May 19, 2009

Unions: SUNY New Paltz cuts don't make sense

Author: Darryl McGrath
Source: New York Teacher
Caption: Nursing students protest SUNY New Paltz's plan to eliminate its nursing program. Both NYSUT and UUP are crying foul, saying the cuts to this program and others are unnecessary. Photo by Don Feldstein.

It just doesn't make sense in the middle of a recession to cut college programs that make workers even more valuable in the job market.

It especially doesn't make sense to cut those same programs when local employers are looking for people with exactly the skills they offer.

But that's what's happening at the State University of New York's college at New Paltz, where the nursing program and the graduate education programs covering math, science and several languages are being phased out.

The New Paltz administration says budget constraints leave the college no choice but to stop accepting new students.

NYSUT and United University Professions — the union representing 35,000 academic and professional faculty in the SUNY system — say the cuts will eliminate a path to career betterment.

The two unions voiced their anger at a recent rally and news conference to protest the decision, which would cost dozens of faculty members their jobs.

"Leaders — real leaders — not only have the obligation to set direction for the institution or groups they lead, but they also must reverse themselves when they clearly have been mistaken," UUP New Paltz chapter president Glenn McNitt told a cheering crowd.

He was joined at the podium by NYSUT Secretary-treasurer Lee Cutler, a New Paltz graduate; UUP President Phil Smith; and UUP Executive Board member and New Paltz faculty member Peter Brown, as well as other faculty and unionists.

Smith pointed out that the administration's claim of an impending budget deficit doesn't add up.

UUP's calculations show that any budget gap at New Paltz would be millions less than the administration predicts, and could be closed with state reserve funds.

"We don't believe that any of this has to happen," Smith said.

NYSUT will continue to monitor the situation and press for restoration of the programs, Cutler said.

"In unionism and in solidarity, we believe a decision is never final," he said.

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