For Immediate Release
December 6, 2022
Advocates, Lawmakers, and UUP President Kowal Call for the State to Fully Fund SUNY Campuses in Western New York
BUFFALO, NY – United University Professions (UUP), the nation’s largest higher education union, rallied today in Buffalo to highlight massive projected operating deficits at SUNY Buffalo State College and SUNY Fredonia, which threaten the viability of public higher education and the economic future of the surrounding communities in Western New York.
UUP President Frederick E. Kowal joined Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, State Sen. Tim Kennedy, Assemblymember Monica Wallace, and Assemblymember Jon Rivera at Buffalo State to reiterate the critical and immediate need to reverse projected multimillion-dollar deficits plaguing SUNY campuses in the Western New York region. For the current fiscal year, Buffalo State faces a $16 million deficit and SUNY Fredonia faces a $16.8 million deficit.
“The future of SUNY and the affordable education it delivers to students is in jeopardy. Today, we are urging lawmakers to take the initiative to alleviate the financial burden that continues to loom over the very students who benefit from this institution,” said Kowal. “SUNY campuses are under massive financial pressure, and this is not an issue we can resolve on our own. State officials must take action to deliver funding that will safeguard access to high-quality higher education in New York.”
Sen. Kennedy said, "We know that when we invest in higher education, we're not just investing short-term in our students - we're investing in their futures and a sustainable, vibrant local economy. New York State must prioritize the institutions that have provided access to high quality education for decades and step up to fully fund SUNY colleges in WNY."
Assemblymember Wallace said, "Our state university schools provide a pathway to the middle class for millions of first generation college students in New York State, like me. They also serve as economic drivers, providing investments and jobs in the communities where they are located. As we negotiate the budget in the coming months, we must commit to funding levels that maintain the quality and affordability of our excellent public university system."
Assemblymember Rivera said, "Higher education is the bedrock of our community, and our SUNY system has provided evidence of that for generations by producing countless graduating classes of educators and community leaders for the future. The operating deficits now being encountered by some of our SUNY schools threaten the progress and affordability of higher education in Western New York. Our state government must work to reverse these severe deficits and ensure that our region’s affordable collegiate system has a healthy, sustained future."
SUNY campuses in Western New York are a key driver of economic growth in surrounding communities, supporting local businesses, and helping to generate a positive economic impact. Buffalo State and Fredonia contribute significantly to the region’s supply of educators, as well as the greater industry workforce and population.
Buffalo State contributes approximately $680 million to the local economy, helping more than 14,000 businesses invest more than $131 million by creating or saving approximately 8,000 jobs.
SUNY Fredonia has supported various local small businesses, including hotels, restaurants, and transportation services, by organizing approximately 150 events per year and drawing approximately 43,000 people to the area annually. SUNY Fredonia has a significant impact on the local economy; students spend nearly $50 million off-campus, and campus visitors spend an additional $4 million.
Boosting operating aid for state-operated campuses is a pivotal and essential first step to protecting affordable public education 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.