State of the College Address
October 27, 1994
The City University of New York
WE ARE NEARLY at the mid-point of the
semester, but let me begin with a belated welcome to the members of our faculty
and staff who were new to Baruch College this Fall. We are delighted to have
you with us, and I look forward to a long and rewarding relationship.
In preparing these remarks I was struck by how much has happened at Baruch over the past few years. You - the faculty, staff, and students - deserve the credit for what has been accomplished: in short, that we are today a stronger and more focused institution. I want to talk about some of our accomplishments and the challenges that remain, but first permit me a slight digression.
AS YOU KNOW, CUNY has recently taken
quite a battering - and an unfair one - in the press. Distortions of our retention
and graduation rates abound, as do claims that remediation has grown so extensive
as to swallow the resources needed for educating the well prepared students.
Though there are no simple answers, we cannot be passive and let the critics'
voices go unanswered. In the end it is our students whose degrees may be compromised
by this pernicious rhetoric. For this reason, we took this fall's issue of
Inside Baruch, which usually is distributed only locally, and mailed
it to all 55,000 alumni on our lists, and included a letter to the alumni,
addressing these concerns. Although it was aimed at a different audience,
I look forward to hearing any thoughts of yours about this letter and how
best to handle these difficult issues.
Our need to maintain and expand alumni loyalty
and support for the College is one of the most important efforts of my staff
and myself. And it's another area where faculty members play very important
roles. Although helping the College in this area takes you away from research
and consulting, Baruch is better and stronger for it, and I want to express
my thanks for this help.
As faculty members you get calls from Zane Berzins asking if you'll be interviewed by the media. You get requests from Lois Cronholm to serve on committees and to give presentations to alumni groups and the Baruch College Fund. Andrew Grant calls on you to develop more grant proposals. You also get calls from Hersey Egginton and Terry Karamanos to help with alumni affairs and development activities. Terry and I call upon some of you to join us in meetings with public officials and business leaders. Sam Johnson requests many kinds of involvement in student affairs. Edith Pavese asks you to write or be interviewed for Inside Baruch or Baruch Today. To all of these calls for help beyond the classroom, you have been responding generously and energetically. I want to thank you. I want to indicate the appreciation that all of us feel - students, faculty, and staff - for the many faculty members who have been furnishing that extra measure of service that makes it possible to strengthen the foundation for non-tax-levy support of Baruch's well-being.
LET ME ADD a further note about the
many committee requests you receive, usually from the Provost's office. Democratic
processes can be slow and are very labor-intensive, but I think you'll agree
that it's worth the extra effort on everyone's part. The College would stagnate
without the vigorous involvement of the Faculty Senate directly in governance
and also in providing wise counsel on an ad-hoc basis. The search committees,
the P & B processes, the revision of governance documents, and the special
expanded activities this year in reporting to Middle States all require the
active and caring participation of large numbers of faculty members. This
devotion to the well-being of the Baruch community by so many of you in the
audience is remarkable and immensely gratifying.
For a college of our size the creation of a new school and the reassignment of units of a previously existing school are once-in-alifetime events. Both of those actions have profound implications for Baruch and for individuals within the College.
We undertook these changes after long and careful deliberation at every level. I want to convey my appreciation to the faculty and administrators who devoted countless hours to committee meetings and public hearings and drafts and re-drafts of all the documents that outlined our proposals. I particularly want to thank the faculty members of the units in the School of Education and Educational Services for their guidance and cooperation during this difficult transition period.
OUR NEW SCHOOL positions Baruch to meet
a growing need
in the City for better policy analysis and implementation. The 'School provides innovative mechanisms to bring faculty together across the traditional disciplinary boundaries to work on common areas of interest. It will attract students with special skills and high levels of aspiration. It will attract external support, and it will bring Baruch to the attention of those whose attention will be particularly beneficial to the College.
No school in New York is better suited to this task. Baruch already had a set of strong programs in just those areas where urban needs are most dramatic - health care, school administration, labor relations, public management. Our faculty also has expertise in emerging areas of importance, including nonprofit management and privatization issues.
Our identity as a provider of quality professional education - with a special emphasis on the administrative sciences - is a major asset. Baruch's School of Business is excellent. All of us in the College take pride in its professors' achievements, their intellectual stature, the School's high regard among business leaders, and its ever more promising future.
But as the nature of the economy changes, our concerns must expand. Business itself operates in an increasingly complex relationship with government. Government itself continues to grow even in a conservative anti-tax climate: it is worth noting that for all the talk of public sector retrenchment, more people work in New York government jobs today than five years ago, while there are roughly 300,000 fewer people in private sector jobs. For a college like ours, it was no longer appropriate to offer "public administration" as an add-on to a thriving business curriculum. Nor was it advantageous to ignore opportunities for an expanded Baruch role in policy research and development.
After the University's Board of Trustees authorized the creation of the School of Public Affairs last Spring, the University administration provided some special start-up support in lines and dollars. And this summer, as you know, we recruited Ronald Berkman as Acting Dean, established a core faculty, recruited nine new faculty members, and opened the School.
That was the easy part. Now we need to fulfill our ambitions and make this School a significant force in the public policy community of the City of New York - and, if we can, in a wider arena. Seven weeks into the term, the School is on its way. This summer we contracted with the Louis Harris organization to establish the Baruch-Harris Survey. The goal is to help government, policy advocates, and the media understand trends in public opinion in order to develop more responsive policy.
This December the School will host its inaugural conference. We expect an audience of about 150 public affairs deans and other academic leaders, government officials, and major researchers. This is a national conference, and it will focus on major issues in the discipline.
WITH THE ARRIVAL of the School of Public
Affairs and a new, more coherent and balanced mission for the scholarly and
public service activities of Baruch as a whole, I hear from many people that
the place feels more and more like a single college, and less and less like
a collection of schools.
At Baruch, the liberal arts and the professional disciplines are equal partners in preparing our students for the world. If we do our job well, it is here at Baruch that our students cultivate their lifelong interests, sharpen their curiosity, and develop their understandings of the world at large. It is our responsibility to ensure that they leave not only as highly skilled professionals, but as interesting people and as creative citizens.
As I said before, more and more it feels like we have one faculty, rather than three, directed to one common mission. This new integration and sense of unity is important because it brings better cross-fertilization of ideas and new intellectual stimulation. But it's also important in cultivating a sharp, powerful image of Baruch in the eyes of people off-campus, be they journalists, business leaders, alumni, or people in government. Furthermore, it also helps to engender among our students a stronger sense of belonging to the College. And this Baruch identity is essential to increasing alumni loyalty, which in turn is needed for expanding the endowment revenues we need to better support teaching, scholarship, and student activities and services.
There's one more way that faculty and staff help contribute to the coherence of the College and to our students' sense of belonging. And that's all the innumerable small and large gestures of friendliness and warmth that people at Baruch extend to students to diminish the alienation of bustling city life. One of the nicest gestures that I want to mention is that many of you invite international students to your homes for Thanksgiving dinner. I don't know who you are by name, but I do know that a number of faculty and staff participate in this program, coordinated by Mark Spergel's office. For those who aren't familiar with this program, I should also say that, if you request it, the College will buy the turkey for you.
LET ME TURN now from organizational to
physical structures. No event that I can remember has done more to lift Baruch
College's spirits than the completion of the 25th Street Building. Think of
what a facility like this conveys to our students - and to prospective students.
This new building tells the world that we value the fifteen thousand young
men and women who meet our standards and who choose to be with us, and that
we intend to make their experience at Baruch College a time of high quality.
Reflecting on the effects our new building has on Baruch students, I am aware that as faculty members we appreciate its beauty in the context of other great libraries and research facilities we have worked in over the years as students or researchers. This kind of quality is new to Baruch, but the experience itself is not new to us. Yet for so many of our students, it is an entirely new experience, it is a quantum leap into an environment not previously experienced.
Recently at an event in the seventh floor Conference Center, I was approached by a young woman, who asked if I was President Goldstein, and then told me, "This place is so beautiful. It's so much nicer than where I live." To which I could only respond, "It's nicer than where I live too."
How satisfying it is to visit The William and Anita Newman Library and the sixth floor computer center just to observe the quiet but intense activity of students silently at work in this gracious but technologically powerful setting. It is also very interesting to see how it's filled even on Friday afternoons - contrary to the perception that CUNY students won't come to campus on Friday.
I would be remiss if I did not once again acknowledge the person at Baruch who has been responsible for our campus. For eighteen years Marilyn Mikulsky managed a half-dozen buildings in the middle of Manhattan into which fifteen thousand people walk every day. Working within the constraints of union contracts, building leases, and tight resources, she tried to keep the campus functioning smoothly and attractively.
Soon, we will choose an architect for Site B - the new facility between 24th and 25th Streets. Let me give you a sense of the magnitude of that enterprise. Site A provides 173,000 square feet of usable space, but Site B is projected at 416,000 square feet - more than what we have at 360 Park Avenue South, for example.
In addition to the new building, we have recently added new space in our rental buildings, moving some departments and adding new lounge spaces, cafeterias, and a Student Center. Let me invite those of you with offices on 18th Street to visit the new spaces at 360 Park Avenue South, especially the new student activities space on floors 14 and 15. And conversely for those of you from 26th Street, come down to 18th Street to see the new labs, offices, and the top floor cafeteria with its marvelous skyline views, expected to open in a few weeks. These new common spaces greatly advance the sociability of Baruch's environment. The dedicated staff in Campus Planning and Facilities worked tirelessly over the Summer and into the Fall to get the added 150,000 square feet ready for our use, and we owe them our gratitude.
We still have a long way to go before we can honestly say that the quality of our environment matches the quality of our program. But the recent advances have been significant.
I WOULD LIKE to tell you a little about
three development initiatives we've undertaken in the last year. The Baruch
College Fund went through a strategic planning process, and has repositioned
itself for expanded activity and significantly increased generation of revenue.
The Board is also growing larger and has a clearer mission for raising new
funds. It now has subcommittees with faculty and student participation to
provide the Board with first-hand knowledge of the intellectual and creative
activities at the College. Over the next several months, the Fund Board will
study the possibility of a major, multi-year fund-raising campaign. This new
campaign would not replace the current activities, but would supplement them
with contribution levels orders-of-magnitude higher than we have seen in the
past. A first for Baruch, such a major campaign must be carefully studied
and planned. But only with new sources of funds on a new level can Baruch
meet the challenge before us to provide services and resources for faculty
members and students commensurate with the state-of-the-art facilities found
in Site A and planned for Site B.
Two essential activities in preparation for such a capital campaign are an improvement in services to alumni organizations and the development of a more coherent, powerful, and effective image of Baruch in the media, in the minds and hearts of alumni, in the plans of prospective students, in the understandings of elected officials and in the perceptions of leaders in business and public service. In constructing the foundation for a successful capital campaign to produce richer revenue streams, we have asked and received advice and counsel from many faculty members. We appreciate your help and will continue to depend on you for this vital assistance.
DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES are vital to the College's well-being in the abstract and in the particular. And the particulars, of course, are individual faculty members and students. The human side of fund-raising was brought home to us recently by a letter one of our scholarship students sent to the family of a donor. Let me share with you a few sentences from that letter.
Dear Mrs. Abramowitz:
I am the recipient of the Jesse Abramowitz scholarship this year. You and your daughter spoke with me after the ceremony on June 1.
First of all, I would like to thank your family for the award
Also I want to tell you that you and your daughter were absolutely right to come up to me and tell me that you are the family who gave this scholarship. Only after that did I realize that there are real people and real lives behind any scholarship -- not just names.
When I received the College's letter notifying me that I had been chosen for the Jesse Abramowitz scholarship, I cannot say that I was really grateful or fully appreciated it. I just did not know to whom to be grateful. What I really felt was pride; I was proud of myself and I thought I deserved it. I did not even bother to find out who Jesse Abramowitz was. But when you came up to me, after that ceremony, and told me that you are from the Abramowitz family, I was so embarrassed that I could not say anything besides "thank you."
I appreciate this award very much, and I will always remember your husband's name with gratefulness. I came to the USA from Leningrad, Russia, two and a half years ago. For almost a year I worked as a baby-sitter, then I went to Baruch. I know the value of money and how hard it is to earn it and it makes me appreciate your award even more.
I am grateful to your husband and to all of your family. However, I want you to know that even if I did not get the award, I would still continue to admire your husband's decision to establish a scholarship because, in my opinion, it is the most unselfish decision that could ever be made by any person.
WE SERVE MANY constituencies at Baruch
College. But the students who study here are the primary focus of our concern:
nearly thirteen thousand undergraduates and the twenty-three hundred graduate
As faculty members, you don't need to be told about the continuing enhancements of our curriculum. This is your province and the achievements there belong to you. For certain efforts, faculty from different programs join together to address particular areas of academic concern. This year, for example, a Task Force on Communication Skills, chaired by Associate Provost Donald Smith, will be looking at how we can help faculty to help students at every level, from entering SEEK students to people completing master's degrees. A previous task force on tutoring and related academic services put a small but effective "peer consultant" program in motion and offered recommendations for new structures. This program will be continued as a joint effort overseen by Lois Cronholm and Sam Johnson.
This year we will be completing a Periodic Review required by Middle States, and we plan to use that process to focus on how we can better meet the full range of student needs.
Some things we already know, and they relate in large part to needs that exist outside of the classroom. Some of those needs stem from our role as a commuter institution. Others relate to the particular goals and aspirations of the people we attract to the College. All of them present challenges we are going to try to meet this year.
One problem is the limited and irregular communication on campus. Almost all our students - whether full- or part-time - are here only several hours each week. They generally sandwich in classes where they can. We may wish that all of them were deeply involved in the daily life of the campus, but we should be frank to admit that for many, a rational allocation of time and energy dictates otherwise. Too often they know little about what's happening outside of their classes and how things affect them, especially budgetary matters and policy.
To help remedy this, I'm offering each of the student newspapers a regular column - not just to communicate facts and Figures but to provide a larger vision of Baruch's goals.
For me, one of the high points of each Fall at Baruch is an off-campus event, the Student Leadership Weekend. Though it's not a secret meeting, few of you are probably aware of it, and fewer have attended. Under the guidance of Sam Johnson and his staff, about 100 students gather for workshops and community meetings to develop skills, techniques, and strategies needed for effective leadership. I always try to participate, and I find it exciting to be bombarded for an hour of interrogation on every aspect of College administration. (I also enjoy Wagner's operas. To each his own!)
Their questions are sharp - sometimes subtle, sometimes off-base -- but always engaged and committed. All of us regard it as a productive exchange of views and information. In fact, it's so valuable that we're in the process of adapting this kind of event into an Open Forum with the President on a regular basis for the entire student body.
Important concerns also relate to the variety of services in career counseling and placement. Last year the Presidential Commission on the Future of Baruch College reported that most )f our students "need academic and career guidance at a more intensive, better-coordinated level." There are some very good people providing high levels of service. But it's in scattered locations with insufficient coordination. We're now starting to -e-examine our career guidance and placement operations across he College. We are also asking departments about plans to include faculty more deeply in academic advisement.
To help evening students make more rapid progress to the degree and to allow more flexibility in course choices, we will try out a new time schedule for evening classes this Spring. With minor adjustments to the daytime grid, we were able to squeeze n an additional class period each evening, so that students can choose from six time slots (three on MW and three on TuTh) instead of only four.
Graduate admissions is revising its procedures so that we'll lave a smoother, more efficient, and more applicant-friendly process. That should allow us to increase graduate enrollment without reducing admissions standards.
AS MANY OF YOU KNOW, our large graduation
classes have prevented us from providing more than two Commencement tickets
to each graduate. And given the fact that our students would like to share this
event not only with their parents, but often with siblings, grandparents, and
even their own children, the limited supply of tickets introduced an element
of sadness in an otherwise happy day of celebration. The College's Commencement
Committee - another committee we ask you to serve on! - has found a solution
we will introduce next June. Baruch will have a ceremony on campus for awarding
all graduate degrees. Then we can offer three tickets per student to another
ceremony awarding baccalaureate degrees at the Paramount Theater. While the
two events will require a little more time and effort from faculty and staff,
costs will not be increased because of our using the College auditorium, and
all students will greatly benefit from the changes.
IN THE MIDST of these special efforts on
the new School, the new campus, new development efforts, and a new level of
attention to student services - the regular work of the College proceeds. Over
fifteen thousand registered this semester. In the academic year just ended,
we granted over twenty-six hundred degrees. We recruited forty-one outstanding
new faculty members, many of whom are here today.
Even within the tight budgets we've had for fiscal years '94 and '95, the College has been addressing long-unmet faculty and student needs. For example, we are committed to getting a computer to every professor who needs one, and we are making significant headway. Though the process won't be completed this year, the College has added over one hundred computers to faculty members' desks over the last 14 months.
We continue to cultivate our centers and institutes, and two relatively new initiatives are moving ahead aggressively. The Weissman Center for International Business - among its other activities - is helping Kazan State University in the former Soviet Union create a business school and is teaching management methods to Russian banking, accounting, and utility executives.
The Small Business Lab, which went into operation last year, has already helped more than 250 clients. Some businesses are very small - like a family-owned ice cream store uptown that opened with the assistance of Professor Myung-Soo Lee of Marketing. Others are larger. But they're all important to New York's economy. And it's gratifying to be able to use Baruch's expertise in that kind of direct public service. By the way, Professor Alvin Puryear, Director of the Baruch Small Business Lab, has leveraged the University's Workforce Development Initiative funding to garner an additional $500,000 of state and federal funds to provide client services to small business entrepreneurs under Baruch's aegis.
Our faculty members continue to be very productive. Hardly a week goes by that I don't see a Baruch professor quoted in the media as an expert on a topic of national importance. I continue to be impressed by the scholarly output of articles and books and by the national recognition accorded in faculty members' research grants.
These are all things of which we should be proud. But the real measure of an institution comes not from the glittering prizes or the new initiatives - important though those are - but from the mix of programs and people that characterize life here every day. We know how good those programs are and how excellent the people are. But it's also gratifying when other people know it too. Within the past two years Baruch was singled out for recognition by Business Week and Forbes magazines. And last month Money magazine listed us as one of the top twenty commuter colleges in the United States - and one of the top ten
public commuter colleges. We continue to hold every accreditation for which we are eligible. Our graduates continue to attract the favorable attention of employers and graduate schools. We are, however, concerned about student attrition, and we look for new ways to improve retention.
It is almost time to close, but I cannot leave this podium without mentioning two very special people - Bud Connelly and Norman Fainstein. Both of them have not only contributed to the institution, they have helped to define it over the years.They are leaving their current positions at the end of this academic year, and I'm delighted that both of them will be staying on our faculty. There will be an opportunity for more extended appreciation later in the year.
Let me leave you this afternoon with the following thought. Institutions, like individuals, move along uncertain paths, and there are seldom any guarantees. We are affected by any number of factors beyond our control, particularly in terms of economics and government.
But within the sphere of what we can control - and let us not understate our capacity to shape our destiny - the entire Baruch College community can take great satisfaction in what has been accomplished recently. We have defined our goals with the right mix of flexibility and precision. And we've done it through a process as open and consultative as anyone could wish. Many of those goals have already been achieved. If some remain as challenges, they are manageable challenges. Though we should not be complacent, we can feel very confident. These days, the future of Baruch College looks very bright.