I am very pleased to introduce the CUNY/New York Times Knowledge Network 2010 calendar, “Investing in Futures: Public Higher Education in the United States.” A fascinating and invaluable resource, the calendar documents the development of our nation’s public higher education institutions and their important role in educating the nation’s populace, fostering research and new industries, and, since the end of World War II, helping to create the American middle class. The availability of high-quality, affordable higher education is one of our country’s best assets and demonstrates the great value that Americans have always placed on advanced learning. Through archival photos and materials, the “Investing in Futures” Calendar illustrates how, over time, public colleges and universities have become centers of intellectual thought and intense dialogue, groundbreaking scientific research, and artistic expression and performance, all while welcoming a widening cross-section of students and serving as engines of local and national economic development.
In recounting the history of public higher education, the calendar shows how state and federal governments have prioritized education, even when the United States was most imperiled. During the Civil War, President Lincoln signed the Morrill Land-Grant College Act, setting aside 17,400,000 acres to the states to provide for the establishment of public agriculture and mechanical arts colleges in the states. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the G.I. Bill in 1944, fueling post-World War II participation in higher education and expansion of public university systems. Today, in the midst of the most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression, the country continues to depend on public colleges and universities, especially community colleges, for the education and skills that will allow all citizens to compete and succeed.
In October 2008, The City University of New York, with the generous support of President Vartan Gregorian of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, brought together a select group of educational leaders from across the country for a Summit on Public Higher Education, held at The New York Times Conference Center. Over the course of a productive and provocative discussion, these distinguished educators agreed that a major challenge for public higher education is to expand its reach even as budgets are curtailed. An educated populace is critical to sustaining the country’s vibrancy, as is robust and innovative research. In a 21st-century global environment, public colleges and universities must strengthen the nation’s educational participation and proficiency by increasing the number of graduates, reaching out to underserved populations, and maintaining high academic standards, while remaining affordable and accessible. History demonstrates that with the strong support of government, public institutions of higher learning will meet this challenge and go well beyond, initiating new ideas and encouraging original discoveries. The calendar project also includes an interactive Web site, www.cuny.edu/publichighered, with images and research that could not be included in the calendar because of space limitations, as well as links to additional documents and organizations for a fuller investigation of public higher education. Both the calendar and the Web site are also published in Spanish. In addition, research from the calendar will be used to develop curricula for high school and college students. These lessons will teach students critical-thinking skills and help them prepare for the New York State Board of Regents U.S. History and Government examination. The calendar is a work in progress, and we invite scholars to work with the project during the curricular phase.
The “Investing in Futures” Calendar, Web site, and curricula have been guided by CUNY Senior Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Secretary of the Board Jay Hershenson and President Gail O. Mellow of LaGuardia Community College. They turned to Richard K. Lieberman, director of the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives at LaGuardia Community College, to implement their vision, develop the calendar, and help plan appropriate outreach. For 30 years, the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives has produced exemplary calendars and lesson plans on a variety of subjects, including the history of the New York City Council, the origins of public housing, voting rights and citizenship, and, most recently, freedom. Lieberman, his colleagues Steven A. Levine, Stephen Weinstein, and Tara Jean Hickman, combed the vast resources of the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives and The New York Times Photo Archives to gather the one-of-a-kind images, historical documents, and period material that fill the calendar. “Investing in Futures” benefited from the work of some of CUNY’s finest scholars, including Joshua Brown, Blanche Wiesen Cook, Carol Groneman, and Gerald Markowitz, whose participation underscores the integrity of the content. The commitment of the calendar’s sponsors has been particularly important, and I am especially grateful to The New York Times Knowledge Network. I offer special thanks to JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon, President Kimberly Davis of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, and Senior Vice President Leonard Colica, Vice President Kim Jasmin, and Vice President Tim Noble of JPMorgan Chase for their generous assistance. I also wish to express my appreciation to Chairman Ronald L. Thompson and President and CEO Roger W. Ferguson, Jr. of TIAA-CREF for their continued support.
Thanks are also due to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, and Vice President Thomas Newell of the Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. Their historic support and funding of the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives and its calendars and curricula have helped the archives to preserve history and make it available and accessible to the public. This project builds on the success of previous CUNY/New York Times Knowledge Network calendars, including the 2009 City Life Calendar, the 2008 Let Freedom Ring Calendar, the 2007 Nation of Immigrants Calendar, the 2006 Women’s Leadership Calendar and the 2005 Voting Rights and Citizenship Calendar, published with the generous help of JPMorgan Chase and TIAA-CREF.
We are deeply appreciative of our ongoing partnership with our esteemed colleagues at The New York Times Knowledge Network, in particular Executive Director, Education Felice Nudelman, Manager of Corporate Partnerships-Education Craig Dunn, Newspaper in Education Manager Stephanie Doba, and Executive Director of Community Affairs and Media Relations Diane McNulty. A formal collaboration was established to make the calendar widely accessible and to facilitate the curricular elements. The New York Times Photo Archives generously contributed photographs.
“Investing in Futures” is a work of scholarship, enabling us to understand the importance of public higher education in enriching lives and creating our nation’s economic prosperity. The University takes great pride in the partnerships that allow the calendar to bring the history of public higher education to life.
Matthew Goldstein, Chancellor