ALBANY, NY – United University Professions, the nation’s largest higher education union, recently held a press conference calling for increased public funding for three SUNY campuses in the Capital Region facing projected budget shortfalls of several million: the University of Albany, Empire State College and SUNY Cobleskill.
UUP President Frederick E. Kowal, Ph.D., was joined by State Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, Albany Mayor Kathy M. Sheehan, Common Council Member of ‘Albany Tom Hoey and Jalen Miller, Vice President of the University of Albany Student Association.
At the late morning event, held in UAlbany, speakers urged state lawmakers to allocate more state aid to SUNY campuses to help address budget shortfalls. The University at Albany faces a projected shortfall of $15 million. Two other SUNY institutions in the Capital Region, Empire State College and SUNY Cobleskill, have projected deficits of $8 million and $4 million, respectively.
“For too long our campuses have been underfunded by the state, which has placed the burden of funding our campuses on the backs of students and parents through higher tuition and fees and other costs ever-increasing,” Kowal said. “Last year, students paid $2 for every $1 of direct state operational support.
“The impact of this chronic underfunding has – and will continue to have – a negative effect on our communities, especially those that house SUNY campuses,” he continued. “SUNY is a powerful economic engine for these communities, providing well-paying jobs, millions in generated revenue, and a well-educated workforce that helps create a stable tax base. We need to encourage that growth and one way to do that is to properly fund our campuses.
In the Capital Region, SUNY represents more than 9,800 jobs and supports more than 21,400 indirect jobs (suppliers, subcontractors, etc.). SUNY’s impact on the Capital Region economy was $3.4 billion in 2018, according to a SUNY Economic Impact Study by the Rockefeller Institute of Government.
Statewide, SUNY’s economic impact is approximately $30 billion annually. Every dollar invested in SUNY by the state returns $8.17. SUNY is also one of the 10 largest employers in every region of the state except New York.
Kowal also warned that without more state funding, campuses with acceptable student-teacher ratios could see them accelerate, especially with enrollment growth. The student-to-faculty ratio at the University of Albany is 19 to 1; it’s 15 to 1 at Empire State College and SUNY Cobleskill.
“After more than a decade of flat state funding, most of our campuses have long since cut budgets and been forced into painful cost-cutting measures to make ends meet,” Kowal said. “Without more state funding, campuses must consider even more drastic measures, which could include curtailing programs, overloading classes, leaving full-time vacancies unfilled, and hiring more deputies to take over.”
“SUNY is one of the nation’s leading public institutions of higher education, helping tens of thousands of students across New York State and beyond realize their dream of a college education. Despite legislative efforts, SUNY’s funding has remained stable for several years, meaning students, families, and universities like the University at Albany are forced to bear increased costs that are reflected in tuition hikes. and other fees. I’m proud to stand with UUP and the University of Albany Student Union today in emphasizing the need for increased public funding for SUNY institutions, to help fight the budget shortfalls and to ensure that our SUNY schools have the resources they need,” said Assemblyman Fahy.
“Our SUNY campuses like the University at Albany help train our future workforce, provide well-paying jobs, and drive economic investment in the Capital Region. These institutions are essential community partners, and j ‘urges SUNY to ensure that the University at Albany is fully funded to help avoid putting this vital institution in a position to make curricular cuts or pass these fiscal pressures on to our students,’ remarked Albany Mayor Sheehan.
“With additional funding, SUNY will be able to provide adequate mental health services to our students. Currently, SUNY campuses do not maintain proper counselor-to-student ratios to adequately support students. As students balance their course load, family life, work, and the financial burden of being a student, they should have more medical professionals to help them. We need more resources to staff our SUNY campuses, across all departments. Students shouldn’t have to worry about long lines to talk about financial aid about tuition fees when we are already concerned about the cost of higher education in the first place,” added Jalen Miller, vice president of the University at Albany Student Association.