Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Urban Education


Anthony Picciano

Committee Members

Michelle Fine

Julia Wrigley

Subject Categories

Higher Education


higher education, community college, education policy, quantitative research, urban education, education reform


For decades the City University of New York has served as a model for public higher education in the United States. Since 1969, CUNY has attempted to construct policies that support the postsecondary ambitions of New York’s underrepresented students. The era of Open Admissions that ushered in the 1970s remains one of the greatest social experiments in the history of higher education, permitting access to the university to all local high school graduates. Through fiscal erosion and shifts in legislative policy, the open admissions period devolved into a period of stagnation and low standards over the next thirty years. By the late 1990s, a newly appointed chancellor promised to reshape CUNY’s image and reform many of the practices that accompanied open admissions. These policies and the succeeding experiments with developmental and community college education that emerged as a result of the open admissions era will be evaluated through historical, statistical, and qualitative methods.