty were reduced to virtually the same service function that had been their lot throughout the school's history. Once again, they taught introductory courses to students whose major interests lay elsewhere. As time went on, the catalogue was filled with specializations and descriptions of advanced courses, but students did not enroll in sufficient numbers; all too often, upper-level classes had to be cancelled for lack of registration. Thus, although the "Faculty-Staff Notes" column of Baruch Today was filled with a constantly increasing list of liberal-arts faculty receiving grants and doing research, relatively few students were affected.
The business faculty also grew, although the School faced a recuitment problem. Qualified candidates were hard to find because, as compared to those in the arts and sciences, the Ph.D. in business was not widely offered and a smaller proportion of those who had earned it wanted to teach. Baruch's Manhattan location, as always, was convenient, but the salaries it could offer could not compare with those to be earned in the corporate world. In many cases, the School had to appoint otherwise qualified men whose first language was not English; in certain departments they appointed women. In part because of the demands of federally imposed affirmative action programs, the gender and ethnicity of both schools began to change, although progress was slow.
A 1970 study by LaVange Richardson of the Student Personnel Services Department and Philip Halboth of Education showed that only 15 percent of the Baruch faculty were women, a much lower percentage than in the other CUNY colleges, except for City College, which had only 11 percent. Most of the women faculty were recently appointed assistant professors, and very few were in the School of Business, but every year thereafter saw an increase in their numbers in the college as a whole, reaching a peak of 29.3 percent in 1974. At that point there were enough women faculty to form an active Women's Committee. Some decline followed the retrenchment necessitated by the fiscal crises of 1975 and 1976, because most of the women hired in the early seventies had not yet attained tenure when disaster struck. As the last hired, they were the first fired.
The relatively small number of tenured women faculty, however, had done well; there were six women full professors by 1977, as compared to two in 1971, and fifteen more associates, making a total of twenty-one. Although women administrators were not unknown at the Baruch School (Dean of Students Ruth Wright and Registrar Agnes Mulligan were prominent in the thirties and forties, as we have seen), the appointments of Bertha Newhouse and Selma Berrol as assistant deans of their schools (Business and Liberal Arts respectively) and Paula Mullins as assistant dean of students certainly enlarged women's sphere.
The last-named appointment was intimately connected to the huge increase in the number of women students at the college, 40 percent more in 1971 than in the previous year. Among them were numerous older women who had postponed or interrupted their education for economic or family reasons and who, with the advent of feminism and declining sexism, saw a reason to return. The most senior coed at 23rd Street was 83 years old!(14)
Affirmative action helps to explain greater employment and promotion of women at Baruch College and also led to increases in the number of black and Hispanic faculty. Some of the appointments were "double headers." The choice of Adele Pappy as Director of Admissions and Audrey Williams to head the SEEK program gave the college credit for hiring people who were members of two heretofore by-passed groups, blacks and women. A substantial number of minority instructors were added between 1972 and 1974. At peak, in 1974, black and Hispanic faculty constituted 15.7 percent of all faculty, an increase from less than 2 percent in 1968. As with others who had not had time to reach tenure, minority faculty were affected by mid-seventies retrenchment but, because of the demands of SEEK and Open Admissions, not as much. They were, however, de facto segregated. The only departments with a sizable number of black and Hispanic instructors were Compensatory Education and Black and Hispanic Studies. The other departments of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences did hire a few minority group members, but they were largely absent from the School of Business. (15)
Although many of the newcomers, regardless of sex or color, may not have recognized it, they had arrived at the City University at a most opportune moment. Action by the New York State Legislature had brought the CUNY faculty under the rules of PERB (the New York State Public Employees Relations Board) and required them to choose a collective bargaining representative. Two unrecognized and competing faculty organizations, the Legislative Conference and the United Federation of College Teachers, were already in existence, necessitating elections (held on December 4 and 5, 1968) to determine which would represent the faculty.
At Baruch, the Legislative Conference won. It had begun in 1934 as a lobbying group, which made an annual trip to Albany on behalf of the municipal college faculty and was more formally organized in 1938. More recently, the conference's position had been challenged by the United Federation of College Teachers, which had won the PERB election at some of the other CUNY colleges. In the fall of 1969 and the following spring, the Board of Higher Education signed contracts with both unions, the Conference to represent the tenured faculty and the Union to speak for the untenured, a divide-and-conquer tactic worthy of the British Empire in its prime. A few years later, in 1973, the two groups saw the error of their ways and joined together to form the Professional Staff Congress (PSC).
The first contracts provided monetary gains, regularization of promotions and tenure decisions, and pension improvements. It also specified limits on outside commitments, a matter of great importance to the Baruch business faculty. Finally, it required the colleges to adopt standards by which the faculty would be evaluated. Priorities adopted at Baruch emphasized, first, teaching ability, then service to the students and the college and last (in spite of the credentials of the new faculty), scholarship. The Board of Higher Education, without assigning weight, later adopted these same standards. The years following unionization were characterized by the growth of intensely bureaucratic personnel procedures in preparation for the many grievance cases that the newly strengthened faculty was now able to present.(16)
Although everyone enjoyed the practical benefits, unionization was distasteful to a portion of the faculty, who felt that it lowered their professional status to that of an industrial worker and who were not happy with either of the bargaining agents. In order to provide them with a voice, the Board of Higher Education established a University Faculty Senate, which was to act as liaison between the faculties of the expanding university and its administrators at 80th Street. The Senate's concerns would not be salaries and working conditions but rather academic policy, such as developing a governance plan for the university. Each of the colleges in the system also established a local senate, which chose a representative to speak for them at the university level.
At Baruch, as we have seen, Frank Macchiarola was the creator of the senate, but David Valinsky of the statistics department was its leader for many years. In addition to chairing the local senate, he represented it at 80th Street and at one point headed the University Senate as well. Although some questioned its usefulness, the senate at both the college and university level served at least one important purpose; it brought together an increasingly dispersed faculty. The staffs of the municipal colleges had never been very collegial, but the growth of CUNY drove them even further apart. The University Senate at least kept them informed of events at each other's campuses. For the Baruch faculty, who lacked both a faculty dining room and lounge, it provided one of the very few avenues to promote good interschool relations.(17)
6.5 Photograph of 1970 Student Demonstration.
6.6 Memos in Reaction to Kent State. Office of the Baruch College President.
Seeing the changes wrought by unionization and the Senate, older faculty at Baruch never hesitated to tell the men and women who came to the college in the early seventies that they "never had it so good." Could this also be said for the students? Judging from the relative absence of campus protest until May 1970, the answer would appear to be yes. Just as had been true for Baruch in its earlier incarnations, campus unrest, while not entirely absent from the newly independent college, certainly took a back seat to other concerns, and protests rarely engaged more than a small proportion of the student body. While other college campuses exploded in 1968 and 1969 and students marched, picketed and conducted sit-ins and teach-ins, nothing of the kind happened at Baruch; indeed, more radical members of the faculty (mostly in liberal-arts departments) deplored the lack of student protest against the Vietnam War or college administrators, attributing their lack of interest to the vocationalism that colored the views of business-school students.
Actually, the students at 23rd Street were not entirely untouched by the turbulence at other campuses. When the new college was being organized, for example, the Student Council asked that students be permitted to sit on its major committees, such as Personnel and Budget, Curriculum and Academic Standing. In October 1969, an ad hoc committee asked to play an important role in selecting a new dean of students to replace David Newton. When their requests were denied, however, no protest followed. Indeed, the Student Council disowned the radicals who had demanded to participate in the choice of a dean.
Based on this behavior, it would seem that there was little need for faculty or administrative action. However, because certain faculty activists, perhaps remembering their own student days, regretted the passivity of the students, and others wanted to avert possible upheavals, a committee on Rights and Responsibilities, chaired by Aaron Levenstein of the management department, was formed. May 6, 1969, was designated Rights and Responsibilities Day. Classes were to meet but not for their usual activities. Instead, they were to use the time to discuss methods of improving campus relationships.(18)
Perhaps as a result of this unaccustomed liberation from the grindstone of learning, but more likely because the situation in Vietnam was worsening daily, Baruch's first teach-in on the war was held on October 13, 1969. It was peaceful and not very well attended because instructors had been given permission to cancel classes, and most Baruchians simply stayed home. Up to this point, therefore, student unrest was not a problem at 23rd Street. This changed, however, during the following spring when a conjunction of events--the threatened imposition of higher fees, the extension of the war in Southeast Asia to Cambodia and the deaths of innocent students at Kent State and Jackson State universities--combined to bring about the first wave of militant protest at Baruch College. As Baruch Today rather proudly said, the protest "washed away the college's distinction as CUNY's coolest campus."(19)
It began on Thursday, April 16, when a noontime rally called to discuss the proposed fee increase (from $60 to $110 a semester) was denounced as just another way to impose tuition. The meeting spilled out from the ground-floor auditorium into the lobby of 17 Lexington Avenue, led to an attempted confrontation with President Weaver, who said that he agreed with the protestors but was powerless to do anything about their grievances, and then escalated into a two-day strike that paralyzed the entire college.
Student demands became more and more radical, requesting the end of all fees, greater resources for SEEK and an equal student voice in the hiring of faculty and administrators. Tactics also grew more radical; elevators were captured and a sit-in began, followed by picketing and rallies on 23rd Street and at the other CUNY campuses where, to everyone's great surpise, Baruch activists were the leaders. The college was closed for some of the period, open but poorly attended at other times. Throughout, due in large part to the control exercised by student leader Leon Yancey, it was a peaceful protest. No violence or physical confrontation occurred, but neither was much teaching or learning (of the normal academic variety) taking place. In some respects, as was true all over the country at that time, the protestors were having fun. At Baruch, sign making became quite creative. The antiwar slogan "Hey Hey LBJ, how many men did you kill today," now out of date, was changed to "Hey, Hey BHE, how many times you're gonna raise our fee?"(20)
The faculty met in emergency session on April 28th and 29th and chose thirteen of their members to meet with thirteen students in a Committee of twenty-six to devise a plan to end the strike. On May 8 they reported. There was to be a Baruch College Conference Committee (BCCC), thereafter known as the "B triple C," composed of twelve elected faculty and twelve students to meet once a month and consider everything important to life at Baruch College. The BCCC would also choose an ombudsman to hear and mediate student grievances. An annual teacher evaluation would be conducted with the results to be published unless the instructor refused.
Since the strike had severely disrupted the semester, a temporary grading system of "A, B, Pass or No-Credit" would be used. Students who chose to take the final examination in a course could earn a letter grade; others could opt for a P or No Credit. The proposal for an ombudsman and a conference committee received faculty approval without much dissent, but it took another day of student protest and an exhausting, heated faculty meeting to get the grading arrangements approved. In the end it was agreed that even penalty grades (then called G and H, today WU and WF) could be converted to an innocuous J (today W), a drop without penalty.
The strike wound down after this, in large part because the students had won their point on fees. The Board of Higher Education retreated from its proposal and the customary $60 (for day session, $29 for evening session) remained until the fiscal crisis in 1974 caused the fees to rise to $75 and $43, respectively. Some of the student activists, interested in larger issues as well as fees, urged that "liberation classes" be held, which would discuss the vital issues of the day, including events at Kent State and Cambodia. Except for a memorial service for the victims of the Ohio tragedy, however, the campus returned to normal in late May and there was no further political activity even during a special pre-election recess in November. An attempt to revive the protest at that time by students who liberated and held hostage one of the building name plates was settled amicably by referral to the BCCC.
Perhaps the most long-lasting effect of the 1970 uprising was the change in student attitudes toward the academic establishment. Lexicon for 1971, for example, compiled by and for a class that had been in most of the previous year's turmoil, was called Changes and was not a yearbook at all but rather a collection of disparate sections placed in a colorfully cartooned box. Its material was very "pop" (even including a small recording of a rock song) and relied heavily on photographs, especially the frontispiece, which traditionally featured the famous picture of Bernard Baruch on a park bench opposite the White House, but in this issue included the superimposed image of two male hippie students on either side of him. Irreverent was the word for the class of '71 and the pattern continued throughout the decade.(21)
The events of that turbulent spring of 1970 were among several important happenings in the life of what was still a very young college. Adjustment to the newly established Open Admissions policy was another, accompanied at its start by a severe fiscal. and space emergency. The faculty and students at Baruch had to cope with these problems without the help of Robert Weaver, who announced his departure immediately after he presided over a delayed Commencement on June 12. As reported in the New York Times, Weaver was leaving after 18 months of frustration. "I wanted to develop an institution that would relate an academic institution to urban problems and an urban setting. I was intrigued by the idea of a new campus. I feel that I have been unable to move towards either effectively."(22) The remarks he made to the Ticker were more specific: "Uncertainty and inadequacy of financing from city and state have prevented me from doing my job" and thus "the goals of the Keppel Report are no nearer realization than they were two years ago."(23)
The outgoing president's remarks were not entirely accurate. He had taken several steps on behalf of the black minority, such as the establishment of a Department of Compensatory Education to house SEEK, a special program which had been been admitting a small number of educationally and economically disadvantaged students since 1968. This was followed by his appointment of an urban education expert, Donald Smith, to chair the new department and Robert Holmes to assist him as SEEK director. These newcomers enlarged the tiny cadre of minority personnel at Baruch, as did the appointment of Harrison Tucker (former ambassador from Sierra Leone to the USSR) as chairman of the new Black and Hispanic Studies Program. Smith in particular provided the blacks and Hispanics with an articulate spokesman.
Weaver also overstated the College's financial deprivation. While there was certainly not enough money to do anything grandiose, he had received sixty lines between 1968 and 1970 and had filled them with promising new faculty. The English and mathematics departments had doubled in size, and the history department was headed by an experienced professional, Edward Pessen, who was soon to demonstrate outstanding leadership by quickly recruiting four remarkable young women scholars to his department. Norman Storer came from the Social Science Research Council and began to build a sociology department to which he soon added anthropologist Edwin Eames. Weaver had also moved the college closer to modern times by the appointment of a Grants Officer to operate out of Dean of Administration Lester Rosner's office.
Movement on space, it is true, was confused and slow, but the acquisition and refurbishment of the RCA building on 24th Street was a major achievement, unappreciated by a man whose academic life had been spent at Harvard. At bottom, it would appear that Weaver was leaving because he did not enjoy his job. Perhaps he had been misled; the Board of Higher Education, in its eagerness to appoint the first black Cabinet officer as president of a CUNY senior college, may have painted Baruch as a tabula rasa upon which he could inscribe his mark.
In any case, he soon discovered that giving an old institution a new name did not erase its past; thus he was not able to shape Baruch into the urban college of the future, at least not in eighteen months. Often absent from his desk, he sought satisfaction and continued prominence by accepting speaking engagements all over the nation, and the "Faculty Notes" column of Baruch Today was filled with news of his outside activities. In truth, it takes no great insight to understand Weaver's eagerness to escape from 23rd Street. Between rebelling students, faculty resistance to change and the looming problems of Open Admissions, the Baruch president's life in 1970 was not a happy one; a high-level appointment as a professor of urban affairs at Hunter College, the position to which he moved, was both easier and more satisfying. The faculty seemed to understand his need to be liberated; as a farewell gift they gave him a piece of Steuben crystal labeled "Bird in Flight"(24)
6.8 "Baruch College Plans and Procedures for Dealing With Open Admissions, September 1970," Committee on Open Enrollment.
Weaver's departure may well have been hastened by bad budget news emanating from 80th Street during the previous spring. In spite of a 38 percent increase in faculty, the 1970-1971 budget was not adequate for the needs of the still quite new college and the demands of Open Admissions, which was to start in September. Acting President Jerome Cohen was very much aware of this and began his term by stating that he did not want to be considered for the permanent post because "the grave disabilities that led to President Weaver's resignation are all too omnipresent." His pessimism ("I have no magic solutions . . . . All I can hope is that somehow... we can get along in peace and harmony") was based on the knowledge that Baruch had been assigned a huge entering class for September 1970 without sufficient funds to cover the cost.(25)
His worst fears were realized. The attractiveness of Baruch's professional programs, now available to students with fewer qualifications, created the most serious fiscal crisis in its history. Unlike most other years, when there were many "no-shows," almost everyone who was allocated to the college actually enrolled; indeed, the SEEK program was overenrolled. The totals were truly astounding. Cohen reported an entering freshman class of 1,510--as compared to 690 in September 1969--plus 300 transfer students, leading to a total day-session enrollment of 4,300, up from 2,919 the previous year. When combined with an evening-session population of 4,000 undergraduate and 3,200 graduate students, the Baruch student body had grown by 45 percent in one year. Two hundred fifty more classes and many additional instructors were now required. The influx generated a magnificent total of FTE credits, but they could not be translated into immediate dollars. First SEEK went "into the red" for a total of $63,800, to be followed by the entire college to the tune of $200,000.(26)
It was an exceedingly difficult semester, particularly for the well-liked dean of administration, Lester Rosner, who had carried the greatest burdens: the shortage of space and funds. Perhaps because of the strain he was under, Rosner suffered a heart attack while addressing the general faculty in late November 1970 and died on the way to the hospital. Human sacrifice, unfortunately, did not solve Baruch's financial and space problems, which continued. Proposed acquisition of the Philco Building at 120 E. 23rd Street was blocked by legal complications; plans for utilizing part of the New School for Social Research on West 12th Street were also stalled. The best that could be done was to add three more floors of rented space at 315 Park Avenue South after John Jay College moved a few blocks uptown to 26th Street. Furthermore, as it turned out, Open Admission students needed more remediation in English and mathematics than had been expected. This necessitated the hiring of more adjuncts, and although the Board of Higher Education eventually came through with an additional allocation to cover the default, the months before they did so were hair raising.
With emergency funds from 80th Street, the College staggered through the spring semester, which, in spite of opposition from Cohen, saw the addition of still more freshmen and transfers. Clearly Open Admissions was a popular policy; every college in CUNY was expanding, but space and funding continued to be inadequate. Preliminary allocations for fall 1971 were alarming. If they proved to be accurate, up to 2,000 new students would enter Baruch. Cohen said this could be done if arrangements with the New School were completed, but by April it was clear that this was not to be. The new Dean for Administration, Maurice Benewitz alerted the faculty for "Operation Shoehorn." Cohen went further and predicted that the "College would be paralyzed."(27)
For a brief interval, it appeared that there might be no further expansion. Faced with cuts by both city and state, Chancellor Albert Bowker threatened to close the doors to new students and admit no freshman class at all in September 1971. He also offered two equally unpleasant options; cut the number of upper-level courses to be offered (bad news for the School of Business, whose professional offerings were almost all upper level), or cut the size of the freshman class, thus effectively ending Open Admissions, since it would be politically impossible to admit the disadvantaged and refuse the better qualified.
With this introduction, what was to become an annual budget "ballet" was underway, orchestrated by all the CUNY public relations offices and intended to bring maximum pressure on the state legislature, the Board of Estimate, the City Council and the mayor. The crisis ended by June, when the state and city came up with additional funds. When a relieved Cohen turned over the reins to new president Clyde Wingfield, he was praised both for taking on a most difficult job and for bringing in the largest entering class in Baruch's history. Altogether, 1971 was a year of superlatives; even the summer session, which ran from June through August, received a record enrollment because so many SEEK and Open Admissions students who had spent their first year taking no-credit remedial courses were anxious to make up for lost time.(28)
Open Admissions, the controversial policy that brought both rewards and problems to the City University of New York, had been in the wings since 1966, at least. One version had been suggested even earlier by Donald Cottrell in his 1955 and 1962 reports, when he urged the expansion of CUNY facilities to prepare for the baby boomers who would be ready for college in the sixties, a recommendation repeated in the "Report of the Committee to Look to the Future of the Board of Higher Education" (the Holy Report) in 1962.Both the Cottrell and Holy reports wanted CUNY to continue a pattern dating from the mid-nineteenth century--enlarging access to education beyond the primary grades--but neither Cottrell nor Holy wrote with blacks or Hispanics in mind. Since these groups were grossly underrepresented among high-school graduates, they were not expected to make much use of an expanded CUNY. The needs of New York City's rapidly growing service sector, not upward mobility for minority groups, prompted their recommendation. Both reports urged that the facilities of the municipal colleges be enlarged, which, since acceptances were based on available space, would permit less exclusivity.
More than any other single individual, Albert Bowker was responsible for Open Admissions. He came to New York from Stanford University's Graduate School to be the second Chancellor of CUNY in 1963 and stayed for eight years. He was hired by a conservative Board of Higher Education to build the university's doctoral programs but, as was the case when Dwight Eisenhower appointed an ostensibly conservative Earl Warren to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, his employers were in for a big surprise. Bowker soon became a strong advocate of expansion and in 1965 was even ready to accept tuition in order to get the state funding that would enable his building program to start. Public outcry and the recognition that student fees already constituted 20 percent of CUNY's income led him to adopt another course.
In spring 1966, he discovered that his announcement that 2,300 high-school graduates could not be admitted to CUNY unless the CUNY Construction Fund was established (he said that without new buildings there would be no room for those students two years later), produced immediate favorable action from the state legislature. Not being a slow learner, he used such scare tactics again and again. In the next few years, as a result of the injection of ethnicity and politics into a matter that at first glance might seem to be primarily educational and financial, the controversy over the university's expansion grew more complex. Nothing relating to schools in New York City, however, is ever purely educational.(29)
Bowker knew that admissions and space were intimately connected, and thus physical expansion would allow the colleges to offer seats to less prepared high-school graduates, many of them black or Hispanic. He also knew that the process would be a slow one and that, as the urban riots of the sixties demonstrated, blacks might not wait for opportunities to "trickle down." Under his prodding, special programs, such as College Discovery (mostly for the community colleges) and SEEK (as we have seen, for the senior colleges), were adopted. Accompanied by a stipend, a limited number of educationally and economically disadvantaged high-school graduates were admitted to CUNY.
These early steps were relatively uncontroversial, but they did not satisfy the black community. Thus, in 1968, the Board of Higher Education adopted the Top Hundred Scholars program, under which the best 100 graduates of any New York City high school could be admitted to any CUNY college before those with higher averages but lower rank. This policy exacerbated growing racial tensions, as did the expansion of SEEK to a five-year program in which remedial credits could be used for full-time status and thus financial support. As black militancy increased, culminating in the takeover of the City College South Campus in spring 1969, white hostility grew stronger. On May 8 the auditorium of City's main student center was set afire, leading a shocked Deputy Chancellor Seymour Hymand himself a City College alumnus), to ask "How can we save City College?" a question which he answered by saying "Hell, let everybody in!"(30)
Hyman's view was not acceptable to at least two of the candidates for mayor in 1969, Mario Procaccino and John Marchi, but it was supported by the incumbent who was up for reelection, John Lindsay. Even more important, Harry Van Arsdale, the powerful chairman of the city's Central Labor Council, believed that CUNY should be admitting more students. He was speaking for his constituents (who were also Procaccino's and Marchi's constituents, although the politicians apparently did not realize this), the thousands of children from white working-class families who wanted a post-secondary education but whose high-school averages were below the current cutoff points of the municipal colleges and whose family incomes were too high for College Discovery or SEEK. Arsdale must have been very pleased when Open Admissions became policy and the first class contained more non-Hispanic Roman Catholics, the bulk of his constituency, than any other group.Nelson Rockefeller, up for reelection in 1970 and well aware of needing labor support in Republican-shy New York City, came to agree that opening CUNY without tuition was the way to go. By 1969, with so many leaders (who usually opposed each other) in agreement, it was generally recognized that Open Admissions was an idea whose time had come. It would satisfy minority demands, help meet the city's need for trained white-collar workers, offer Italian, Irish, Polish children the same leg up that Jewish youngsters had received in years past and would help re-elect a mayor and a governor. What more could be asked of a public policy?
In February 1969, before the uprising at City College, the University Faculty Senate, elected representatives of all the colleges in CUNY, endorsed Open Admissions with the proviso that the colleges must be prepared to change if the plan was to be more than a revolving door. Finally, on July 9, 1969, the Board of Higher Education adopted a formal resolution to advance the new policy by five years (it had been originally proposed for 1975) and in September 1970, the first Open Admissions class was admitted.
A good part of the previous year had been spent on the difficult task of finding a formula by which the goals of Open Admissions could be implemented without arousing further ethnic tension. The plan that was finally adopted used both the criteria of high-school rank and average. It guaranteed New York City students who graduated with at least an 80 average or who ranked in the top 50 percent of their high school class a place in one of the senior colleges, although not necessarily their first choice. Graduates with lower averages or lower rank could enter one of the community colleges and perhaps transfer to a senior college after they achieved an associate degree. At the same time the SEEK program was expanded.
Using both high-school average and rank was an inspired compromise for which Vice-Chancellor Robert Birnbaum deserves much credit. The combination meant that a high-ranking student from an undemanding high school would not be accepted by a senior college before a lower-ranking student from a more competitive school. It thus defused white (especially Jewish) anger while the guarantee that minority students would be admitted to CUNY in proportion to their numbers in the total graduating class mollified most blacks and Hispanics.(31)
Baruch, with its midtown location and much smaller number of black students, had been spared the violent confrontations of its erstwhile mother school, a fortunate development considering the absence of permanent leadership that marked its first years. There was no doubt, however, that preparations for the September 1970 inauguration of Open Admissions had to be made. To this end, a committee had been established under the chairmanship of psychology professor Angelo Dispenzieri. In February, his group reported their plan.
Erroneously titled "Open Enrollment," the committee report offered a series of steps to accept, examine (for health and skills), orient and register the 1,250 new freshmen (three times the usual number) expected to enroll at Baruch College in 1970. The effort would be supervised by a soon-to-be-appointed director of educational development and the Department of Compensatory Education, which had been established to administer the SEEK program. Members of that department and people from Student Personnel Services would do most of the work, with remedial courses in writing, mathematics and reading conducted by greatly expanded Departments of English and Mathematics. Although serious problems of funding, space and interdepartmental friction prevented the smooth execution of the Dispenzieri Committee's plans, a framework for Open Admissions at Baruch College had been constructed.(32)
Who were the students who made up the first Open Admissions class at Baruch? In many ways they were not very different from those who had enrolled in the latter part of the previous decade. Indeed, most of them could have entered even if Open Admissions had not been adopted. Almost three-quarters were white; they were predominantly Roman Catholic, often graduates of parochial schools. About 15 percent were black, 7 percent Hispanic and 3 percent Oriental. Most were from lower-middle-class families and were often the first in their family to attend college. Many were resident aliens or naturalized citizens.
Baruchians were poorer than the national norm for college students; perhaps for this reason they were at college for strictly vocational reasons, seeing the BBA or BS in Education as a passport to a higher income. Most of them--62 percent--had entered Baruch with an average between 75 and 80; a much smaller number had come with lower high-school grades. During the next few years, however, significant changes in gender and ethnicity appeared. Graduating classes from 1975 on (most Open Admission students took at least five years to complete their studies), were much larger and contained more and more women and nonwhites (blacks, Hispanics and Asians represented 39 percent of the class of 1979). The proportion of Jews had dropped to 10 percent by that date.(33)
There were also other ways in which the Open Admissions classes differed from earlier ones. An enormous number, for example, did not complete the courses for which they had enrolled. A survey by Assistant Dean Bertha Newhouse in 1974 indicated that 49 percent of the 5,700 students in her sample either dropped a course or received a grade of INC or X (absent from the final examination). Few of these grades were ever resolved and were therefore counted as failures. This shocking waste, the dean concluded, was because so many were unprepared to do college-level work. Frustrated and frightened, they simply dropped out of courses they could not manage.
She was probably right about one prominent deficiency. In numbers far greater than in earlier years, Open Admission students appeared to need help in writing English. Never before had 80 percent of an entering class been assigned to remedial composition courses. A new and growing category, the foreign-born, required extensive remediation in reading, writing and speaking English. Startling as these figures are, they were lower in most respects than those reported by other CUNY colleges, to say nothing of the community colleges, which, as previously noted, were intended to attract the less prepared. In 1971, according to the results of placement tests given to all entrants, Baruch freshmen needed less remediation than those who entered York, John Jay, Medgar Evers and City College. Two years later, thanks to the attractiveness of its professional programs, Baruch was enrolling better-prepared students than any senior college except Queens.(34)
Placement in remedial courses was the result of failure to achieve a passing grade in a battery of skills assessment tests given to entering freshmen before they registered for their first semester at college. They were much disliked but became a permanent part of the admissions procedure. Without proper placement, Open Admissions would have been just like the "revolving door" at the land-grant colleges in other parts of the United States, which had always admitted all comers but graduated relatively few.
How can we account for the fact that so many students who had earned respectable averages or were in the top echelon of their high-school graduating class needed remediation? That the high schools taught less and less of the academic staples, that what they taught was diluted, that grade inflation made averages and class standing unreliable barometers of academic ability, was unfortunately indisputable. The causes, however, were open to much dispute. Were the teachers less well-prepared? Probably the younger ones were. Were they less motivated because their salaries were low, their professionalism went unrecognized and their discipline problems were severe?
Or were school conditions the result or fault of professional educators in the colleges, constantly embracing trendy ideas and selling them to gullible bureaucrats and legislatures? Was the root problem a changing student body, poor, foreign, from unstable homes and with a history of deprivation and injustice? Was it the changes instituted from a desire to pacify militant minorities by removing the distinctions between an academic, vocational and general diploma and the standardizing influence of the Regents' examinations, now voluntary?
On the other hand, was the Open Admissions policy itself to blame for continued deterioration in the high schools? In contrast to to the carefully laid out and detailed "High School Preparations for Admission" that filled several pages of Baruch's Bulletin throughout its history, Open Admissions allowed any NewYork high-school graduate to enter a municipal college without presenting specific courses or units of study. When this was combined with the lower standards required for the single universal high-school diploma, the result had to be less prepared college freshmen.
In sum, New York's deteriorated high schools were the result of all of the factors described above, exacerbated by the way one problem fed into another to create a seamless web of hopelessness. Open Admissions, at its best, was an attempt to puncture the web and thus prevent the cycle of miseducation from going any further. In one sense, it was nothing new. At Baruch, for example, it was only a continuation on a larger scale (and accompanied by testing, remediation and counselling) of what, in its previous incarnations, the college had been doing since 1919: preparing ambitious young people for careers in New York City's expanding services sector. Now the task was going to be more difficult, expensive and riskier. As David Newton said before leaving Baruch to chair the CUNY-wide task force on Open Admissions, opening the municipal colleges to all high-school graduates was "New York's Moonshot" and had just about as much chance to succeed.(35)