I am writing this message as the Chief Academic Officer of the College of Staten Island to
congratulate Dr. William Fritz on his appointment as the Seventh President of the College of Staten Island.
Some of my more cynical colleagues might view this message as self-promoting. After all, I serve at the
pleasure of the President. However, those of you who know me understand that I mostly serve as
Provost because that is what I wish to be doing at this point in my academic career. So, I write to provide
my perspective on the importance of the appointment of President Fritz and the challenges we face as a
I think it is fair to say that when Dr. Fritz was appointed as Interim President in the spring of
2012 he faced great challenges. The campus was divided, there was great hostility to the previous
administration from certain segments of the faculty and a lack of trust was prevalent at our College. The
Pathways controversy consumed the energies of the campus and to some extent we were adrift with no
clear direction. From the moment Bill Fritz assumed the presidency, he took steps to chart a well-defined
course for this institution. Working with his cabinet and faculty leaders, he made some needed changes
in the administrative structure. He set clear goals, which were articulated and communicated to the
faculty and staff. Let’s revisit some of the key issues that were highly contentious prior to the outset of
his service. He indicated that it was critical to resolve the Pathways General Education Framework. He
emphasized the need for the faculty to decide whether schools of Business, Education, and Health
Sciences would augment the existing divisional structure. He understood the need to demonstrate that
he would respect academic freedom and that he would make sure that the faculty played their rightful
roles in the shared governance of CSI. In addition to the above issues, Dr. Fritz made finishing the
residence halls and increasing office, laboratory, and classroom space priorities, and he set out to
establish strong relationships with the Staten Island community and with our political representatives.
In my view, at this writing, CSI is a very different place than it was two years ago. Although we do not
always agree, there is an open and honest dialogue between the administration and the faculty. The
faculty is free to take whatever viewpoints they champion and express these in honest, open discourse.
Faculty opinions are sought and considered in decisions on allocation of resources and new initiatives at
the College. There is a Pathways Framework that was developed after many hours of discussion,
deliberation, debate, and compromise by the faculty. There are three new schools that were created by
the faculty of the Business, Education, Nursing, and Physical Therapy departments and eventually
ratified by the College Council and Faculty Senate. We have created six new departments, again at the initiative of the faculty of these departments. We are working intensely to redo our Bylaws to account for these structural changes and to set forth processes that will guide change in the future. We have successfully opened the residence halls and there is more activity on the CSI campus than at any point in the history of the College. CUNY and the State of New York are providing funds for renovation of the 2M Building and for construction of a building to house our Interdisciplinary High-Performance Computing Center and the departments of Mathematics, Engineering Science and Physics, and Computer Science. When these projects are completed in approximately 2017, a major step will have been taken to address space issues. Finally, President Fritz and his team have raised the image of CSI in the Staten Island community, within CUNY, and nationally.
Given the above achievements, I am convinced that the Board of Trustees made a wise and correct decision in appointing Dr. Fritz to be the permanent President of CSI. We have lived with an Interim President and administration for two years. The time was right to remove some of the uncertainty associated with interim administrations and Bill Fritz has more than been equal to the task of the Presidency during his probationary period. I am confident he will be a skillful and adept steward of CSI into the future.
In closing, I am aware that many challenges still exist for this College. We have, to a great extent, an underprepared student body and must pay attention to graduation and retention rates. We must do this without sacrificing standards and while maintaining the rigor of our instruction. We must continue to be scholars and teachers at the highest level and recommit ourselves to our passions and our pursuit of excellence. As the intellectual leaders of the College and of our society, we dare not compromise our values and we must be willing to take stands when we feel our principles are being attacked and degraded. We must challenge ourselves to constantly do better and challenge our students to raise their expectations and their skills. We must lobby the administration to advocate for the resources we need to fulfill our mission. The future will not be easy, nor will it be smooth. It never is at CUNY. But to grow, one must be willing to adapt to new situations and to make wise decisions. I am confident that working together, the faculty, staff, students, and administration of the College of Staten Island will succeed and continue to improve as individuals and as a collective. The future is before us, let’s meet it together.