SUNY 2020 law offers major boost for UAlbany

<p>This was defeted last year, but this governor got it done. This is good for all SUNY and CUNY, but this article describes the UAlbany benefits.</p>

<p>SUNY</a> 2020 law offers major boost for UAlbany - Times Union</p>

<p>SUNY 2020 law offers major boost for UAlbany</p>

<p>UAlbany proposes increase in faculty, $150M research plaza in plan for 2020 funds</p>

<p>By SCOTT WALDMAN Staff writer</p>

<p>Published 12:00 a.m., Wednesday, August 10, 2011 </p>

<p>ALBANY -- The University at Albany wants to hire 187 new faculty members, expand its enrollment by 1,350 students, and build a $150 million Biomedical and Information Innovation Research Plaza. </p>

<p>The plan is part of the school's pitch under the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law Tuesday. The legislation also includes tuition hikes at every campus in the State University of New York and City University of New York campuses. </p>

<p>Cuomo said the legislation will create jobs and boost the state's economic competitiveness. </p>

<p>"New York's universities are the jewel of our state's education system, and with this bill the SUNY system will now be perfectly positioned to become the engine of economic growth across the state," he said. </p>

<p>The NYSUNY 2020 legislation also includes a tuition increase plan for all campuses that will raise the cost of a SUNY education by 30 percent over the next five years, from $4,970 to $6,470. University centers at Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo and Stony Brook will be able to add an additional three percent "rational plus" tuition hike. Out-of-state students, who currently pay $13,380, would see a 10 percent-a-year tuition increase. Merit-based aid for the neediest students would also increase. </p>

<p>UAlbany officials pitched the plan to the SUNY Board of Trustees earlier this month. No date has yet been set for when they will present it to the governor. The plan could be tweaked before a final version is accepted. </p>

<p>Under the plan, faculty would be hired in the following fields: human health and biomedical sciences; emerging technology; environmental and economic sustainablility; public service and policy; business and entrepreneurship; and liberal arts and sciences. It would bring the faculty to student ratio from 30 to 1, to 24 to 1. </p>

<p>UAlbany would pay for the Biomedical Sciences building through a variety of funds. In addition to a $35 million grant that could come from NYSUNY 2020 challenge, the school would use $42 million in appropriations from 2008-09. The school would have to raise an additional $73 million to fund the building.</p>

<p>The 300,000 square foot building would house classrooms, labs and support spaces and would be home to 400 new faculty, researchers and staff. Construction could begin this academic year and would be completed by 2016. </p>

<p>The plan calls for the hiring of 745 permanent positions, including 203 staff and 355 new researchers. It would create 1,400 temporary construction jobs. It could have a $2 billion economic impact. The school also announced a 10-year plan to swell the current enrollment of 18,000 by an additional 5,000 students. Under the long-term plan, 2,200 permanent jobs would be created. </p>

<p>UAlbany President George Philip declined to comment on the NYSUNY 2020 proposal, but called praised the legislation as one of the most significant reforms for the SUNY system since the 1960s. </p>

<p>"NYSUNY 2020 will allow the University at Albany to strengthen its academic enterprise, create new jobs, attract new research funding, and spur economic revitalization in the Capital Region and across the state of New York," he said in a statement.</p>

<p>Not everyone is pleased with the plan. It shifts the state's reduction of aid on to the backs of students who are already struggling with high debt loads, said Colin Donnaruma, a doctoral student in philosophy at UAlbany and leader of the advocacy group, Save Our SUNY, which has fought cuts to the school's humanities offerings. It also represents a notable shift in the university, toward degrees that emphasize earning potential over learning, he said.</p>

<p>"It's a shift in mission, a moving away from the core liberal arts," he said. </p>

<p>On Tuesday, Cuomo said he would not comment on the UAlbany plan because he had not seen it. Officials at the University of Buffalo and SUNY Stony Brook have already pitched their plans and will soon hear if they have been accepted for the $35 million grant, Cuomo said Tuesday. He said no date has been set for Albany and Binghamton officials to present their plans. </p>

<p>Last month, UAlbany officials drew some heat after it was reported the university was planning to build a new 6,000-seat football stadium, insert a new track around the current football field and build a multi-purpose synthetic turf field for recreational and club teams. School officials did not put a price tag, or timeline, on the project. The money for the sports improvements would not come from the NYSUNY 2020 grant. </p>

<p>The proposal for a major new academic building and enrollment increase has significant support from the business community. It has been backed by more than 300 leaders in the educational, social and business communities, said Michael Tucker, president of the Center for Economic Growth in Albany. Investing in the university is essential to the business growth and diversifying the type of industry that creates new jobs in the Capital Region, he said.</p>

<p>"The development of critical mass in our technology clusters will not only drive business expansion in the region, it will attract new business and industry around the globe," Tucker said.</p>

<p>Reach Scott Waldman at 454-5080 or <a href=""></a>. Follow him at Scott</a> Waldman (518Schools) on Twitter.</p>

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