The City University of New York has been raking in donations. Its most recent gift came from Bernard Spitzer, a CUNY alumni, philanthropist, and father of our infamous ex-governor. His $25 million contribution will go exclusively to help fund the internal workings of the School of Architecture at City College.
“Students who want to study architecture are going to look toward CUNY because it’s the only public architecture school in the New York City,” said Ellis Simon, spokesperson for the school. “And, it’s a fraction of the cost of the private schools.”
The new school is scheduled to hold its first classes in the summer semester of this year. Featuring 118,000 square feet of space, the area is sectioned off into individual open-spaced studios, which will be overlooked by the professor’s offices on the mezzanine. It’s a far cry from the school’s current location at Shepard Hall where classrooms acted as makeshift studios.
While the students and faculty get a remodeled space to call their own, Spitzer’s takeaway is all in a name. By completion date, the future building may be called The Anne and Bernard Spitzer School of Architecture, and while publically it’s just a suggestion, the school website already refers to it by that title.
Spitzer’s donation came as part of CUNY’s original 2004 “Invest in CUNY, Invest in New York: Expanding the Vision” campaign, which surpassed its first goal to raise $1.2 billion and has now pushed to reach $3 billion by 2015.
The bulk of the money raised will go to student services, attracting new faculty, scholarships and building up CUNY’s resources. So far, they have collected almost half the target amount, to be used for all 23 of CUNY’s colleges and institutions.
The money CUNY is raising couldn’t come at a better time. As the recession hits harder, people have decided to go back to school (full disclosure: I am a graduate of CUNY’s journalism school). A spokesperson for CUNY said since 2000 enrollment has increased about 30 percent and that this past fall a record 250,000 students registered. Rather then flounder in the dwindling job market, more and more people have chosen to get a post-baccalaureate degree. Because CUNY offers a solid education with renowned professors for less money then private universities, it’s an option many people have taken.
“It’s practically free compared to the other schools in the area,” said George Ranalli, dean of the School of Architecture.
Whether putting a large portion of the funds into a lucrative field like architecture the best idea is another issue. Architecture, like many other fields, has been hit hard by the recession, and many architecture offices are no longer hiring. Building plans have been put on hold while other projects remain empty skeletons of buildings stretching into the sky with no immediate arrangements for their future.
As far as new jobs go, Dean Ranalli said there aren’t any right now. But he said applications are up from the previous year and the schools accreditation holds it own despite the tough times.
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