Enrollment Down Amidst CUNY Hiring Freeze

President Berenecea Eanes addressing York in her first town hall of the semester. | Photo by Niko Balkaran

By Niko Balkaran

York President Berenecea Eanes and her administration held their first town hall of the semester on Feb. 9 during which several hot-topic issues on the campus were addressed. These included several capital projects, strategic investment management and the budget. 

York College is down 701 continuing students this spring, in addition to first-year students. One reason for this decline is the shrinking pool of available first-year students, said Dr. Karen Williams, the vice-president of enrollment management and student affairs. 

Because of this, it is important to retain the students the college has recruited, according to Provost Derrick Brazill. To this end, York is developing a Summer Bridge program for first-year students struggling with college. The program is essentially an “extended orientation for students to get them acclimated to what it is like being a York student,” said Brazill. 

The program will start with two-week sessions where students can get help with Math and English. Additionally, these new students will be assigned a peer mentor to help them navigate their first year while also having more communication and meetings with faculty to help deal with new college experiences. 

York has also planned a two-step outreach initiative for students at risk of academic probation. The college will first contact at-risk students and inform them of their options. Then they will provide these students with academic or economic support and counseling to improve their academic standing. 

Continuing students will also have the option to register for classes earlier. 

After 18 years, the York track and field team will also get a new NCAA-compliant field. Construction on the $5.5 million project is expected to start in late spring and be completed within a year, according to Charles Bozian, the vice-president of finance and administration. The soccer team will also be able to use the field for practice since there will be a full-sized soccer field in the middle of the track. 

York’s Theater department will have to wait longer for the completion of the Performing Arts Center. Construction on the $17 million project is expected to start in July and is anticipated to be completed in two years. Some of the targeted upgrades include lighting, audio, video and seating. 

Site 9, which is across Liberty Avenue, will be leased by the MTA for five years while their bus depot is renovated. The contract for this project was awarded to Skanska and is expected to last four years, with construction starting in April. 

There will be several benefits for the York community, according to Bozian. The environmental issues on the 35 years dormant site will be cleaned up. Second, York will receive $1.1 million in rental income for the length of the lease. Skanska has also committed to providing internships and opportunities for students, added Bozian. 

The town hall ended with the announcement that CUNY had imposed a hiring freeze. All vacancy applications must be submitted to the Vacancy Review Board before the college can hire. York will also have to develop a plan to institute savings, with CUNY’s target being $2.5 million per campus. However, the figure may be closer to $4 million for York because of the overall enrollment decline and the college’s fixed costs, according to Bozian. 

The president also announced the dates of the gala and commencement ceremony. The gala has been scheduled for Thursday, April 27, at Terrace on the Park in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Meanwhile, the 2023 Commencement ceremony has been scheduled for Thursday, June 1, at the UBS Arena in Belmont Park.

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