“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
To the College Community:
It is my great pleasure to greet all of our returning students, faculty, and staff at the beginning of a new academic year. For those who are new to the College of Staten Island, including our incoming students, outstanding new faculty, and new staff members, I extend to you a warm welcome to the CSI family.
Contrary to the notion of summer as a time of slumber, the above-referenced quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald envisions summer as time of growth and renewal. Such is the case with summer at CSI during which we received major announcements from the State and City concerning funding that will advance construction of much-needed new academic space and build upon our strengths in big data analytics.
Perhaps the most exciting news of the summer is that the construction of our Interdisciplinary High-Performance Computing Center (IHPCC) is now closer to reality. At the end of June, it was announced that the State allocated an additional $22.5 million for the project to supplement the $10 million that had already been appropriated for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. To date, the State and City have invested approximately $40 million in the construction of the IHPCC. With this funding we can now complete the design phase and necessary infrastructure upgrades. The State, City, and CUNY show a continuing commitment to advance the IHPCC to fruition. As a result, the College will gain the first new academic space since moving to our Willowbrook campus in 1993.
In July, Governor Cuomo announced the first round of NY CUNY 2020 awards, providing $55 million to fund eight innovative projects designed to connect academic excellence with entrepreneurship and local economic development. One of these projects, a Big Data Consortium initiative spearheaded by CSI and The Graduate Center, was awarded $15 million. The Big Data Consortium will build on New York City’s growing technological innovation strength to establish programs in data analytics.
With this funding, CSI will develop the CUNY Center for Big Data Business Analytics, which will be housed in our 2M building. This project, along with the ten classrooms and two office suites already planned, will now be combined as a single construction project. This means that within approximately the next 18 to 24 months, we will have about 75 percent of the second floor of 2M renovated for the new School of Business. The project will also provide opportunities for students to earn credits, certificates, and take graduate degree programs on the campus of the Borough of Manhattan Community College, as well as at CSI; provide programs in big data business analytics to workers employed on Wall Street and in other facets of the financial sector; provide marketing and financial research to Wall Street firms; increase and improve data connectivity to Manhattan; and advance partnerships in data science and digital humanities.
The College is also part of a consortium of another approved CUNY 2020 project – Transportation Technology, Sustainable Fuel, and Product Development in New York City – which will create an academic pipeline leading to the study of the correlation between fuel types, fuel uses, hybrid vehicle impact, air quality, and traffic patterns. As part of the funding for this project, the College received an additional $275,000 for the IHPCC.
We have an immediate need for more space for all of our academic disciplines – for classrooms, for offices, and for labs. Our campus was originally designed for 7,500 students; we now have nearly twice that number. The IHPCC and the 2M building represent some welcome answers to this interdisciplinary need. As some academic departments move into the IHPCC and 2M, vacated areas will create new available space on campus. Additionally, this past spring, the Office of Continuing Education and Professional Development relocated its main offices and classrooms to a satellite campus on Merrill Avenue, which has provided more available space for our main campus. We will continue to engage in strategic campus planning to meet the academic needs of the College.
On the same day we received the great news about CUNY 2020, the Commissioner of Empire State Development approved our StartUp NY Designation Plan. The Plan, which officially recognizes the College of Staten Island as a tax-free zone to attract start-up or “high-tech” businesses to the campus, will potentially expand our footprint to the burgeoning neighborhood of St. George where we will be able to provide academic programs in support of the Mission of the College.
Also in July, we received news that $2.45 million in City funding, also known as Reso-A monies, was allocated to the College from the City Council and Borough President. This funding is earmarked for construction of a Media Culture Screening Room, lighting and bleachers for the soccer field, and the IHPCC.
Clearly, CSI continues to face significant challenges concerning institutional resources. However, the allocation of funding this summer from external State and City sources demonstrates the College’s ongoing commitment to find all available revenue streams to support the resource needs of the faculty, staff, and students, and to advance the academic excellence of the College. As your President, I am determined to continue these efforts.
In closing, I wish everyone a successful academic new year.