Release Date: February 14, 2008
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Governor Eliot L. Spitzer made the University at Buffalo his first stop yesterday on a statewide tour to build support for his $4 billion higher-education endowment fund to help make New York State's public higher education system one of the best in the country.
In a very upbeat address at UB's Downtown Gateway (the former M. Wile building) in downtown Buffalo before more than 400 local leaders, UB faculty and staff, and community members, Spitzer made the case for how the investment could be used to recruit 2,000 faculty to SUNY institutions, create a vigorous economy of innovation in the state and help fund the objectives of UB 2020.
The result, he said, would be a transformation of New York's public higher education system into one of the best in the country and the creation of preeminent SUNY flagship universities at UB and Stony Brook.
"Education is the key to our future," Spitzer said. "We all embrace the core notion that we will be able to compete only if we are smarter, faster and more nimble than those elsewhere in the nation."
The proposed endowment would be funded by revenues from the New York State Lottery and would provide at least $200 million a year to public higher education.
Spitzer called the UB 2020 plan to grow the university and spur the local economy an objective to which the state could aspire to for how to "jumpstart" the New York economy. "This $4 billion will begin to invest in UB 2020," he explained, transforming the university as well as the City of Buffalo.
A key to that transformation, Spitzer noted, would be investment in UB's downtown campus and bringing 8,000 faculty, staff and students downtown to revitalize the city's core and make UB the "centerpiece of Buffalo."
UB President John B. Simpson, who introduced Spitzer to the crowd, said the endowment fund was a "smart idea," that would shelter SUNY funding from the vagaries of the annual state budget process.
"We are honored that Governor Spitzer made Buffalo the first stop on his statewide speaking tour about this important issue," Simpson said. "This is a topic of great relevance to our region and to UB 2020, our plan to grow the University at Buffalo and increase its impact in our community.
"The future of our state and our region will depend on our ability to compete successfully in the 21st-century knowledge economy," Simpson added. "Investing in a world-class public higher education system is the key to unlocking that future."
A member of the governor's Commission on Higher Education, Simpson said the endowment fund will help realize recommendations made by the commission. In addition to the hiring of faculty, these recommendations include substantial investment in the infrastructure of SUNY institutions, funding of flagship universities at UB and Stony Brook, and investment in workforce training at SUNY community colleges.
Simpson pointed out that Spitzer's vision for public higher education is aligned with the UB 2020 plan to transform UB into a model 21st-century public university that will rise among the ranks of the nation's public research universities. UB 2020 objectives include the hiring of more than 2,300 faculty and staff, growing UB's student enrollment to 40,000 and expanding UB's campus in downtown Buffalo.
"By recognizing UB as a flagship campus for the SUNY system, and endorsing the UB 2020 vision of excellence, Governor Spitzer has strongly reinforced the leadership role that UB's growth and success will play in our region and state," Simpson said.
Achievement of UB 2020 growth objectives will increase UB's economic impact on the region from $1.5 billion to $2.6 billion and help transform the region's economy into one based on the creation of knowledge and new technologies.
The UB Downtown Gateway, overlooking the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, provided an appropriate and symbolic setting for the forum with the governor. The Downtown Gateway is the newest building on UB's growing downtown campus. Purchased in September, the building will be renovated to house UB community programs and will play a role in UB's efforts to help revitalize Buffalo's downtown core.