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SUNY wants to raise its own funds, too

Dec 16, 2010 8:04 pm
The State University of New York system needs to be able to raise revenue apart from its governmentally-approved budget to survive and thrive. “Unshackle SUNY,” is how State University of New York Chancellor Nancy Zimpher put it this week in a breakfast talk to the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce in Kingston, according to Mid Hudson News Network today. She noted how she is looking to give the system, which includes the state's community colleges as well as a host of four year and graduate colleges around the state, more freedom to pursue various means of raising revenue in order to close gaps in the budget that have been creating problems for SUNY institutions statewide.

“We have asked last year for revenue generation capacity so that we can fill some of those gaps by our ability to be more efficient,” she said. “We’ve talked about public and private partnerships that are revenue generating. We’ve talked about a rational tuition policy. We’ve talked about relief in the procurement process, because it is very expensive and delays our ability to be efficient.”

Zimpher spoke at a time when the federal and state government have been talking about the need for college educations on the one hand, and speaking about budget cuts to those same institutions on the other.

Planning for the cost of college is something that SUNY wants its students to be able to do and rational tuition policy is the way to give them the ability to do that, she said.

“Rational means more planning, more predictable, and also indexed to average tuition around the Country.”

Zimpher said that SUNY is working closely with their stakeholders and the Governor’s staff to find solutions for getting SUNY the necessary relief it needs to generate enough revenue to hopefully close their current gap.

The chancellor also said the SUNY system is committed to being a major economic engine for the state as well as its key to revitalization.

According to Zimpher, one of the assets the SUNY system has is that they are quite literally in most New Yorkers’ backyards, being no more than approximately 30 miles away from any community in the state, and this will prove instrumental in collaborating with regional chambers of commerce and economic development councils to provide communities with the skilled graduates they need.

With a network throughout the state already established, Zimpher said the SUNY system is in an ideal place to assist and guide economic development on a local level.

"We want to tell the story that first of all we are a big employer, in most of our communities we are the largest employer. Secondly, we spend money. We buy goods and services and this cranks money into the economy. Third, we produce graduates. Fourth, because of our science and innovation, we create jobs.”

In working with individual counties, such as Ulster, Zimpher said that “strategic benchmarks” would have to be set so that progress can be monitored and impacts can be measured in milestones.

Zimpher emphasized the importance of taking action and told those at Wednesday’s breakfast that if the SUNY system couldn’t be New York’s economic engine, then she didn’t know who could.
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