Statement from William J. Fritz, CUNY College of Staten Island, regarding Governor Cuomo’s proposal to transfer the Institute for Basic Research to the College of Staten Island.
I am very pleased to work with Governor Cuomo’s “Blue Ribbon Panel of Stakeholders” to examine the feasibility of transitioning the Institute for Basic Research (IBR) from the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) to the City University of New York’s College of Staten Island. There has been a long collaboration between scientists and staff at IBR and CSI faculty in the Neurosciences (Chemistry, Biology, Physical Therapy) that involves joint publications, collaborative research, joint federal grants, and supervision of masters and doctoral students. This collaboration has historically included the CSI Center for Developmental Neuroscience, operated under a Memorandum of Understanding between IBR and CSI.
CSI and IBR share a history as custodians of the Willowbrook State School legacy – its tragedy of institutionalizing and warehousing people with developmental disabilities, but also its role as the catalyst for historic legislation leading to the cessation of such practices through the Willowbrook Consent Decree. The Decree, in turn, led to the earliest building blocks of federal civil rights legislation protecting people with disabilities eventually leading to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990.
The merger of the institutions can more effectively advance our respective missions and potentially generate efficiencies by having a single research office and centralized operational support, including streamlining the mentoring of doctoral students in collaboration with The Graduate Center, CUNY and facilitating the submission of state and federal grants and contracts.
The College of Staten Island looks forward to working with the Governor’s “Blue Ribbon Panel of Stakeholders,” OPWDD, Staten Island Developmental Disabilities Service Office, the Staten Island Developmental Disabilities Council, as well as staff of IBR during this process.
Together, “IBR at CSI” will continue to serve its important and historic role as a nationally recognized neuroscience research facility, addressing critical issues of developmental disabilities. I am confident that IBR will continue to evolve into an institution that will be the pride of Staten Island and New York State.
I applaud Governor Cuomo for his commitment to CSI and CUNY, as well as to Staten Island and New York City, in recognizing the importance of a shared vision for CSI, IBR, and people with disabilities.
William J. Fritz