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ESF President Supports Higher Education Empowerment, Innovation Act

Gov. Paterson proposes changes for SUNY, CUNY

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) President Cornelius B. Murphy, Jr., Friday (Jan. 15, 2010) expressed his support for proposed legislation that would significantly reform the state's higher education system.

Murphy and ESF Director of Governmental Relations and Institutional Planning Maureen O. Fellows issued the following statement after Gov. David Paterson voiced his support for the plan:

"Governor David Paterson today proposed The Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act. This legislation would provide SUNY and CUNY the flexibility needed to become centers of job creation, provide a rationalized tuition policy and curb overregulation. This Act will help SUNY ESF achieve the promise of its visions for quality education and contribute to the economic growth for New York. ESF supports this Act.

"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 more than 10,000 new jobs and invest more than $8.5 billion in capital construction which will support more than 43,700 direct and 21,800 indirect construction jobs. SUNY-ESF will see strategic growth of 10 to 15 additional faculty members and the ability to fill positions that open up through retirements and other departures. These new faculty positions will be created in exciting new academic programs and expanding high-demand programs to enrich the educational experience of our students and allow more of them to graduate in a timely manner. Our campus Residence Hall, Gateway Building and Academic Research building projects will contribute to SUNY's construction job figures.

"With greater financial independence and streamlined operations, SUNY-ESF will be poised to develop strong public-private partnerships, new sources of revenue and enhanced research funds. Most important, the Act will provide the financial stability (through multiyear budget plans) that will allow us to serve several hundreds more students without sacrificing the quality of their educational experience.

"Research and workforce development initiatives will take advantage of the synergies of multicampus collaborations and partnerships. We at ESF see the number of our successful partnerships focusing on biotechnology and renewable energy increasing and expanding into other key areas of research and job creation.

"Implementation of a rational and predictable tuition policy, under the auspices of the Board of Trustees, will provide the financial stability necessary to establish multiyear plans to address campus goals. We applaud that this Act invests all tuition, fees and other self-generated revenues back to SUNY campuses, students and faculty. Allowing a reasonable differential tuition will help ESF more effectively with our short and long-term planning in addressing our campus strategic goals. A rational tuition policy makes it easier for students and families to anticipate and plan for the true cost of attendance over the course of a degree program.

"Finally, this Act removes provisions of law subjecting SUNY to pre-approval of contracts by the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) and streamlines the procurement of goods and services, while maintaining provisions requiring the post-audit of such contracts by OSC. It allows the State University Construction Fund to use expanded delivery methods, including design/build and construction manager at risk. These new measures will significantly reduce the costly delays our campus has experienced because of pre-audit requirements and outmoded delivery systems.

"This legislation gives the State University of New York and ESF the flexibility to function in a more innovative manner and respond in a more appropriate way to the needs of the 21st century."