Windows in shepard hall

Strategic Priorities, 2018-2023

The Division of Humanities and the Arts instructs the largest number of students across the City College of New York (CCNY). The Division awards a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degrees in liberal arts and in professional disciplines. We provide skills and knowledge that are essential to all disciplines across the College and to all professional pursuits. Our liberal arts education teaches informed reasoning and debate, creative expression, independent and collaborative thinking, responsible leadership, and the ability to appreciate diverse perspectives. We teach students to analyze, think and create in sound, image and words. Our students bridge worlds. They enter professions they believe in where they make a difference.

The Division of Humanities and the Arts promotes humanistic knowledge and creative expression. We examine, celebrate, and shape cultures from across the globe. We are committed to curiosity, imagination, empathy, innovation, and informed action. We teach the humanities and the arts in engagement with one another, and we provide professional curricula that are as intellectually as they are vocationally rigorous. Through our teaching of research, analysis, persuasive speaking, imaginative thinking, and expressive creation, we elevate all the disciplines across campus. We fuel our students’ professional success and enable them to effect social and political change. The Division engages substantively with Harlem, New York City, and the world. We are deeply committed to the legacy of CCNY’s public education, which is renowned the world over for promoting social mobility through educational attainment and for inspiring students to take the lead in service to society.

Our Core Values
As an academic community, we in the Division of Humanities and the Arts are committed to:

  • The centrality of humanities and the arts in all personal and professional pursuits
  • Social purposiveness and civic engagement
  • The understanding of and appreciation for difference
  • Social mobility and personal fulfillment through education
  • Questioning principles and accepted authority
  • Advocating for our students
  • Challenging our students
  • Fostering an enduring sense of academic community.

Through the renewal of liberal arts disciplines and innovative research/creative activity and teaching, we will provide students with a transformational, dynamic, and collaborative educational experience. We will continue to affirm our central role in the education of all CCNY students and in the intellectual life of the College. In this way, we will further the College’s legacy of access and excellence.

Communications, community-building, and branding

Communications, community-building, and branding.

Goals: Publicize distinctive divisional identity, focusing on innovation and renewal in H&A disciplines, and distinguished undergraduate programs, graduate programs, and academic initiatives; bring the accomplishments of faculty and students to the attention of our community and the broader community; celebrate a vibrant academic community within H&A.

Action steps

1. Communicate what the humanities and the arts are at CCNY and their value.

  • Develop a mission-statement based formulation of the nature and value of the humanities and the arts and incorporate it in messaging from H&A and from departments, in the advising of students, in H&A and department events.  Encourage integration of that statement in course syllabi.
  • Encourage faculty to incorporate consideration of the value of humanities and the arts and of their specific H&A disciplines in courses.  Extend this strategy to social media and to Web presence; “Why Philosophy?” “Why History?”
  • Engage current students in “what are the humanities?”, “what are the arts?” competitions and publicize their results.  

2. Engage collaboratively in recruitment and retention of students by making the case for our distinctive and distinguished identity and our value.

  • Identify top four feeder high schools and 2-year colleges for transfers, especially if they focus on humanities and the arts. Work with Office of Admissions to recruit students and establish pathways to H&A.
  • Make use of summer programs as an opportunity to connect with those prospective students.
  • Engage in “parent-recruitment” events to stress the value of H&A programs.
  • Engage in “go-to-students” off campus promotions of H&A.
  • Engage in recruitment of Gateway students and students who want to transfer from other divisions.

3. Engage in community-building and effective communication with all of our constituencies: faculty, staff, students, prospective students, alumni and friends, and the Harlem community. Strategically tell our compelling stories and report our news in a way that address all constituencies.

  • Maintain and work to enhance communication “pipeline” connecting departments and programs, office of the dean, and Office of Institutional Advancement and Communications.  Maintain monthly meeting between last two offices on newsworthy developments in H&A (faculty, staff, students, and alumni).
  • Maintain strategic H&A activity in social media and encourage departments to do the same.  Encourage departments to amplify H&A activity through social media.
  • Continue electronic “H&A Academic Year in Review” circulation to all constituencies and support departments in development of similar e-news publications.  Encourage development and maintenance of departmental distribution lists. Make use of distribution lists to invite all constituencies’ participation in select H&A campus events.
  • Create templates or guidelines for templates for H&A websites, announcements/events, and newsletters.
  • Sponsor community-building events for our students, such as convocation for H&A students.
  • Continue to sponsor and expand number of community-building events, formal and informal, for faculty and staff.
  • Engage our students in the life of our academic community through H&A Student Advisory Council.

4. Work toward the development of an H&A brand founded on our distinctive and distinguished identity.


Curriculum and programs

Curriculum and programs.

Goals: Develop, promote, and support all H&A programs while encouraging distinctive and distinguished specialized, interdisciplinary, and traditional programs.  Provide a range majors, minors, and graduate programs appropriate for H&A students and consistent with the strengths of H&A faculty. Continue to provide general education courses of the highest quality.

Action steps

1. While broadly supporting our academic mission, we will especially promote and support programs that have as many of the following characteristics as possible.

Qualitative factors:

  • Unique or near-unique to CUNY or to region.
  • Fosters interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary collaborations across departments and divisions.
  • Fuels innovation in teaching, research, and creative activity.
  • Successfully effects transition of students to post-degree pursuits.
  • Contributes in a significant way to the mission of the division.

Quantitative factors:

  • Documented high student demand.
    a. Undergraduate: unfavorable full-time faculty/majors ratio.
    b. Undergraduate: significant growth in number of majors.
    c. Graduate: favorable ratios of application/acceptance and acceptance/yield.
    d. General Education: provide significant service to all undergraduates in the College.
  • Accelerated credentialing of students (e.g., accelerated BA/MA program).

2. Develop structures that will make it possible for faculty to enhance, develop, and experiment with existing or new programs.

  • Promote and support interdisciplinary faculty research seminars.
  • Create and support incubators for teaching, new courses, and programs, which would function like faculty research seminars but would focus on courses and programs.
  • Create H&A-wide annual interdisciplinary project or theme, which could be linked to Rifkind seminar.
    a. Link courses, and campus and classroom events to that theme.
    b. Focus of end-of-semester student projects on the theme
  • Develop roundtables on focused humanities and arts themes.
  • Develop organized calendar of divisional cultural events that can be linked to courses and programs.

3. Effectively market existing majors and minors to new students and students in other divisions.

  • Develop discipline-based career and alumni events.
  • Create current student videos attesting to value of major or minor.
  • Develop programs (majors, minors, and certificates) directly linked to other divisions: e.g.’s, Science and Society minor, Writing for the Real World minor/certificate, public presentation (focused on disciplines) certificate.
  • Emphasize creative and innovative dimensions of H&A.
  • Use gen ed courses as an opportunity to recruit majors and minors.

4. Maintain strength in providing core liberal education through gen ed.

  • Develop gen ed courses that focus on contemporary issues.
  • Link series of gen ed courses or pair them by theme, including gen ed offered in other divisions.  For example, teaching New York City from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.


Student success: retention, persistence, and completion

Student success: retention, persistence, and completion; high-impact practices and post-degree success.

Goals: improve traditional metrics of student success; enrich academic experience of undergraduates and graduate students through high-impact practices; assist students in preparation for post-degree success.

Action steps

1. Improve mechanics of progress toward degree via technology and coordination of advising and related services, including Career & Professional Development Institute.

  • Identify, monitor, and rectify bottle-neck courses.
  • Create “off-cycle” sections of courses with high failure rates.

2. Create and maintain currency of curriculum maps for all majors and minors; pair with pertinent minors and certificates and with employment or further educational outlets, as appropriate; pair minors and certificates with programs of study in other schools and divisions.

3. Provide more funded internship opportunities, and integrate with curriculum, when appropriate, or teach students value of internships as career exploration and first step toward getting a job (in collaboration with CPDI)

  • Term-time internships for academic credit, whether for major curriculum or elective.
  • Paid summer internships: students find internships subsidized by “scholarship” funding.
  • Develop and cultivate relationship with small number of organizations that can host student interns, as appropriate to the department.

4. Provide more funded research opportunities for students.

5. Provide more short-term/capstone study abroad opportunities.

6. Reallocate some scholarship funds to support high-impact practices (internships and research)

7. Integrate cultural activities in New York City and on CCNY campus into curriculum.

8. Develop working relationship/greater coordination with Career & Professional Development Institute: how best to serve students majoring in department; point at which to have students begin career exploration; how to get a job.

9. Offer a major course on careers with a particular major; orientation/meetings with students on value of a liberal education; alumni night that includes guidance on job search, resume building, etc.

10. Make use of LinkedIn as way of providing examples of career paths for students and making useful connections for seeking internships and employment.

Budget and development of new funding streams

Budget and development of new funding streams.

Goals: to re-establish predictable and viable budget for H&A; secure sustainable support for essential functions and special initiatives.

Action steps

1. Advocate for and pursue development of Responsibility Centered Management (i.e., decentralized budget) model that takes cost as well as revenue into account.

2. Work to make H&A funding sources align with funding needs.

3. Identify appropriate graduate programs and pursue program premium fees for them.

4. Development work in dean’s office as one of its central responsibilities; activities coordinated with that office.

  • More activism by departments in identifying funding needs and securing funding: development of white papers; making funding priorities clear; and assisting in pursuit of funding and seeking grants.
  • Participation of departments in identifying prospects, cultivation, and stewardship.
  • Work toward seamless communication and interaction among departments, dean’s office, and advancement in identification and cultivation of prospective donors/funders.
  • Enhance email list of alumni and friends: increased communication with alumni and friends (website, Academic Year in Review); participation of alumni and friends in campus events.
  • Special events that will showcase remarkable faculty and students: sound bites, video profiles, etc.

5. Create H&A Faculty Committee on Development to provide advice on development activities

Support of faculty research and creative activity

Support of faculty research and creative activity, especially in ways that will inform and enhance teaching.

Goals: Meaningfully support faculty research and creative activity. Show the mutual imbrication of research/creative activity and teaching by striving for excellence in both areas.

Action steps

1. Continue and expand support of conference and research travel.

2. Develop more funding streams to support faculty research and creative activity, including publication subventions and seed funding for productions in the arts.

3. Support initiatives that promote collaborative research, including across divisions, such as “research lab” faculty research seminars.

4. Continue support of Rifkind Center and its activities.

5. Support faculty development initiatives focused on the mutual imbrication of research/creative activity and teaching.

  • Develop workshops on and best practices in integrating creative activity and research into teaching.
  • Develop seminars focused on examples of faculty research and creative activity.
  • As appropriate, use a problem and/or materials explored in one course as a research case study for another.
  • Create podcasts on faculty research and creative activity grouped by themes/problems.

6. Create structures to support and encourage pursuit of grants and fellowships, such as “seed” programs (course release for grant submission; “how to” meetings with fellowship agencies and publishers).

7. Have H&A Dean’s Office serve as clearing house for information on research support available from within CUNY and from external funding agencies.

Committee Membership, 2017-18

Professor John Blanton (History)
Professor Amr Kamal (CMLL),
Professor Massimo Pigliucci (Philosophy)
Professor Suzanne Pittson (Music)
Professor Nancy Tag (MCA),
David Unger (Director, Publishing Certificate Program)
Professor Annette Weintraub (Art)
Professor David Willinger (Theatre and Speech)

Dean Erec R. Koch
Deputy Dean Renata Miller