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CONTACT: Mike Lisi (518) 640-6600
Lisi’s cell number: (518) 944-9528


January 30, 2008

UUP: Funds for more full-time faculty at SUNY can’t wait

SUNY cannot wait another three years to hire additional full-time faculty, according to the head of United University Professions, the union that represents academic and professional faculty at SUNY’s stateoperated campuses.

Testifying today during a state legislative hearing on the governor’s Executive Budget, UUP Acting President Frederick G. Floss urged lawmakers to add $25 million to the budget to create 400 new full-time faculty positions.

“Instead of including state funding for additional full-time faculty, the Executive Budget proposes to fund some of this need through privatizing the state lottery and using it to fund a new endowment, but it may be at least three years before income from the endowment would provide any appreciable revenue for the University,” Floss said. “Under no circumstances can our public universities wait several more years to begin repairing the damage of the past. We need to act this year.”

Floss said SUNY needs funds for more full-time faculty now to reverse a 15-year decline in faculty—a decline which has eroded access to an affordable high quality college education. During those 15 years,Floss said SUNY eliminated 900 full-time faculty positions, while student enrollment has grown by 45,000. “I applaud the governor for adding his voice to the discussion, and providing an innovative starting point,” Floss said. “However, any new revenue source must be targeted to improving access and quality for our public higher education systems.”

Floss noted New York’s public colleges and universities have been called “engines of economic growth.” But he added, “Every engine needs fuel, and the fuel that SUNY needs right now is more full-time faculty. Without state funds for more full-time faculty, SUNY will not be able to educate all our students and produce the graduates New York needs to compete in a global economy.”

Moreover, Floss advocated for $35 million in additional funds for SUNY’s three teaching hospitals in Brooklyn, Stony Brook and Syracuse, characterizing the $7 million increase proposed in the Executive Budget as “miniscule.”

“Over the last few years, these hospitals and our health science centers have had to absorb hundreds of millions of dollars in state-mandated expenditures while the state subsidy today remains essentially at the funding level that existed more than 16 years ago,” Floss said. He warned that if hospital Medicaid reimbursement rates are reduced, the hospital’s resources would be strained to the breaking point, jeopardizing the quality of patient care.

Floss also called for a $4.5 million budget increase for SUNY’s Office of Diversity and Educational Equity, far above the $500,000 allocated in the governor’s budget. Without such an increase, Floss said, “We will not address the high dropout rates for historically under-represented New Yorkers and the critical needs of low-income, first-generation students.”

UUP also proposed other changes to the budget, including:

  • Restoring $34 million cut from SUNY’s operating budget, and fully funding the costs of enrollment growth;
  • Restoring $7.2 million in funding for the Equal Opportunity Programs and Equal Opportunity Centers that serve thousands of financially and academically underserved SUNY students;
  • Adding $5 million to enhance SUNY libraries; and
  • Adding $5 million to support the SUNY Health Science Center in Buffalo.

UUP is the nation's largest higher education union, with more than 37,000 academic and professional faculty and retirees. UUP members work at 29 New York state-operated campuses, including SUNY’s public teaching hospitals and health science centers in Brooklyn, Long Island and Syracuse. It is an affiliate of NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the AFL-CIO.


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