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A Message from the Chancellor: Improving Student Transfer at CUNY

Dear Members of The City University of New York Community:

Last October, led by Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and University Provost Alexandra Logue, the CUNY community began public discussion of a newly completed report entitled "Improving Student Transfer at CUNY," written by Associate University Provost Julia Wrigley. The report discusses the significant challenges faced by many of our students in transferring among the CUNY campuses. Particular difficulties include the receipt of elective credit or no credit instead of general education or major credit for transferred courses, and delays in credit evaluation, all of which can delay graduation and cause problems with financial aid. Further, CUNY students, who transfer frequently and in all directions within CUNY, have difficulty enrolling in courses that will transfer, because students do not always know in advance to which colleges they will apply or be admitted, and the colleges differ in the size and content of their general education and major programs. We can help students complete their degrees by creating clear pathways responsive to their needs.

Responding to requests by the University Faculty Senate and others for further discussion of the implications of the transfer report, as well as to requests for a specific draft proposal addressing the challenges CUNY students face, in January EVC Logue's office established a website for collecting together all documents and other information related to what we now call the Pathways to Degree Completion Project (see The website includes a draft resolution for the Board of Trustees' consideration at their June meeting, much data and reports, and a form for members of the community to submit their comments. (A qualitative data analysis of the comments submitted via the website is being performed and will be released to the community.)

As intended, the draft resolution and the significant other information on the website have spurred much discussion, debate, and comment. As a result of all of this information and feedback, we have reached the following initial conclusions:

  • Our conviction that faculty have been engaging in excellent general education work on their individual campuses has been reaffirmed. We will build on that work.
  • Our conviction that faculty should be the ones to devise curriculum and set the standards for curriculum has been reaffirmed. The final resolution submitted to the Board of Trustees will establish guidelines for aligning broad learning objectives across our campuses so as to facilitate seamless student transfer. For example, these guidelines will include a total number of credits for general education that is consistent with national norms. However, the faculty will determine the content of those learning objectives, the courses that will satisfy them, and the standards by which all of this will be maintained.
  • Our conviction that we should facilitate individual campuses' traditions and characteristics within The City University of New York has been reaffirmed. CUNY is defined as one university by New York State Education Law, but the distinctive identities of its individual colleges define and enrich the university.
  • Consistent with the previous three conclusions, the original draft resolution is currently being revised. The final version will be released within a short period of time.

As the Pathways Project proceeds, faculty from across the university will work together to align the overall aspects of general education and the initial parts of the large transfer majors. This will be an opportunity for faculty to engage with their colleagues in curriculum matters on a university-wide scale and to set high standards for that curriculum. We in the central office look forward to providing support for this important work of the faculty.

Best wishes.

Matthew Goldstein

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