For Immediate Release
Nov. 22, 2021
United University Professions (UUP), the nation’s largest higher education union, today introduced its NY HEALS 2022 legislative agenda at a hearing of the State Senate Committee on Higher Education. In his testimony before the committee, UUP President Frederick E. Kowal called on lawmakers to act on a forward-looking and long-overdue series of challenges faced by SUNY institutions, including the expansion of access to and delivery of health care for all, and once again transforming SUNY into a dynamic educational vehicle to drive economic, social and environmental change.
The NY HEALS campaign will include a series of press conferences and events across the state to engage and educate state and local lawmakers on UUP’s legislative priorities ahead of the 2022 legislative session. UUP will be joined by state lawmakers at each event to discuss how the campaign will directly benefit their local SUNY campuses and communities.
As part of the NY HEALS campaign, UUP will advocate for key public policies that lift up SUNY and New York State’s education landscape as a whole and urge Gov. Kathy Hochul and state legislators to fix New York’s broken higher education system. The campaign will also call for increased funding for essential programs after years of flat or reduced budgets to reverse the decades-long disinvestment of New York State’s higher education system fostered by the Cuomo Administration.
“For years, New York’s public university system was starved of funding and resources under an administration that backed away from its commitment to providing a high-quality, accessible and affordable education to the residents of this state – resulting in higher tuition, decreased enrollment, and a system running on empty,” said UUP President Fred Kowal. “With a new administration committed to fixing the systemic faults highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and a Legislature dedicated to providing residents the best possible opportunities, now is the time to enact meaningful reform. This legislative package will uplift all of New York, restoring desperately needed resources and bringing students back to our campuses.”
“We must act now to dramatically enhance investment in quality education and student support services, which are needed now more than ever. We stand with our faculty and staff colleagues, as well as our champions in government, to strengthen academic excellence, educational opportunity, and student success in public higher education,” said SUNY Student Assembly President Bradley Hershenson. “Every dollar invested into SUNY returns $8.17 in economic growth and activity for New York. SUNY students repay the investment made in their higher education many times over through the taxes they pay now and after graduation. We must protect and enhance that investment through the legislative budget process and continue to advocate for even more federal aid to New York. SUNY graduates are essential to the health and well-being of New York’s economy, its workforce, and its intellectual and social fabric.”
"New York's decades of shifting the costs of higher education from the state to the families of college students must be reversed. A new Administration coupled with solid state finances offers a unique opportunity to reverse that decline. NYPIRG applauds UUP's innovative 'NY HEALS' program and pledges our support for measures to bolster New York's institutions of higher education," said Blair Horner, Executive Director of the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG).
Local events planned in Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, and Brooklyn will highlight UUP’s policy priorities, including increased operating aid to state campuses; a restoration of funding for SUNY medical facilities and teaching hospitals; an expansion of the Medical Educational Opportunity Program; an elimination of the TAP gap; and an expansion of the Excelsior Scholarship to cover non-tuition fees and room and board for students in the program.
In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, UUP announced their NY HEALS coalition, a commitment to Healthcare, Education, Access, Leadership, and Sustainability. The launch of the NY HEALS campaign builds on the organization’s commitment to these principles, and UUP’s ongoing advocacy work on behalf of its members.
UUP’s 2022 NY HEALS campaign is slated to begin in the coming weeks. To read President Kowal’s testimony to lawmakers announcing the legislative agenda, click HERE.