American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

Defending Public Higher Education: A Graduate Center Conference

Published September 21, 2011

The Thinker protestsOver the course of the past three decades investment in public higher education has declined dramatically. Most American public university systems, such as California, Wisconsin, and Illinois, have experienced serious reductions in their state funding requiring dramatic cutbacks in academic programs and services they provide to their students.

Here at the City University of New York (CUNY), we have gone from a tuition-free system as late as 1976 to one that receives more than 45% of its operating budget from student fees and tuition. During this same time, the faculty workforce has been completely transformed. In the past almost all of the courses were taught by full time faculty. Today more than 50% of the courses are taught by adjunct faculty. Academic and student support services such as library, financial aid, and counseling have had serious staff reductions. Simultaneously, CUNY enrollments are at an all-time high. In the midst of these greater demands and a reduced full time work force, CUNY has lost $330 million, or 15%, of its state funding over the past three years. Finally, present plans are to further privatize or shift the cost of financing CUNY from the state to students.What can we do to reverse these trends?

This question prompted a number of CUNY Graduate Center faculty, staff, doctoral programs, and research centers (including ASHP/CML) to organize “Defending Public Higher Education,” a one-day conference on Friday, October 7, from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. Please join us in the Proshansky Auditorium at The Graduate Center for a day of collective thinking about the challenges facing public higher education. Turn this time of disinvestment into an opportunity to think strategically about mounting a defense of a precious resource, the City University of New York. Click here for further information and to register.

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