President Simpson Joins Gov. Paterson at Rally to Urge Passage of SUNY Reforms

Proposed reforms have widespread support in WNY, where UB expansion will fuel enormous economic growth

Release Date: May 11, 2010

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UB President John B. Simpson says a strong public higher education system offers the best hope for the state's economy.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- University at Buffalo President John B. Simpson stood with Gov. David Paterson at a rally in Albany today to support the Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act (PHEEIA).

The proposed act represents the greatest reform to New York State's system of public higher education in a generation, Paterson said.

"The Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act will provide SUNY and CUNY with the freedom and flexibility they need to prepare students for the future, create jobs and promote economic development," he said. "My proposal would help SUNY and CUNY reach their full potential and drive development both on campus and off. This reform is supported by students, the faculty, labor and university administrators alike, and we urge the legislature to take swift action to pass this important bill."

Also joining Paterson and Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch were SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and SUNY Board of Trustees Chair Carl Hayden, as well as leaders from SUNY and CUNY institutions, students, business and labor leaders.

Proposed in Paterson's 2010 Executive Budget and approved in a state Senate budget resolution in March, PHEEIA would give SUNY institutions the financial flexibility to play a major role in the state's economic resurgence.

Simpson told the assembled crowd that a strong public higher education system for New York State, anchored by excellent research universities, is the best hope for creating the knowledge-based economy New York State needs to prosper in the 21st century.

"That's why the University at Buffalo and our SUNY partners have put forth a responsible, and responsive, policy proposal that will empower us to help our state weather the current economic storm, and help us all move forward toward a brighter future," he said. "The passage of Gov. Paterson's PHEEIA proposal is essential to realizing this vision -- and to ensuring equitable access to the opportunities created by this new economy."

PHEEIA reforms are based on groundwork laid by UB and by SUNY's Board of Trustees. They include changes to key areas of public higher education governance: tuition, public-private partnerships and procurement, similar to those proposed last year in the UB 2020 Flexibility and Economic Growth Act introduced by Western New York's legislative delegation and passed by the Senate.

The proposal takes tuition-setting out of the state budget process and allows for the SUNY and CUNY systems to implement rational and differential tuition policies, making tuition more equitable and predictable for students and families; allows for campuses to more efficiently enter into public-private partnerships to pursue collaborative research and development partnerships that will drive New York's future prosperity; and eliminates burdensome and unnecessary regulation and micromanagement and streamlines the procurement process. Additional information on the proposal can be found at

Over the past two years, UB has generated widespread support in Western New York for the reforms because they are critical to the economic goals of the UB 2020 strategic plan. Achievement of UB 2020 would increase UB's local and regional economic impact from $1.7 billion to $3.6 billion and create thousands of jobs, according to UB officials.

More than 30 business, labor, community and university groups have expressed their public support of PHEEIA and UB 2020. They include the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Amherst Chamber of Commerce and the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo; the City of Buffalo, Erie County, Niagara County and Town of Amherst; Building Trades and United Autoworkers; Kaleida Health, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Greatbatch Inc., the Buffalo News editorial board, Business First editorial board, the Board of Block Clubs, the Jeremiah Partnership and the Oishei Foundation; the UB Undergraduate Student Association, UB Faculty Senate, UB Alumni Association, UB Council, UB Parent Council and others.

UB 2020 calls for expanding the university's Downtown Campus by relocating to Buffalo's urban core the five health-science schools of UB's Academic Health Center. Such expansion would create an estimated 6,700 jobs at UB, as well as 20,000 construction jobs. It would bring an additional 13,000 faculty, staff and students to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus on a daily basis -- sparking further economic development of Buffalo's East Side, which has been beset for decades by poverty, joblessness and inadequate housing.

UB 2020 was launched by Simpson and the UB faculty in 2004. It is the university's strategic plan for becoming a model 21st century research university through focused research, growth and transformation of UB's three campuses. For more information about UB 2020, go to

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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