CEI-PEA Presents: Chancellor Emeritus Matthew Goldstein


Narrator: The following is a
CUNY-TV special presentation. SEYMOUR FLIEGEL: Cole
was a great educator and a real city hero and was dearly
loved by everyone at cei-PEA. I mean truly a loved man. A most generous of men and
soft and gentle gentleman but very tough. And
Cole was the kind of guy who loved kids who
got into trouble. Those are the kids you
really — he knew every thug in East Harlem. And
all you had to do to get into the Manhattan Center
for Science and Math, there was no exam.
You just had to apply. And principals would call
him up and say you know I have a youngster
with potential. They would never tell him
what the potential was. But Cole would always say
send him over and take him in. And we recruited 157 youngsters
by the way at Hunter College. I want you to know Hunter
College played a big role in what happened at
Manhattan Center because 157 kids showed up.
If 162 kids showed up, we would have had 162
kids. But we started at a college because in our
ignorance we figured we should get kids to
go to college. The last time I had been
to college was when I went to high school was
when I went there. Fortunately we didn’t know
much about it and that was a tremendous advantage. Four years later, front
page of New York Times, every youngster graduated,
every youngster went to college. That was Colman Genn.
A truly great man. And he went on to
become a superintendent, and he was in a district
in Queens and the board members told him you know
if you cooperate with us, you can be the superintendent
for your entire life. Just pay attention to what
we tell you to do and they said we noticed you’ve
made two mistakes already. You hired two Afro
American men to be principals in our schools
or the first two Afro American principals in
that district but if you play ball, you can
do very well here. He carried a wire
for the commission, got that board indicted
and removed and changed the life of the
children in that district. So Cole Genn in addition
to being a great educator was a major city hero. So I just thought we
should share that with you because if you didn’t know him
you’d say so who’s Cole Genn. And why do we have
Matthew Goldstein here? He’s a busy guy. Now, Cole would be very
happy because he knew Matt to know that he is receiving
the first award by the way. Cole died nine years ago.
We’ve had Cole Genn meetings and lectures but this
is the first award. And we’re all so pleased that
it’s for Matt Goldstein. In addition, I’ve always
called you a New York City hero. So it’s a most
appropriate match up. Colman Genn and
Matt Goldstein. And I want you to know a
lot of people feel that way. So you must have a lot of
plaques in your home and trophies. So we
thought it would be better that we give you a piece
of art done by a youngster, and that’s this
piece of art here. So for me it’s an honor
to present the art and the honoree, Matt Goldstein. [Applause] MATTHEW GOLDSTEIN:
Thank you, Sy. I’m truly humbled and
honored to receive this beautiful
piece of artwork. I can’t believe it’s
from the youngster who has never had any formal
training and I will cherish it. My wife Maggie is here. She will move it around nine
times as an architect but–. I will accept this award
on behalf of all of the people at the City
University who have helped this university
change its topology. And by that I
mean our board, our board chair, Benno
Schmidt who I think is one of the most inspired chairs of
a board in the United States, a very distinguished
academician himself. All of the other board
members who have been enormously supportive
and a number of them are here this afternoon.
Without the board’s support you really can’t
get things done. The ideas oftentimes
came from me but the board really had to be there
to support it and every single instance they
were there to support the establishment of new
schools and new colleges, changing
standards, accountability, all of the things that
make a university strong, hiring lots of faculty
which will continue. I also accept this award
on behalf of the people who work with me in the
central administration. Nobody is more blessed
than I am to have people of their stature, their
focus, their humility, their intelligence,
their tenacity. The presidents, many, most
of whom I recommended for appointment I think are
some of the finest women and men that we have in
these very difficult jobs. The faculty who work with us
very closely to get things done. So this is
not an award for me. It is an award for a group
of people that have worked with me that have
brought this university to where we are today.
So I thank all of them that are here and
others that are not here. I thank them as well. I’d like to discuss with
you briefly today some things that I
believe very strongly in, some you haven’t
heard me say before, some are a little edgy. So let me begin and I’m
not going to go into great depth but these are things that
I suggested that we discuss. These are things that I’ve
been thinking about for a while. These are things that I
think need attention by presidents and chancellors
and all other decision makers, policy people,
members of government, both elected and appointed
officials having to do with higher education. One of the surprising
things that some of you will hear is that we
conducted a survey among business
leaders, technologists, people in media, military
and I’m very proud of having David Petraeus
at our university. I worked hard to get him,
and I think he’s going to be an extraordinary
person for the university. Certainly members
of government and academicians, we ask them
certain questions about higher education and
especially the American Research University
which CUNY is an American Research University among
many other things that it does. What is it that is a commonality
that very many people have? And the commonality is that the
American Research University which continues
to be critical to the nation’s health and
prosperity is under fire to the point of crisis. Furthermore, if the
major public research universities did not
recover their footing and support their decline
will be inevitable and the result I submit
will be catastrophic. The threats to their
continuing success come from both within the systems and
outside the systems looking in. One of the things is that
higher education today is too expensive and
it’s too inefficient. And it’s not a good
investment many people believe. As Arthur Levine, a
good friend of mine, president of the Woodrow
Wilson Foundation and former president of
Teacher’s College put it in an op-ed
piece recently, he said public and
opinion leaders alike view universities as more of a
problem than a solution. Now you’re not going to
hear this from leaders in higher education but
there’s a lot of wisdom there, and I think we should
never be afraid of criticism. Listen carefully to
the critics if they are thoughtful people and execute
and do something about it. Tuition is getting too
high at many places. I would submit at CUNY
that is not the case at all. But across the spectrum
of both public and private education, higher
education, it is too high. State and local
governments are pulling away from supporting both public
and private universities. And they have been pulling
away for a good two decades. Research money is drying
up in a lot of fields, and one will submit that
many of our students today are not being trained for
the jobs that people in commerce and industry
want them to have. Those are
serious indictments. And I think ones that
we need to take very seriously. You know if you go back
to the Morrill Act of the 1860s when Abraham Lincoln
seeded lots of land across these United States to
the establishment of state universities and said to
the states I’ll give you, we the Congress and the
executive will give you this land but you be
responsible for supporting these universities. And they
did a wonderful, wonderful job across — I mean
today our state universities educate about 82
percent of the students that study in the United
States in higher education. But there are deep and
foreboding events that are happening that give all of
us pause whether we will be smart enough to know
that investing in these institutions is a
sinequanone for a healthy and vibrant
society. And there are times that I believe that
wisdom is just not there. You’ve heard me
say this before. The University of Michigan
which is one of our great public universities now
only gets six cents on the dollar for their operating needs
from the state of Michigan. The University of
California at Berkley in 2003 got 50 cents on the
dollar for operations. In 2011 that number went from
50 percent to 10 percent. And that is across
the United States. The shift from state and
local support has been placed on the shoulders of
students and I don’t think that that is a very good
result because so many of our students are incurring
huge debt that they can’t retire and many
students are now not even contemplating going to a
public university because the price tag has
gotten to be so high. Federal Government has
been a partner in higher education really since
World War II and huge amounts of money were put
into higher education with the establishment of the
National Institutes of Health and all of the
companion organizations, the National
Science Foundation, other organizations that
have fed research dollars. And when you think
about what that has accomplished, not only
in the United States but across the world you can
map back that investment to the investment that
has been made in research, and those dollars
are drying up as well. Money is tight everywhere.
We understand that. But there’s also a lack
of consensus that higher education is a
public good. Just think about
that for a moment. Higher education
unfortunately, and we are as guilty
as everybody else, has not come out with
an effective way of explaining its costs,
defining the appropriate role of government and
private investment in research or perhaps more
importantly articulating the relevance of
basic research, its potential long term
payback and its service to the national interest. It’s something that we
need to work on because we cannot allow
the derivative, the slope of support of
these institutions to continue on a downward
trajectory for too long because I believe it’s
going to result in the incapacity of the United
States to really compete in a global world of
higher education that didn’t exist right
after World War II. Europe was disseminated. The Far East was in its
infancy with respect to supporting
higher education. It’s changed dramatically. And it’s going to require
new ways of thinking, new and bold ways of
thinking and it’s going to require that we as
trustees and others who are put in the public
trust to start thinking about what we need in
leaders and we need courage among many other
things to stand up and say this is just not right and
lay out the reasons why these institutions
need to be supportive. We have seen that
higher education, and I think CUNY I would
say has been a leader in this, looking at
opportunities to experiment–and I
apologize for the mathematical
statement here, but it’s
something I can’t avoid. It’s in my DNA —
more opportunities to experiment in
non-canonical academic structures and
organizations and funding mechanisms that could
accelerate these kinds of changes in
higher education. So much of what we
experience today, the interesting questions,
the hard questions, are on the
boundaries of disciplines. You know when I
grew up and all of us, many of us in this room,
we lived in silos in higher education. Very
few of us really created channels
between disciplines. Today the world is
totally different. It is about the very
important questions really mapped onto the boundaries
of disciplines that we have to do and that is
going to be an assault, if you will on governance
of a university. And I would submit,
and I think many of my colleagues across the
United States will agree that governance is a
serious issue that we have to face in the higher
education communities in order for us to succeed
in what it is that we are capable of doing.
And my question would be can significant
movement occur without rethinking this notion of
shared governance whereby trustees and presidents share
with faculty on decisions on some very fundamental
decisions like curricula, like hiring, like
awarding of tenure, all of the very, very
important aspects of higher education
governance today. In the opinion of some,
this form of governance has been a great obstacle
to progress creating substantial status quo
biases among faculty and many administrators.
In addition, the shared governance system — and
I want to go on record to say I support
shared governance. It is a cherished
principle in higher education — but we have to
understand it and we have to be bold about executing
on shared governance. Many will say that–and I
think there’s a lot of truth to this–that the
shared governance system was purposely designed
to slow decision making. It now is a handicap
oftentimes impeding a university’s ability to make
decisions in a timely manner. Opportunities,
threats, technology, fiscal crises, new
government regulations, all require a nimbleness
in decision making that the current governance
system just does not allow. These days things are
happening so rapidly that not to make decisions
quickly is in effect to make no decision at all. So when I look at
higher education today, I see a shared governance
system which in principle is so basic to our fabric
of leading a university seriously flawed and in
need of a reformation. Other ideas that I think
we need to embrace and get our hands around is
the notion of global competition in
higher education. If you have
traveled the Far East, and I have many times and
have seen the growth of higher
education institutions, not only in
China but in Korea, it is
absolutely remarkable. If you see what is going
on in Eastern Europe, in Latin America and
in Western Europe, so many of these
countries are making huge investments in
higher education. We are doing just the
reverse I would submit and it is a very
slippery slope to go down. And I think one of the
really foolish things that we do today in this
country is not address the whole immigration
reform question. Do you know that if you
visit some of the top laboratories in the United
States and I’m talking the top universities in the
United States and look who is working in
those laboratories, you will find very
few American students. In the United States, only
15 percent of permanent resident visas are granted
on the basis of skills and employment compared to
45 percent in the UK, 67 percent in Canada and
69 percent in Australia. What we are doing is
taking our seed con and tossing it out the window. We’re paying for
these students. We’re making use
investments and then we’re saying you can’t stay
here and contribute to the liveliness of the economic
growth and vitality of these United States.
Immigration reform efforts must be addressed
and they go beyond bestowing work
permits or green cards. How do we retain
these student, and how do we educate them
so that we can benefit from their talents?
And let me just end with another thing
that is going to be a very disruptive event in the
history of higher education. We are–and I’m
writing a book on this, and I hope to get this
done by next summer. And that is the
explosiveness of the delivery of content
through various platforms of digital technology. I promise you this is going to
transform higher education. Some of the great
universities today are testing various modalities
of how to do this. Quite frankly, we
know how to pay for it. We know how to
invest in it. We know how to
build these platforms. We are understanding much
more about cognition and learning than we ever did. We are in the infancy of a
revolution that is going to happen in
higher education. The irony is that lower ed is
way ahead of higher ed in this. Now here’s the problem. Let me give you an
example through CUNY. We spend a lot more
per student in the very advanced classes than we
do in the beginning classes. We put a lot of student in
these beginning classes, and then if you’re a
physics major or a math major you’ll have three or
five students in a class and provosts and deans
often cancel these classes because of fiscal stress
on the system and saying we cannot offer the class
this year because we can’t afford to do it. We don’t
have the money to do it. It doesn’t make sense to
pay a full time professor to teach three or four or
five students in a class. We know how to
solve that problem. What we don’t know how
to do is the governance associated with
this revolution. And there is a subtext
to the book that I am writing, and that subtext
is the Future Wars in Higher Education.
And those wars are going to come about
because faculty and others are going to be
threatened by some of this. Some of them will map
the advent of using these technologies onto a space
that says our jobs are going to be compromised,
if not eliminated. We have so many
students in major public universities today that
don’t graduate in time for a lot of reasons; poverty,
they have to work. They have
obligations at home. But one of the things that
we know to be true is that there aren’t enough
courses at an advanced level for these students
to take because it is viewed by people who worry
about these matters as not the proper way to
allocate resources. Technology through
all of the buzz words, call them mukes or hybrid
learning or totally online education is going to be
a mechanism where we are going to be able to place
and balance where we never have been able to place
and balance before the legitimate needs of
student to get in, get their degrees and go
out into the marketplace. But it’s going
to be a battle. And we as educators both
presidents and deans and provosts and faculty are
going to have to find a way to deal with the
inevitable consequences, and that’s why I use
the word disruptiveness. This is going to be a
disruptive technology in a good way, in a very good
way but has consequences in ways that people are
going to be threatened. So when I look ahead and
place a lens on the future of higher education–and
I’m not the only one saying this, and we’re
going to discuss this tomorrow–how do we engage
our community to say this is not something
that we need to fear. This is something that we
need to work on together as a community because at
the end of the day while there may be a big
capital investment in the beginning–and I don’t want
to underscore–I want to underscore that–if this
is done the way I think it will be able to get done,
that curve will drop down pretty quickly and we
will be able to absent big tuition increases,
absent state support, be able by more efficient
delivery of information in a non-dilutive way, we
will be able to attack some of the problems that
continue to plague us today. So these are some of the
edgy things I thought I would bring up today.
It’s nice to be able to do edgy things without
people blocking your doorway when
you come home at night. Thank you very much for
the award and I appreciate it. [Applause]

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