Simpson Calls for Reform of State Regulations Hampering UB 2020 and Higher Ed

Asks Community Members for Help Reaching Out to Albany

Release Date: September 24, 2008 This content is archived.


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With Buffalo's historic Asbury Hall as a backdrop, UB President John B. Simpson urged more than 600 area leaders to tell Albany the entire Buffalo community needs UB 2020 to be a success.

UB President John B. Simpson, in his third annual community address, called on Albany to give UB -- and Buffalo -- the long-term and stable investment it needs to make UB 2020 a success.

BUFFALO, N.Y. – University at Buffalo President John B. Simpson today described the potential impact of state budget cuts on UB and called upon community members to help bring about state regulatory reforms that would empower UB to achieve UB 2020, the university's ambitious plan for expansion, academic excellence and economic development.

"We need to make Albany understand that UB 2020 is our community's bold initiative for the future, and that they cannot deny this to Western New York," Simpson told an audience of more than 600 community members who attended his third annual community address held in historic Asbury Hall in Buffalo. (A copy of his speech is available here.)

"Our region needs economic growth. That growth can only come from innovation and new knowledge. And providing that innovation and new knowledge is what UB does.

"UB cannot achieve this under the current economic conditions, with our hands tied behind our back," he said. "We need a long-term investment from the state, and we need relief from unnecessary regulations."

Simpson called upon the community to support "a common-sense platform of reforms that will unshackle our university and give UB – and Buffalo – what we need to make a significant leap forward." He said the state should provide UB with long-term and stable investment and "deregulation and relief from a battery of outdated and inefficient laws."

These reforms include: spending and contracting deregulation for land and equipment; the ability for the university to access capital through the New York State Dormitory Authority; the ability to lease and sell land; and a rational tuition strategy for New York public colleges and universities. Regulation relief, Simpson pointed out, would save taxpayers $1.5 million when UB transforms the former M. Wile Building into its new Downtown Gateway building, and the project would be completed 13 months faster. Taxpayers would save $3.8 million when UB builds its new engineering building on the North Campus.

"It would cost the state literally nothing to change these rules and enable UB a faster and less costly implementation," Simpson said.

He noted that local business, government, labor and community leaders have embraced UB 2020, but state budget cuts to higher education and outdated state policies threaten the plan's full potential.

Achievement of the UB 2020 plan would increase UB's economic impact on the region from $1.5 billion to $2.6 billion annually. It would generate $7 million a day for the local economy, Simpson pointed out.

"We know that when UB achieves its full potential, we can be the catalyst for Buffalo Niagara to achieve its potential," he said. "We know that UB 2020 supports a region that attracts people rather than loses them. And we know that UB 2020 means that our local businesses will be able to compete more effectively in the new knowledge-based economy.

"It is no surprise to all of us that so many people in Western New York believe in UB 2020. What puzzles me is why so few people in Albany seem willing to commit to it."

State budget cuts are expected to cost UB $20 million or more in state support, Simpson explained. He called the cuts "real and painful" and said he was "very angry about them."

To put the cuts in perspective, he explained that $20 million is the entire state-appropriated operating budget for three of UB's schools, or provides the salaries of several hundred faculty and staff, or is the equivalent of full four-year scholarships for 1,000 deserving students.

"I understand that the state has to take real and significant steps to get its financial house in order, but I believe it's very shortsighted to cut higher education when our state's economy is foundering," Simpson said. "In Buffalo it's literally squandering our future. It's sacrificing long-term gain for short-term expediency.

"Higher education is not the problem. Higher education is the solution and everybody in Buffalo knows that."

Fulfillment of the UB 2020 plan would revitalize downtown Buffalo by creating a robust UB campus and world-class Academic Health Center, which would unite UB with its partners Kaleida, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute, and provide the very best in medical care, education and research, Simpson said. This would bring more than 13,000 UB faculty, staff and students to downtown Buffalo, creating a vibrant campus "on par with Cleveland Clinic or the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center," he added.

Simpson noted that more than 6,000 people have signed up to be "UB Believers," the grassroots advocacy program created last year to generate public support of the UB 2020 plan. Simpson called on them and other community members to "join us in asking Albany to make these reforms and make them now.

"Tell Albany that our entire community needs the investment and flexibility to make UB 2020 a reality."

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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