Lack of clarity over GCU New York hearing

Several reports in the Times newspaper today and yesterday, have suggested a higher level of opposition from New York Higher Educational establishments than had been understood to be the case, over GCU’s aim of establishing a New York hub, .

Although campus unions had understood that Monday’s hearing would be live streamed, this was not the case, although it is believed that the full Board meeting which announces the result of the deliberations on June 16th may be streamed live.

The case for the opening of a hub (now to be named a College, rather than a University) had been presented to the hearing in a 20 page document, downloadable here.

Staff had been assumed, from reports at Senate,  that most of the objections to GCU’s project had been dealt with, or were minor.

However, two reports yesterday and today, in the Times, suggested a higher level of opposition on several grounds.

The meeting was described by GCU management as ‘intense and prolonged’ and it was reported that the University “presented its case strongly” with the “challenges …. no less robust with much of the objection being founded on competition”

Yesterday’s report, downloadable here suggested that the application collided with ‘the protectionist America first rhetoric of President Trump’ at the hearing suggesting that:

“Glasgow Caledonian faces fierce opposition from local private universities, who claim that there are not enough students or employers to support the arrival of a new university. The protests are being made in a political climate that has shifted dramatically since the election of Mr Trump”

One of the three person Board of Regents, representing the state education department  reportedly said:

“the prevailing attitude in this country is America first. I think everyone knows that. American employers want to support our country and want to support our students.Why hire your student, as opposed to an . . . American educated student?”

Robert Clougherty, dean of the university’s New York base, reportedly countered this with the rather surprising view that  “We are seeking to open an American college, we are not necessarily a foreign institution.”

According to the Times, Cara Smyth, representing GCU went on to argue:

“it was seeking to offer something unique, with an international perspective, and with a focus on sustainability in business that had already proven attractive to scores of companies in New York”.

She said the Scottish bid had received support from Macy’s, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Eileen Fisher.

Ms Smyth added, according to the Times report, “that the campus was due to play host today to nearly 40 chief executives, from companies with a collective worth of $365 billion, as part of the outreach and convening work in the fashion industry that the college had conducted in the absence of any students”.

Support for the application came from Melanie Steiner, chief risk officer with the clothing company PVH Corp, which owns Calvin Klein, Speedo, and a host of other brands, who said her company struggles at present to find graduates with the training the new college would offer.

“I appreciate the point about America first,” she said. “But talent management has become fully global now.”

Yesterday’s Times article however ended by claiming that “Such arguments were loudly contradicted, however, by the leaders of private universities in New York city”.

The second report in today’s Times, downloadable here, focussed on the university’s plan to charge students almost $35,000 (£27,000) for a masters degree at its Manhattan base which they believed undermined claims that its expansion was aimed at helping the poor.

According to the Times, the university had said its desire to open a New York base was driven by a “defining social mission” which includes “creating a better and fairer world”.

Joseph Muriana, a vice-president at New York’s Fordham University, the oldest Catholic HE institution in the northeastern United States, and the third-oldest university in the state of New York however ‘ridiculed’ the idea that Glasgow Caledonian was seeking to cater for poorer students, pointing to the $34,650 cost of their masters degrees, which is mid-market in New York in terms of cost. The degrees would take one year to complete for a full-time student.

Mariana also warned that granting a foreign university the right to offer degrees in New York could “open the floodgates”, raising the prospect of more prestigious institutions opening offshoots on its doorstep.

Mr Muriana added: “An application from the University of Connecticut, or from Rutgers [in New Jersey] or UPenn [the University of Pennsylvania] to establish a campus in New York would be seen as absurd. The application from Glasgow Caledonian University should be seen in a similar light.”

The Times report ended by pointing out that a representative from the New York City Economic Development Corporation voiced strong support for the application and noted that it is understood that the university plans to offer scholarships in New York if its application is approved. A final ruling is expected next month on June 16th/17th.

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