CUNY moving forward despite budget cuts

The purpose of this communication is to inform you of actions recently taken by Governor David Paterson and The New York State Legislature and the impact on the City University of New York (CUNY) operating budget.
The actions included budget reductions for CUNY’s senior colleges totaling $50.6 million. There were no cuts in community college base aid or in the State’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). We have been mindful for some time of the likelihood of state expenditure limitations during this period of economic challenges. We are implementing strategies that minimize the impact of such limitations on the University’s core business - our academic programs and support services - while the University continues to flourish and grow.
Through contingency planning, we have been able to utilize one-time resources and alternative ways of financing equipment replacement to substantially offset nearly two-thirds of the new budgetary reductions. Thus, the impact on the CUNY senior colleges has been reduced to $18.6 million.
This is being handled by restrictions on other than personal services (OTPS), a temporary vacancy control program on the replacement of administrative personnel, and a reduction in University-wide lump sum appropriations (insulating college operating budgets). This overall approach has allowed CUNY to respond to the actions by the Governor and the Legislature in a responsible way while maintaining the momentum CUNY has achieved over the past decade.
Notwithstanding the current difficult economic times faced by the state and city, the University must continue to move forward. We are hiring full-time faculty, for replacement purposes and for new positions already provided for in each college’s financial plan, and staff who provide direct services to students, such as academic advisors and mental health counselors. We anticipate no reduction of direct student services or cancellation of course sections attributable to the implementation of the aforementioned reductions.
We have worked diligently over the past two years in support of the work of the New York State Commission on Higher Education, which explicitly called upon the State to begin investing in its two public higher education systems - CUNY and State University of New York (SUNY) - so New York can more effectively compete in the national and international marketplace of careers and ideas.
A major component of the Commission’s recommendations is the establishment of The New York State Compact for Public Higher Education, based on the CUNY model we proposed several years ago, and supported by CUNY’s Board of Trustees, the college presidents, the leadership of the University Faculty Senate, the CUNY Business Leadership Council and many student government leaders. All CUNY campuses have implemented a “Compac” program for the past several years to effectively leverage public and private financing in support of campus priorities. We are working with state and city officials to obtain full budgetary recognition in the next Executive Budget of this innovative financial model.
I want to personally thank you for your support and for your dedication to CUNY. Our students are benefiting very much from the important work you do all year round. CUNY is strengthened by its ability to handle fiscal challenges with prudent management and an unaltered and unshakable commitment to providing the very best possible education to all those who come to the University to realize their educational dreams.

Matthew Goldstein is the Chancellor for the City University of New York.

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