Media contact: 
David M. Henahan, director of communications
518-587-2100, ext. 2918
David.Henahan@esc.edu

518-321-7038
(after 5 p.m. and weekends)

January 29, 2010

Empire State College Applauds Governor's Higher Education Reforms

(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Jan. 15, 2010) Empire State College President Alan Davis offered full support for the reforms put forward by Gov. David Paterson this month in his proposed Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act.

“This is a great, new, sensible and timely initiative. Clearly, reason, creative thinking and good will prevailed to create and propose it,” Davis said.

Sweeping in its scope, the act puts forth no-cost solutions that will create jobs, build the foundation for tomorrow’s economy and strengthen public higher education. With the implementation of the Empowerment and Innovation Act, the State University of New York estimates that over the next 10 years, its campuses will be able to help create over 10,000 new jobs and invest over $8.5 billion in capital construction, which will support over 43,700 direct and 21,800 indirect construction jobs.

“At no cost, and by changing the rules under which SUNY and CUNY operate, Empire State College will be much better able to meet the needs of our learners, to fulfill our mission of contributing to economic development and the quality of life across the state, to better cope with our own financial uncertainty,” Davis said, adding that “this will take both public higher education systems in the state to new levels of global recognition and impact.”

Empire State College serves more than 19,000 students worldwide at multiple locations in the state of New York and online.

The act will allow the two university systems to become more responsible for their own finances allowing students to maximize educational opportunities throughout New York’s public higher education systems from community colleges through to doctoral programs. It will also encourage the development of important public-private partnerships that will lead to new sources of revenue and enhanced research funding. Additionally and very importantly, the initiative offers a rational approach to establishing tuition structures that students and their families can plan for and much-needed flexibility for the operations of SUNY and CUNY that have, for too long, been over-regulated by New York government.

Below are specific points in the Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act that are worthy of note.

Tuition Policy and Financing proposals:

  • Allows for differential tuition by campus and program;
  • SUNY Board must adopt tuition policy that is fair, equitable and responsible and that includes guidelines for across the board tuition adjustments, differential tuition and enrollment planning;
  • SUNY Board must adopt out of state enrollment maximum percentage limitations;
  • Invests all tuition, fees and other self-generated revenues in SUNY campuses, students and faculty.

Land Use, Public-Private Partnerships and Construction Fund:

  • Authorizes SUNY to undertake land leases without special legislation for projects not in conflict with campus missions;
  • Authorizes SUNY to enter joint ventures and public private partnerships;
  • Eliminates burdensome and duplicative State Comptroller/Attorney General pre-approval of Construction Fund contracts;
  • Waives Construction Fund performance bonds for contracts less than $250,000;
  • Authorizes DASNY (Dormitory Authority) to finance/construct facilities on behalf of State-operated and community college affiliates; and
  • Authorizes DASNY to finance/construct community college dormitories directly on behalf of each community college.

Procurement and Operational Efficiencies:

  • Eliminates burdensome and duplicative State Comptroller/Attorney General pre-approval of SUNY,CUNY and their Construction Funds contracts;
  • Broadens SUNY access to the Office of General Services centralized contracts for goods and services;
  • Streamlines approval for residence halls built by alumni associations;
  • Provides protection from liability for students participating in clinical internships related to their field of study;
  • Aligns SUNY and CUNY to the eight-year master planning process applicable to the independent colleges and universities in New York.

Dr. Alan Davis is available to speak directly with representatives of the press. He can be reached at 518-669-0845.