Gotham Gazette

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Proposed CUNY Cuts Threaten the University's Timeless Mission

cuny grad center

At the CUNY Grad Center (photo via @GC_CUNY)

Roused from the self-imposed seclusion of doctoral dissertation data entry, I was awakened by attention to the recently-proposed drastic budget reduction to our nation's largest urban university system – the City University of New York (CUNY). These are cuts that simply cannot be allowed to go through and this is an issue that affects all of New York, not just the faculty, students, and staff of CUNY.

Public funding for higher education in New York City is the lifeline for many, offering a college education that is accessible, affordable, and high quality. The pending state budget, proposed by Governor Cuomo, includes a $485 million cut from the CUNY operating budget. Such a cut is a direct threat to CUNY, where so many who would not otherwise have access public higher education can actually afford to attend.

We must ensure that CUNY stays affordable.

CUNY's mission since 1847 has been "to provide education to the children of the whole people of New York City." Given financial facts and persistent economic inequality, not everyone can afford one of the highly-ranked private institutions located throughout our city. CUNY provides a high-quality education for a fraction of the cost.

I've been a nurse for 27 years and have two bachelor's and two master's degrees, all from private institutions. A doctoral degree was the next logical step. I chose to come to the Nursing Science Program at The CUNY Graduate Center to pursue my PhD after exploring my options in the tristate area. The Graduate Center is the hub for PhD and Masters programs at CUNY. The very reasonable price of tuition was attractive, but after looking at the options available in the city, what appealed to me most was the expertise and experience of the nursing faculty in the program.

While my story is not indicative of the large majority of CUNY students, it is not unique for the reasons that I chose CUNY and the positives of my experience there.
Composed of scholars and researchers from the three senior CUNY colleges with nursing programs (Hunter, Lehman, and the College of Staten Island), I was enticed, then offered the opportunity to matriculate and to be able to learn, develop, and grow with them. Now in my fourth and hopefully final year with my dissertation nearly done, I regularly reflect on the quality of the program. Never more so than when I see that CUNY funding is in jeopardy.

I have gained so much, not just in perspective, but in the opportunities to have independent thought and pursue deeper expertise. This ability to explore and develop independent scholarly thought is so important, and a unique attribute of the CUNY experience - one different from other local doctoral nursing programs.
The past four years have been a wonderful experience here at the Graduate Center in the PhD in Nursing Science Program, a personal evolution into the world of nursing scholarship, research, and academia.

Cutting funding to the CUNY system and the Graduate Center would be a tragedy of epic proportions for the educational possibilities of future nurses and those who would become nursing faculty so desperately needed, especially in the 12 CUNY nursing programs in our five boroughs.

We can't allow Governor Cuomo and state legislators to eviscerate quality, affordable educational programs throughout CUNY, especially at the Graduate Center I call home. All New Yorkers must let them know that New York City needs the CUNY higher education programs; a $485 million cut in the budget is a direct threat to affordable and accessible higher education for the "children of the whole people."

Nurse Practitioner & Clinical Nurse Specialist
Doctoral Candidate – PhD in Nursing Science Program, CUNY Graduate Center

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