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For Immediate Release
May 22, 2024

Facts Omitted from the 2024 State of the University Address

SUNY Chancellor King Continues His Financial Assault on Cash-Strapped Campuses, Refuses to Publicly Support Downstate University Hospital

The following can be attributed to UUP President Frederick E. Kowal: 

“SUNY Chancellor John King Jr. wants the public to believe that ‘SUNY is strong and can only grow stronger.’ However, actions speak louder than words. The chancellor has made his priorities clear: He is willing to dole out funds to financially secure university centers while leaving SUNY’s 19 fiscally distressed campuses to fend for themselves.

“Chancellor King, with a plan rubber-stamped by the SUNY Board of Trustees, has once again cherry-picked which SUNY campuses will receive the lion’s share of financial support from the state. He refuses to address the deficits at SUNY’s financially distressed campuses. Instead, his initiatives and decisions for SUNY are hanging faculty, staff and students out to dry.

“The chancellor will tell you that there have been historic increases in funding across the SUNY system. What he fails to say is that campuses have endured flat state funding for well over a decade, forcing them to overly rely on tuition revenue and ever-increasing fees, room and board and other living costs.

“The writing is on the wall. This pattern of disinvestment—promoted by the chancellor and approved by the Board of Trustees—will result in student transfers and significant job losses. They will also have a negative economic impact on communities that host or are nearby financially distressed SUNY campuses—many of which are located upstate. This is similar to the pattern being followed by leaders of state systems across the country such as in West Virginia.

“We certainly support increased funding for our university centers, which are crucial to the success of SUNY students. But rather than directing sizeable funding increases to university centers with solid endowments, strong financial positions, and robust research grants, this important state aid should be used to close the combined $146 million deficit faced by our 19 campuses.

“Some of our campuses, like SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Fredonia, have already announced programming and staffing cuts to reduce deficits of $9 million and $17 million, respectively. 

“This cannot continue. The tens of thousands of academic and professional faculty and staff at SUNY campuses deserve to be treated with dignity and provided with a sense of certainty about their future.  

“So do the hardworking health care professionals at Downstate University Hospital in Brooklyn. The chancellor announced a plan in January to close the hospital at Downstate—which has been resoundingly rejected by the Central Brooklyn community, in part due to the devastating impacts on medical education and training that experts agree would be visited upon the medical school at Downstate.

“Additionally, we are waiting for the chancellor to publicly state that he supports what the Central Brooklyn community has demanded—that Downstate hospital remain open at its Central Brooklyn location and that it continues to provide inpatient services the community needs and deserves.

“We anticipate that the decisions made by the nine-person community advisory board tasked with guiding the hospital’s future will reflect the Central Brooklyn community’s demands for enhanced inpatient care and services at the hospital.

“UUP urges the chancellor and the Trustees to do the right thing and invest in all of our campuses and hospitals so they remain viable for years to come.”

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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