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March 19, 2014

UUP President urges SUNY Trustees to proceed with caution on Nano College, SUNYIT merger

– UUP President Frederick E. Kowal, Ph.D., testified today at a SUNY Board of Trustees’ public hearing, and raised concerns about the merger between the SUNY Institute of Technology at Utica/Rome and the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany.

Kowal also called on the Trustees to consult with UUP as plans for the merger progress. The Trustees approved the merger today.

“We urge the Board of Trustees to proceed with caution regarding the merger,” Kowal said. “We are concerned about making sure these institutions do not lose their academic focus or academic missions.

“Under no circumstances should SUNYIT be absorbed by CNSE and subsequently cease to exist. For this merger to work, SUNYIT must continue as a degree-bearing entity that provides a comprehensive range of high-quality undergraduate and graduate programs, as stated in the college’s mission statement.”

Kowal added that since the merger will affect the faculty and students at both institutions, SUNY must consult with UUP and involve the union in the decision-making process.

Kowal also testified that SUNY must do a better job of keeping UUP informed about its START-UP NY plans, as required by law. START-UP NY allows private companies to locate on and around SUNY campuses and exempts them from paying state taxes for 10 years.

“We have heard that a number of plans have been submitted, but we received very few copies of such plans,” Kowal testified. “Further, it is uncertain whether the businesses will stay or abandon campuses and communities once the initiative’s tax-free incentive ends. Instead, START-UP NY may rob valuable space and resources from future academic needs, as support for SUNY’s state-operated campuses continues to decline and enrollments increase.

“I am asking that SUNY include UUP in the process to help ensure that the selected businesses do not diminish the academic mission of the campuses.”

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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