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January 23, 2013

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Campuses to lose funding under SUNY’s new plan



UUP is opposed to SUNY’s latest funding formula—the Resource Allocation Model (RAM)—that would leave 20 of the 29 state-operated campuses with significantly less state money than in years past.

When we connect all the dots—the unprecedented cuts in jobs and health care services at SUNY Downstate, the new funding formula, and years of deep cuts in state funding for SUNY—a picture begins to form. And that picture, simply put, changes SUNY from a premiere 64-campus system to a neo-private enclave of four flagship university centers.

UUP will not stand by and let this happen. Far too many students and New York families need SUNY to achieve their dreams of a public higher education. Anything less is unacceptable.

We need your help in convincing SUNY that this formula flies in the face of the University’s long-standing mission of delivering accessible, affordable, quality public higher education to all New Yorkers. We need you to talk with lawmakers in your districts, to join us in Albany during our upcoming Advocacy Days, and to send letters from the UUP website. We need you to urge the governor and Legislature to properly fund the University and to ensure that SUNY doesn’t institute this ill-conceived funding formula (see “Call to action” below).

The devil’s in the details

According to SUNY figures released Dec. 5, 2012, under the new funding plan the University’s comprehensive colleges would initially lose more than $7 million; the technical colleges would lose nearly $3 million; and Downstate Medical Center and the College of Environmental Science and Forestry together would lose close to $10 million. The $20 million taken from these campuses would be diverted to the university centers at Binghamton, Buffalo and Stony Brook.

In short, SUNY’s new RAM formula ties the amount of funds appropriated to each campus to graduate student enrollment. However, only 19 percent of the degrees granted by SUNY in 2008-2009 were graduate degrees, and only 29 percent of SUNY’s academic programs are graduate offerings. It makes no sense to tie funding to programs that account for less than half of SUNY’s degrees and students.

And as allocations increasingly become dependent on enrollment, those institutions that get more state funds would continue to get more, while those that lose initially would continue to lose. The result would mean many colleges would have a difficult time attracting students as programs and services are cut, class sizes go up, faculty positions go unfilled, and enrollments shift to the well-funded university centers.

Lower enrollments and fewer state dollars at the comprehensive and technology colleges would also have a severe economic impact on communities, especially in areas where SUNY is the major employer. For every dollar invested in SUNY, an average of $5 is returned to the local economy. That number jumps in many areas. For example, SUNY Delhi’s total economic impact on Delaware County was $45.1 million in 2009-2010; SUNY Plattsburgh’s Small Business Development Center alone has an economic impact of more than $26.8 million on the region; and SUNY Cortland employees better the local economy by $67.2 million, 27 percent of the college’s overall impact.

SUNY asserts that there will be “transition funds” to aid campuses most affected by the RAM funding formula. We say this transition funding is exactly what it sounds like: a stopgap.

Make no mistake: RAM will result in a long-term funding decrease for SUNY’s comprehensive colleges, technology colleges, and health science centers.

SUNY’s projections back that up. When transition funds run out:

  • The technology colleges would experience an initial combined decrease of 4.3 percent. Six of the eight campuses—or 75 percent—would see deep cuts, with the largest single decrease at an astounding 27 percent.
  • The comprehensive colleges would face an initial combined decrease of 4 percent. Ten of the 13 campuses—or 77 percent—would see cuts; the largest single decrease would be 22 percent.
  • Downstate Medical Center, Optometry, ESF and UAlbany would also experience cuts in state funding.

Call to action

We are calling on our members, their families and friends, and other pro-public education advocates to send a clear message to lawmakers. We need you to urge them to:

  • Ensure that SUNY System Administration distributes its state funds in a manner consistent with its mission, as outlined in New York State Education Law. SUNY’s new funding allocation plan will alter the nature of SUNY as a system; all but three university centers would face significant cuts or see no increase in state funding allocations.
  • Open up SUNY’s new funding plan to public review and scrutiny. The very nature of the University system and its ability to fulfill its public mission are at stake.
  • Oppose the use of undergraduate tuition to subsidize graduate studies. This runs counter to the commitment made to undergraduate students when the Legislature adopted a rational plan to increase tuition over the next few years. The tuition plan was accepted with the understanding that there would be “maintenance of effort” in terms of state funding for the campuses. SUNY’s new RAM formula would reduce funding for most SUNY campuses, countering the understanding that their funding would remain stable as tuition rises.

Click Here to send letters to Gov. Cuomo and state legislators.

Go to the UUP website at www.uupinfo.org to sign up for UUP Advocacy Days and to send letters to lawmakers.

Download NYSUT’s new MAC app and send letters to lawmakers from your Smartphone.

Call your legislators and urge them to make SUNY treat campuses fairly.


In Union,
Phil


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