Governor Cuomo’s Announcement Concerning the Institute for Basic Research and the College of Staten Island

I write to inform you that Governor Cuomo today in his “State of the State Address” announced the creation of a “Blue Ribbon Panel of Stakeholders” to examine the feasibility of transitioning the Institute of Basic Research (IBR) from the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities to The City University of New York’s College of Staten Island. Below, please find a statement that I submitted to the Governor’s office regarding this announcement.

I believe that this is an exciting time for CSI as well as for our neighbors and colleagues at IBR. I believe that together we have the potential for a nationally recognized research center focused on developmental disabilities and on the community needs of Staten Island.

I will share more details about this as they become available.

William J. Fritz, President

 

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.

January 9, 2017

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.

Thank you.

Statement from William J. Fritz regarding Governor Cuomo’s proposal to transfer the Institute for Basic Research to CSI

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.

Thank you.

William J. Fritz

President

President’s November 2016 Report to the College Council

President’s Report to the College Council

November 17, 2016

 

Good afternoon.

I recently sent a message to the entire campus community in response to the intense uncertainty and vulnerability expressed by many across our nation, including our own students, faculty, and staff, following the Presidential election. As I stated in my message, which bears repeating today, the College of Staten Island continuously strives to be the most welcoming campus for all people of all backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. As Maya Angelou said, “in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” Indeed, the last sentence of our College’s Mission, a mission which forms the foundation of our institution, reads, and I quote, “We embrace the strength of our diversity.”

As I often have stated, institutions of higher education should be the center for serious conversations on difficult topics as this lies at the very core of academic freedom. The College will continue to support the free exchange of ideas and differing viewpoints, but any actions that violate CUNY’s Policy on Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination will not be tolerated.

In the next few months, we will be announcing upcoming opportunities for discussion and reflection. I encourage each of you to engage in this important dialogue. I have confidence that we can learn from each other as we strive to understand the complicated issues before us and move forward together. CSI is a great place, and it will remain a great place to live, learn, and work.

As you may be aware, an interim report was released by the State concerning the management and oversight by the University and its Colleges of their administrative and financial controls. From the inception of the University-wide audit/investigation, I directed our College personnel to grant unrestricted access to all of our financial records and to provide our full cooperation during the process. While I am confident that the College’s fiscal operations are consistent with best practices, I welcome any recommendations by the State to further enhance our compliance efforts.

Thank you.

Convocation – A Celebration of Accomplishments

I am pleased to remind you that the College’s 2016 Convocation will be taking place today at 2:30pm in the Center for the Arts (Building 1P) Williamson Theatre.

In commemoration of this event, I am also pleased to provide you with the link to A Celebration of Accomplishments, which presents some of our major institutional achievements over the past year.

Our accomplishments continue to support our 60-year Legacy of Mission in providing our students with the unparalleled opportunity to ascend through the College’s academic excellence, lifting of community, and advancement of society.

Convocation is defined as the action of calling people together. All of our accomplishments are the result of the “coming together” of our College community—our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends. Because of your efforts, we have much to celebrate this year.

Thank you and I look forward to seeing you at Convocation.

 

Convocation 2016 and College Holiday Reception

I am pleased to invite you to this year’s College Convocation taking place on Thursday, Dec. 8 at 2:30pm in the Center for the Arts Williamson Theatre.

As part of our Convocation, we will once again be honoring full-time members of the College community who have reached service milestones.

Additionally, our College Holiday Reception will be held in the Atrium immediately following the event.

I hope that you will be able to join us at our annual campus community traditions.

 

 

President’s December 2016 Report to the College Council

President’s Report to the College Council

December 15, 2016

 

Good afternoon.

While there is much to discuss concerning the successes of our recent Celestial Ball and our College Convocation, I will defer my report on these items until our next meeting of the College Council to discuss a more pressing and important matter.

As you may be aware, I have sent several messages to the campus community in response to the intense uncertainty and vulnerability expressed by many across our nation, including our own students, faculty, and staff, following the Presidential election. Following my announcements, some members of our community have sought guidance concerning what the College can do to protect and support our undocumented students.

Yesterday, the Chancellor released a statement concerning the University’s commitment in this regard, stating unequivocally that: “CUNY will take any steps available under the law to protect and support its undocumented students.” Specifically, the Chancellor pledged as follows:

  • CUNY will take no action to assist in the enforcement of the immigration laws except as required by law;
  • CUNY will protect student record information in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act;
  • CUNY will not turn over student information to immigration enforcement authorities except pursuant to court order;
  • CUNY will not request or gather information about students’ citizenship or immigration status in the course of providing education or other services or in connection with public safety activities except as required in connection with tuition or financial aid eligibility;
  • CUNY will not permit immigration enforcement officials to enter its campuses except to the extent required by a warrant or court order; and
  • CUNY will work with City, State, and Federal leaders in support of immigration reforms that maximize, not diminish, educational opportunities for all students.

Much care and consultation was taken by the Chancellor in preparing his statement, and on behalf of the College of Staten Island, I am making this same pledge to our students. Furthermore, I am making this same pledge to our faculty and staff, who may be similarly situated, to take any steps available under the law to protect and support them. To do anything less would undermine the very foundation of CSI’s Mission, which states: “We embrace the strength of our diversity.”

There have been discussions nationally about whether colleges and universities should be designated as Sanctuary Campuses. While I have a deep and career-long commitment to undocumented students, it would not be responsible for CSI to self-designate as a Sanctuary Campus because (1) the term is ill-defined and subject to different interpretations, and (2) such designation may raise expectations of protections that neither CUNY nor the College can legally guarantee. I have come to the conclusion, as have many other higher education institutions across the country, that self-designation at the present time could potentially result in more harm to students than good.

On a related note, I have received several requests from our College community to sign a national statement calling for the continuation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program. I will do so later this afternoon.

As I have previously stated, institutions of higher education should be the center for serious conversations on difficult topics as this lies at the very core of academic freedom. The College will continue to support the free exchange of ideas and differing viewpoints. I have confidence that we can learn from each other as we strive to understand the complicated issues before us and move forward together. To reiterate, CSI is a great place, and will remain a great place, to live, learn, and work.

I wish you a happy and peaceful holiday season.

Thank you.

President’s October 2016 Report to the College Council

President’s Report to the College Council

Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016

 

Last week, the Division of Finance and Administration sent an email to the College community advising of two major infrastructure repairs that are currently underway on the campus.

First, for those of you who are unaware, the water needed for heating and cooling our buildings emanates from our central plant, which then travels through miles of piping in the tunnels underneath our campus. On October 1, our engineers discovered a collapse in a section of pipe, which impacts the delivery of heat to buildings 4N, 5N, 1R, and 1C. We expect these repairs to be completed within the next two weeks.

A second malfunction occurred in our substation, which resulted in the disabling of one of our two electric feeders to the campus. Without the redundancy of a second feeder, we are now at risk of losing power on campus should the remaining feeder fail. While we are completing repairs, if you feel that any of your respective areas are particularly vulnerable should we experience an extended power outage, please contact the Office of the Vice President of Finance and Administration, Ira Persky, to develop contingency plans.

To reiterate a point set forth in my recent budget email to the College campus, additional revenues from the State are necessary to address these and other critical infrastructure needs at CSI and across other CUNY campuses.

Last month, I advised the College Council of the reasons for why we were not able to schedule classes at the St. George facility this fall, including unanticipated delays in the lease, design, and bidding processes. In assessing the current and anticipated pace of the construction and renovations at 120 Stuyvesant, we have made the decision not to schedule classes until fall of 2017. This will provide a more definitive timeframe for academic departments and faculty members to assist in planning and preparing the academic program. Fortunately, due to the manner in which we structured the lease agreement, we have not yet expended funds for the space, nor will we be obligated to pay any such monies until such time as the facility is completed and ready for occupancy.

The revised timeframe for the St. George opening will coincide with the completion of Phase 1 of our 2M Building in fall of 2017, which will feature ten new classrooms and two office suites. We have other major capital projects in the queue, but again, we will need a restoration of capital funding from the State to proceed with certain projects including a new electric substation which, as we have seen most recently, is critical to the power infrastructure of our campus.

In times of fiscal exigencies, the limited funds that are available to invest generally support areas that we see as critical needs. Indeed, while other campuses have severely limited or ceased investing their resources in new faculty the past few years, we did not. And this year, as I previously indicated, I will be informed by recommendations of the College Council Budget Committee to determine our strategic priorities for allocations and expenditures.

Along these lines, based upon the recommendation of a faculty subcommittee of the College-wide Diversity Council two years ago, we decided to conduct our Campus Climate Survey as a priority for the College to help nurture a safe and inclusive campus environment where all CSI community members can thrive and reach their potential.

In this current divisive national climate, heightened by a Presidential election process marked by incivility, as well as issues that continually need to be addressed on our campus, our Climate Survey is both timely and of critical need. I commend our faculty, staff, students, and the Office of Diversity and Compliance who had the foresight to advance this initiative as a proactive rather than reactive measure.

In November, there will be two Town Hall Meetings where the findings of the Survey will be presented, and in December, a series of Feedback Forums will be held to provide all members of the College community with the opportunity to propose solutions to address challenges identified in the survey results. Details of these meetings will be disseminated to all faculty and staff shortly.

Thank you.

Presidential Statement

Last week, our nation elected a new President. The results have been deeply felt by many on our campus, as across the nation. Whatever position each of us held in the election, we are all invested in ensuring that CSI remains resolute in its commitment to inclusion and freedom of expression. We celebrate our diversity and the vital role that CSI plays in expanding educational opportunity, particularly for immigrants and underrepresented populations.

Many students, faculty, and staff feel vulnerable and concerned for themselves, their families, or their friends in the emotional aftermath of the election. I understand and share these concerns and want us all to work together to keep a civil and open environment on our campus. Our campus has always been a sanctuary and that will continue. Thus, I urge you to report immediately any incidents of perceived hostility, intolerance, or intimidation to the Office of Diversity and Compliance.

The College of Staten Island’s Mission has always been to provide our students with an environment that allows them to achieve excellence and to embrace diversity, and to provide an inclusive and tolerant workspace for our employees. We are proud to be a diverse and welcoming campus for students, faculty, and staff with a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. We remain absolutely committed to these goals, and will have zero tolerance for intimidation and/or violence that undermines our free and open environment.

As I often have stated, institutions of higher education should be the center for serious conversations on difficult topics. The College will continue to support the free exchange of ideas and differing viewpoints, but any actions that violate CUNY’s Policy on Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination will not be tolerated.

Again, please take advantage of any sources of support you may feel that you need.  Concerned students may contact the CSI Counseling Center staff, located in 1A-109, for counseling. Faculty and staff who have concerns may contact Deer Oaks, CUNY’s Employee Assistance Program, at 855.492.3633, for a confidential conversation.

In the next few months, we will be announcing upcoming opportunities for discussion and reflection. I encourage each of you to engage in this important dialogue. I have confidence that we can learn from each other as we strive to understand the complicated issues before us and move forward together.