Last week, Kathleen Waldron, president of Baruch College, was awarded the 2009 Ellis Island Medal of Honor by the National Ethnic Coalition (NECO). The medal celebrates “the richness and pluralism of American life,” pays homage to the immigrant experience and recognizes outstanding individual achievement. Yet, during the same week, Waldron found it “necessary” to cut Baruch’s SEEK Program by over 15 percent by not admitting the number of students to keep the SEEK Program at 660 students.
According to Ben Corpus, the Baruch College vice president who oversees student affairs, “The Baruch College SEEK Program is targeted to take in 100 new freshmen for the fall 2009.This target is the same as it was for the previous year, fall 2008, as well as for the fall of 2007. There is no decrease in the SEEK freshmen class at Baruch. Baruch is immensely proud of this very successful program in the dedication of our SEEK counselors and the success of our SEEK graduates.”
While this is a nice sentiment, the admittance of 100 students is too few to keep the SEEK levels to the funded level of 660.
The SEEK Program (Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge) is a higher education opportunity program at CUNY colleges.
According to New York State Education Law, CUNY is “supported as an independent and integrated system of higher education on the assumption that the university will continue to maintain and expand its commitment to academic excellence and to the provision of equal access and opportunity for students, faculty and staff from all ethnic and racial groups and from both sexes.”
Baruch College specifically has in its mission, “Baruch remains dedicated to its historical role as a catalyst for social, cultural and financial mobility of a diverse student body, reflective of the demographic patterns of New York City. As a public urban college committed to the educational needs of New York City, Baruch strives to use this diversity to build an educational imperative that recognizes the increasingly multicultural nature of human enterprises. The rich variety of its community is a positive influence on the achievement of the college’s goals.”
SEEK was established by the state to provide academic support to capable students that for economic and educational reasons may not be able to attend college otherwise. It is both academic and financial support that the program offers
So why, with a mission like this, is Baruch College, under the leadership of President Waldron, cutting the SEEK Program?
The SEEK Program is completely funded by the state. The students that are SEEK students are those with the highest need economically. The mission states that it is supposed to be a driver for “financial mobility of a diverse student body. “How can this be a mission when it seems that this president wants to leave these students in the dust? The Baruch College Faculty Senate voted to restore the SEEK numbers to the budgeted 660.Yet the president is standing firm on her position. She must be stopped.