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For Immediate Release
January 23, 2020

Statement from United University Professions President Frederick E. Kowal on today’s SUNY State of the University System address

“The Chancellor’s portrayal of SUNY in today’s State of the University System address was far different than the real problems and concerns faced each day by students, faculty and staff at our campuses and public teaching hospitals across the state.

“Our financially beleaguered campuses, particularly our technical and comprehensive colleges, struggle to close deficits. The University at Albany, SUNY Buffalo State, and SUNY Fredonia are some of the campuses that are wrestling with budget shortfalls.

“Additionally, SUNY has failed to advocate for more funding for SUNY’s cash-strapped public teaching hospitals, including pushing for a subsidy previously cut from the state budget. We are concerned that this lack of funding will impact the hospitals’ ability to adequately serve patients and the vulnerable communities that depend on these facilities for life-saving care.

“Further, under a newly proposed 2-to-1 capital construction matching program, SUNY campuses must contribute $1 for every $2 in state capital funding—or one-third of the cost of capital projects. Struggling campuses will be hard-pressed to generate their required contributions.

“It’s time to look for new revenue sources for New York’s public needs. Legislators have proposed progressive changes to generate revenue. UUP supports this, and we encourage the Legislature to pursue this path to provide sustainable resources for SUNY and show real commitment to public higher education.

“It is time for SUNY to demand that the state make a true commitment and a sustained investment in the University. The Executive Budget proposal fails to directly address the TAP Gap, and does little to remedy a 12-year disinvestment in SUNY that’s seen state support for SUNY drop by about $660 million from 2007-08 to 2019-20—that’s a decrease of nearly 50 percent, or a third of SUNY’s core operating budget.

“UUP has produced NY25, a plan that provides a vision for SUNY. A properly funded SUNY could be a nationwide leader in the fight against climate change, expand access to SUNY’s medical schools, and make SUNY more affordable and accessible.

“UUP realizes that 2020-21 will be a fiscally challenging year. But public education in New York State must be a priority. A college degree is necessary to provide students with the skills and experiences to excel in an ever-changing global economy.

“We look forward to working with state legislators to make real progress for SUNY.”

UUP is the nation's largest higher education union, with more than 42,000 academic and professional faculty and retirees. UUP members work at 29 New York state-operated campuses, including SUNY’s public teaching hospitals and health science centers in Brooklyn, Long Island and Syracuse. It is an affiliate of NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the AFL-CIO.


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