January 16, 2014

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UUP joins unions in push for public higher ed

uupdate 1-16-14

UUP has partnered with NYSUT, the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY and New York’s community colleges in a new, two-pronged effort to ensure quality, opportunity and access at public colleges and universities statewide.

The “Public Higher Education Quality Initiative” demands an end to chronic state aid cuts to SUNY and CUNY, and offers a progressive plan to rejuvenate public higher ed. A second part of the plan, the “Keep New York a State of Mind” campaign, is geared to publicize the unions' push to promote public higher ed.

"The mission of New York's public university system is to provide an affordable, accessible education of the highest quality to our students, but that mission has been hamstrung by budget cuts totaling in the billions," said UUP President Fred Kowal. "It is time for our state leaders to do the right thing and re-invest in New York's public colleges and universities.

Increasing funding and creating an endowment to restore SUNY and CUNY academic programs are positive steps that will help protect and enhance the quality of public higher education across the state."

"NYSUT has consistently advocated that our public colleges and universities are vital community assets, but they have been seriously underfunded and undervalued, resulting in too many students finding their opportunities limited and on-time graduation threatened," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "We need to 'Keep New York a State of Mind' by investing strongly in SUNY, CUNY and our community colleges."

The Initiative calls on SUNY to:

  • Create an endowment to restore SUNY and CUNY academic programs by hiring full-time faculty and professional staff;
  • Increase operating aid to SUNY and CUNY four-year campuses and raise community college base aid;
  • Commit to making a strong investment to solidify and grow student financial aid and opportunity programs; and
  • Update and reform the state’s Tuition Assistance Program.

SUNY and CUNY have sustained nearly $2 billion in cuts over the last five years, driving up tuition and increasing the potential of putting quality, affordable higher education out of reach for many New York students. That needs to end, said Kowal.

NYSUT, along with UUP, CUNY and the community colleges, will be urging legislators to back the Public Higher Education Quality Initiative over the next few months during advocacy visits to Albany.

"An endowment for public higher education is an idea whose time has come," said Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY. “We urge New York lawmakers-upstate and downstate, urban and rural-to embrace this visionary proposal."

The “Keep New York a State of Mind” campaign will include newspaper and radio ads, and a sustained social media campaign that’s set to run through the spring.

For more information about the Public Higher Education Quality Initiative or the“Keep New York a State of Mind” campaign, go to the NYSUT website.

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