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SUNY: We Need More State Aid / Investment


A delegation of State University of New York trustees and leaders are calling for increased state investment in SUNY.   

SUNY campus presidents in every region of the state have been holding press events in recent weeks, asking the legislature to “Invest in SUNY” as the system campaigns for the establishment of a SUNY Investment Fund and extension NYSUNY 2020 legislation in the budget.

Board of Trustees Chairman H. Carl McCall says "SUNY is good” but needs help.    "Over the last four years, our students and their families have all invested $300  a year more in tuition. So the students have done their part. It's now time for the state to do its part to invest in SUNY, to give us the resources we need."

According to SUNY, the key component of the budget request is an investment fund to support student success programs, including Finish in Four completion promises, applied learning, Educational Opportunity Programs, and expanded advisement services. The programs would be expanded system-wide. McCall noted that SUNY's vision is to increase the number of annual graduates from 93,000 to 150,000, which makes state an essential component of the overall plan.

Speaking Wednesday, SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher added “We cannot plan the future of our state university on yesterday’s dollars...”    "We know what works and we wanna take it to scale. It's all about saving money by being more efficient as an undergraduate student."

There's an "Invest in SUNY" website, spelling out details of the request and providing a vehicle for New Yorkers to lend their support.

Ambassador Carl Spielvogel, chair of the Board’s Communications and External Affairs Committee, recalled that in his days at CUNY's Baruch College, tuition was free, and he paid $50 a semester for books.

The presidents of SUNY’s state-operated campuses have presented an open letter to legislative leaders, supporting the system request and requesting an extension of the legislation through its indicated end – 2020. 

University at Albany President Robert Jones:    "Our students know that this predictable tuition strategy works for them, and now it's time for the state to step up and continue this investment. To put it succinctly, it's time for the state to continue to invest in what works, because this program works for the students, and it works for the leadership of this university system."

Jones added rational tuition has kept the university acceptable and affordable.  The SUNY budget request includes triple the $200 million in capital funding included in the executive budget over five years. Nearly half of the buildings on all of SUNY’s campuses were built between 40 and 50 years ago. Jones and his colleagues say this level of investment will support critical maintenance of SUNY’s facilities.

A call for comment to the Cuomo Administration was not returned in time for broadcast.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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