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February 25, 2016
UUP: Now is the time to invest in the future of SUNY, CUNY
ALBANY - Today, UUP leaders and members joined with hundreds of CUNY and SUNY students, faculty and staff to urge the Legislature to continue its support for public higher education by increasing funding for the State University and City University of New York (SUNY and CUNY).
UUP President Frederick E. Kowal, Ph.D., speaking at the Higher Education Action Day rally in Albany, also called on lawmakers to enact a genuine Maintenance of Effort and support the creation of a permanent endowment for CUNY and SUNY. He encouraged legislators to consider UUP's plan to increase diversity in New York’s teaching ranks and to restore funding to SUNY’s state-operated teaching hospitals.
“SUNY students deserve the highest quality education possible," said Kowal. “SUNY must continue as a world-class institution that improves the quality of life for students of today and tomorrow, and the thousands who rely on the vital health care provided by SUNY's public hospitals. UUP urges lawmakers to invest in our University to make it affordable to all and to make New York a better place to live and work.”
More than 400 students, faculty and staff attended the late-morning rally, held in the Legislative Office Building. UUP and its statewide affiliate, NYSUT, participated in the event, as did the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY, NYPIRG and CUNY USS, the CUNY student organization. Afterward, students took part in meetings with nearly 100 legislators.
Kowal cited the state’s robust budget surplus as a prime reason for legislators to seize the initiative and make a strong investment in public higher education, which has lost hundreds of millions in state funding since 2008.
“The time is now for the state to recommit to SUNY,” said Kowal. “I'm optimistic that the governor and the Legislature this year are going to take the steps necessary for SUNY to continue to provide the highest-quality education to our students.”
The passage of a genuine Maintenance of Effort provision is necessary so that additional tuition dollars go to academic services for students rather than paying utility costs and other mandatory expenses, Kowal said. He commended state lawmakers for overwhelmingly approving the legislation, vetoed by the governor in December.
Kowal called for the creation of an endowment for public higher education that would provide long-term resources to rebuild depleted SUNY and CUNY academic departments. Endowment funds would also be used to increase full-time faculty and move adjunct faculty to full-time positions.
UUP’s president thanked lawmakers for their staunch support of SUNY’s three teaching hospitals over the years and asked them to once again restore proposed Executive Budget cuts to the hospital subsidy. He urged legislators to restore a proposed $18 million reduction and return the subsidy to its 2008 level of $128 million.
“Our teaching hospitals graduate thousands of doctors, nurses and medical staff each year and many of those graduates work and live in New York,” said Kowal. “Our hospitals also provide vital health care services to everyone, even those who can’t afford to pay. It is imperative that these houses of healing are properly funded.”
Kowal also advocated for a $15 million budget allocation to create UUP’s Recruiting and Educating Teachers for All program, which would increase diversity while recruiting underrepresented and economically disadvantaged individuals to the teaching profession. It would also help bring teachers to underresourced, high-needs districts.
“SUNY should be dedicated to improving quality of life for today’s students and the students of tomorrow. To do that, the state must invest in SUNY,” Kowal said.
UUP is the nation's largest higher education union, with more than 42,000 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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