The Grad Center: CUNY’s Hub

BuildingWhat’s the relationship between CUNY and the CUNY Graduate Center?

Under the leadership of Prof. Mina Rees the CUNY Graduate School and University Center was established in 1969, drawing on CUNY doctoral faculty with home appointments at other CUNY campuses. Today the CUNY Graduate Center hosts about 150 distinguished core-appointed faculty who teach only at the Graduate Center, but the bulk of graduate teaching is performed by the 1800 or so CUNY doctoral faculty who hold primary appointments at CUNY campuses other than the Grad Center.  PhD programs and Master’s programs at the Graduate Center are taught by the same doctoral faculty, with few exceptions. 92% of CUNY doctoral faculty are affiliated with other CUNY campuses, and other CUNY libraries, in addition to the Graduate Center.

Grad Center students, too, have dual CUNY affiliations. Out of 4350 doctoral students, 2652 or 61%, are formally affiliated with another CUNY campus. About 1300 have teaching, laboratory, and fellowship assignments around CUNY as part of their financial packages. 1100 graduate students are also adjunct faculty around CUNY, though there is overlap; some grads with fellowships are also adjuncts, in other words. Every graduate student teaching or working at another CUNY campus is a ‘home’ constituent of that campus and the Graduate Center.

The Graduate Center Library provides tremendous service for CUNY’s dual affiliated faculty and students, and for CUNY visitors not at all associated with the Grad Center. 39% of the total intra-CUNY library CLICS requests July 2011 – June 2012 were requested for pick-up at the Graduate Center, centrally located in Midtown Manhattan. A report on the borrower type of Grad Center pick-ups July 2012-April 2013 indicates that 33% were requested by borrowers with a primary CUNY affiliation that was not the Grad Center. Sadly, the exact number of CLICS pick-ups by CUNY grads and faculty with dual-affiliations is incalculable because CUNYFirst does not track dual affiliations. But from this sample, it appears that the Grad Center provides more pick-up service for non-GC users than any other CUNY library provides its home constituents. CUNY grads and faculty borrow from many CUNY collections, but the pick-up service for all CUNY users is concentrated at the Graduate Center.

The overwhelming majority of  faculty users of the Graduate Center’s InterLibrary Loan (ILL) service, too, are not GC core-appointed, but rather CUNY doctoral faculty teaching at the Graduate Center, with home appointments at other CUNY campuses. Last year the Grad Center ILL faculty service featured 22% from Brooklyn College, 23% from Lehman College, 12% from City College, 11% from Queens College, 11% from Hostos Community College, 5% from Baruch, 5% from Hunter, and 1% or less from John Jay, Kingsborough, NYC Tech, BMCC, and Bronx Community College.

With the introduction of CUNY libraries inter-campus service (CLICS) in 2007, the CUNY Graduate Center Library opened its doors to student visitors from other CUNY campuses. While we do not track who enters our doors beyond all have a valid ID of some type, the CLICS pick-up numbers suggest that the Grad Center Library is well-used by non-GC CUNY visitors. CUNY undergrads are welcome to browse library shelves, to use licensed resources, and to tap Mina Rees Library reference services. The contributions that Graduate Center reference librarians make to CUNY virtual reference service is unparalleled in our consortium, as outlined in Michael Adams’ April 22 post. 71% of the online reference chats Graduate Center librarians conduct are with non-GC CUNY users; while 33% of the Graduate Center’s chats are conducted by non-GC CUNY librarians.

CUNY’s consortial model positions the Graduate Center is a hub of research, instruction, and library service. Inter-CUNY collaboration, and a strong commitment to providing mutual support, is embedded in our service ethic and key to CUNY success. We are entirely inter-dependent. Collaboration shapes and sustains the entire university – it defines us.


About the Author

Prof. Polly Thistlethwaite is CUNY's Interim University Dean for Library Services.