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CONTACT: Mike Lisi (518) 640-6600
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May 7, 2009

Cutbacks unnecessary, shortsighted
UUP leads push to restore New Paltz nursing, grad programs

The president of United University Professions led a joint effort to rescue the nursing program at SUNY New Paltz from the brink of elimination, and called on the campus president to cancel plans to suspend graduate education programs in chemistry, earth science, French, math and Spanish.

“The New Paltz administration clearly over-reacted with its $6 million deficit reduction program that slashes more than 100 jobs,” UUP President Phillip H. Smith said. “They have the state budget funds to continue these programs. We strongly urge campus president Steven Poskanzer to reverse course and restore these vital graduate education programs.”

Smith also noted that New York’s Congressional delegation has asked for $118 million in federal stimulus funds to be allocated to SUNY to make up its budget shortfall.

UUP New Paltz Chapter President F. Glenn McNitt said local union members have mounted a petition drive to save the programs slated for elimination or suspension.

“The budget shortfall cited by the New Paltz administration is not supported by the facts,” McNitt said. “These cuts would be disastrous for our community. “The college should raise its revenues by accepting more students instead of resorting to these drastic cuts.”

Eleanor Richards, chairperson of the nursing department at New Paltz, said it’s ironic that her department is being eliminated in the shadow of a critical nursing workforce shortage.

“SUNY New Paltz is the only campus in the state – SUNY or otherwise – that is closing a nursing program,” she said.

Richards was joined by two nursing students who described how the closure of the New Paltz programs will make it more difficult and expensive for new nurses to get the skills they need to be supervisors or teachers.

Also joining the call to restore the programs were Wilma Feliciano from the Department of Foreign Languages and Elaine Hofstetter from the Department of Secondary Education, along with Lee Cutler, secretary-treasurer of NYSUT, UUP’s statewide affiliate, and Maria Mach, CSEA Local 751 president.

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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