March 21, 2017

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Tech Sector advocates appeal to lawmakers

uupdate 3-21-17

In a year when public higher education is a hot topic, UUP members sense that this finally might be the long-awaited breakout for SUNY’s technology sector colleges.

That was the sense that UUP members and Tech Sector college students got from a round of meetings March 21 with lawmakers for the annual Tech Sector Advocacy Day, a tradition for the union that dates back more than 20 years.

Above, Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing) chats with SUNY Morrisville Assistant Prof. Mark Blakeslee and Morrisville students in an off-the-floor meeting after they advocated for funding and faculty. Stavisky said she and her colleagues will consider their request.

“All of these issues will get our Senate Democratic considerations,” Stavisky promised.

UUP President Fred Kowal told advocates that their efforts are important in these countdown days to a budget, because so much deal-making takes place at the last minute. He especially thanked the students for giving up a day to join their faculty in Albany.

“This is a crucial time,” Kowal told the gathering, which included Tech Sector students and faculty from SUNY Alfred and SUNY Morrisville. “All we know is that by the end of the day on April 1, the governor is going to sign a budget. And how those negotiations go, nobody knows. However, each house has passed its own budget, and there are elements in both that are good for us. And nobody – nobody – makes more of an impression on lawmakers than students.”

uupdate 3-21-17

Matching issues to interests

Alfred Chapter President Joe Petrick, right, and System Administration Chapter member John Schumacher put in an additional word for SUNY’s libraries during a meeting in the office of Senator Catharine Young, (R-Olean). They were reassured by her staff member that funding for libraries “is near and dear to the senator’s heart.”

UUP Secretary Eileen Landy used a meeting with the staff of Senator Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) to thank the senator for his strong support of SUNY Downstate Medical Center, as well as UUP’s push for greater transparency in the SUNY research foundations.

The positive tone of that meeting boded well for the rest of the day, as staff and lawmakers pledged their strong support for the tech sector colleges and for greater SUNY funding.

“It’s been a long, long time since [higher education] has been on the radar screen to this degree, and it’s great,” Landy said.

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