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


September 16, 2008

UUP : SUNY dragging its feet in response to budget crisis

The State University of New York has once again neglected to act responsibly on the latest round of state cutbacks,making a bad situation even worse, the president of United University Professions said today.

Gov. Paterson announced on July 30 he would be cutting 7 percent from the budgets of state agencies. Yet, the SUNY Board of Trustees took no action on any plan to respond to this budget reduction at its meeting today,” said UUP President Phillip H. Smith. “This delay has the potential of making the pain this budget cut will generate evenworse, forcing even deeper cuts later on.”

Because of the state’s worsening financial situation, Gov. Paterson cut the University’s state aid by an additional $96 million, bringing the total state support reduction to over $148 million. This may make SUNY the hardest hit stateagency. Smith noted that figure doesn’t include the $109 million SUNY collects from non-state revenue sources that it is not being allowed to spend, affecting operations such as residence halls and food service.

Smith said the impact of these combined cuts is already occurring, with some campuses limiting enrollments, enlarging class sizes, and freezing searches for new full-time faculty to replace those who are retiring.

While reiterating that SUNY should be spared from such sharp reductions because of the economic return it provides to the state, Smith asked SUNY’s administrators to do the right thing by carefully considering where to cut expenditures in order to minimize the effects on its academic programs and student services.

“SUNY must act immediately to protect its core mission to provide a quality education for the greatest number of New Yorkers,” Smith said.

He said SUNY would be wise to follow the example of CUNY, which rapidly assembled a constructive plan that fully protects academic quality and student services while maintaining and possibly increasing full-time faculty. SUNY, Smith suggested, has similar opportunities to protect its core mission.

“We urge SUNY to quickly put forward a responsible plan that protects the interests of current and prospective students,” Smith said.

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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