Advocacy call to action
By Diane Greiwe
It has been a challenging year for Binghamton University and Think Binghamton advocates. Think Tank members sent over 33,000 letters to legislators in support of SUNY and Binghamton University over the last fiscal year. Unfortunately, the state fiscal crisis is so severe that our efforts to ensure that tuition increases be dedicated to campuses for educational purposes were not successful. The New York State Legislature voted to retain 80 percent of the recent tuition increase to offset state deficits, and although the 2009-10 state budget includes money for mandated collective bargaining salary increases, it also reduces state support to SUNY by $118 million.
We currently face two issues that could have major, long-term implications for Binghamton University. The first is assembly/senate bill 2020, the “UB Flexibility and Economic Growth Act,” which seeks to implement many of the reforms recommended by the New York State Commission on Higher Education. As a member of the Commission, President Lois B. DeFleur has been broadly supportive of SUNY reform efforts that can be implemented at no cost to taxpayers. As passed by the Senate, however, the bill limits these reforms to just one of the four SUNY University Centers: the University at Buffalo. This is at odds with the Commission’s findings, which emphasized the need to focus on all four SUNY research centers — Binghamton, Stony Brook, Albany and Buffalo — as a distinctive sector with a distinctive mission and specialized needs. In response, President DeFleur has joined with the presidents of Stony Brook and the University at Albany to back a new bill that will include all four university centers. We will report on the new bill in the near future and may again ask for your support.
Secondly, there are discussions at the state level of changing SUNY tuition and fee policies. It is early in these discussions, but the potential impact on Binghamton University could be great. We will monitor this closely and keep you informed. If your help is needed, we will ask for it.
New York state still faces significant budget deficits, so we must also prepare for possible additional reductions for SUNY as we continue our efforts to generate non-state revenue and to push for regulatory reform.
Finally, we need to enlist new advocates for Binghamton University. There is strength in numbers. Please tell your friends to register to become Think Tank members at think.binghamton.edu.