Open Forum With Dean Elliott

by  Lemuel Morrison, MBA 2012 with Emily McMillen, MBA, Accounting 2012

Dean Elliot speaking to students about the academic excellence fee

This evening Dean Elliott met with graduate students to talk about the Academic Excellence Fee (AEF) and to answer questions.  He spoke about the background of the plan and why the AEF evolved as it did. It has been in the works for 5 years and suddenly came to pass this summer.    A lawsuit by Lehman College students over the approval process delayed the official announcement.  The implementation was far from ideal he agreed.

The AEF aims to allow improvements that will enhance the graduate experience, such as:

  • address long wait times at the GCMC and Academic Advisement Offices;
  • enable the School to do outreach;
  • help students to build confidence in seizing opportunities;
  • improve our reputation;
  • create more ways for working students to get the assistance they need;
  • provide a method and funds for travel vouchers; and
  • prepare more materials to guide students and inform recruiters

I am graduating in the next semester. Why couldn’t you implement this fee in a delayed or staggered fashion?

  • The opening to implement this arrived suddenly and caught us with an imperfect plan;
  • The CUNY Board of Trustees is many degrees removed and paints in broad strokes;
  • There are and always will be many benefits, some uneven, across a very large institution; and
  • The long-term benefit will come to you as an alumnus.  A rising tide of reputation and improvements will float all the boats of 110k alumni network.

If a plan is not in place, what assurance do I have that there will be any improvements in the near future?

  • The process takes time.  There isn’t even agreement yet on how many students are full-time and how may are part-time.  Thus the amount of funds available has not been settled; and
  • You will see additional graduate assistants in this semester. A full-time staff member takes a bit more time, but will be online by semester’s end.

Before I get anything approved by my boss or client, I have to show a plan?  Why not in this situation?

  • Unfortunately, the process at CUNY is not the same as in business world — if only it were that easy.  There are many restrictions and requirements placed upon the institution by the State.
3 Responses to “Open Forum With Dean Elliott”
  1. Emily Rotella says:

    I wasn’t at the forum, but I know from personal experience that Dean Eliot is a fantastic speaker, an incredibly intelligent educator, and a strong leader at Baruch.

    However, the answer to the question about why there is not a plan in place (it takes time) is very vague. Did he offer to appoint any graduate students as representatives at the discussions that will determine the plan? Will drafts of the plan be made available to students so they can weigh in on the plan before it is finalized?

    The apologies/excuses for the process of how and why the fee was implemented and the communication of such are starting to sound old. Now I want to hear how the administration is planning on including graduate students going forward.

    • Emily McMillen says:

      From what I understood at the forum, there is currently a discretion over the amount of money that was actually collected from the student. Dean Elliot and the State have two different numbers in mind, and that is currently holding up any sort of plan finalization.

      He did not discuss anything about student representatives, but I am sure he would be open to the suggestion if you made it. I understand that there is going to be further communication on this matter, but we were not clear to what effect.

      These are excellent questions, Emily. I believe they should be posed to the Dean sooner rather than later. We can’t get the money back, so we may as well be involved in planning how it should be used.

      • Emily Rotella says:

        Emily – thanks for providing more insights into what was talked about at the forum!

        If a mere discrepancy is holding up plan finalization, I have two things to add:

        1. There must be a plan written and nearly completed, if there is only a numbers question holding up its “finalization”
        2. If there is a plan in existence, and it is not yet finalized, LET STUDENTS SEE IT AND COMMENT ON IT.

        If there is anything of a plan in place and the admin isn’t even sharing the framework of the plan (and I mean more than just “it will help students in their career hunt” or “it will help provide better services to students” or any other cloudy statement), then they really don’t want student opinion in shaping the plan. They want to do it on their own and then show it to us after it is finalized. Does that logic sound about right? I know it may be jumping to conclusions…

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