Education Update Honors CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein As Distinguished Leader in Education
It’s six years now since Education Update has been sponsoring the annual Outstanding Educators of the Year Breakfast Awards at The Harvard Club, but for sure, as Senior Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Secretary of the Board of Trustees of The City University of New York Jay Hershenson remarked, 2008 was a special year because of the “just unbeatable,” exemplary achievements of CUNY as a public urban university serving to help educate future public school teachers for the city of New York, and as an institution that has come back from difficult times barely a decade ago to become, arguably, the leading public urban university in the country, with a total enrollment of 232,000 and an influx of private funding: “we’re soaring but we’re still a work in progress.”
The theme was taken up by Benno C. Schmidt, Jr., Chairman of CUNY’s Board of Trustees, who introduced Chancellor Matthew Goldstein, the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Leader in Education Award. Schmidt, speaking without notes, recalled his earlier skepticism about Task Force recommendations made to the state and city. Enrollment had slipped to a precarious low, full-time faculty halved. He had “little hope,” he confessed, that anything could or would be done. But Dr. Goldstein stepped in, agreeing “completely” with the recommendations and indicating his total commitment to carrying them out. The rest is, as they say (recent) history. Over the last several years, full time faculty grew 20%, new schools, new programs emerged, including a highly competitive Honors College, and, most striking, a previously “anemic” $40 million a year in private donations jumped to a current $380,000,000. CUNY became, in record time, “the most unified” and at the same time “the fastest changing” university in the country.
The Chancellor developed this theme but with a critical eye on national and global significance. He laid out challenges. The state must step up its support of public institutions of higher education, particularly in light of what other countries are doing. Otherwise, the country will face a “security problem” in not providing the nation with sufficiently well educated professionals, particularly, but not exclusively, in mathematics and science. He noted the number of upcoming retirees, the devastating lack of new hires in the sciences, and the fact that public institutions like CUNY cannot compete financially in the “auction” to bid even on the inadequate supply of newly minted Ph.Ds. Foreign nationals educated in the U.S. tend not to stay here, he pointed out. CUNY and public institutions in general in the country must build endowments, especially in an uncertain economic climate. Otherwise, the impact on such institutions will be “unsettling,” to say the least, not to mention the impact on the city and nation. The remarks, not exactly constituting a happy hour, earned the chancellor a standing ovation.
Brief comments were also made by Peter McNally, Executive Vice President, Council of School Supervisors & Administrators, who hailed Dr. Goldstein as “the best of the best,” and by United Federation of Teachers President, Randi Weingarten, who made an impassioned plea for dialogue by adversaries as a way to seek common ground and for more teachers who would enter the field out of love, to remain.
Various sponsors presented certificates to the honorees—nine administrators and 22 teachers. The raffle, donated by JetBlue, was won by Barry Kevorkian and Nancy Poulos.#