Chancellor Zimpher Urges State To “Invest in SUNY”

February 10, 2015

SUNY Investment Fund would Support Completion Goal of 150,000 SUNY Graduates Annually

Chancellor Asks State Leaders To Extend NYSUNY 2020, Rational Tuition


Albany – State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher today delivered testimony before the State Assembly Committees on Ways & Means and Higher Education and Senate Committees on Finance and Higher Education, outlining the university system’s post Executive Budget 2015-16 State budget request, which totals $239.2 million in operating support as well as additional support for SUNY’s capital assets.

The key component of SUNY’s request is an Investment Fund for all campuses that will aid SUNY in graduating 150,000 students annually by 2020 through the system-wide scale up of evidence-based programs known to support student success, including Finish in Four completion guarantees, applied learning, Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP), Quantway/Statway remedial pathways, and expanded advisement services.

Chancellor Zimpher outlined this objective in her recent State of the University Address. The system currently graduates approximately 93,000 students per year.

“For every 100 ninth graders in New York, an average of 23 go to college and complete their degree on time, and in our upstate urban centers, the average drops to an abysmal 16 – it’s a completely unacceptable rate of student success,” said Chancellor Zimpher. “SUNY has spent the last five years figuring out what we can do to educate more of these students and help them succeed through college and into career, and we are ready to bring ‘what works’ to scale. Increased investment in SUNY can and will lead to a higher degree of success for all of New York’s students.”

A transcript of Chancellor Zimpher’s testimony is available online

SUNY requests $50 million per year, over five years, from the state to support the Investment Fund – an expansion of the $18 million in new funding provided by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in the Executive Budget.

Additionally, SUNY requests the continuation of the measures of NYSUNY 2020. Critical to the success of NYSUNY 2020 has been the State’s maintenance of effort promise, which has held SUNY harmless from annual budget cuts – a measure Chancellor Zimpher says must be continued as the legislation nears its sunset. She added that approximately $131 million of collectively-bargained salary agreements negotiated directly by the State should be included as well, as SUNY’s obligation to cover these costs limits the amount of rational tuition revenue that campuses can reinvest directly in student success.

“NYSUNY 2020 is perhaps the smartest, most impactful legislation to support SUNY in history,” said Chancellor Zimpher. “Governor Cuomo and state leaders showed excellent foresight when this bill was enacted, positioning our campuses to drive regional economic development for New York while protecting our students’ investment, taking tuition roulette off the table so that they are able to plan for the full cost of college without the possibility of unexpected tuition spikes. Extending this legislation until 2020 is essential.”

Since NYSUNY 2020 was first enacted, SUNY campuses have used additional revenue generated by rational tuition to grow and expand student services, including the hiring of 520 net new instructional staff, 270 of who are full-time faculty, and the implementation of 100 new degree programs reflecting high-demand areas in New York’s workforce.

Chancellor Zimpher also commended the Governor’s Master Researchers Program, which was developed from the “Master Innovators Program” included in the SUNY request, saying it enables SUNY to successfully recruit and retain high-impact professors who generate research, development, and commercialization opportunities. To support this program, SUNY requests an incremental plan to invest $10 million dollars in the current year, to grow to $50 million by year five.

The SUNY budget request also includes triple the $200 million dollars in capital funding included in the Executive Budget, to $600 million per year, over five years. Nearly half of the buildings on SUNY campuses were built between 40 and 50 years ago, and this level of investment will support critical maintenance of SUNY’s facilities and ensure that the students, faculty, and staff on campuses across the state are kept warm, safe, and dry.

Also included in the SUNY’s post Executive budget request is:

  • A rational funding plan for community colleges, starting with an increase in base aid funding of $250 per student;
  • A restoration of approximately $5.3 million in funding provided by the 2014-15 State Budget for university-wide programs including EOP, ATTAIN labs, and child care as well as the Graduation Achievement and Placement (GAP) program at the community colleges;
  • A restoration of the $7.6M in support provided in 2014-15 State Budget for State-operated campus salary costs; and
  • A restoration of $18.5 million in 2014-15 funding for SUNY’s three teaching hospitals.

Testifying alongside Chancellor Zimpher today were Binghamton University President Harvey G. Stenger, SUNY New Paltz President Donald P. Christian; and Monroe Community College President Anne M. Kress.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2022, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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