Accounts & Profiles

What is the CUNY Academic Commons?

The CUNY Academic Commons is an open space where the CUNY community can find like-minded colleagues, build personal or professional websites, teach, learn, and collaborate in open classrooms. The Commons has over thirty thousand members, and each member can join or create sites, groups, or a group + site on the Commons Creation Portal. Members of the Commons are typically CUNY professors, grad students, undergrad students, alums, and staff. Many professors use the Commons as a platform for teaching and ask their students to join their site or group. Professors and students may publish research on the Commons.

The Commons was built by CUNY, for CUNY. It uses open source software which it shares to other institutions world-wide.

There is tremendous activity on the Commons. Before a member logs in, the Commons home page describes what you do on the Commons. It then surfaces the latest news as well as the number of members, groups, sites, and courses on the site. Notice that you can either register to become a new member here, or simply login to your account.

Here is a screenshot of the top half of the home page before logging in:


The Building Blocks of the Commons are Sites, Groups, and Members. Each has an underlying tool set designed to connect members, to create content, to teach and learn, to collaborate and publish research, or post assignments. Members have incremental control over their privacy and email notifications.

The bottom half of the home page is dynamic. We feature two new and exciting sites and groups and list the last four active public sites and groups. We also show the most recently active members.

Here is a screenshot of the bottom half of the home page:

The Commons home page changes dramatically when you login. It becomes your personalized home page.


How can I “personalize” the Commons?

You don’t need to. We’ve got your stuff all organized for you.

When you are logged into the Commons, you’ll find the Commons home page is personalized for you.

The Commons home page can be accessed from any where on the site by going to the top left hand corner and clicking on the “CUNY Academic Commons” hyperlink, or by going to “” or the short link ““.

Here you can access hyperlinks to all your stuff: your profile, messages, notifications, groups, and sites. There is also a convenient “Create A New Space” hyperlink that will take you to the Commons Creation Portal where you can create a group, a site, or a group + site.

If you have more than three groups or sites, click on the “Show All” and you will see all your groups or sites.

Further down, you will see the “Latest News” on the Commons, as well as a list of “Shortcuts.” The shortcuts are based on your role and your campus(es) which you provided when you registered.

Here is a screenshot of the top part of a personalized home page:

The home page also aggregates activity, both site-wide and on the campuses you are associated with. The first section shows the latest activity on the Commons. Further down, the home page features new and exciting groups and then groups across CUNY and then groups on your campus(es).

Sites are likewise surfaced, according to last active.

And finally, we see the last active members on the entire Commons, and on your campus(es).

Here is a screenshot of the lower portion of the personalized home page:



How do I change my email address?

To register to the Commons, you need a CUNY email address. Once you have finished registering, you can switch to a more convenient email address.

Please note: Commons members have two email addresses.

Your Notification Email Address (i.e. your “official” email address)

This is the address you use to reset your password and to receive Commons notifications. To change this,  go to the top black navigation bar, hover over your avatar in the top right corner and select: My Settings>> Security. To change your email, re-write your preferred email in the ‘Email Address’ field, then scroll down and select “Save Changes.”

Your Profile Email Address

By default, this is not displayed. To add or change the email displayed on your Commons Profile, go to the top black navigation bar, hover over your avatar in the top right corner and select: My Profile>> Edit. Re-write your preferred email in the ‘Email Address’ field, then scroll down and select “Save Changes.”

I forgot my password, how can I reset it?

To reset your password, go to and enter username or email address. Click “get new password.”

You will receive an email with  a link to a page where you can reset your password.

What are mentions and how are they used?

The @mention system links others to the hyperlinked profile of the individual while notifying the individual of the mention via email. If you are trying to reach out to specific group members, simply put the @ symbol in front of their username and it will send a notification to their email address and show up in their @mention activity stream. To learn more about the @mention system read this blog post.

How do I upload a photo of myself to appear on my profile and other areas?

After logging into the Commons, go to the top black navigation bar and hover over your existing (or default) photo.  Go to My Profile»Change Profile Photo.  Here you will find detailed instructions on how to upload an image. You can also create a gravatar, which will enable you to use that same image across many different types of websites.

What are “notifications”?

The Notification link (on the top right bar of the Commons, just to the left of your avatar) indicates if you have a new message, friend request, or invitation to join a group.  Zero indicates that you have no notifications.

How can I change my password?

After logging into the Commons, go to the top black navigation bar and hover over your avatar.  Go to: My Settings» General. Enter your current password and  your new password, then scroll down and select “Save Changes.”

How do I change my display profile name?

After logging into the Commons, go to the top black navigation bar and select: My Profile» Edit.  In the text box under “Full Name (required)” fill in your preferred name, then scroll down and select “Save Changes.”

How do I send a message?

To send an email to another member, you can either find them on the member list or you can hover over your avatar in the top right corner, click the “My Messages” link on the left, and click “Compose.”  Start typing the person’s first name in the addressee box and the program will give you a list of all the members whose names include the letters you’re typing.  Next to the addressee box is an empty box for copying other members. Do the same thing in this box that you just did for the addressee. Each time, you do this, a new box will appear for another person to whom you might want to send a copy of the message.

How can I change email notification settings?

Go to the top black navigation bar and hover over your avatar in the top right corner.  Click My Settings >> Email.  Here you can choose whether you want to receive an email notification for a variety of activities, including posts to the groups you belong to, posts by your friends, posts to blogs you subscribe to, or follow, and messages.

Can member profiles be made private? How can I prevent my profile from showing up in a google search?

Right now, there is not a way to make Profiles private, but we can look into developing that functionality. For now, users worried about privacy should avoid using their full names on their profiles (some combination of initials and first or last names might be good). Certain profile fields can be made visible to only yourself, to your friends on the Commons, logged in members of the Commons, or the default – to everyone.  To change profile field visibility, go to click on the “Change” hyperlink next to the text that reads:

“This field can be seen by: Everyone Change.”

Most, but not every field has this visibility setting.

How Do I Delete My Account?

To delete your account, go to the top black navigation bar and hover over your avatar in the upper right corner.  Click My Settings >> Delete Account, then follow the directions on the page.

Note that you must be logged in to do this. If you no longer remember your password, you can reset it: here – If you no longer have access to the email you used to register, please contact your campus IT to re-establish the email.

Public Portfolio

Every member of the Commons has a Public Portfolio. To edit your Public Portfolio, go to the Commons Home Page and click on “View/Edit Profile” and then click on “Edit Profile” :

You will be taken to page page that looks something like this:

Click the “Edit Profile” to get started building your Public Portfolio.

What Is The Difference Between my Public Portfolio and my Commons Profile?

  • Public Portfolio – This page is designed to be shared outside the CUNY Academic Commons community.  Think of It as your online presence . It can be configured to reflect your accomplishments, current projects, interests, positions, publications and RSS feeds.  There are many widgets available to build your profile.
  • Commons Profile – This page is designed to reflect your work within the Commons.  It has all the easy navigational links that give you and others access to your sites, groups, and friends. To change, click on the Commons Profile tab.

Start Building Your Public Portfolio

who can seeClick on Edit (circled in red, above).  There are a number of legacy fields that are essential to both profiles, and most of these can be configured to display, depending upon the status of the viewer.  (See screenshot, right.)

So, for example, if you only want to display your phone number to your friends on the Commons, click on the “My Friends” radio button.

The fields are listed in two columns:

  • Full Name (aka “Display Name”)

Overtype whatever is in the box and click on “Save Changes.”

  • Role(s)
    Shortcuts on your Commons Home Page are determined by your role(s). They are not displayed anywhere else.
  • Phone
    To avoid spam, we advise not to make this field available to the Public. Change Visibility to either “Logged in Users” or “Friends.”
  • Email
  • Website
  • Blog
  • Social Media links (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube,, Delicious) – these are automatically converted into icons.
  • PronounsPronouns are an optional field on the Commons. Share your personal pronouns with the community to help fellow members know how to address you with caring, respect, and acceptance. When added, they will appear on your public profile and in Commons groups. This is a free 80 character field that is automatically formatted with slashes. (For example: (he/his/him), (she/hers/her), (they/their/them).

Describe Yourself

A couple of important new fields, only displayed on the “Public Portfolio” tab, are now available:

  • Brief Descriptor – this field is a neat little tag line displayed underneath your name.  It is displayed in a different color (grey) and highlights your profile.  It is limited to only one line of text.  This field is not required, and if not used, it absence will not be apparent.
  • About You – This field is much larger, but is still constrained to 350 characters.  Once again, this text is not required.


Quick Links

Another great improvement rolled out with Commons 1.5 is the ability to create customized short URLs.  For your Commons Portfolio, your quick link will automatically be populated with your username, but you can easily change it using the textbox shown in the screenshot below.  Type in some text in the box, and the system will determine if it is available (i.e. already taken or not).  When you save your changes, you will be able to more easily access and share the URL of your portfolio.  Simply use

short URL 2

Profile Widgets

To customize your profile, use the widgets that are provided below the text boxes:


All the widgets conform to the portfolio’s basic layout – a section name, displayed in bold on the right, followed by a block of text, displayed on the right.  You’ll notice that some are grayed out.  This indicates that they have already been used in your existing portfolio, and that the particular widget can appear only once.  To change content for one of these widgets, you’ll need to go into edit mode (described below), and click on the section’s text area.

If the widget is not grayed out, you can simply click on the “plus” icon to add a new section.  You will be taken directly to the widget data entry area.

Widget Edit Mode

Clicking  on the “Edit” button automatically puts you into widget maintenance mode.  Hovering your mouse over the text of each section will turn the text area yellow.  Clicking on a yellow area will start the edit process.  Clicking “OK” or “Cancel” will take you out of editing the section, but will not save your profile changes.  To save your profile changes, please remember to click “Save Changes” button.  This will save all the changes you’ve made to the text boxes, described previously, as well as to the widgets, and will take you out of edit mode.

If you want to remove a widget area, you can click on the “Remove” button while in Edit Mode.  After saving, the widget will not appear in your portfolio.


Re-Ordering Sections

In Edit Mode, you can drag and drop sections of your portfolio.   Click on the grey stripped area of a section, and drag it up or down to find its best place. Make sure you save your changes once you’ve got it looking the way you want.

Below is a brief description of the widgets:

  • Free Entry Widget

This widget lets you add and customize text, images, lists, links, etc.  It’s great for adding a simple paragraph of text.  You’ll need some basic HTML and CSS skills to get fancy in this area. You can also copy a block of HTML that’s already formatted the way you want and paste it in, if you want.  You can use this widget more than once in your portfolio to create free text areas, with different names.

  • Academic Interests Widget

This widget is designed to be used only once.  You cannot change its name.  By default it is displayed on both your Commons Profile and Public Portfolio.  When you enter comma delimited items into the text box, they are automatically turned into links. You can control this by using brackets around items you want to become links.  So, for example, you can add some text like “I am interested in [Mark Twain], [Whitman], and [GPS],” and only the items in brackets will be turned into links.

You’ll notice that the widget comes pre-populated with the data you entered on your Commons Profile.

The auto-generated hyperlinks are intended to aggregate members with similar interests.  If one of your interests is “history”, clicking on the hyperlink will provide a list of other Commons members who have also entered “history” as an interest.

  • Education Widget

This widget is also designed to be used only once and also has a fixed name.  Use the editable text area to create a list of degrees and institutions.

  • Positions Widget

This widget is also designed to be used only once and also has a fixed name.  Here you can create a list of positions.  Three fields are available – College, Department, and Title.  Use the text boxes to add each position you want to display on your profile.  Use the “+ Add New” hyperlink to add another one.  The widget will automatically create a list for you.


  • Publications Widget

This widget provides an easy way to list your publications.  Copy and paste content from a text editor and populate your publications section, or type your publications in directly.  This widget accepts HTML and allows you to link to online publications.

  • RSS Feed Widget

This widget lets you create a section on your portfolio, give it a name and provide an RSS feed to populate it.  You can use this widget more than once.  If you have a blog, you might want to create a section called “Recent Posts” and provide your feed URL.  The section will list the last five posts published.


  • Twitter Widget

This section is populated by seven customizable widgets, shown below. All widgets are optional. Some (Academic Interests, Education, Publication, and Positions) can be used only once. The others can be used more than once, if needed.


twitter widget


Members can create dynamic, online profiles, and access them with easy-to-remember URLs, using our new CUNY.IS Quick Links.