For Immediate Release
November 17, 2022
ROCHESTER, NY – United University Professions (UUP), the nation’s largest higher education union, rallied today in Rochester to highlight massive projected operating deficits at SUNY campuses in Brockport and Geneseo, which threaten the viability of public higher education and the economic future of the surrounding communities in the Finger Lakes region.
UUP President Frederick E. Kowal joined Senator Jeremy Cooney, Assemblymember Harry Bronson, Assemblymember Sarah Clark, Geneseo UUP Chapter President Alan Witt and Brockport UUP Chapter President Susan Orr at SUNY Brockport’s Rochester Educational Opportunity Center to reiterate the critical and immediate need to reverse multimillion-dollar deficits plaguing SUNY campuses in the Rochester area. For the current fiscal year, SUNY Brockport faces a $9.9 million projected deficit and SUNY Geneseo faces a $10 million projected deficit.
“The viability of the SUNY system and the high-quality, affordable education it provides is severely at risk. We need Albany to act swiftly to relieve the heavy financial burden that is, and will continue to be, a strain on the very students our system was designed to serve,” said Kowal. “SUNY campuses are under immense pressure, and we cannot solve this alone; we need state officials to act now to preserve access to quality higher education across New York state.”
“As the son of a SUNY professor and a member of the NYS Senate Higher Education Committee, I'm distressed to hear that our public colleges and universities are struggling. I will continue to be an ally in the fight for increased funding so that higher education is available to all New Yorkers,” said state Sen. Jeremy Cooney.
“We can’t expect our students to get good jobs and achieve economic security if they can’t afford the very thing that will get them there – a college degree. As a SUNY alumnus, I know we must do all we can to make higher education more accessible while also preventing students from falling into the black hole of student loan debt. And by increasing the state commitment we are signaling our commitment to doing just that, so every New Yorker has a chance to learn, earn and to get ahead. I stand with the members of UUP and my colleagues in the Legislature to say the fight has just begun to secure SUNY funding,” said Assemblymember Harry B. Bronson.
“As a SUNY graduate, member of the Higher Education Committee, and Chair of the Subcommittee on TAP in the Assembly, I am fully committed to fighting for funding for SUNY. Increased state operating funds will ensure that our campuses aren’t run on the backs of students and their families, who are hoping to access an affordable and quality education,” said Assemblymember Sarah Clark. “I’m proud of the work we did this past session to help close the TAP Gap, and I’m working to increase the award eligibility for families, recognizing that inflation has made affordability a critical consideration for students. I am proud to be an alumna of a SUNY institution, where in addition to receiving a world class education, I was a student athlete and Resident Assistant. I’m thankful for the education I received that prepared me for the various roles I have taken throughout my career including my role today in the Assembly. The leadership and problem solving skills I developed while in school gave me the foundation to find success throughout life. I will do everything to ensure these opportunities are available for generations to come.”
SUNY schools in Rochester are a key driver of economic growth in surrounding communities, supporting more than 10,819 jobs in the Finger Lakes region, and helping to generate a positive economic impact of $1.32 billion. SUNY Geneseo and Brockport contribute significantly to the region’s supply of educators, as well as the greater industry workforce and population.
In the last year alone, SUNY Brockport’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) worked with 471 small businesses and provided more than 1,822 counseling hours. The SBDC created 93 new regional jobs and maintained an economic funding investment of over $6 million for the greater Rochester community. SUNY Geneseo’s SBDC has helped more than 384,130 small businesses to date, creating more than 169,485 jobs and investing $50 billion in New York's economy since its creation in 1984.
Boosting operating aid for state-operated campuses is a pivotal and essential first step to protecting affordable public education and jobs, and reversing the state’s decades-long disinvestment in SUNY. SUNY Campuses across the state face structural or projected deficits totaling over $155 million. UUP and other leaders will continue to urge state lawmakers to fully fund SUNY campuses facing multimillion-dollar budget deficits at a series of rallies across the state this fall.