CUNY’s New Community College began taking shape in 2008, when CUNY administrators developed a “concept paper” for the NCC. It was to be “a new institution – one that is singularly focused on the need to dramatically increase graduation rates.” Toward that end, the NCC would offer “a tightly designed and highly structured associate degree pathway,” with a limited choice of majors. Students would be required to attend full-time, at least for the first year; remedial work would be integrated with the rest of an interdisciplinary curriculum; student peer advisors would play key roles. Less time would be spent in “introductory courses designed to provide broad introductions to the liberal arts and sciences.”
Dozens of faculty members volunteered to get involved, seeing the NCC as a chance to help CUNY students solve difficult, persistent problems. “Among young women of color at BMCC…there is only one sophomore for every five freshmen,” one said in 2009. “CUNY needs to serve these students better, and this new college gives us the opportunity to try new ways of doing that.”
Other CUNY faculty were critical of the NCC project, starting with the failure to involve elected faculty bodies, such as the University Faculty Senate or the PSC, in its design. They questioned whether the NCC’s curriculum would be too narrowly “vocational,” and voiced concern about faculty authority in a school without a department structure or a clear governance plan.
The range of faculty opinions that greeted the plans for the NCC was captured in a Clarion feature in 2009.