Use SUNY state funding to close $9 million deficit at SUNY Potsdam!

Please send this e-letter, which urges Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Higher Education Committee Chair Toby Ann Stavisky and Assembly Higher Education Committee Chair Patricia Fahy to tell the SUNY Board of Trustees to reallocate $163 million in state funding to close multimillion-dollar deficits at SUNY Potsdam and other cash-starved SUNY campuses.

On Sept. 19, SUNY Potsdam President Suzanne Smith announced a drastic financial restructuring plan that includes the deactivation of 14 degree programs and closing as many as four buildings to reduce a projected $9 million deficit. An undetermined number of faculty and staff will lose their jobs if these programs are cut.

The actions taken at Potsdam were unnecessary and could have been averted. Thanks to the state Legislature, SUNY got $163 million in new state operating aid in this year’s state budget. This was more than enough funding to close the deficit at Potsdam and deficits at other SUNY campuses – many of which are in upstate communities.

But the SUNY Board of Trustees didn't distrubute the new aid based on campus need. They chose to use it in other ways, which has only served to make the situation worse.  

This is a manufactured crisis. There would be no need for such drastic steps at Potsdam if the Trustees had distributed the $163 million in state funding based on campus need. These shortfalls were caused, in large part, by massive state funding cuts to SUNY during the Great Recession and more than a decade of SUNY austerity budgets under the Cuomo Administration.

The elimination of programs, faculty and staff will only serve to further reduce enrollment and make it more difficult to retain students. Research has shown a direct correlation between lack of adequate state investment in public higher education and declining student enrollment.

Please, send this letter to Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Heastie, Sen. Stavisky and Assemblymember Fahy and tell them to tell the Trustees to reallocate the $163 million in new SUNY funding to close the deficit at Potsdam and other SUNY campuses.