In May, City University of New York received one of the largest donations ever to a two-year college. The Guttman Foundation presented CUNY with $25 million—with $10 million of it to fund scholarships and improve graduation rates at seven existing CUNY campuses, and $15 million allocated to the system’s just-opened new college in midtown Manhattan, now named Guttman Community College. Designed from scratch using Gates and Carnegie money, this new campus employs many fresh techniques aimed at getting students to complete practical degrees within reasonable periods of time. Nationally, only 36 percent of students who start at a public community college complete a credential or transfer to another institution within six years. The new Guttman College, by contrast, intends to graduate 35 percent of all new enrollees within three years.
Charles Guttman grew up on the Lower East Side of New York City, had no formal education after age 13, but made a fortune as an importer. When they died in 1969, he and his wife earmarked almost all of their wealth to charity. The CUNY gift represented about half of their foundation’s remaining funds, indicating a willingness to use the money to do good now, rather than dribbling it out forever from a perpetual trust.