Dear Friends of the Murphy Institute and the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies;
On this Labor Day weekend, I want to welcome everyone to the new CUNY School for Labor and Urban Studies (SLU). As you may know, the School traces its roots to the Murphy Institute which was re-constituted as a CUNY School last year. This week, we proudly opened our doors to students under our new name. The Murphy Institute continues as an important unit of the School—one that is focused on public engagement and workforce development.
SLU is the only interdisciplinary program in Labor and Urban Studies in the nation. With this letter, we are launching the SLU website (slu.cuny.edu). We invite you to explore it for details about SLU’s undergraduate and graduate programs as well as its range of student and community services.
SLU is driven by a set of core values: access to education, diversity at every level, social justice, and equality for all. Our goals are to expand higher education opportunities for workers; prepare students for careers in public service and movements for social justice; promote civic engagement; provide leadership development for union and community activists; and help workers achieve greater economic security.
Labor Day is a perfect time to acknowledge those who have worked so hard to make SLU a reality. First, I want to thank the City University of New York and its Chancellery for having the vision and the political will to create this new School. The idea for SLU was shaped by many individuals and organizations. Our Advisory Board —chaired by Arthur Cheliotes (Manager of CWA 1180) and consisting of 23 unions and community organization—led this effort over a six-year period. They were committed to creating a School for workers and working-class communities and put enormous effort into raising funds to inaugurate and sustain the School. As a result, we have been honored by the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie as well as leading members of the State legislature and the New York City Council (especially Senator Diane Savino and Council Members Daneek Miller and Inez Baron).
Our faculty of distinguished scholars and practitioners has crafted a rich curriculum that examines the world of work and workers from the perspective of urban communities, especially those that have been underserved by government and public institutions. We also have a dedicated staff of program administrators and student services experts who spare no effort to help our students succeed in college. Finally, SLU is nothing without its decades-long history in worker education and without the remarkable students who have established our reputation as a School for change agents. We are proud to thank the many union organizers and administrators, municipal employees, elected officials, researchers, and community advocates who were and are our students.
In our first year of operation, we will focus on building out the School, hiring additional faculty and staff; expanding current programs; and launching new initiatives. We will establish an academic governance structure for the School—one that is faculty-led and includes student and staff representatives. We will serve new constituencies, with higher education opportunities for resident leaders in housing projects and mentors who counsel youth offenders. Our year-long series of public programs rolls out with a September panel on Democracy and Capitalism (featuring NYC Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson); an October panel on New Labor and Community Organizing (with Larry Cohen, former International President of the CWA and now Board Chair of Our Revolution); and a November Reporters Roundtable analysis of the 2018 midterm elections. Throughout the year, we will be offering our popular Saturday series on civic leadership, a program that prepares activists to run for public office or work on electoral campaigns.
We have an exciting year ahead. No doubt, we will have our challenges. But with your continuing support, SLU will meet them and rise to greater heights. I want to thank you for being a part of the SLU community, and I look forward to sharing this banner year with you.
Gregory Mantsios, Ph.D
Founding Dean, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies