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State Lawmakers Urged to Approve Local Control of SUNY Schools

March 31, 2010

Buffalo News

March 29, 2010

This region will lose out on extensive economic benefits if the State Legislature rejects a plan giving State University of New York campuses more control over their own operations, the University at Buffalo's president warned Monday.

UB can't go forward with its ambitious UB 2020 blueprint for growth without the regulatory changes included in the SUNY legislation, which faces an uncertain future in the Assembly.

And a proposed $16.5 million cut in state funding to UB could lead to program cuts and layoffs of faculty and staff, UB President John B. Simpson said Monday.

"If you want to have the kind of growth that we described in putting together the 2020 vision ... we need a predictable and a stable financial base. We don't have that right now," Simpson said in an interview following his news conference at UB's Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences.

A key piece of the SUNY legislation would allow schools to set their own tuition rates and to keep any additional tuition revenue on their campuses.

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President Simpson's Press Conference on YouTube

Simpson says Albany puts Western New York's future in jeopardy

March 29, 2010

March 29, 2010
University at Buffalo

Failure of Albany to pass the Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act with the state budget will put UB 2020 and the future of Western New York in absolute jeopardy, President John B. Simpson told a press conference on March 29. Simply put, our community will not have the benefits of UB 2020 without this. We need to let our elected officials and all of Albany know that the community demands this.

View Press Conference On YouTube

Legislation Would Give a Boost to State Public Education

March 08, 2010

Journal News

March 7, 2010

With the state's finances at a crisis point, it is time for bold new ideas that will not only get us through these difficult times, but return the State of New York to greatness.

The Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act is an idea of that magnitude. This landmark legislation shields our students and our campuses from the worst effects of the fiscal crisis while maximizing our potential as a driver of economic recovery.

The State University of New York is in the midst of a statewide strategic plan, the goal of which is to revitalize New York's economy while creating a better quality of life in every community. This plan, which will be completed next month, will serve as SUNY's roadmap. But the Empowerment Act will be the enabling legislation for our ambitious vision.

The legislation removes tuition from the state budget, allowing SUNY to expand enrollment and increase access to excellent education opportunities.

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Medicine as an Economic Engine

Buffalo News

March 7, 2010

The economists call them “Eds and Meds.”

They are universities and hospitals, institutions found in many cities, even those with otherwise decaying economies, that can be the basis for a financial rebirth that creates high- skilled, high-wage jobs not easily outsourced, offshored or otherwise made obsolete.

Merge the two, as in a medical school, and, analysts say, it creates the potential for the kind of economic growth that can ripple through a local economy. It is touted as a way for economic recovery to be partially channeled into urban centers, rather than only to the suburbs.

Academic medicine, as the blend of universities and medical centers is called, is coveted as the basis for much economic development in rust belt cities where, one analyst said, bell towers are replacing smokestacks as signs of economic health. Cities in that mold include Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

And Buffalo.

“The intersection of health care and health science education, that’s the basis for a new economy,” said David Dunn, vice president of health sciences at the University at Buffalo. “The return on investment is a home run.”

Across the state of New York, alliances of higher education and health care already provide a boost to the state’s economy worth $85.6 billion a year, according to a new study by a group representing the 15 public and private medical schools that operate in New York State. That’s $37.2 billion in direct impact, plus a multiplier factor of 2.3 that calculates another $48.4 billion in indirect activity from the academic health care dollars being spent throughout the economy.

According to the numbers put out last week by the Associated Medical Schools of New York, one dollar out of every $13 in the state’s overall economy, and one job out of every 11, comes from the state’s medical schools and their affiliated hospitals and research centers. It is, according to the organization’s leaders, a significant return on investment for a state that provides a relatively small amount of funding for medical schools, including the University at Buffalo’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

From 1995 to 2008, the group says, the overall New York economy grew 186 percent, while the impact of academic medicine was up 270 percent.

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Aiding SUNY Can Revive N.Y.

March 05, 2010

Albany Times Union

March 5, 2010

by SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher

With the state's finances at a crisis point, it is time for bold ideas that will not only get us through these difficult times, but return New York to greatness.

The Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act is an idea of that magnitude.

This landmark legislation shields our students and our campuses from the worst effects of the fiscal crisis while maximizing our potential as a driver of economic recovery.

The State University of New York is in the midst of a strategic plan, the goal of which is to revitalize New York's economy while creating a better quality of life in every community.

This plan, which will be completed next month, will serve as SUNY's roadmap. The Empowerment Act will be the enabling legislation for our ambitious vision.

The legislation removes tuition from the state budget, allowing SUNY to expand enrollment and increase access to excellent education opportunities. It enables SUNY to engage in partnerships with the private sector, which means new revenue to support SUNY and the ability to create 2,000 faculty positions and a total of 10,000 jobs across the system -- along with 65,000 construction jobs for capital projects. The principles of collective bargaining and union worker rights are specifically protected.

Finally, the legislation cuts the red tape that costs SUNY time and money and stifles economic activity. At the same time, it promotes transparency and accountability in our business transactions.

Unfortunately, some critics continue to defend an indefensible status quo, providing no alternative solutions -- only criticisms. In contrast, we understand the need to be proactive and strategic about the future. If current projections are accurate, there will be even less money to go around next year. Business as usual will be nothing short of disastrous.

The Empowerment Act protects students with a comprehensive tuition policy that will enable them to plan ahead for tuition costs. Historically, tuition has gone up the most during tough times, when families can least afford it.

Our tuition plan will maintain affordability and accessibility. We are in the process of developing a detailed tuition policy that would cap total year-to-year tuition increases, while protecting access with expanded financial aid.

These reforms will not "give the state permission to cut SUNY." The steady erosion of support shows that the state long ago gave itself permission to cut SUNY. Worse, when SUNY raised tuition to maintain academic quality, the state has swept those funds into the treasury to close budget gaps elsewhere. These budget cuts and tuition grabs have added up to $424 million over the past two years.

During this fiscal hurricane, we simply cannot afford to stake everything on the hope of budget restorations. To do so will lead to diminished access, erosion of academic quality and economic stagnation.

That is why we are leaving no stone unturned to find ways to sustain and grow a world-class system of public higher education. We have come to the table with an innovative, responsible plan, offering the State University as a partner with all who seek to create a better future for our communities.

The Empowerment Act also embodies SUNY's fundamental commitment to accountability and transparency, putting in place oversight procedures for every provision.

When I was hired by the board of trustees, I pledged to "press the reset button" on SUNY's way of doing business. I believe we have succeeded in that effort, with unprecedented participation by our campuses in the budget process, a groundbreaking strategic plan and a newly energized partnership with the City University of New York.

But for SUNY to reach its potential in creating new educational and economic opportunities, we need the Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act.

The road of excuses, delays and fear has reached a dead end. It is time to set out on a new path that will shore up public higher education, create jobs and begin the process of rebuilding New York.

Nancy L. Zimpher is chancellor of the State University of New York.

University Conference Looks at Reviving State Economy

March 04, 2010

Newsday

March 4, 2010

By Dave Marcus

The state's public universities and community colleges can help revive New York's economy through high-tech and medical research, industry partnerships and incubators for small companies, academic and business leaders said Wednesday at a Stony Brook University conference.

At the same time, several scholars warned that New York is losing its competitive edge to North Carolina, Washington and other states that have aggressively pursued the billions of dollars the federal government spends every year on research.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, one of the attendees, said Stony Brook is particularly well positioned to benefit from science, medicine and energy grants because of its relationships with Brookhaven and Cold Spring Harbor laboratories. Zimpher added that on recent visits she's been encouraged to hear about cooperation among Stony Brook and Long Island's four other public campuses - SUNY Old Westbury, Farmingdale State College and the community colleges in Nassau and Suffolk.

"It's a wonderful coincidence that on Long Island we have the full spectrum of SUNY, including community colleges, a technical college, a research university, a medical school and dentistry program," she said in an interview as the conference ended. "The challenge is how to take the firepower of all these diverse institutions and put it in service to the economy."

The conference was part of a series of statewide planning sessions that are intended to devise a five-year plan to raise SUNY's profile while turning the 64 campuses into economic engines that drive the economy.

Participants, including professors and business executives, were told to come up with what organizers called BHAG - "big, hairy audacious goals." Some of those included rewarding professors for obtaining patents rather than publishing articles in scholarly journals, and encouraging "virtual research projects" that link scientists at public and private campuses across the state and thousands of miles away.

"We've got great potential that we haven't tapped," said David Lavallee, SUNY's interim provost.

Cary Staller, a SUNY trustee from Long Island, said many of the innovations will not require new spending. He suggested, for example, that the public universities should put more emphasis on developing ventures that can make a profit. "Accept that research universities need to change," he urged the academics, "and embrace change."

The five-hour session was filled with reminders of SUNY's potential as well as the daunting problems facing the system. It was held in Stony Brook's new Center for Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology, the first building in a research park next to the main campus.

But in a symbol of the university's woes, two busloads of student protested tens of millions of dollars in planned state cuts to the Stony Brook budget as well as proposed tuition increases.

Colleges Fear Impact of Aid Cuts in Proposed State Budget

March 01, 2010

Corning Leader

March 1, 2010

Corning Community College students would be affected by Gov. David Paterson’s proposed 2010-11 budget. Paterson has proposed cutting aid to SUNY schools and cutting the amount students receive under the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP).

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