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Capital Region SUNY Campuses Ask State Legislature to Invest in SUNY

Presidents Gather at UAlbany to Support Creation of SUNY Investment Fund

ALBANY, NY (March 9, 2015) – Leadership from State University of New York (SUNY) campuses in the Capital Region today called on local elected officials 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.

University at Albany President Robert J. Jones was joined by SUNY Adirondack President Dr. Kristine Duffy, Hudson Valley Community College President Andrew Matonak, Empire State College Provost Alfred N. Ntoko, Schenectady County Community College Acting President Dr. Martha J. Asselin, and Fulton-Montgomery Community College President Dustin Swanger, as well as students, faculty, administrators and government representatives to present a unified voice advocating for all 64 SUNY campuses.

“Like all of our campuses across within the Capital Region, the SUNY system cannot plan its future on yesterday’s dollars. To make SUNY a truly world-class institution, we need an Innovation Fund and a recommitment to a rational tuition plan,” said University at Albany President Robert J. Jones. “Under the leadership of Chancellor Zimpher and Governor Cuomo, SUNY has proven its commitment to student success and requires renewed support to continue this mission.”

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 net 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, staff, and more—and an economic powerhouse that generates $21 billion annually for New York.

“SUNY institutions, including 30 community colleges with nearly 240,000 students, provide unparalleled access to higher education and workforce training programs while generating innovative, ongoing economic development projects and partnerships. A new investment in New York’s public colleges and universities will yield significant and long-term benefits for students, families, businesses and communities statewide,” said Drew Matonak, president of Hudson Valley Community College.

SUNY Adirondack President Kristine Duffy added, “When community colleges are provided the necessary resources to help all citizens who wish to improve their lives, engage in education, and ultimately be included in a productive workforce, then New York thrives.”

"Community colleges change lives,” said Dustin Swanger, President, Fulton-Montgomery Community College. “We see students with a variety of backgrounds and preparation levels and we serve them all. Only through public support are we truly able to be colleges of opportunity."

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.

“Right now only 45 percent of adults in New York have a college degree,” said SUNY Empire State College President Merodie A. Hancock. “Tens, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of them would have more and better career opportunities with a college degree. But we cannot educate these potential students, many of whom are working full time, raising families and trying to build a better future, with yesterday’s dollars. Approval of the Innovation Fund and a recommitment to the rational tuition plan would enable SUNY Empire State College to accelerate, and bring to an even greater scale, the college’s expertise in online and online-enabled learning, educating adult students and awarding college credit for college-level learning regardless of where it was acquired, throughout the state.”

“Working with SUNY, Schenectady County Community College is committed to increasing our already positive economic impact in the state. To do this, we need New York’s help,” said Dr. Martha Asselin, Acting President of SCCC. “A $50 million investment in innovation upstate would yield $2 billion annually over the next decade. SCCC’s economic impact on our own community is approximately $168 million annually. Increased funding to our public colleges is always a winning investment.”

“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.”

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.