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BU advocates for support in Albany

By : Sarah Lifshin

Legislators met with BU faculty, staff, alumni and community members during a reception on BU Advocacy Day . From left, Senator Dale Volker, Senator Kenneth LaValle, President Lois B. DeFleur, Senator T .Libous & Assemblyman Barry Grodenchik ’81.
Expressing a theme of “Helping build our new New York,” approximately 125 Binghamton University volunteers headed to Albany to meet with lawmakers throughout the state capital Wednesday during the third annual BU Advocacy Day.

Fourteen teams, led by President Lois B. DeFleur and made up of campus leaders, faculty, staff, community members, alumni and students, met with various legislators to present Binghamton University’s case. “We work together because we all believe in the University and we know that we are working to achieve so much that we are really proud of,” DeFleur told Senator Dale M. Volker during her first legislative meeting of the day.

Teams stressed six themes that describe current projects or upcoming events at the campus. Collector cards were passed out that highlighted the University’s Center for Advanced Technology, Empire State Games 2004, Quality and Unprecedented Demand for our Programs, Workforce Development, Economic Impact in General, and Research.

DeFleur’s team included James Dix, vice president of faculty for United University Professions; Tyrone Webb, campus chapter president of Civil Service Employees Association Local 648; and student and women’s basketball player Laura Scordino. The team also met with Assemblyman Ronald Canestrari, Senator Kenneth LaValle and staff from the offices of Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, Speaker Sheldon Silver, the Senate Finance Office and Governor George E. Pataki. “We got the chance to tell our story and we are very proud of the University,” said Senator Thomas W. Libous. “We hope to continue to make everyone proud as we forge forward as a University and continue to educate.”

The teams explained the issues confronting Binghamton as it continues to deal with a lackluster economy and less funding, and noted their support of Chancellor Robert L. King’s request for an additional $50 million in funding for the SUNY system. They also voiced concerns about the governor’s proposed restructuring of the Tuition Assistance Program and his proposed 5 percent cut to the Educational Opportunity Program.

“The University has become so much more than just a University. It has become the bloodline of the community,” Webb said. “It has become an economic engine. It has grown with the needs of the community and has become its heart.”

Volker said the legislature would continue to work to ensure additional support for SUNY, including advocating for the chancellor’s proposal for $50 million in additional funding for the system. “This is obviously a very important issue and we are doing our best to make sure it is incorporated,” Volker said.

The teams also expressed the importance that the University plays for the local and regional economies. “We have a very high-quality education program here,” Dix said. “Binghamton University is the key to economic survival and the revitalization of the Southern Tier and Broome County areas.”

“We are working hard and we want to continue to work hard,” said Tom Kelly, vice president for external affairs. “We will use this support not only to help the region but also the state.”

The teams were kept busy all day, but not all the volunteers participated on teams – many staffed the numerous displays and tables in the concourse and at the entrance to the Legislative Office Building, showcasing the work being produced at the University and its accomplishments. Following their meetings, the teams hosted a reception for legislators and their staffs.

“I feel optimistic about getting funding back to the campuses,” said Canestrari, chairman of the Higher Education Committee, during the reception. “It is a great system — SUNY and CUNY — and we are proud of it and hope to make it better.”

Last Updated: 10/14/08