September 6, 2016

I write to remind us all of the importance of CUNY’s deep and long-standing commitment to equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion for faculty, staff, and students.  This fundamental value is reflected in the Legislature’s findings establishing the University system.  As set forth in the NYS Education Law Sec. 6201: “The legislature’s intent is that the city university be 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…Activities at the city university campuses must be undertaken in a spirit which recognizes and responds to the imperative need for affirmative action and the positive desire to have city university personnel reflect the diverse communities which comprise the people of the city and state of New York.”

This commitment is reflected in numerous ways, including our adherence to affirmative action in employment for CUNY’s protected groups, which include federally protected groups (Blacks, Hispanics, Asian/Pacific Islanders, American Indians/Alaskan Natives, and women), as well as Italian Americans.  It is important that we remain aware that Italian American faculty and staff are a protected group at CUNY, and that they be treated as such.   Each campus must develop and keep updated its Affirmative Action Plan and Italian American Plan in keeping with standard practices.

I am also proud of CUNY’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, as exemplified by the University’s Faculty Diversity Action Plan, and to equal opportunity and non-discrimination, as reflected in CUNY’s Policy on Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination and Policy on Sexual Misconduct.

Finally, all of us who work at CUNY serve our remarkably diverse student body, which hails from over 205 countries and reflects a wide range of ethnicities, races, and faiths.  It is essential that all our students feel safe expressing themselves on campus, whether through their religious identity, gender identity, national pride, or otherwise.  It is equally important that our students experience the robust exchange of ideas and opinions that are a hallmark of a great university.   To that end, as you know, I have established a university-wide working group to review the ways CUNY colleges promote a campus climate that supports a respectful exchange of ideas, identifies best practices across CUNY and addresses issues related to diversity.  Their recommendations will be reviewed and discussed this fall.

Thank you for your support in ensuring that CUNY continues to be an extraordinarily diverse and inclusive institution.

James B. Milliken
Chancellor