For Immediate Release
January 23, 2018
UUP President Frederick E. Kowal, Ph.D., called on the state Legislature to commit to a strong investment in SUNY by hiring more full-time faculty and asking the state to cover the so-called Tuition Assistance Program gap for students.
Kowal, who testified today at a public hearing conducted by the Legislature’s joint fiscal committees, also requested that lawmakers restore nearly $79 million in subsidy dollars to the state’s public hospitals run by SUNY, and more than $10 million in cuts to SUNY’s successful opportunity programs.
In addition, UUP urged legislators to address the need for more diversity at SUNY campuses and in the state’s teaching force by using SUNY’s opportunity programs to recruit and educate future teachers from underrepresented, low-income areas across the state.
"As 'the union that makes SUNY work,' UUP’s mission is to provide a quality education that every SUNY student deserves," Kowal said. "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 he welcomed the Executive Budget’s inclusion of added flexibility regarding the Performance Improvement Fund, allowing those dollars to be used for the purpose of hiring “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.
Chancellor Kristina Johnson, in her Jan. 22 State of the University address cited hiring more full-time faculty as one her priorities for SUNY. Ten years ago, SUNY had more than 10,000 full-time, tenure-track faculty to instruct 185,000 students. Today, there are just over 8,000 tenure-track faculty to teach over 222,000 students.
More than $500 million in Great Recession cuts to SUNY are to blame for the decline in full-time faculty numbers at SUNY; most of the reductions—which account for a nearly 50 percent decrease from 2007-08—were never restored. Campuses have relied on part-time academic faculty to fill the gaps.
"With increasing enrollments at SUNY’s four-year colleges, campuses are in need of increased aid to hire more full-time faculty and maintain and provide necessary services for these students," said Kowal. "It will be a strain for SUNY to meet this commitment under the proposed Executive Budget.
"These problems will only become more evident and more pressing with more students coming to SUNY through the Excelsior Scholarship program.”
SUNY’s state-operated hospitals were hit hard with cuts in the proposed Executive Budget, prompting Kowal to ask legislators to reverse a $78.6 million reduction to the hospital subsidy, and pick up $36 million in debt service costs. The nonprofit hospitals, in Brooklyn, Stony Brook and Syracuse, rely on the subsidy for crucial operating support.
These teaching hospitals turn no one away, regardless of their ability to pay for care. They also fund their medical schools, and cover employee fringe benefits and debt service.
In testimony, Kowal said closing the TAP gap would free up about $65 million that SUNY campuses waive for TAP-eligible students. UUP wants the state to assume the full cost of TAP.
More than 40 percent of TAP students are enrolled at SUNY and the University is required to forego tuition above levels funded by the state through TAP, creating the “TAP gap”—the difference between SUNY tuition and the maximum TAP award. Campuses need those dollars to sustain and enhance educational quality
Kowal also called on legislators to restore $5.3 million in proposed Executive Budget cuts to SUNY’s Educational Opportunity Program, and $5 million to the Educational Opportunity Centers. The union proposes an additional $5.2 million and $1.6 million, respectively, to expand the programs.
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.
"These are proven programs that clearly illustrate how funding for SUNY provides gateways to a college education—and often, good-paying jobs—for those who might otherwise be denied access," said Kowal. "These programs change lives."
Kowal also requested that lawmakers:
- Add $5 million to create an EOP-linked program that would identify and aid future teachers from under-represented areas;
- Dedicate $7.5 million to expand SUNY’s Faculty Diversity Program to hire new assistant professors, and create a mentoring and cultural awareness program for those new hires;
- Provide state funds to reimburse SUNY’s state-operated campuses for additional costs or revenue losses associated with the Excelsior Scholarship program; and
- Pass legislation compelling the state Department of Health to release past and present DSH funds to the hospitals.