Brooklyn College President Michelle Anderson said the college is facing a $10 million budget gap during a stated meeting earlier this month that outlined goals for the semester.
In an hour-long discussion on the sixth floor of the student center, dozens of CUNY faculty and staff joined President Anderson and Sociology Professor Tammy Lewis in pressing for faculty diversity and an increase in local maintenance staff. They also praised the We Stand Against Hate Campaign, an activist series to promote diversity, which was founded by Anderson after the presidential election of Donald Trump.
According to Anderson, the campaign had more than 25 sessions this year and garnered approximately 4,000 views in livestreamed video. Both Lewis and Anderson termed the campaign a step to uniting different communities on campus.
An approximately $8 million deficit will lead to staff cuts this year, officials said. In a spring 2017 State of Brooklyn College meeting, Anderson revealed that there was a 6 percent decline in facilities staff. Despite the decrease in staff, there were fewer than four percent broken or derelict bathrooms on campus compared to 10 percent in 2016. During the spring 2017 meeting, Anderson added that the college is operating with a smaller budget than one set for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.
Anderson said the infrastructure issues across campus not only impact the quality of the facilities, but staff morale as well. Brooklyn College, which was built during the 1930s, has existing structural issues such as lead paint, PCB contaminants and asbestos. According to Anderson, there was a pipe burst in her office due to a massive build-up of asbestos.
“We need to be creative with less,” Anderson said. “We have a larger whole to fill than we did last year.”
According to Anderson, the cuts to staff are not targeted, but are due to a slip in funding to CUNY schools.
Anderson is creating department-specific affirmative action plans to combat a lack of staff diversity.
This fall, Brooklyn College hired Tony Thomas as the new chief diversity officer to improve underrepresentation of minority staff.
“We don’t have faculty diversity that reflects our student body,” Anderson said. “I think that is a shame, students should be able to see faculty that looks like them and compliments where they come from.”
Anderson continued, “We need to access the strengths and weaknesses in terms of representation of underrepresented minorities. How does the under-representation in that department compare to [the field].”
According to Anderson, the college’s student body continues to grow. During the fall of 2017, there was a five percent increase in enrollment and a 25 percent increase in first-time students to the Brooklyn College Campus.
From 2018 to 2023, Anderson plans to increase rates of student retention and degree completion, grow career services, increase student scholarship and financial aid, and retain productive and diverse faculty.