Nov. 6, 2014

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Kowal introduces initiatives in testimony

uupdate 11-6-14

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UUP President Fred Kowal laid the groundwork for the union’s upcoming legislative agenda in his Nov. 6 testimony before the SUNY Board of Trustees, as he urged the university to work with UUP for the betterment of the students.

“I encourage SUNY to stand with the union, as we advocate for a fully funded SUNY system,” said Kowal, who testified in a hearing after the Trustees' meeting in New York City. “I am interested in developing a joint-advocacy agenda, so that our public higher education system is more than just maintained. It should be, can be and must be a hallmark institution serving the best interests of New York’s students.”

Kowal outlined the following goals:

  • A public endowment for the long-term financial support of SUNY, to be used to increase the hiring of full-time faculty and professional and support staff; it would also give part-time and contingent employees opportunities to move into full-time positions.
  • State funding that covers at least half of the operating costs of SUNY, as well as adequate funding for what is known as “maintenance of effort.” Maintenance of effort funding should cover expected, regular increases in annual expenses such as utilities, equipment replacement and negotiated contractual raises for employees. Tuition and fees paid by students now cover 65 percent of the university’s operating costs; the state should provide its fair share.
  • An incentive spending program that would provide additional funds to reward campuses that: increase full-time faculty; pursue diversity in its faculty, staff and students; move adjunct and contingent faculty to full-time positions; and expand student support programs.
  • The creation of a program that UUP is calling “Pre-College Entrance Development Effort,” or PreCEDE. The PreCEDE program would expand the Educational Opportunity Programs to help low-income students and their families prepare for college admissions in a variety of ways. Those methods include providing access to aggressive pre-college work, and assisting students and families with career planning and the college application process.
  • A state program that would allow students to refinance their college loans. This idea has been advocated at the national level by a number of student activist groups. Lowering student debt has also been a major platform of the national coalition known as the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education, of which UUP is a member.

The state should use the settlements gained from Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s actions against Wall Street banks to fund these initiatives, Kowal said.

Kowal will have additional opportunities in over the next few months to present UUP’s proposals during joint budget hearings of legislative committees overseeing higher education and ways and means.

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