Interim President Donald Christian announced that he is in support of a plan that would secure additional funding for research institutions, in hopes that it would expand benefits to New Paltz and all SUNY schools.
The NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant program, unveiled by SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and Gov. Andrew Cuomo on May 2, will initially consist of $35 million in capital funding for the four SUNY research universities: Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo and Stony Brook.
“It’s good for New York and it’s good for SUNY because there’s some potential that this could set the stage for comprehensive campuses like New Paltz to have similar funding opportunities in the future,” Christian said. “It’s different for us than for the research centers, but nonetheless, the principle could be applicable to us.”
According to a press release, the mission of the program is to make SUNY a leading catalyst for job growth throughout the state and strengthen the academic programs of the University Centers. Phase one of the program is worth up to $140 million, with initial financing administered by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and the SUNY Act construction fund. The funding will be integrated with the governors Regional Economic Development Councils and administered by the ESDC.
Zimpher said Cuomo’s vision of the program fits perfectly with SUNY’s ability to be an economic driver for the state.
“We have pledged to educate the most adept workforce in the nation, discover innovative solutions to some of the most vexing scientific and socioeconomic challenges, improve the business climate in our state and enhance the quality of life for all New Yorkers,” said Zimpher in a press release.
In order to be eligible for the funding, the four campuses must submit long term economic and academic plans that meet specific criteria. These requirements include funding mechanisms, such as capital financing, tuition increases and private sector financing.
On March 2, the New York State Senate passed UB 2020, legislation that supports the University at Buffalo’s (UB) strategic plan to encourage economic growth and create jobs in Western New York.
Rita Chan, a third-year biotechnology major at UB, said she recently read reports about how the city has declined economically and this could help the school and Buffalo.
“With UB 2020, their pitch was that by helping the university, they would be helping Western New York,” she said. “If the school can have more students, they can bring more money to the Buffalo area.”
While a core mission of administrators is to educate students through research, Christian said SUNY New Paltz is different from a research university.
He said the college brings in approximately $5 million in external research grant funding to the campus, which is much different than the funding offered by research universities.
“To research universities, that’s in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” Christian said. “So we support external research, we celebrate the research that faculty and students do, but it has to be framed differently in our mission relative to that of a research institution.”
According to a press release, the SUNY plans will be reviewed by Zimpher and recommended to the ESDC Board for final approval, with some aspects requiring legislative approval. The first round of approvals will be made by the end of this year.