Empowering Public Higher Education

NY GOVERNORGovernor David Paterson has announced that the Executive Budget will include a sweeping reform to the SUNY system for public higher education. Stony Brook University President Dr. Samuel L. Stanley, Jr. was joined by SUNY Trustees Michael Russell, Stony Brook Foundation President Richard Gelfond, and Stony Brook University Council Member Diana Weir in a thorough endorsement of the new “Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act,” indicating that it categorically provides high-impact, zero-cost solutions that will create jobs, build the foundation for tomorrow’s economy, and strengthen public higher education–while saving millions of taxpayer dollars.

“This is absolutely central to enhancing our University’s prestige and the quality of our students’ education,” said President Stanley. “Rational and predictable increases in tuition would prevent the sudden and dramatic jumps that have occurred in the past, and, most importantly, money from the increased tuition would stay on campus.”

President Stanley affirmed that the increased revenue would enable Stony Brook to hire 400 new faculty over the next decade, increase the availability of classes to help students graduate on time, create smaller class sizes, provide students with more one-on-one time to interact with faculty, and free up faculty to work with students on the kinds of research that lead to discoveries, therapies, innovations, and cures. And, he pledged to work to keep our most economically disadvantaged students and their families harmless from these tuition increases by designating some of the revenue for scholarships.

“If the Governor’s proposals for flex tuition and regulatory relief can go forward this will go a long way in allowing Stony Brook and other SUNY schools to continue advancing to the upper echelons of higher education in this country,” said Russell.

“For Stony Brook, this legislation is crucial to fulfilling our role as a research university that can serve as an economic engine for the region and the state,” said Gelfond. “We believe that the adoption of this bill will serve as a catalyst to propel Stony Brook to a level alongside the best public universities in the nation.”

Weir, who is also Executive Vice President of Long Island Housing Partnerships Inc., feels strongly that the Act would have a significant impact on Stony Brook’s ability to drive the economy of Long Island. “It is very important for a university like Stony Brook that is regionally significant to have more capability to manage the budget rationally, rather than to wait for legislation to come out with a large tuition increase every five years, especially during economic times like these,” she said.

The Act allows for greater participation in public-private partnerships, which would enable Stony Brook to leverage the commercial investment of the private sector with research breakthroughs made on campus to benefit our economy, our health, and our planet. This investment would allow for the construction of new laboratories and classrooms, and the development of new businesses, making Stony Brook a central driver in the revitalization of the Long Island economy. It would create jobs throughout the employment sector, from manufacturing and construction to biotechnology and higher education.

The Act would grant Stony Brook more autonomy to achieve efficiencies in business transactions with enhanced transparency and accountability in our practices. This would result in cost savings to the University and to the State of New York that could be reinvested elsewhere. Increased autonomy would also strengthen the ability of Stony Brook University Hospital to remain on the cutting edge of innovation.

“I will work in the coming months to champion this vital initiative and to rally support for it from our students, faculty, staff, and community,” said President Stanley. “Later this month, Stony Brook will host a meeting of State lawmakers representing Long Island to discuss this legislative priority as well as the impact of the Governor’s budget on Stony Brook University.

To review Governor Paterson’s press release, and for more information about the Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act, visit www.stonybrook.edu/innovation.

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