For Immediate Release
Oct. 27, 2021
Calling on Gov. Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature to reverse the decades-long disinvestment of SUNY, Dr. Frederick Kowal, President of United University Professions (UUP), today testified before the New York State Senate Committee on Higher Education. In his testimony, Kowal called for increased funding for the State University of New York after decades of routine funding cuts under former Gov. Cuomo’s administration and called on state leadership to provide SUNY institutions with the necessary resources to best serve communities across the state.
“Gov. Cuomo was no friend to UUP and no friend to SUNY; he fostered a public university system that has been forced to rely more and more on tuition dollars,” said UUP President Kowal in his prepared remarks. “Since the Great Recession, our SUNY campuses have been forced to fund operations by passing the bill onto our students. Year after year of flat budgets included no operating aid increases, which pitted SUNY administrators against unions and campus against campus, scrapping for already scarce resources.”
UUP is proposing this year’s budget must include an infusion of new direct operating aid to state-operated campuses; a restoration of essential mission funding for SUNY medical facilities and teaching hospitals to ensure proper staffing and preparation to fight the pandemic and any future public health crisis; and an expansion of the Medical Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) introduced by UUP and piloted by SUNY last year, elimination of the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) Gap, and an expansion and reformation of the Excelsior Scholarship to cover student fees, as well as room and board for students in the program.
“Although it seems every year is a crucial budget year, 2022 brings opportunities and needs like no time before. For the first time in a decade, we have a new executive, one who knows and values SUNY, we see revenue reports that will allow us to invest, and we have a state legislature committed to providing education and opportunity to the residents of this state,” President Kowal continued. “A SUNY education should not leave students with tens of thousands of dollars of debt. It is our hope that you will join UUP in urging Gov. Hochul to expand and reform the Excelsior Scholarship to cover student fees, as well as room and board for students in the program. We must tear down the facade that the Excelsior Scholarship was a “free college” program.”
To read Kowal’s full testimony, visit: https://uupinfo.org/legislation/pdf/KowalTestimony102721.pdf.