Efficiency, new sources of revenue and local job creation are how the SUNY system plans to advance amid deep cuts and help the New York economy recover, said Chancellor Nancy Zimpher in her State of SUNY address Wednesday.
"The Chancellor has created a bold plan to propel SUNY to become a premier public university system," said President W. Hubert Keen about the address. "A sensible tuition plan, using the declining amount of state support in the best ways possible, and being as efficient as we can will help the campuses thrive and be the economic engines the state needs in this challenging financial environment."
SUNY faced $670 million in cuts over the last three years, a 30 percent decrease in funding, according to Carl Hayden, chairman of the SUNY Board of Trustees who introduced Zimpher.
Zimpher said SUNY can advance despite these cuts through more efficient spending practices, like performance-based resource allocation, more online classes to reduce time to graduation, a more seamless transfer policy between campuses for students and the streamlining of shared administrative services.
“We must be held accountable for how we use our resources,” Zimpher said. “Beginning with our fiscal year 2012, SUNY will distribute state support among campuses based on performance in critical areas like research expenditures and awards, student course completion, retention and degree completion, diversity of our students and faculty and degree programs that address workforce shortages and the needs of emerging industries.”
She remained vague exactly how the funding will be divided, stating the college presidents are still deciding how this new formula will work.
Zimpher also plans on generating revenue without having to increase tuition significantly through “regulatory relief” from Albany for SUNY to engage in public and private partnerships on campuses. SUNY will also tap its extensive alumni base through multimillion dollar fundraising campaigns.
She ended her remarks by explaining how the growth and success of SUNY affects the state of New York, estimating that SUNY has the capacity to create 20,000 construction jobs and 20,000 spin-off jobs.
“We must be anchors in our local communities, in many cases our community’s largest employer, consumer of goods and services and a massive source of construction jobs,” she said. “For every million dollars in investment we calculate that we can deliver 20 more jobs.”
The address comes after newly-elected New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo called higher education a “key economic driver” to fiscal recovery and Zimpher’s 100-day tour of SUNY’s 64 campuses.
“Less public investment, more demands and rapid shifting economic sands require us to be increasingly agile,” she said. “At the same time these very challenges have added to SUNY's importance to the welfare of our state.”