ALBANY, N.Y. January 30, 2008 – The 585,000-member New York State United Teachers today called on state legislators to reverse proposed funding cuts to the State University and City University systems, saying they are incubators which attract research, investment and jobs, particularly to struggling upstate communities.
"New York's economic recovery from this current downturn and the magnitude of its future economic growth are largely predicated upon the state's financial commitment to higher education," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "SUNY, CUNY and our network of community colleges should be cornerstones of New York state's economic plan."
Instead, added NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan B. Lubin, New York's public higher education institutions are being forced "to play catch-up, fighting for funding just to make it back to where they were last year. There is no question that so much more needs to be done if we are serious about making SUNY and CUNY the best in the nation," Lubin said.
In testimony to the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees, Lubin urged legislators to restore proposed cuts in operating aid to SUNY and CUNY and make a significant new investment in those institutions. He said SUNY and CUNY rely too heavily on tuition revenue to fund programs, noting that, when adjusted for inflation, state support for SUNY and CUNY had declined more than 35 percent since 1990.
In addition, Lubin called on legislators to add more full-time faculty lines, saying enrollment growth and an over-reliance on part-time faculty is hurting instructional quality.
"Many once-prominent and nationally ranked academic departments at SUNY and CUNY have lost their standing due to the precipitous loss of full-time faculty over the last couple of decades," Lubin said. "Our students deserve better. Our state deserves better."
Lubin said NYSUT is also seeking additional funding for community colleges, noting New York's network of two-year institutions are the "gateway to higher education for thousands of students, play an important role as we work to end the achievement gap and are an economic center for many upstate communities."
NYSUT represents 585,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.