SYRACUSE — The leadership from every State University of New York campus in the Central New York area on Wednesday (Feb. 25) called on local legislative leaders to continue their bold leadership in supporting New York’s public higher education sector by creating a new Investment Fund and extending NYSUNY 2020 — including the broadly successful rational tuition policy — in the 2015-16 New York State Budget.
On the campus of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), several SUNY presidents, including Dr. Erik Bitterbaum of SUNY Cortland, Dr. Casey Crabill of Onondaga Community College, Dr. Gregory Eastwood of Upstate Medical University, Dr. William Murabito of SUNY Morrisville and Dr. Quentin Wheeler of ESF, were joined by other CNY SUNY representatives to present a unified voice advocating for all 64 of SUNY’s campus.
“There is no greater gift we can give a New Yorker than a college education. New York’s future depends on an educated workforce that is also committed to improving their local communities,” Bitterbaum said. “SUNY provides access to an affordable education because of the support the Governor and the Legislature provide through state-appropriated funds. By investing in such programs as the Master Innovators, critical maintenance funding, capital construction, salary support, and the rational tuition policy, SUNY will be able to help this state flourish and remain economically competitive way into the future. Now is the time to preserve the state’s investment in higher education by continuing the partnership between the Governor, our Legislature, our SUNY campuses, and the citizens of New York.”
“As one of 30 SUNY community colleges, Onondaga Community College is a significant economic driver, adding more than $486 million to the state’s economy each year in the form of college operations, student spending, and the productivity of our students, graduates and thousands of successful alumni. Community colleges represent the first step on the path to higher education for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, including many low-income and first-generation college students. An individual with an associate’s degree has an average annual earnings 35 percent higher than someone with a high school diploma, changing the lives of not only these graduates, but their entire families. We are proud to join with our colleague institutions to urge our leaders to Invest in SUNY because, quite simply, investment in public higher education leads to more economic opportunity for New Yorkers, and that just makes sense,” Crabill said.
Eastwood said, “Investing in our SUNY system is the best thing that we can do to increase access, build a better workforce, and ensure a brighter economic future for our region. At Upstate Medical University, we are looking for capital funds to help us maintain our complex physical plant and modernize University Hospital — our clinical classroom for over 2000 students and residents. SUNY is a marvelous front door for Central New York’s students, families, and patients.”
Dr. John McCabe, vice president for Hospital Affairs and CEO of University Hospital at Upstate, added, “While the institutions here today are varied, I would venture that most people do not think of hospitals when they think of SUNY. Our University Hospital is the virtual classroom for all of our health professional-training programs as well as an irreplaceable asset for CNY. We need the members of the Legislature to ensure that we stay strong. They can do that by restoring the $18.5 million cut from the small state support category, give us access to capital support so we can continue to evolve, teach, cure and serve.”
Said Murabito, “SUNY provides public higher education opportunities across New York state. The varied locations and campus missions create a strong influence on economic growth as well as the recreational and cultural life of the state. As a rural campus, Morrisville State College has historically offered applied learning opportunities geared to focus on the state’s workforce needs. While the Governor’s proposed budget helps extend these opportunities, the Chancellor and the SUNY Board of Trustees have suggested growth scenarios that will build on the Governor’s opportunity budget in ways that will ensure the potential of SUNY is realized.”
“The SUNY Investment Fund is just that: an investment,” Wheeler said. “It is an investment in the success of our students, an investment in a well-prepared workforce and vibrant economy for New York, and an investment in master researchers creating a brighter future. This investment will be repaid many times over in new ideas and industries; in scientific, technological, and environmental problems solved; in 150,000 well-educated students entering the workforce each year by 2020; and in a generation of students completing their degrees that is as diverse and full of potential as New York itself. For ESF, this means an ability to achieve even greater excellence in preparing graduates in critically important STEM fields who will meet challenges in environmental science and engineering, resource management, and sustainable design.”
Two other CNY SUNY presidents, who were unable to attend Wednesday’s event, also voiced support for SUNY’s endeavors:
“On behalf of the students, faculty, staff and Board of Trustees of Cayuga Community College (CCC), I encourage the state Legislature to provide the necessary support to allow CCC to continue providing the high quality education and training that we have proudly offered to our community for over 60 years,” said CCC Interim President Gregory T. DeCinque. “The consistent underfunding of our community colleges is making it ever more challenging to fully meet our mission. If we fail in our mission, New York state will fail in its desire to fully recover economically and provide an educated citizenry and a well-developed workforce to support the business and industry of New York state.”
Said SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley, “As we’ve found with our well-established Oswego Guarantee — our ‘finish in four’ model — students and their families appreciate having full information to plan out four years of college, including the expense. Renewing NYSUNY 2020 will continue to give them this stability. Students and their families realize the value of a SUNY education, thanks to past investments the state has made. We need to match their commitment by continuing to deliver a high-quality education: by investing in innovative experiential learning opportunities like Oswego’s distinctive Global Laboratory, new degree programs that prepare our next-generation workforce, and new equipment and facilities. SUNY’s proposed Investment Fund will allow more New Yorkers than ever to earn degrees and contribute to our state’s vibrant future.”
Since NYSUNY 2020 was first enacted, SUNY campuses have used additional revenue generated by rational tuition to grow and expand student services, including the hiring of 520 new instructional staff, 270 of who are full-time faculty, and the implementation of 100 new degree programs reflecting high-demand areas in New York’s workforce.
Additionally, SUNY continues to be a huge economic driver for the state, serving 3 million New Yorkers every year — including students, faculty and staff, and more — and an economic powerhouse that generates $21 billion annually for New York.
David Mankiewicz, senior vice president and director of Infrastructure & Urban Initiatives for CenterState CEO and president of the University Hill Corporation, also attended the news conference to speak in support of SUNY.
His colleague, Robert Simpson, president of CenterState CEO, said earlier, “Our region’s higher education institutions are more than just pillars of academic learning. They play a vital role in economic development and quality of life in their surrounding communities; they are educators, employers, enablers of innovation, talent magnets, investors, and centers of arts, culture and entertainment. Continued investment in the SUNY system is critical to ensuring it remains an economic driver on all these levels.”
The key component of SUNY’s budget request is an Investment Fund that will enable SUNY to graduate 150,000 students annually by 2020 through the system-wide scale up of evidence-based programs known to support student success, including Finish in Four completion promises, applied learning, Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP), and expanded advisement services.
SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher outlined this objective in her recent State of the University Address (http://www.suny.edu/sou/).
“We cannot plan the future of our State University on yesterday’s dollars, which is why extending this legislation until 2020 is essential. NYSUNY 2020 is perhaps the smartest, most impactful legislation to support SUNY in history,” said Chancellor Zimpher. “Governor Cuomo and state leaders showed excellent foresight when this bill was enacted, positioning our campuses to drive regional economic development for New York while protecting our students’ investment, taking tuition roulette off the table so that they are able to plan for the full cost of college without the possibility of unexpected tuition spikes.”