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MARCH 2009

TOP STORY - University advocates ask legislators for tuition

By Katie Ellis

More than 130 Binghamton University advocates traveled to Albany on March 3, to request that legislators invest in the University and in SUNY. The top agenda item for the 14 teams of administrators, faculty, staff, students, business leaders and alumni: to keep 100 percent of the tuition increase on campuses.

President Lois B. DeFleur“In the past, we’ve managed our cuts,” President Lois B. DeFleur said, “but they weren’t linked together with a tuition increase. We’re pretty efficient and very lean. We’ve done a lot of the straightforward things and I don’t yet know what we’re going to do with more cuts.” Click the image to see videos of President DeFleur and others discuss Advocacy Day.

Daniel Doktori, director of higher education for New York state, met with DeFleur, Professor of Geology and Faculty Senate Chair H. Richard Naslund and graduate student Kathryn Fletcher.

“You provide a very convincing case and we’ll continue to advocate for you,” he said. “Higher education needs to be a priority for your local legislators, as well.”

The Assembly has always placed the Tuition Assistance and opportunity programs at the top of its priorities, said Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee.

“There really is an understanding that higher education is key to our economic growth,” she said. “There will be some restorations in the final budget, but I don’t know what they’ll be.

“We’re not happy with the level of state support,” she added. “We’re committed to a real rebuilding and we’re confident that now that we have a new chancellor to give SUNY a presence, it will keep people on track and minding the store.”

Darryl Wood, president of the Binghamton chapter of United University Professions, reminded legislators that the state of New York  “has made this wonderful investment in SUNY and it will begin to fall apart unless the investment continues. One very large concern is that students won’t be able to get the classes they need and won’t be able to graduate on time — plus, with the tuition increase, it will cost more.”

That sentiment was underscored by Fletcher and other students throughout the day of meetings. “Many of my friends want to graduate early because they can’t afford it, but getting the classes they need, even when taking an overload, is uncertain,” Fletcher said.

Class sizes will continue to grow and the campus will suffer, added Naslund, citing his own department’s examples.

“We expect three senior faculty retirements in the next two years and won’t be able to fill those spots with replacements,” he said. “I teach an introduction to geology course, Planet Earth, that normally enrolls 160 students. I increased that to 176 and still have a waiting list. This is the first year I’m seeing this pent-up demand and students worrying about graduating on time.”

Lawrence S. Schwartz '80 is Gov. David A. Paterson’s recently appointed secretary. “I get the value of an education and the value of Binghamton University,” he said. “It’s a great value and why you’re bursting at the seams.”

With such a huge economic problem confronting the state, and really only two solutions — cuts or revenue additions — nobody is going to be happy, Schwartz added.

“What I would say is that we’re trying to instill a culture where people have an open mind and are bringing solutions to the problem to the table,” he said.

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Last Updated: 11/12/13