A shout-out for Macaulay at City Hall

City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn
Thursday, February 9, 2012
State of the City Address

…And by the way, if we’re really going to embrace a cradle to career philosophy, we need to stop treating our public colleges like second class citizens. CUNY used to be the model of a public university system. But for decades we’ve been cutting back on their funding. Chancellor Goldstein and everyone at CUNY deserve tremendous credit for what they do every day with such limited resources. Imagine what they could do if we actually gave CUNY the funding they deserve.

But believe it or not, we left $71 million dollars in State funding on the table last year, because the City didn’t pony up its share. In this year’s budget, under the leadership of Council Member Domenic M. Recchia, Jr., the Council will be pushing for a full $71 million in additional capital funds to CUNY.

That means a total of $140 million that CUNY can use for renovations and upgrades. This funding will help CUNY fulfill its original mission: providing an affordable education that rivals the best private schools in the nation. There was a time not so long ago when City College was known as Harvard on the Hudson. It counts among its graduates Colin Powell, Upton Sinclair, and our own Ed Koch.

And most importantly, City College was free which meant the best and the brightest our city produced could get a world renowned education without a nickel in their pocket. We need to provide that same top quality education to the brightest students in New York City again. Chancellor Goldstein and Dean Kirshner have taken a great first step with the Macaulay program. It provides honors classes for a group of our best students, free of charge.

But if we really want to have an institution that can compete with the nation’s top schools, we need to build an honors college, complete with its own campus, and the best faculty in the world.

I want to thank CUNY for agreeing to work with us and with Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, to explore models for making this honors college a reality. Just imagine future generations of Nobel laureates, discussing philosophy or technology while walking through their quad, or having spirited political debates in their cafeteria. Let’s give our brightest students an incentive to really work hard in school – the promise of a free education, and a degree that can open any door.