UAlbany concerned about being left out of SUNY deal
Politicians, business leaders, and SUNY Albany officials gathered Wednesday to discuss the future of UAlbany, a future supporters said could stand to lose if a new plan to empower the University at Buffalo goes through the Legislature. Our Sabina Kuriakose has more on why campus officials worry the plan could leave UAlbany in the dust.
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ALBANY, NY - "It would be very bad. If UAlbany doesn't get a seat, I think we would be relegated to a second tier," warned UAlbany President George Philip.
And that, said Philip, would be a devastating blow to a campus known as one of SUNY's best. He was one of dozens of Capital Region business and community leaders meeting to discuss concerns over the exclusion of UAlbany in a deal between the University at Buffalo and state lawmakers that would give UB greater control over things like its tuition rate and ability to develop profitable public-private partnerships. It's a deal that leaves a lot at stake for UAlbany.
"I think it would disadvantage us in the recruitment of new faculty, I think it would disadvantage us in the recruitment of students, it would reduce our research profile," said Philip.
"It's very important that we don't break up that top rung, and that Albany remain in the top tier of the SUNY system," said Assemblyman Jack McEneny (D).
And though Philip said Wednesday's meeting is not an attempt to strongarm the Cuomo administration, the message is loud and clear: Give UAlbany a voice at next month's summit between Governor Andrew Cuomo and UB leaders.
"So that the University can operate more freely without going to the Legislature or the Governor every time they need something," said McEneny.
UAlbany is one of SUNY's four leading research campuses, and supporters say look no further than the success of Nanotech to see how that benefits the community. That's why they say if UAlbany is not included in this UB 2020 plan, not only does the school stand to lose, but the Capital Region as well.
"You talk about construction jobs, you talk about increased research, you talk about ripple effect for new companies coming in," said Senator Neil Breslin (D).
"It's good for the taxpayers, it's good for the state of New York, it's good for the local economies, and ultimately it's good for the students," said Philip.
As of now, the Senate has passed the UB 2020 plan, but the bill faces challenges from Assembly Democrats leery of giving up control of the SUNY system.