To the Editor:
Thank you for the Jan. 19 editorial, “Hochul to make CUNY, SUNY smarter choice.” The City and State Universities of New York (CUNY and SUNY, respectively) are indeed a great bargain and can provide an excellent education for our high achieving New York high school graduates. Governor Hochul is to be congratulated on this move to facilitate admission to CUNY and SUNY to the top 10 percent of every high school graduating class.
What CUNY and SUNY need, however, besides excellent students, is adequate funding to provide an excellent education to these students. Governor Hochul increased funding for our senior colleges in her first two years, but not nearly enough to offset years of state disinvestment. Her budget plan for next year doesn’t do much to help. Mayor Adams has implemented and proposed cuts to the community colleges, including Bronx and Hostos Community Colleges, totaling $94 million.
At every CUNY college, Lehman College here in the Bronx included, course sizes are increasing, fewer sections of courses are being offered, and vacancies among faculty and professional staff are going unfilled. Several CUNY colleges have been ordered to drastically cut their operating budgets even if it means layoffs, and even Lehman has been told to cut this year’s budget by $6.3 million.
Queens College laid off over 20 faculty serving on substitute lines just a few weeks before the beginning of the semester. At some CUNY colleges, physical repairs necessary for comfort and even safety are being continually postponed.
It doesn’t make sense to welcome high achieving New York high school grads to these colleges and then cut back on the quality of their education. Instead, Governor Hochul, Mayor Adams, and the trustees ought to be telling prospective students that salaries and research support are being boosted to attract and retain top scholars to our colleges, and that offices are fully staffed with dedicated advisors and other professionals to help them navigate their college careers and find employment.
CUNY leadership, including Chancellor Matos Rodriquez and Board of Trustees Chairperson Bill Thompson, need to be more ambitious in the funding that they ask for from the State and the City.
And our Bronx delegations in the State Legislature and the City Council must demand big new investments in CUNY. This is no time to save money be cutting back on what we offer students.
Secretary, Lehman chapter
Professional Staff Congress