For Immediate Release
October 20, 2022
Massive Deficits Plague SUNY ESF ($9M), SUNY Cortland ($10.9M), SUNY Oswego ($5M) & SUNY Morrisville ($5.8M)
Advocates, Lawmakers, and UUP President Kowal Call for New York to Fully Fund SUNY Campuses in CNY
SYRACUSE, NY – United University Professions (UUP), the nation’s largest higher education union, held a rally in Syracuse today to spotlight massive projected operating deficits at several SUNY campuses, which threaten the future viability of public higher education in Syracuse and across Central New York.
UUP President Frederick E. Kowal joined Senators Rachel May and John W. Mannion, Cortland County Legislator Susan M. Wilson and Syracuse Common Council Member Rita Paniagua, among others, at SUNY ESF to reiterate the critical and immediate need to fully fund several Central New York SUNY campuses, including: SUNY ESF, which faces a $9 million projected deficit; SUNY Cortland with a projected $10.9 million deficit; SUNY Oswego, which has a $5 million projected deficit, and; SUNY Morrisville, which has a $5.8 million projected deficit.
“The SUNY system is cracking under pressure and we need state lawmakers to help undo and combat the heavy financial burdens that they have placed on the backs of students. These campuses can’t sustain this, and if Albany fails to act, it threatens their very existence,” said Kowal. “Years of chronic underfunding not only hurts students, but it also hurts jobs and our state’s economy overall. It is beyond time for New York to fund the public higher education system and live up to the promise the state makes to every New Yorker they can have access to a quality education from our public higher education system.”
Senator Rachel May said, “It is time for New York to show that we recognize all SUNY campuses’ tremendous value for students across the state. Not only do these institutions benefit those who attend, but with thousands of students and employees, they’re also economic engines for the local area. We see that benefit firsthand in Central New York with SUNY ESF and Onondaga Community College. We must better value the importance of these institutions as we decide how much to fund them. I will continue to advocate in the Senate for an increase in funding for our public colleges and institutions.”
Senator John W. Mannion said, "The SUNY system is going to play a vital role in fulfilling the unprecedented workforce training demands that come with Micron's $100B semiconductor manufacturing investment in the 50th Senate District that I represent. It is imperative that Central New York SUNY campuses have the funding required to meet this challenge and I will be fighting for SUNY, our students, faculty and staff, and our future economic prosperity in the upcoming budget. Thank you to Fred Kowal and United University Professions for organizing today's event to highlight the great need at our public institutions."
Marty Masterpole, Onondaga County Comptroller said, “SUNY colleges are not only vital in providing quality academics but they also have a major impact on the economic growth of New York State. This economic impact can never reach its fullest potential if SUNY colleges do not receive the state funding necessary to relieve student financial burden and eliminate projected deficits facing these colleges. New York State must make funding SUNY education a priority, lest we forget Benjamin Franklin’s words: ‘an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
Cortland County Legislator Susan M. Wilson said: “Funding SUNY is not just about the impact on one student. Funding SUNY is about enhancing communities with economic development, professional graduates contributing to the quality of life and a stronger, more diverse workforce. We need officials to recognize that putting more and more burden on students hurts our state by limiting those who can afford college, saddling graduates with debt and limiting their contributions to their communities. A stronger SUNY makes for a stronger New York.”
Rita Paniagua, Councilor-at-Large, Syracuse City Council said: "ESF's programs are a key part of a sustainable future for Syracuse and the Central New York Region. Additionally, SUNY ESF is one of the anchor institutions aligning with the Syracuse Surge economic development programs. These collaborations are needed for the cohesion and wellness of our city as well as its economic development."
SUNY ESF, SUNY Cortland, SUNY Oswego and SUNY Morrisville are four of the largest employers in Central New York, and act as economic engines for their local economies. SUNY ESF is one of the leading institutions of high education in downtown Syracuse, with 458 employees and responsible for an economic impact of more than $87 million in 2021. SUNY Cortland has 1,246 employees and generates more than $250 million in regional economic activity. Similarly, SUNY Morrisville boasts 535 employees. Overall, SUNY employs nearly 7,500 New Yorkers in Central New York, with an overall economic impact of nearly $4 billion.
Boosting operating aid for state-operated campuses is a pivotal and essential first step to protecting affordable public education and jobs, and transposing the state’s decades-long disinvestment in SUNY. UUP and other leaders will continue to urge New York state lawmakers to fully fund SUNY campuses facing multimillion-dollar budget deficits at a series of rallies across the state this fall.