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For Immediate Release
March 8, 2023


UUP Is Requesting an Additional $4.5 Million for SUNY’s Equal Opportunity Program, Serving More Than 78,000 Students Statewide

ALBANY, NY – United University Professions (UUP), the nation’s largest higher education union, today hosted SUNY students, union members and public higher education advocates for an advocacy day in Albany to highlight the importance of SUNY opportunity programs. SUNY’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and Equal Opportunity Centers (EOC) serve thousands of students across the state every year and provide crucial support for access to public higher education.

The UUP event brought together panelists who urged the state to fully fund the state’s EOP, EOC and newly-formed Medical Educational Opportunity Program (MEOP), intended to support students throughout the pre-med and medical education process. This year, UUP is also calling on Gov. Kathy Hochul and lawmakers to create a new, $4 million Mental Health Educational Opportunity Program (MHEOP)to expand New York’s mental health workforce and increase diversity among mental health providers.

“SUNY’s opportunity programs support some of our most vulnerable students. Each year, these programs make SUNY accessible for hundreds of students from underresourced, underrepresented communities. The opportunity programs are tremendously successful, with a track record of delivering results for students and New York alike – and it is crucial that the state boost funding to sustain and expand the program,” said UUP President Frederick E. Kowal. “Over the past few years, it has become clear that the mental health needs of students, faculty, and all New Yorkers are dramatically underserved, and we must do much more to address this crisis. We can close the gap in resources through empowering our students to enter the mental health field, creating a workforce that meets the state’s diverse needs.”

In its 2023 Legislative Agenda, UUP called on the state to reverse the proposed cut included in the Executive Budget and allocate an additional $4.5 million this year for SUNY’s EOP, which serves more than 78,000 students, as well as $5 million to expand the MEOP.

"Equal opportunity programs are the foundation of a thriving and equitable society, and we must continue to invest in and expand these programs to ensure that all students have access to the educational opportunities they need to succeed,” said State Senator Robert Jackson. “Additionally, we must recognize the significance of mental health services and invest in the resources to build a workforce that is reflective of the needs of our diverse communities."

“Ensuring that all of our students have the ability to succeed means investing in the programs that make student success possible,” said Assemblymember Patricia Fahy, chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee. “The Educational Opportunity Program helps students navigate life on campus, obstacles they may face, and connects individuals to wrap-around services that specifically suit their needs. As Chair of the Higher Education Committee in the Assembly, I’m proud to support the EOP program’s funding and vital role it plays in the lives of so many students across New York State and look forward to investing in a wholistic approach to student success alongside my legislative colleagues in this year’s state budget negotiations.”

For more than 50 years, SUNY’s opportunity programs have made it possible for students who have limited financial resources and are academically underprepared to attend a SUNY school, earn a degree, and achieve their life goals. These programs provide eligible first-time, full-time freshmen with a pre-freshman summer experience, extensive academic support services, supplemental instruction, one-on-one advisement, and modest financial assistance for non-tuition related expenses such as books and supplies.

For more information on UUP’s 2023 legislative agenda, visit:

UUP is the nation's largest higher education union, with more than 42,000 academic and professional faculty and retirees. UUP members work at 29 New York state-operated campuses, including SUNY’s public teaching hospitals and health science centers in Brooklyn, Long Island and Syracuse. It is an affiliate of NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the AFL-CIO.


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