Students at private nonprofits deserve free tuition too

New York Governor Cuomo recently announced that New York State would cover tuition costs at state and city universities for students whose families earn under a certain dollar amount.

The governor’s plan is laudable, but does not go far enough. As I wrote in an op-ed for the The New York Daily News, this initiative should also extend to students at private nonprofits. Schools like Pace University have a proven track record of elevating graduates’ earning power, irrespective of their socioeconomic status.

You can read the complete op-ed at http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/private-colleges-state-article-1.2961751.

 

Executive Order on Immigration

President Trump’s recent executive order banning all people traveling on passports from seven specified countries from entering the United States has spread uncertainty across America and revulsion in large parts of this country. Emotions are running high, and college campuses, with large numbers of international students far away from home, are particularly vulnerable to the stress. Many people are deeply concerned about the content and breadth of the order and have serious questions about whether it is consistent with the Constitution. As a university, we are equally concerned about the students, faculty, and staff who may be affected by this executive order. Their safety and well-being remain our highest priority. We support them and will do everything we can to maintain an environment that welcomes them to study, work, and enjoy the benefits of an education at Pace University.

While the many issues raised by President Trump’s executive order are considered by the courts, our goal is to ensure all students, faculty, and staff thrive at Pace without interruption. We are fortunate to have a very diverse community and we value and embrace that diversity. Our different perspectives enhance our understanding, provide deeper context for learning, and enrich the personal relationships that are such an important part of university life.

I want to emphasize my own view that this order appears to have been the product of a small group of White House advisers who did not have the benefit of the usual inter-agency vetting process that has traditionally preceded a change of Administration policy of this magnitude. Much remains unclear. That vetting process is designed to surface secondary and tertiary effects of the policy change and any unintended consequences. Accordingly, it may well be that there will be numerous changes in the order in the coming weeks, and it is not possible to predict whether the result will be a much more limited or an expanded ban on entry.

Accordingly, until the rules are clearer, we strongly advise any member of the Pace Community who is not a U.S. citizen to regularly check our International Students & Scholars webpage at www.pace.edu/immigration-updates for the most up-to-date information.

Our International Students & Scholars Office is also ready to advise and assist students or scholars on a non-immigrant visa who need help. You can reach out to Barry Stinson at (212) 346-1692, or via e-mail at bstinson@pace.edu for assistance.

In addition, the Immigration Justice Clinic at Pace’s Elisabeth Haub School of Law is going to offer information sessions that explore the implications and issues surrounding President Trump’s executive order. You can contact Professor Vanessa Merton at (914) 422-4330, or via e-mail at vmerton@law.pace.edu, for more information about these sessions. For certain students, the Immigration Justice Clinic may be able to provide legal representation for those who need it. We will also make available a list of other legal services for those who desire private legal counsel. Faculty and staff who have concerns should contact Elizabeth Garti, Pace’s Associate Vice President of Human Resources. You can reach her at (914) 923-2781 or egarti@pace.edu. Finally, the Pace University Counseling Center is available to speak with anyone who is feeling unsettled because of this event. To reach the Counseling Center in New York City, you can call (212) 346-1526. In Westchester, the phone number is (914) 773-3710.

Please be assured that Pace University will not voluntarily provide access to anyone’s personal information, visa, or immigration status without a subpoena, court order, or to comply with other legal requirements.

We will remain in constant communication with Pace’s immigration counsel and continue to update you as information becomes available. In the meantime, please remember that for over a century, through changes in governments and evolving perspectives on national and international issues, Pace’s approach to education has never wavered. We provide all our students with opportunities to expand their minds and achieve their dreams and we stand firmly behind our students, faculty, and staff.

Access to higher education for all

I recently joined university presidents and chancellors across the United States by adding my name and the support of Pace University to a letter (https://www.pomona.edu/support-daca) that urges President-elect Trump to support the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – the DACA program.

The DACA program allows undocumented students who entered the US illegally as infants or children to continue their education at universities in the US without fear of deportation. President Obama created the program by executive action in 2012. President-elect Trump has said he would end the program.

As leaders and educators it is critical that all of us support the ideal that everyone should have access to higher education and the chance to expand their minds and opportunities. Higher education opens students’ eyes to new worlds; it provides avenues to work hard and achieve meaningful goals, and to pursue careers that enhance their lives and advance society.

Under DACA, more than 700,000 young people who were brought to the US illegally as children have registered with the federal government in exchange for temporary relief from the possibility of deportation and a two-year renewable work permit. These young men and women have taken advantage of a program offered by the United States government. The letter I signed said DACA should be upheld, continued, and expanded. This is both a moral imperative and a national necessity. America needs talent – and many of these students, who have been raised and educated in the United States, represent what is best about America.

Post Election Reflection

The election has revealed to many of us the depth of the divisions in this country, divisions that may not be apparent to those who live on the coasts and work in a community as diverse as Pace. Despite these divisions, let us remember that the first three words of the United States Constitution are “We the people,” and checks and balances exist to ensure that our government serves all its citizens regardless of race, nationality, sexual orientation, age, or religious affiliation.

At Pace we are proud of our commitment to diversity and inclusion and will continue to create environments where academic and student life thrive for all students, faculty, and staff. Pace, is, and will remain, an institution that welcomes intelligent discussion and debate on the most important social issues of our day, and we will continue to address these topics in an atmosphere of respect and tolerance for all.

Let us also remember extensive scholarship and employment data has made it clear that higher education, at least a bachelor’s degree, is for most people a precondition for the availability of good jobs and the opportunity for advancement and success in professional life. Pace provides that opportunity to thousands of students who make up the aspiring heart of America. I have been saying for years that our mission is critical to the international competitiveness of America. The election has made it clear that it is also essential to the rebuilding of the sense of community in our country, the sense that we share common values and aspirations, and that all of us stand at the starting line well-prepared for life.

You should all be proud of your role in this mission, and we need to redouble our efforts to make Opportunitas a reality for every student.

Tragedy in Dallas

Dallas Police Chief David Brown, an African American whose own family and friends have been ravaged by violent death, spoke for a nation and to a nation when he said, “All I know is that this must stop, this divisiveness between our police and our citizens.”

America still has far to go in confronting and ending the implications of its history of racial divide, and the challenges have been escalated by the economic stagnation of the middle class, by the increasing availability of guns, and by the astonishingly low level to which rhetoric in the Presidential campaign has sunk–a rhetoric designed to bring out the worst rather than the best in Americans. There are bad actors in every group, but they do not characterize the group–whether the police or the members of a minority group–which is made up of hundreds of thousands or millions of individual Americans who share the challenges common to all of us–seeking love, supporting and raising a family, working effectively, and living a meaningful life.

While we at Pace cannot solve the nation’s problems, we can meet our own challenges. Like the rest of America, about half of our student body is made up of minorities. In that sense we are a microcosm of the nation. Our community shares a deeply-rooted belief that Opportunitas is all about giving every student the preparation to be the best that he or she can be, and that an essential element of achieving that goal is to take advantage of our diversity and to work together in teams in which each student learns from the different perspectives, life experiences, and culture of the others. The more clearly we learn to see the world through the eyes of those with different backgrounds, the more we see them as individuals and not as undifferentiated members of a group. If we cannot succeed in that effort, how can our nation? If we can succeed, why cannot our nation?

At the same time that we grieve for those who have died or been wounded, we need to continue to deepen our conversations with each other and to deepen our understanding of those of different races, cultures, and backgrounds. To do otherwise is to remain ignorant. As a university, our role is to abolish ignorance.

So please reach out to others; if you think Town Hall or other meetings would be helpful, talk to Student Affairs; take advantage of Counseling Services to talk through your reactions in a more private way; and let me have any other suggestions by e-mail or through your comments.

Pace stands with Orlando

The unspeakable tragedy in Orlando, Florida, has left us all outraged and heart-broken. We have all been affected by this horrific event and our deepest condolences are with the victims of this senseless attack and with their families and loved ones. Our outrage stems from both the ideologically motivated attack on innocent Americans and the singling out of the LGBTQA community. Pace University resolutely stands, as it always has, in support of every member of our community. We remain committed to everyone’s safety, security, and well-being.

Our Deans for Students Offices, our LGBTQA Centers, our Counseling Centers, and other offices are planning events and outreach to assist you during this difficult time. You will be receiving information about these events shortly.

Please don’t hesitate to contact our Counseling Centers or our Offices of Security at any time if you need immediate assistance. Their contact information is provided below:

Counseling Centers NYC Campus: (212) 346-1526 Pleasantville and Law School campuses: (914) 773-3710

Offices of Safety and Security NYC Campus: (212) 346-1800 Pleasantville Campus: (914) 773-3700 Law School Campus: (914) 422-4111

I am proud of the strength, the solidarity, and the humanity of the Pace University community. Through these attributes, we can overcome even the most tragic of events together.

Prayers for Peace

Once again families have been devastated and dreams have been destroyed.

As world leaders search for answers that will allow all people to live in peace, let’s never forget the victims in Paris and elsewhere to whom those answers will come too late. Terrorism has no place in a civilized society, and the Pace University community stands with all those who loathe terrorism and the fanatics who perpetrate these despicable acts.

 

When debt produces return on investment

While debt often has negative connotations, not all debt is bad. Debt in pursuit of a university degree is one of the best investments a student can make in his or her future. The return on investment in education is real.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) did a study a couple of years ago. The OECD found that the typical graduate from a four-year college earns 84 percent more than a high school graduate. The same study also indicated that a college degree is worth $365,000 for the average American man after subtracting all the direct and indirect costs over a lifetime. For women—who still tend to earn less than men—a college diploma is worth $185,000.

College graduates aren’t having problems getting their careers started either. The US Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics reports that as of 2012, college graduates from the Class of 2008 had spent just six percent of the previous four years unemployed. Eight out of ten Class of 2008 graduates had one full-time job during the previous four years, another eight percent of the graduates had multiple jobs during that time period.

No one wants to start his or her career in in the red. And the amount of debt a student incurs should be considered in light of his or her intended career choices. The good news, however, is that in addition to the economic returns your college education will produce, the federal government gives graduates more advantageous repayment options than ever before.

Under Income Based Repayment (IBR), students who have US Department of Education (DOE) loans only have to pay a maximum of 10 percent of their income per month. Any balance left after 20 years is forgiven. IBRs are especially attractive to graduates working in government and non-profit jobs because the DOE forgives their loan balances after 10 years. IBRs are growing in popularity among students. The DOE reports that between April 1, 2013, and September 30, 2014, participation in IBRs doubled.

Graduating from Pace also is an advantage for people carrying student loans. Approximately six out of ten Pace students have at least one internship. Many have multiple internships. This real-world experience gives our graduates an advantage in the job market. In fact, PayScale ranks Pace graduates in the top 15 percent nationally for average earnings in first and mid-career jobs. Pace students also have a lower loan default rate than students from many similar schools.

Students or parents considering student loans should explore their options with Pace’s professionals in our Financial Aid Call Center at 1 (877) 672-1830; while graduating students should talk with a counselor in our Career Services Department. The department is one of the largest of its kind among colleges in New York City. Students can make an appointment with a counselor by contacting the appropriate campus office at http://www.pace.edu/career-services/location-hours-staff-directory.

Finish in Four

The number “four” pops up a lot in our everyday lives.

There are four seasons—spring, summer, autumn, and winter. There are four directions—east, west, north, and south. There are four books in Islam, and the Four Noble Truths express the basic orientation of Buddhism. In Christianity the four-point star, or the Star of Bethlehem, represents both Jesus’ birth and the purpose for which he was born, and children ask the four questions at the Passover Seder. In professional baseball, basketball, and hockey, teams must win four games out of seven to be crowned champions.

In numerology, the number “four” is defined as disciplined, strong, hard-working, and conscientious. These four adjectives describe Pace students.

Now the number “four” is more prominent on our Pace campuses. We kicked off our Finish in Four campaign at the start of this semester. We handed out flyers during Orientation and hung posters on both campuses. There’s also a new video on the way. The campaign supports Provost Sukhatme’s goal to have students graduate from Pace in four years or less.

There are all sorts of advantages for students to finish in four. For one thing, students who graduate in four years pay less than students who delay graduation. In addition, lower costs often translate to lower student debt. Students who finish in four can also begin their careers faster—which mean becoming economically independent and self-sufficient. Most important, however, students who commit to finishing in four years are more likely to complete their degrees than students who plan on taking longer to graduate.

Graduating in four years may not be for everyone. Some students who work and attend school at the same time, for example, may not be able to commit to Finish in Four schedules. But students who do commit to graduating in four years or less do not have to sacrifice their undergraduate experiences to do it. These students are still afforded every opportunity Pace has to offer—including access to internships, study abroad programs, honor societies, student activities, and leadership opportunities.

Finishing in four isn’t difficult—it just takes the commitment, dedication, and hard work Pace students are known for, combined with the thoughtful planning they do with their advisers. Pace faculty and staff are very supportive of this initiative and there is no doubt in my mind that once our students commit to Finish in Four, they’ll do it!

Four tragedies and one unfulfilled dream

Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, and Rumain Brisbon never knew each other. Garner called Staten Island, New York, home. Rice lived in Cleveland, Ohio; Brown hailed from Ferguson, Missouri; and Brisbon came from Phoenix, Arizona. Yet despite the distance between them, their names will be forever linked as the four unarmed African American males whose lives were cut short during the latter half of 2014. That their deaths were senseless and tragic there is no doubt. And there is also no doubt about the need to improve the tense, stressful relationships between many police departments and the communities of color they serve. We cannot be satisfied with a society in which African American mothers and fathers fear the simple act of their sons walking down the street.

Deep and vigorous discussions of these issues are good ones. Questions need to be asked, and peaceful protests can emphasize to officials the seriousness of these discussions. No other unarmed African American males, or anyone else, should die needlessly. All lives matter.

Remember that the legacies of Garner, Rice, Brown, and Brisbon are more than instruments of social change. They were fathers, sons, and brothers. Their deaths left dreams unfulfilled and huge empty spaces in the lives of the people who loved them. Those spaces will never be filled.

Remember, too, that police departments and the officers who comprise them are not single, monolithic entities. In every police department, there are officers who excel at their jobs and others who are unsuited for the work. There are officers who are hailed as heroes for risking their lives to save others one day and who are condemned for split-second, life or death decisions the next day. Let’s never draw conclusions without all the facts.

Finally, remember that, while discussions about race relations are good, there is so much more to accomplish. I was a young lawyer working in Washington, D.C., during the 1960s and was one of the 250,000 people on the Washington Mall in August, 1963 when Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. That day, Dr. King reminded us that it had been 100 years since President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, but there was still work to do before anyone was truly free. Fifty one years later, the killing of four unarmed, African American males at the hands of the police in the last six months is proof there is still much work to do.