Jan. 23, 2018

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Lawmakers receptive to UUP testimony

uupdate 1-23-18

CLICK HERE for press release: UUP looks to Legislature for more faculty, TAP gap closure

CLICK HERE for UUP testimony

UUP’s call for more full-time tenure-track faculty, and the restoration of cuts to SUNY’s hospital subsidy and the University’s successful opportunity programs resonated with several lawmakers at a Jan. 23 hearing held by the Legislature’s joint fiscal committee.

In Albany, UUP President Fred Kowal urged legislators to make a lasting investment in SUNY by hiring more full-time faculty and asking the state to cover the so-called Tuition Assistance Program gap for students.

He also requested that the nearly $79 million hospital subsidy—which was eliminated in the proposed 2018-19 Executive Budget—and $10 million for the opportunity programs be restored.

"UUP firmly believes that a significant investment in SUNY is crucial to the survival of many of our campuses and to the viability of the entire system, now and in the future," Kowal said.

Kowal said he welcomed the Executive Budget’s inclusion of added flexibility with the Performance Improvement Fund, allowing $18 million in the fund to be used to hire “new classroom faculty.” He urged the Legislature to back the proposal and provide additional support to hire full-time, tenure-track faculty, which are crucial to the SUNY system’s success.

uupdate 1-23-18

SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson, above, in testimony earlier in the day, reiterated her commitment to hire more full-time faculty; she cited the initiative as one of her priorities in her Jan. 22 State of the University address. With as many as 40 percent of SUNY’s full-time faculty at or nearing retirement age, SUNY needs to act now to increase its full-time faculty ranks.

"This is a concern to me and I would really want to invest in more full-time faculty," she said.

Several legislators, including Assemblymembers Deborah Glick (D-Manhattan) and Sen. Diane Savino (D-North Shore/Brooklyn) expressed concern over the hospital subsidy cut. The Executive Budget axed the entire $78.6 million subsidy, which SUNY hospitals in Brooklyn, Stony Brook and Syracuse rely on for necessary operating support.

“I agree it’s almost impossible to absorb a cut of that size without it being (detrimental to) the hospitals,” Savino said.

"At a time of cataclysmic change in funding health care, how possible is it for these hospitals to absorb an elimination of operating aid?," Glick asked Johnson, who said it would be "very challenging" for hospitals to operate without the funding.

Assemblymembers Pat Fahy (D-Albany) and Rodneyse Bichotte (D-Flatbush) said they supported the Educational Opportunity Program and the Educational Opportunity Centers, which were hit with a $5.3 million and $5 million funding decreases, respectively, in the proposed Executive Budget.

Bichette, a SUNY graduate, said she was “deeply concerned” by the cuts and said she hoped legislators would find a way to restore and increase those funds.

The EOP provides special financial aid, counseling and tutoring to low-income college students who demonstrate strong potential to succeed. The EOCs offer job training and college preparatory classes. Each year, thousands of SUNY students are turned away from the EOP because their campus programs are capped at far below the need.

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