The leaders of five SUNY Schools today put their collective voices behind a plea to state lawmakers for more investment in their institutions as the they begin budget negotiations this week. The leaders gathered at SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry, where president Quentin Wheeler said almost half of the buildings in the SUNY System are 45 years old or older.
"There are lots of maintenance issues and especially like us (ESF) that's very science, technological and engineering intensive. We have a lot of laboratories there are health and safety with that."
CEO of Upstate University Hospital Dr. John McCabe says funds are extremely limited for any kind of physical improvement.
"My capital checkbook today is at zero. My need right now for that is borrowing authority. I have one pool of funds to spend at the moment. If it comes down to replacing the roof at University hospital this week it's competing in the same pool of dollars as a new nurse at the bedside. That's intolerable for us and the citizens of Central New York"
But it's not just infrastructure. SUNY Cortland President Erik Bitterbaum says it's about providing opportunities for students who are just looking to get ahead.
"Cortland has 6300 undergraduates. We actually had this fall 370 students who mom and dad did not make $5,000 last year. Think of that. In here there are in college and in one generation we will break the cycle of poverty. They will become doctors, teachers and business people, it is an extraordinary story. "
Onondaga Community College President Casey Crabill affirms the benefits of a SUNY investment on New York State's future.
"If you look at the institutions represented in this room you can see the pathway from the very beginning of higher education thru everything those students could imagine whether it is being a scientist or being a doctor or being a teacher, that is what SUNY makes possible."
The leaders are calling on Lawmakers to create a new investment fund to support student programs and services to help them graduate, and extend the SUNY 20/20 Program, including a tuition policy that helps students plan their expenses for their entire college career.