The University's vice presidents listen as Interim President C. Peter Magrath speaks to faculty and staff members gathered at the Lecture Hall for the University Forum on Jan. 19.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
Magrath stresses tuition flexibility
January 19, 2011Tweet
SUNY tuition policy is the “key issue” facing Binghamton University in 2011, Interim President C. Peter Magrath and Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jean-Pierre (Peter) Mileur told faculty and staff members at the University Forum on Jan. 18
“It’s a tough environment all over the United States for public higher education,” Magrath said. “I’m in favor of us getting bigger and stronger in enrollment, but only if we have the resources that we need because we must never compromise the quality that makes us what we are.”
The forum, held in the Lecture Hall, also featured presentations from Vice President for Administration James VanVoorst; Vice President for Student Affairs Brian Rose; Vice President for External Affairs Marcia Craner; Interim Athletics Director Jim Norris; and Interim Vice President for Research Bahgat Sammakia.
Magrath said he backs SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher’s proposals to provide SUNY schools, particularly the four university centers, greater flexibility in setting tuition and retaining the revenue generated by tuition. The Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act was introduced last year, but not acted upon by the state legislature.
During a State of SUNY address on Jan. 19, Zimpher called for a five-year plan, starting in 2012, that offers a “fair, responsible and predictable tuition policy that maintains access to a quality higher education experience.”
“I strongly support what the chancellor is trying to do,” Magrath said. “It is absolutely vital for us a university center.”
The tuition proposals come amid a $1.1 billion reduction in state support over the past three years at SUNY. Binghamton University has seen a nearly 25 percent reduction in state support over that time period, VanVoorst said at the forum.
“I think it’s safe to say that we are going to experience further budget reductions,” he said.
The futures of Binghamton and other universities depend on a “rethinking of how we actually pay for this enterprise,” Mileur said.
“How high tuition is and how much control we have over tuition are the key political and financial issues we face,” he said. “… If you want to know what in Albany is going to affect our future the most, it’s the tuition issue. Pay attention and back us up.”
Both Magrath and Mileur addressed the “angst about access” that could develop in the wake of a tuition increase.
“There is a fear that if we had the flexibility to increase tuition then we would deprive access to worthy students with real need,” said Magrath, who noted that the SUNY tuition of $4,970 a year for in-state students is among the lowest in the nation. “I’m passionate – as I think we all are – that students who have financial needs are able to come here. I’m confident that we would find the resources through tuition assistance programs.”
Magrath reiterated that the University’s operating budget is in place through 2011-12.
“The good news in a hard environment is that we’ve had no layoffs and I do not anticipate any,” said Magrath, who praised the work of faculty, staff members and administrators.
Binghamton will continue “moving forward” on a number of initiatives, Magrath said, while attracting high-quality students and developing business partnerships around the world.
Among the initiatives highlighted by Magrath, Mileur and the vice presidents were:
• The Bold. Brilliant. Binghamton fund-raising campaign, which has raised $88.8 million of the $95 million goal, Craner said.
• The establishment of a law school, which Mileur said could open in 2017-18.
• Funding and support for a new research center focused on health care.
• An expanded relationship with SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse.
• A job-shadowing program that pairs sophomores in Harpur College with alumni in a variety of professions and industries.
• Opening an Office of Undergraduate Research.
• Construction projects such as East Campus Housing, the Engineering and Science Building, the Center of Excellence, East Gym and Science 5.