October 27, 2011

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UUP president: SUNY straying from academics


Testifying before the Assembly Higher Education Committee, UUP President Phil Smith says SUNY is gradually shifting its emphasis away from academics and more toward economic development. NYSUT Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta, left, listens as Smith testifies at the Oct. 26 public hearing in Albany.

“It is becoming disturbingly evident that the University has lost sight of why it was created – to graduate productive students who can contribute to the state’s overall economy and culture,” Smith told committee members. “The University heralds the formation of partnerships with private sector companies. We hear phrases such as joint ventures and economic engines. We hear very little about a reaffirmation of the University’s original and, until lately, historical emphasis on teaching and learning.”

Smith said the so-called NYSUNY 2020 plan is evidence of the path SUNY is following. But he said that the only thing NYSUNY 2020 can deliver at SUNY’s four University Centers is more than $700 million in new construction.

“We do not believe that the building construction contemplated in the NYSUNY 2020 proposals produces long-lasting economic development in the truest sense,” Smith said. “In our view, the force that ultimately determines the extent to which New York is economically prosperous rests on the buying power of the average New York family. That buying power is largely dependent on the level of training and education of our workforce.”

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