Hunter-L is the primary College listserv used by Hunter faculty and students to post information regarding matters as simple as requests/responses about apartment sublets to announcements regarding events and curriculum or suggestions to list members seeking help. The list can also seethe with discourse about matters small and big and complex, such as the College’s proposal for a science & professions building on the site of the Julia Richman Education Complex. In this piece, two professors, one who opposed the administration’s plan and one who supported it, post messages regarding a resolution passed by Community Board 8; and a third post is from a member of a student organization with a definite perspective.


From: Claus Mueller (cmueller@HUNTER.CUNY.EDU)
Sent: Wed 6/18/08 2:47 p.m.

Dear Colleagues,

Let me express my appreciation for the numerous calls and e-mails I received from members of the Hunter community questioning the proposed JREC / Hunter College transaction.

In response to points raised by several faculty members, I am listing below for your information those politicians who are publicly opposing our administration‚ plan to replace the Julia Richman Education Complex with a HC Science and Health Building.

Further Congressman Charles Rangel issued on April 14th a statement commending JREC for its “commitment to excellence and the promotion of both student and community achievement‚” and for “its stellar efforts.” Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney requested on May 13 from Chancellor Klein answers to more than 20 questions which can be summed up in her words‚ “Given the extraordinary success of the existing [JREC] building from an architectural and educational point of view, please enumerate the reasons the DEO believes that a new facility is preferable to the existing building.”

From: Claus Mueller (cmueller@HUNTER.CUNY.EDU)
Sent: Thursday 5/22/08 5:11 PM

Dear Colleagues,

Both tone and content of Prof. Ortiz emotional response to Hunter’s substantive 26 to 8 defeat at yesterday’s Community Board 8 meeting, explain in part why our administration has not been able to generate community or political support for erecting a Science and Health Building in the JREC location [referring to the Julia Richman Education Complex].

Community Board 8 has been discussing the JREC/HC issue for close to two years and there have been more than ten meetings by the board and its committees on that issue. To imply as Ortiz does that a majority rushed the vote rather than considering all statements carefully is a misreading at best, apart from showing an ignorance of Robert’s Rules of Order. As argued during last night’s meeting by two JREC supporters, Hunter College has not provided any evidence that execution of research and the science training of students in an alternative new facility is significantly impaired if the facility is located on the Brookdale campus.

The same holds for our elected politicians who should have been provided with such data. As we all know, not a single politician is supporting Hunter’s uptown desires. At last night’s meeting Councilwomen Jessica Lappin, State Senator Liz Krueger and Jonathan Bing expressed their support for JREC and their opposition to Hunter’s plan. There are at least half a dozen other politicians who have similar views. It is noteworthy that several politicians informed me about their frustration about getting up to date information from Hunter or the department of education.

If as Ortiz suggests the community has no understanding of Hunter’s needs, he should no fault the community but our administration. Hunter has not made a clear and convincing case for an uptown Science and Health building to the community, to politicians or to the press. As most of us know, policy making at Hunter is not transparent; faculty members and often administrators are shut out of deliberations, and those who participate in the deliberations frequently often dare not speak their mind if their comments run counter the President’s perspective.

Thus, for more than two years Hunter’s faculty was led to believe that the uptown science and health building is a ‘done deal’* with few questioning that ‘statement of fact.’ There is also little merit in Ortiz’s observation that our community is “dripping with contempt for Hunter College.” I think it will be easier to show that some HC Professors show ignorance and arrogance in the JREC/HC discussions.

It is this bracketing of facts, the disregard of economic, political and social factors which results in cognitive isolation and defective action strategies. For example, Prof. Ortiz seems to believe that the majority of the community disapproves of the vote by its community board supporting JREC. This is wishful thinking at best. As noted, the JREC/HC issue has been under consideration for two years, and I do not recall support statements for Hunter College from members of the community who are not affiliated with Hunter or with Upper East Side medical services and research providers.

Claus Mueller
*The Provost advised me that J. Raab never used the terms ‘done deal.’

Editor’s Note: “J. Raab” refers to President Jennifer Raab. Mueller is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology.

Thursday 5/22/08 10:25 AM

On 5/22/08 9:18 AM, “Claus Mueller” wrote:

Dear Colleagues,

– Community Board 8 voted last night 26 to 8 in support of the Julia
– Richman Education Complex , thus against the HC plan to replace
– JREC with a new science building.

Yes, it is correct that the resolution (pasted below) passed. But there were 5 abstaining. So, there were actually 13 votes to “not pass” the resolution at this time, for various reasons. This came after a 25-16 majority rammed a motion to cut off debate by “calling the question” over the protest of the minority, who were not allowed to speak to the resolution. This majority to end debate included the “yes” vote of a member who, when subsequently asked to vote on the resolution itself, then declared a “conflict-of-interest.”

The whole disgraceful spectacle can be summed up by the response to the first line of comments offered by my distinguished colleague, Dr. Richard Chappell, who asked rhetorically, ³What can I say in two minutes that will make a difference?² The response was a resounding chorus, “Nothing!”

After an unrelenting series of comments dripping with contempt for the expertise and experience of YOUR colleagues and professors (as if they knew how to do our jobs better than we do) this Board passed a resolution written as if Hunter should not expect to progress while remaining in this neighborhood, its home for 138 years.

It is written as if it makes any sense for Hunter to require its science majors to routinely travel through midtown traffic jams or subway delays hoping not to miss, lecture, lab or exam time. As if they would be so foolish to even come here under such conditions.

It is written as if NONE of my faculty colleagues had ever offered a single word of explanation for why locating a new science building at Brookdale, or any other distant site, would decimate Hunter¹s ability to attract, retain and train undergraduate science majors to become the scientists that this city and nation need to compete.

It is written as if Hunter Science¹s ties to this community (including, but not limited to, its own main campus) are somehow less worthy of protecting than those claimed by JREC.

The resolution does not even display basic understanding or recognition of Hunter’s needs, let alone suggest a solution that would meet them. It’s no wonder. Despite multiple appearances at the Community Board, faculty discussions with elected officials, letters, facts, figures and statements, the response to Dr. Chappell made clear that there was never any intention to listen to us, we who devote our life¹s work to Hunter College and the public it serves.

This is an “as-of-right” project that does not require Community Board approval. It was brought to the Board by Hunter to engage the community. So the resolution amounts to the community’s gratuitous declaration of indifference to Hunter¹s future. It is nothing short of the community’s invitation to us to pick up our campus and move it elsewhere if we want to advance in a way that preserves the integrity of our core mission.

I¹m willing to believe that the majority of this community would disapprove of the premature end of debate that to passage of this resolution, and the disregard it displays for Hunter¹s faculty, students, needs and mission. But if this is true, then members of this community should voice their disappointment with the action of their Community Board.

TEL: 212-758-4340
FAX: 212-758-4616
SUITE #620
NEW YORK, NY 10022


The following resolution was made:

WHEREAS, the Julia Richman Educational Complex (JREC) is a vital, nationally-acclaimed educational asset located in Manhattan Community District 8 (CD8); and

WHEREAS, public schools in CD8 are severely over-crowded; and

WHEREAS, there is a need for more, not fewer public school seats in CD8; and

WHEREAS, relocating the JREC schools to Hunter College’s Brookdale campus, a site approximately 2 miles away and located beyond CD8, would reduce the availability of public school seats located within CD8 to residents of CD8; and

WHEREAS, the relocation would destroy important relationships between JREC and the community; and

WHEREAS, destruction of these relationships would include and not be limited to : 1) depriving neighborhood children of access to JREC¹s two gymnasiums that are heavily used by community organizations such as Yorkville Youth, and 2) depriving various orchestras the access to an already existing, well-maintained and acoustically-exception auditorium; and

WHEREAS, destruction of these relationships would include and not be between JREC¹s PS 226 school for children with autism to many welcoming partner institutions in the heart of the Upper East Side ­ such as Lenox Hill Neighborhood House ­ which enables the students to gain vocational training and assimilation in close proximity to JREC in comparison to the relatively desolate relocation site at the Hunter Brookdale campus; and

WHEREAS, replacement of the JREC building with a brand-new building located down-town at the Hunter College Brookdale campus would be unnecessarily costly to New York City taxpayers; and

WHEREAS, the monetary costs to the public would include tearing down an existing building that recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation, constructing a new building to house laboratories for the public institution that is Hunter College, and constructing a new building at the Hunter College Brookdale campus to house the current JREC schools; and

WHEREAS, all of these costs would require the expenditure of public dollars; and

WHEREAS, these public costs would be reduced substantially if Hunter College constructed its new laboratory facilities at its own Brookdale campus without the need to tear down and construct a new building to house the JREC schools; now

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Manhattan Community Board 8 states its firm opposition to the destruction of the JREC facility and relocation of the JREC schools to accommodate Hunter College’s intention to site new laboratory facilities at the current JREC location.

Editor’s Note: Professor Ortiz teaches in the Department of Biological Sciences.

HUNTER-L] Hunter and JREC Students United to Save JREC‏
From: Elena Morin (emorin@HUNTER.CUNY.EDU)
Sent: Wed 5/21/08 12:43 AM
Elena Morin (emorin@HUNTER.CUNY.EDU)

As a Hunter student and NYC public school graduate, I would like to respond to comments recently raised on this listserv.

I. Location.

Despite what the administration’s Health and Science website claims (, NO NYC PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL IS ZONED. At Eleanor Roosevelt High School on E 70th St., which was built in 2002 specifically to serve Upper East Side students, only 39% of students live in the neighborhood. It is interesting to note how often the President’s office and other proponents have offered the fact that JREC students aren’t from the Upper East Side as rationale for JREC not needing to be on 67th street. As I’m sure all the Hunter students and faculty who commute miles each day to 68th street can also agree, residency is not the only indicator of a someone’s connection to a community.

Professor Ortiz’s protest that locating the new facility at the Brookdale campus will force every science major to “commute back and forth (though subway delays and midtown traffic jams—hoping not to miss lecture, lab or exam time) in virtually every semester to complete their degrees” does not strike me as particularly different from what all Hunter students currently have to deal with every day, commuting from work-to-school, or from home-to-school-to-work, or from school-to-work-to-our-children’s-schools-to-home, and so on.


II. Motive

Furthermore, I am confused by Professor Persell’s and other science faculty’s implication (made on this listserv and at last week’s Community Board meeting) that JREC’s interests represent “stagnation” while Hunter’s interests represent innovation and advancement. This type of do-or-die rhetoric regarding the Health and Science center is an example of a mentality that I am extremely saddened the Hunter administration endorses: Why is supporting successful, innovative and resourceful primary and secondary public education in our city somehow less vital than supporting higher education?

Perhaps JREC matters less if Hunter doesn’t intend to serve New York City students anyway.

III. Long-term goals for Hunter

That issue aside, selling the Brookdale campus when Hunter is definitely going to need to expand even further within the next 10 years is painfully short-sighted. Using our tax money to hire a PR firm and lobbyists to fight overwhelming student, community, and political opposition is appalling. Building three buildings (the H&S building, new dorms, and new JREC) when only one is needed, is fiscally and environmentally irresponsible.

I invite anyone who hasn’t done their due diligence to tour what any NYC high school would love the opportunity to have — a Mt. Sinai Adolescent Health Clinic (which wouldn’t be able to move as far south as 25th St), the recently refurbished state-of-the-art auditorium, the LYFE center nursery for the children of JREC students (which would not be able to move to the Brookdale campus).

Elena Morin, (hoping to graduate by) ‘10
Hunter and JREC Students United to Save JREC

Edited for style.