For Immediate Release
November 9, 2023
More than 100 unionists, students and community members showed their support for SUNY Potsdam as they rallied against planned cuts to programs and staff.
Waving signs that read “We demand fair funding for SUNY Potsdam,” members of United University Professions joined students, area unionists and community members at a rally today to stop the elimination of as many as 10 degree programs—and associated faculty and staff positions—at the college to close a projected $9 million deficit.
The late afternoon rally was held in front of the Barrington Student Center on the SUNY Potsdam campus.
Speakers included statewide UUP President Frederick E. Kowal, UUP Potsdam Chapter President Kevin Smith, and Village of Gouverneur Mayor Ronald McDougall, a United Auto Workers member and past president of the Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence Counties Central Trades and Labor Council. Jennifer Mitchell, a SUNY Potsdam English professor, also spoke at the rally.
“We are here today to fight for our students, our members and the communities and businesses that depend heavily on SUNY Potsdam as a strong, vibrant economic engine,” said Kowal. Fair funding for SUNY Potsdam and all of SUNY’s financially stressed campuses is the answer to keeping our campuses vibrant.”
“Our members believe that SUNY Potsdam is a special place that deserves fair funding from SUNY administration,” said Smith. “We’re here to ensure that New Yorkers can receive a reasonably priced, face-to-face, education in their chosen field at Potsdam or at the at the state university campus of their choice.”
Kowal called a late October decision by SUNY Potsdam administration to save four programs— Biochemistry, Chemistry, and two public health programs—previously on the chopping block a victory for students, the community and UUP members.
UUP advocated strongly for $163 million in new state aid for SUNY—which was included in the 2023-2024 state budget—with the intent to close campus budget shortfalls at SUNY Potsdam and 18 other campuses.
The SUNY Board of Trustees, which distributes the funding to campuses, could have wiped out all SUNY campus deficits had it doled out those funds based on campus need. Instead, The Trustees only allocated less than half of that funding to financially troubled campuses.
Kowal said UUP will push strongly for more funding for SUNY campuses in the 2024-2025 state budget, this time with a stipulation that the money be sent to campuses based on need.
“After massive state aid cuts to SUNY and more than a decade of Cuomo-era austerity budgets, our campuses must receive fair funding, which will allow them to close deficits and focus on growth.
"Everday, our members at Potsdam and campuses across New York state provide our students with a world-class educational experience that will serve them throughout their lives," Kowal continued. "The work our members do positively impacts our students, our communities and our state both educationally and economically."