Noted & Quoted

A Textbook Example Of CUNY Helping Students

The $2 million CUNY textbook initiative has helped thousands of undergraduate students to have access to expensive textbooks this school year, and the University's print and electronic offerings will keep growing.

A year's worth of textbooks typically costs $700 to $1,000 - about 22 percent of tuition at the University's senior colleges and about 32 percent of tuition at its community colleges, according to University Librarian Curtis L. Kendrick. He notes that the price of books is particularly burdensome to CUNY students, 38 percent of whom come from families with household income of less than $20,000.

Students have praised the program: "If these books were not here, I would fail my class," one student at Hostos Community College wrote, referring to books including a $191 anatomy text. "I cannot afford to buy the textbooks this year."

John Jay senior Genevieve Castillo wrote that the addition of 800 new textbooks last semester, including a $150 psychotherapy textbook that she was assigned, "was a great help to the students, not only because it saved them money, but because there were more books available for loan … and they were the newest editions required by professors."

"College textbooks have become unaffordable," wrote Dennis Kim of Lehman College. "The recession has only exacerbated the difficulty of students' access to their course textbooks and some even go without to their detriment."

As part of CUNY's $10 million Student Financial Aid Initiative prepared by Chancellor Matthew Goldstein and approved by the CUNY Board of Trustees, the University targeted $2 million for campuses to buy textbooks. Much of the coordination was initiated by the late Vice Chancellor for Budget and Finance Ernesto Malave. The goal was to help offset the modest rise in tuition voted by the Legislature. In 2009, the almost 5,300 books that were purchased under this initiative had circulated 87,741 times.

The funds came with guidelines, encouraging college libraries to:

  • Put titles on reserve or make them available as "reference materials."
  • Purchase multiple copies as warranted.
  • Consider rental options.
  • Consider e-textbooks.
  • Work collaboratively to investigate systemwide licensing opportunities.

Kendrick said the books span the full range of disciplines and tend to be multiple copies of high-demand textbooks, copies of all readings required for general education classes and readings required for selected upper-division courses.

Looking to the future, Kendrick said that in addition to purchasing print textbooks, the University is exploring electronic book options. That could make tens of thousands of electronic books available to students and faculty on campus, as well as from their homes and office. He noted that the New York State Textbook Access Act, which took effect on July 1, 2009, requires colleges to adopt policies that encourage faculty members to place their book orders early enough to enable bookstores to obtain the requested materials in used or digital formats, if available. At the federal level, a provision of the Higher Education Opportunity Act taking effect on July 1, 2010, requires that colleges disclose online ISBN and retail price information; CUNY is moving toward compliance.

Motmot Relations Revealed

The family ties among all nine species and one subspecies of motmots - neo-tropical woodlands birds - became clear when Sam Glickman, a senior biology major in the Macaulay Honors College at City College, sequenced their ND5 mitochondrial genes. In a rare honor for an undergraduate, he presented his findings at a joint meeting of the American Ornithologists Union, Cooper Ornithological Society and Society of Canadian Ornithologists. The work was done under the aegis of Jeff G. Groth at the American Museum of Natural History and CCNY associate professor Robert P. Anderson. Glickman intends to attend veterinary school.

Top Awards for 2 students

Hendria Raisa Edmund

Hendia Raisa Edmund, a biochemistry major at Hunter College, has won a coveted Goldwater Scholarship, one of 278 awarded to sophomores and juniors nationally by the congressionally-founded Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. She is a research assistant to Elion Endowed Scholar Dixie Goss, Hunter's chemistry department chair. Through the federal RISE (Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement) program, Edmund interned at Princeton's department of molecular biology. She intends to pursue a doctorate to explore quorum sensing, which is how cells regulate their processes and count how many cells there are; when regulation goes awry, organisms can suffer diseases like cancer … Joseph Eastman, a senior at Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College, has been chosen as one of 25 New York City Urban Fellows for 2010-2011. More than 300 applicants from around the country applied for the coveted fellowship, which includes a full-time position in city government, special seminars, and a speaker series featuring prominent officials. The fellowship will also give him a $25,000 stipend and health insurance. Eastman, a double major in political science and economics, has a 3.95 GPA and intends to work in government after earning a master's degree in public policy and public administration.

CUNY Nobel Challenge

More than 100 CUNY undergraduates wrote essays to explain the science behind one of this year's Nobel Prizes in a way that the general public could understand. Vice Chancellor for Research Gillian Small launched what is expected to be an annual competition to expand science literacy. The first-place winners are: for chemistry, Hyeondo "Luke" Hwang, freshman at City College (biochemistry); for economics, Kimberly Thompson, sophomore at Borough of Manhattan Community College (science); for physics, Rakefet Ben-Ari, a junior at Hunter College (physics); for physiology or medicine, Angela Preda, a senior at Hunter College (biology). An outside panel chose Thompson as grand prize winner.

New President for Baruch

The CUNY Board of Trustees has appointed Mitchel B. Wallerstein as Baruch College's new president for a term starting Aug. 2. He is dean of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. As deputy executive officer of the National Research Council, Wallerstein directed studies on science, technology and national security. From 1993-1997, he was deputy assistant secretary of defense for (nuclear) counterproliferation policy and senior defense representative for trade security policy. He taught international studies at MIT, Holy Cross College, George Washington University, Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins University. Board of Trustees Chairperson Benno Schmidt and Chancellor Matthew Goldstein said Wallerstein brings "exceptional administrative, academic and governmental experience together with outstanding public service, scholarly accomplishment, a strong commitment to students, and a deep belief in the mission of Baruch College."