College Council President’s Report, Mar. 15, 2018

On March 14, 2018, many students, parents, and teachers participated in a major coordinated action of a student-led movement for gun control. I want to express my support to the many students who participated; these peaceful protests were supported by elected officials, parents, and teachers. I applaud their public statements and hope that these efforts will make a real difference in our country.

On our own campus, we are taking measures to ensure that the campus community is prepared for emergency situations. We have ensured that membership is up-to-date for our three safety committees – Workplace Violence, Campus Safety, and CARES. The Chief of Staff and Deputy to the President, Hope Berte, will lead an initiative to assess and address issues of emergency egress from classrooms and offices, which includes assessing the functionality of windows and door-locking mechanisms. Once the assessment is complete, we will estimate a cost associated with necessary repairs. My intention is to take this cost assessment and make a case to CUNY for emergency funding.

As I reported last month, we are ending a tough budget year with significant budget cuts. Even though we are projecting a reduced year-end deficit, it is in the best interest of the College to end the year with a positive CUTRA in an effort to enable the College to roll remaining money from one fiscal year to the next. As I mentioned last month, ending with a flat or negative CUTRA will adversely affect the College. For example, last year, we were unable to automatically roll over faculty start-up funds and late fiscal-year awards. Instead, we were forced to use funds from this year’s budget.

While negotiations are currently underway in Albany for the 2018-2019 State-enacted budget, preliminary indications are that next year’s fiscal outlook points to healthier financial times for both CSI and CUNY. In addition to supporting the executive budget, the legislature has produced its own budget proposal that adds programs like ASAP, Child Care, College Discovery, Community College Base Aid, Capital CAP Critical Expansion, the Labor Contingency Reserve, the Murphy Institute, the SRO Pipeline Program at The Graduate Center, and SEEK back into the budget.

I’ve met with the Institutional Planning Committee (IPC) to discuss the structure for the Campus Retreat, which will focus on presentations and discussions about the budget. I urge you all to attend the Campus Retreat on Friday, April 20, 2018 from 10:00am to 3:00pm in the Campus Center Green Dolphin Lounge. This is an opportunity for the campus community to understand and recognize our current fiscal outlook and budget, thus far, followed by a collaborative session to discuss how we can move ahead with our new Strategic Plan while taking our current resources into consideration.

Last month, the College Council voted on a new Governance Plan, which fell short of the necessary two-thirds majority votes. With the results leading 48 in favor (7 no, 3 abstain, and 28 absent), the positive tally led me to proceed with a referendum, pursuant to Article V, Section 1 of the current Governance Plan. The proposed Governance Plan is the product of several years of work and it is considerably improved compared to the existing plan. It is a comprehensive plan that creates several committees, including the Academic Facilities Committee, the Academic Freedom Committee, the Academic Technology Committee, and the Faculty Personnel Policy Committee, as well as new provisions related to the composition of the Divisions, Schools, and Programs and Election Procedures for the Council and Other Bodies.

The referendum is open until Monday, March 19at 5:00pm. Targeted emails will be sent out to all faculty and staff who are eligible to vote. It is important for everyone to vote.

Provost Gary Reichard will be retiring at the end of this calendar year. Provost Reichard joined CSI in July 2015. I deeply appreciate the time and energy that the Provost has dedicated to making CSI an even better institution than when he arrived. I also appreciate that he is extending his departure by more than six months to allow for a smooth transition. Dr. Reichard will continue to serve as a resource to the College as needed.

I am committed to having a full national search and will engage one of the most highly regarded national search firms for academic searches. The firm will visit the campus in April to talk to various constituents and to meet with the search committee. I would like the committee to develop a job description that is ready to post on June 1. This will ensure that the search firm will be on track to recruit over the summer and present applicants to the search committee by September.

In closing, I hope that everyone will join us on April 20, 2018 at the Campus Retreat.

CUNY Policy on Sexual Misconduct

I write to underscore CSI’s commitment to preventing sexual harassment and sexual violence for all of our community members. This behavior will not be tolerated.

Your safety and well-being is the College’s highest priority. We continue to offer support and guidance to those who may experience sexual harassment or sexual violence (which includes dating, domestic, and intimate partner violence, as well as stalking/cyberstalking) whether it occurs on- or off-campus.  CUNY’s Policy on Sexual Misconduct outlines the resources that are available to anyone who experiences such violence, and I encourage everyone to read it.

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Catherine Ferrara, Esq. to the CSI community as our new Deputy Title IX Coordinator and Diversity Program Manager.  She will be working with the CSI community on these matters. Prior to joining CSI, Catherine represented clients in complex civil litigation matters in federal and state courts throughout the United States. Catherine has significant experience in the investigation and mediation of highly confidential and sensitive matters. She can be reached by phone: 718.982.2250 and by email:

Sexual misconduct is extremely serious and not always easy to talk about. We must work together to prevent sexual violence and ensure a safer campus. If you experience or observe sexual harassment or sexual violence, please contact Catherine Ferrara and/or any of the College officials listed below:

  • Danielle Dimitrov, Title IX Coordinator/Chief Diversity Officer; 718.982.2250; Building 1A, Room 205


  • Michael Lederhandler, Director of Public Safety; 718.982.2111; Building 2A, Room 108


  • Jennifer Borrero, Vice President for Student and Enrollment Services; 718.982.2335, Building 1A, Room 301


  • For a confidential consultation, students may contact The Counseling Center; 718.982.2391; after hours 855.582.6069; Building 1A, Room 109


Employees may also contact:

  • Jessica Collura, Director of Employee Relations and Labor Designee, Human Resources; 718.982.2379; Building 1A, Room 201


We also encourage you to report all cases involving any form of sexual violence and/or stalking to the NYPD – or call 911 in a case of immediate danger.


College Council President’s Report, Feb. 8, 2018

Good afternoon and once again welcome back for the 2017/2018 Academic Year.

I am pleased with the momentum we have gained during the fall semester. Some highlights include the implementation of our new Strategic Plan, Opportunity to Ascend, the approval of our Periodic Review Report, and CSI’s reaccreditation by Middle States. I am confident that we can continue our pace for the remainder of the Academic Year.

I’d like to speak briefly about what is happening at Michigan State University (MSU). The issues and allegations of abuse and the culture that allowed it to prevail are abhorrent. Athletic compliance issues are often intertwined with Title IX, HR, Legal, and Diversity. Training focused on prevention, transparency, and accountability are ways to counter bad cultures. Shortly after Penn State, a culture of compliance was implemented at CSI. An athletic compliance team was formed to meet regularly to review issues as they arise and to ensure increased focus on all areas of compliance. While this effort has served CSI well, we should ensure that we are known for promoting a safe and welcoming learning environment and workplace. CSI will not tolerate issues like those that occurred at Penn State and Michigan State nor will we allow bad practices to thrive at CSI Athletics or elsewhere on campus.

Over the past few months, I have heard from many of you regarding campus training for emergency situations including evacuation events. On January 24, the College hosted a Command Post Workshop, which was well attended by members of NYPD, FDNY, NYC Emergency Management, Staten Island Borough Command, and CSI staff members from Administration, Facilities Management, and Public Safety. The purpose of the workshop was twofold: bring Borough-wide members of all agencies together to discuss response responsibilities during emergency events and for all agency partners to become acquainted. The next steps following this workshop will be a “boots on the ground” Staten Island Command Post Exercise on the CSI campus. This exercise will call for all groups to gather on campus and simulate a radio command post response to an emergency event. Ultimately, the goal is a full-scale simulation exercise on campus to practice and provide guidance in case of a real emergency. I will continue to keep the campus community informed as these exercises are scheduled.

For over a year, I have repeated that this would be a tough budget year. We have had significant budget issues due to three years of budget cuts, enrollment declines, and wage increases. As I reported in November, at the end of the first quarter FY18, we were projecting a $941K year-end deficit. This deficit has shrunken to the second quarter projecting us to end the year in the black at around $+90K. I would like to see that the final quarters will show the College with a CUTRA in the range of $500K. Some of the steps we have taken to get to where we are today include:

•    Filling only most critical positions;
•    Examined the adjunct and temp services budgets for efficiencies, although there are not many to be found due to our need to cover courses and essential services;
•    Continue to closely monitor OTPS expenditures; and
•    With assistance from the Budget Committee, we articulated to CUNY various costs unique to CSI, which include: the cost for St. George; energy; the HPC, which serves all of CUNY; and our unfunded mandate as the only public institution in the Borough to provide City programs.

It appears that CUNY will acknowledge some of the costs unique to CSI with an increase to our budget. However, CUNY’s expectation is that we end the year with at least a positive $550K CUTRA. Over the years, a flat or negative CUTRA has not served us well. For example, last year, we were unable to roll over faculty start-up funds and late fiscal-year awards.

The new year (FY19) looks much better for the Senior Colleges and unlike previous years, at this point, no cuts have been discussed. The Governor has proposed a budget of $2.52 billion for the Senior Colleges, up 4% or $90.8M with an additional $284M in critical maintenance. Furthermore, the State acknowledged the second year of the tuition increase, TAP funding, City funding, and an expansion of the Excelsior Scholarship with the family income cap increasing to $110K. I will continue to lobby for the legislature to preserve this budget and to add additional strategic investment funding, particularly money for new faculty.

I will be meeting with the Institutional Planning Community (IPC) to discuss the structure for a campus retreat that will focus on how we can move ahead with the new Strategic Plan, recognizing constraints. The Opportunity to Ascend retreat will provide an opportunity for faculty, staff, and students to learn about our current fiscal outlook and budget, followed by discussion of how to move ahead with our new Strategic Plan. After all, that is what our Strategic Priority 6: Resource Management is all about. The retreat will be on Friday April 20, 2018 from 10:00am to 3:00pm with lunch in the Green Dolphin Lounge.

In closing, I hope that everyone will plan to join us for a day of dialog at the Campus Retreat. Specific details about the retreat will be communicated to the campus community in the weeks prior to April 20.

Thank you.

Convocation 2017 Spotlights “The Opportunity to Ascend”

Peter Keil and Alan Benimoff (second and third from left) celebrate 50 years of service with Provost/Senior VP for Academic Affairs Gary Reichard and President William J. Fritz

The CSI Center for the Arts Williamson Theatre played host to an enthusiastic crowd on December 7 as the College celebrated this year’s Convocation. [View the event gallery.]

Vice President for Student and Enrollment Services Jennifer Borrero introduced CSI President Dr. William J. Fritz, who delivered the keynote address. Over the past three years, Dr. Fritz had chosen to focus on the College’s legacies of institution, place, and mission. This year, he focused on the future by announcing CSI’s new Strategic Plan, titled Opportunity to Ascend, placing emphasis on the College’s continuing mission to advance the lives of its students, the careers of its faculty and staff, and the quality of life in the Borough. He stated that the new Plan “sets forth our institution’s Mission, Vision, and Values along with six major Strategic Priorities, with underlying goals that will guide our future for the next five years.”

Those Strategic Priorities include: Student Success, Global Engagement, Borough Stewardship, Destination Campus, Scholarship-Driven Education, and Resource Management.

While discussing the significance of “Destination Campus,” Dr. Fritz noted, “Our uniqueness means that we have a unique story to tell, one that can set us apart from all other colleges and universities. When you then add the great promise emanating from our other Strategic Priorities…Destination Campus makes sense and we can envision CSI as a preferred, first-choice institution for prospective students, as well as for faculty and staff.”

After Dr. Fritz’s remarks, CSI Assistant Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Information Technology Services and High-Performance Computing Center Patricia Kahn took the stage to emcee the traditional lighthearted recognition ceremony for full-time employees who were celebrating service anniversaries in five-year increments. She also introduced CSI Provost/Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Gary Reichard, who joined her on stage for the festivities.

The recognition ceremony culminated with a celebration of the College’s first 50-Year employees, Alan Benimoff, Lecturer in the Department of Engineering Science and Physics, and Peter Keil, Professor in the Department of English. A third 50-Year employee, Stanley Zimmerman, Senior College Laboratory Technician in the Department of the Library, was unable to attend.

Convocation 2017 concluded with the College’s annual holiday celebration in the Center for the Arts Atrium, giving the entire College community a chance to relax, mingle, and enjoy some tasty offerings.

College Council President’s Report, November 16, 2017

Good Afternoon.

As I have been reporting since last April, our budget remains a challenge. The first-quarter financial statement, which is now public on CUNY’s Website, shows CSI ending the year with a negative balance of just under a million dollars. This deficit amount is less than originally anticipated. We are aided by supplemental assistance from CUNY for the High-Performance Computing Center and our CSI St. George location, along with recommended cost-saving strategies developed by the College Council Budget Committee. In a proactive measure, CUNY presented an FY19 budget request to the Board of Trustees that includes $282.8M in additional monies to address existing and future labor costs.

We continue to implement energy- and budget-saving initiatives wherever possible. In consultation with CSI’s engineers, heating and air-conditioning set points have been set to 70/77: cooling to 77 in the summer and heating to 70 in the winter. In doing this, we will save on power, resulting in significant cost savings with minimal impact on the work environment.

Last month, I spoke about the work that Con Edison was doing to complete repairs to the substation that feeds electrical power to the campus. I was optimistic that the campus power supply would be reconnected through both of our substation power feeds. In Con Edison’s attempt to restore power to one of the feeds, the old transformer malfunctioned, resulting in a power connectivity failure. Due to this malfunction, the campus will continue to rely on a single electrical feed with backup provided by large generators on campus. CUNY has allocated $39M for a new substation. However, groundbreaking for this project is at least 12 to 18 months away.

I have also discussed with the Central Office the issue of using CSI as a storage facility for CUNY. The practice goes back to 1995, which includes storage of large metal objects from Hostos Community College, several large containers from City Tech, and seven salvage vehicles from other campuses. Due to our advocacy, we recently averted the placement of seven large containers on our campus just recently. The preservation of open spaces is in alignment with our new Strategic Priority of becoming a Destination Campus.

The Institutional Planning Committee met on November 10 and reviewed the feedback from the October 3 Town Hall and the additional comments posted on Blackboard. You have before you today our final draft. The Mission, Vision, Values, and Strategic Priorities are excellent talking points that will assist in positioning and championing the College in the community. The plan is written to celebrate our current successes and to organically and responsibly vision for the future in alignment with our budget resources. I now submit the final draft to College Council for its consideration.

Thank you.

Convocation – A Celebration of Accomplishments

I am pleased to remind you that the College’s 2017 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 Celebration of Accomplishments, which presents some of our major institutional achievements over the past year.

The last three years have focused on our legacy trilogy: institution, place, and mission. Today, we build upon the foundation of our legacies by looking to the future that will be shaped by our new Strategic Plan, Opportunity to Ascend: Strategic Priorities for the College of Staten Island, 2017-2022.

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.

College Council President’s Report, Oct. 19, 2017

Good Afternoon.

I am pleased to report that the College’s $57M in ongoing state-funded construction projects are progressing on schedule. These projects are finally addressing deferred maintenance challenges that we inherited from Willowbrook State School and even Halloran Hospital, our predecessor institutions at this location.

The roadway project is not simply repaving but includes a complete re-engineering of the entire roadbed. The section of roadway along the east side of campus is now reconstructed and open to traffic. In addition to the 117 parking spaces that became available in early October, we have now re-opened the Auxiliary Parking lot with 76 spaces and an additional 78 parking spaces (154 total) in the nearby gravel lot. The Administrative Loop should be completed and paved by the first week in November. Furthermore, we continue to work with Con Edison to complete repairs to the sub-station that feeds electrical power to the campus.

The Strategic Plan Town Hall meeting took place on October 3 and was well attended. I appreciate the faculty, staff, and students who engaged in the process and provided thoughtful commentary. The Institutional Planning Committee (IPC) considered feedback from the Town Hall and roughly 200 comments on the Blackboard site to produce a new Strategic Plan draft. The Blackboard site, which will remain open through Sunday, November 5, has been updated to include two links:

  • CSI Proposed Strategic Priorities (latest revisions from Town Hall feedback)
  • CSI Strategic Planning Process 2017-2022 (read only) for those who would like to refer back to the original document

The IPC will then review any additional comments at our Nov. 10 meeting and prepare a final draft that will be presented to the College Council on Nov. 16.

The new Plan, which we are proposing to name “Opportunity to Ascend,” has been designed to support innovation while embracing our ongoing programs and strengths. With our increased national rankings and greater local community engagement, we are ascending as an institution while simultaneously embracing the success of all students and eliminating achievement gaps, wherever they exist, to improve educational equity and inclusion.

Concerning our budget, we continue to monitor our fiscal situation very carefully. Carlos Serrano, our Assistant Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, is here today to provide more detailed remarks regarding our finances.

Finally, I hope to see many of you at the Literary Brunch this Saturday, sponsored by The Friends of CSI, where Professor Tyehimba Jess will present selections from his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Olio.

Thank you.

Convocation 2017 and College Holiday Reception

I am pleased to invite to this year’s College Convocationvon Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, at 2:30pm in the Center for the Arts (Building 1P) 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.