James McCarthy assumes position as interim provost

Courtesy of Baruch website

Courtesy of Baruch website

Amanda Salazar, Editor-in-Chief

These students studied at Baruch at some point during their college careers but didn’t walk at the Barclays Center commencement ceremony.

Even though he is aiming to increase these numbers, McCarthy also recognizes that the school is doing very well, including in comparison to other CUNYs.

“Baruch has done phenomenal work in recent years on increasing in graduation rates and job placement rates,” he said. “That’s why we have all these fantastic rankings that we get about student completion and social mobility and all that.”

McCarthy also explained two of the major areas for change during the 2019-2020 school year, the first being that the Zicklin School of Business is revamping its entire undergraduate curriculum.

“It’s an enormous undertaking,” he said.

Decisions on the new curriculum haven’t been made as of yet, as it’s still in the talking phases, but McCarthy said that he believes it’s necessary to do this every few years to ensure that the courses are still up to date and relevant.

“Again, nothing wrong with the business school,” the interim said.

“They’re fantastic, they do wonderful things, but every once in a while, you need to take a close look at what you’re doing and ask whether you can’t do even better things or more relevant things.”

The next “big thing” that the provost mapped out for the coming months is reaccreditation.

Accrediting is, in a more complex way, giving approval to a school. As McCarthy explained, every 10 years, CUNY senior colleges undergo reaccreditation by an independent national agency.

Baruch is accredited by Middle States Commission on Higher Education, which is “an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation,” according to the Baruch College website.

At CUNY, this process affects the financial aid that the public university system can provide for its students. No accreditation means no Pell Grants and no TAP assistance.

Baruch began preparations for reaccreditation last school year, including having meetings with student volunteers and reviewing how the school’s educational and service goals have been met. According to McCarthy, colleagues from other schools also assist in the process, by visiting Baruch during the spring semester.

“I don’t want to seem arrogant, but we will be reaccredited,” McCarthy said.

“There’s no question about that. They might find some things that they would like us to do, they might not, but we will be reaccredited.”

Despite this confidence, becoming reaccredited will be a main focus for the administration this year, up until the results are made final during the summer.

There’s another topic that’s going to come up during McCarthy’s time at Baruch; however, it won’t demand the attention of the whole school, as reaccreditation will.

While McCarthy is in the role of interim provost, the moratorium on Greek social life — originally put in place by Christy after a Baruch student died during an off-campus hazing incident in 2013 — will expire in June 2021.

It is likely that McCarthy will have already left Baruch by that point, but if that doesn’t happen, he will have to decide whether to extend the moratorium, which bars social Greek organizations from gaining new members and pledges, yet again.

Social Greek fraternities and sororities have effectively closed, since the members who were in the organizations when the moratorium was first put in place have graduated.

Only the provost can decide the fate of the moratorium, though the Baruch Undergraduate Student Government has the power to de-charter the organizations if they so choose. So far, they have decided against doing so.

McCarthy explained that, while it is likely he won’t have time to decide on the moratorium, he would choose to follow the decisions of his predecessor and extend the ban for yet another time.

“That is exactly the kind of long-term decision that an interim shouldn’t make,” he stated.

“So, what I’ll do, I decided this already, I will continue the current practice until such time as there’s a new president and let that new president assess, re-assess the situation.”

This is a general sentiment McCarthy first shared towards the beginning of his discussion with The Ticker as well.

He is the acting provost, only here temporarily, and thus he explained that he doesn’t intend to make any big or long-lasting decisions while at Baruch, because he feels it wouldn’t be fair to the new president and provost who will be coming in within the next few years.

“I’m here to do more than just keep the paperwork going,” McCarthy said.

“I’m here to make sure that the transition between the current and former leadership, both the president and the provost, wand the new leadership — because a year from now we’re going to have a new president and soon thereafter a new provost. The goal there is to set things up, to make the best possible situation available to the new president and provost.”

“But at the same time, not to tie their hands,” McCarthy also said.

“I’m not going to be here for the next five or 10 years, so I can’t put constraints on the next president and the provost by setting things up that they will have to come in and continue. That’s for them to decide.”

He continued, “It actually makes the job less appealing to strong candidates if they know that a lot of the big decisions have already been made and they just have to keep going along the path that somebody else set up. That’s not appropriate for me to do.”

Even if he were to stay at Baruch for longer, McCarthy said that he would still opt to extend the moratorium, because he agrees it protects the student body.

“I will say that there were extraordinarily good and strong reasons why the moratorium was put in place. I have no qualms, criticisms,” said McCarthy. “I would have done the same thing.”