City Councilman requests $71 million for CUNY
Published: Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, May 9, 2012 20:05
Manhattan City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez has called on Mayor Bloomberg to allot $71 million of his executive budget to CUNY. The proposed funds, which would equal what the state currently gives to CUNY, aim to bolster allegedly stagnant enrollment and graduation rates at the city institution.
According to a recent article posted by Daniel P. Tucker on the WNYC blog, “After growing for 10 consecutive years, enrollment in the city’s public university system has hit a plateau, according to administrators, and some lawmakers are worried low graduation rates are to blame.”
The Ticker’s own investigation of this matter turned up some different statistics and impressions, however. Associate Provost and Assistant Vice President at Baruch College, Dennis Slavin, felt that enrollment is in fact going up.
“My sense is that CUNY enrollments have gone up over the past several years. Flat growth might be predicted for the next year, but if you can get the statistics for say the past three or four years, I’m sure you will see a marked increase.”
Michael Arena, the University Director of Communications and Marketing, provided The Ticker with those very statistics supporting enrollment increases.
“Over the last five years, the University’s enrollment has grown by almost 17 percent, or nearly 40,000 additional students. At our community colleges, there has been a 27 percent enrollment increase, or more than 20,000 additional students in the last five years,” according to Arena.
Baruch certainly witnessed a marked increase of applicants since 2007. Assistant Director Paul Bachler from the office of Institutional Research and Program Assessment provided The Ticker with a chart that showed 19,775 students applied to Baruch compared to the 17,114 that applied 2 years earlier.
2009 also saw a jump in the number of students that were accepted by the college – 4,476, compared to 2007’s 4,414.
The chart also revealed that Baruch has been admitting far less students since 2009, while the number of applicants is still quite high.
At least for Baruch College, the downward trend in admittance will continue.
“President Wallerstein has said that we will lower enrollments for 2012-13,” Slavin said. The decrease is no doubt in an effort to combat overcrowding and reduce the strain on resources at the college.
Arena explained that CUNY is already in the process of accommodating the additional students being accepted.
“As of Fall 2011, we are serving a record 272,000 degree-seeking students […] In addition, we serve 223,000 adult and continuing education students, including about 130,000 at our community colleges alone.
In Fall 2012 we will be opening five new facilities at our colleges, including a new community college, and a new academic center and library at Bronx Community College.”
As for the allegation regarding a slump in graduation rates, both Slavin and Arena concurred that CUNY is seeing growth, rather than decline.
“I see no direct relationship between enrollment and graduation rates,” said Slavin.
I can say only that Baruch’s graduation rates are extraordinarily high and have been recognized as such nationally.”
“Chancellor Goldstein has placed a high priority on continuing improvements in graduation rates for all students,” Arena said.
“Graduation rates among all students at our baccalaureate colleges increased significantly between 2001-02 and 2010-11.”
In particular, Arena pointed out, graduation rates among blacks and Hispanics have also increased substantially from around the 20 percent mark in the mid 1990s to around the 40 percent mark in the mid 2000s.
However, more needs to be done to continue the improvement in progress, according to Arena.
“At the same time as our enrollment has grown, our funding for operations has been reduced,” he said.
The city has reduced CUNY’s funding per Full Time Equivalent (FTE) student by 12 percent since 2009, according to Arena.
Coupled with an added reduction in state-based aid of $553 per FTE over the past 4 years brings in a total reduction of “over 20 percent.”
He added that while the university has been able to hire hundreds of more faculty members over the course of several years, there are still not enough educators for the growing number of students.
“Until additional funding is secured, CUNY must continue to do more with less,” he added.
The Ticker reached out to Councilman Rodriguez for comment and was still awaiting a reply from him at the time of printing.
There has also been no word from the Mayor’s office as to whether he will give the Councilman’s request consideration as he prepares his executive budget.
It is also unclear what the moeny would be specifically used for at CUNY if it was indeed allotted to the system.