New Paltz Misses State Grant Money

A total of 37 SUNY schools received small grants from Gov. Andrew Cuomo through the SUNY High Needs program, totaling $7 million dollars last month. SUNY New Paltz, however, was not among them.

These awards were announced by Cuomo on Aug. 26 and are geared to help SUNY schools fund certain programs in engineering, renewable clean energy, biomedical-biotechnical, information technology, business and finance, public health and healthcare.

These awards are not related to Cuomo’s SUNY2020 initiative, which two weeks ago granted the college $10 million for the creation of an engineering innovation hub to be constructed in close proximity to Resnick Engineering Hall.

The High Needs Program has been in place since 2007. It was started to help meet a state demand for nurses and engineers. SUNY worked with the New York State Department of Labor (DOL) and Empire State Development to include other fields based on demand at a state and regional level, according to Cassey Vattimo, director of public relations at SUNY.

According to the official request for proposals from the SUNY High Needs Program, the applications were due by April 30, 2014 and had to include multiple elements: a cover page, a list of the programs objectives, an explanation of the need for the program at a state/regional level, how the programs expansion will impact the state/region, the colleges plan to sustain the program and a budget plan for the grant money.

The proposals were then reviewed by a committee of presidents, chief business officers, chief academic officers from each of the four college sectors, doctoral degree granting institutions, comprehensive colleges technology colleges and community colleges, according to the request.

The campus must submit a report containing accepted students, teachers hired, any plans for construction and tell how the funds have benefited the campus.

One of these applications was submitted by SUNY New Paltz, however it was not granted funding, according to Vattimo.

Babach Izadi, chair of the engineering department at SUNY New Paltz, said his department was too involved in its active programs and that he was unaware of the request. He said it is something they may apply for in the future.

Based on data, the DOL predicts that over the next 10 years New York will need about: 2,340 engineers and engineering techs; 18,550 new healthcare practitioners and techs; 9,000 business and finance professionals and 6,500 community and social service professionals.

Izadi said there is a need for engineers in the region.

“It’s hard to get outside engineers to come to the Hudson Valley,” he said.

With the recent launch of Open SUNY, an online learning collaboration of all SUNY schools, priority for funding was given to courses that had some aspect of online learning.

Open SUNY launched last year, with the goal of allowing students from all over the state to enroll in courses that fit their schedule, travel ability and interests. With 12,000 online courses available through SUNY, per their website, students have access to higher education even if they don’t have access to the school itself.

Izadi said he had noticed the most successful courses are a hybrid of online and physical learning, considering engineering to be a very hands-on field.