President Sets December 6 for Info Meeting on State Budget, "Rethinking SUNY"

Interim President Karen R. Hitchcock will update the University Community on the implications of the Board of Trustees' "Rethinking SUNY" initiative and the 1996-97 State Budget at a special informational meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 1995, at 3:30 p.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom. All University employees are invited to attend.

The meeting will come five days after the Trustees are scheduled to present their final recommendations on system organization and management to the New York State Legislature.

New Themes Emerging

"A number of themes are beginning to emerge from the 'Rethinking SUNY' process and budget discussions," said President Hitchcock, "and we will know even more after December 1. My ongoing meetings with the faculty of each of the Schools and Colleges have been critical in assuring that all campus positions I have expressed to the System Administration, Trustees and Members of the Legislature reflect the priorities and concerns of the faculty. This Dec. 6 meeting will apprise all members of the potential impact for Albany of these critical budget and planning processes."

On Nov. 13, President Hitchcock and other SUNY presidents heard State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Brunswick), Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and Assembly Higher Education Committee Chair Edward Sullivan (D-Manhattan) address the importance of the SUNY system, during a Chancellor's Forum.

"They all were supportive of SUNY and addressed a number of issues specific to the future of public higher education in New York," said Hitchcock of Bruno, Silver and Sullivan. That same day, the Trustees held a special meeting to discuss the progress of their various "Rethinking SUNY" committee recommendations.

Trustees' discussion items included mission, carryover and fungibility of funds, differential tuition, hospitals, administrative efficiency and teaching productivity. They were scheduled to meet again on Nov. 21, after this issue of Update goes to press, to prepare their final report to the Legislature.

Leaning Toward Flexibility

President Hitchcock said there is a "growing consensus" that individual campuses should have "more flexibility in budget and administrative processes." Hitchcock said, "I applaud the moves toward differential tuition, and toward allowing for carryover and fungibility of funds. The plans for the SUNY hospitals also will free up and save resources for the overall system."

Regarding faculty productivity, Hitchcock said, "Presidents are urging a definition that includes the totality of our mission," rather than utilizing exclusively such measures as courses taught or number of students taught per FTE.

"As is happening in all states," she said, "institutions are, appropriately, being held accountable. It is important, however, as the dialogue continues between System Administration and the Trustees, that any definition of productivity also embraces the institution's mission and overall quality. Any measure of productivity must, first and foremost, acknowledge that a quality education is the foremost goal."

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