This year presented Geneseo with some very serious challenges.
In the throes of a dismal economic climate, each of SUNY's 64 campuses has found itself in the same situation as nearly every individual, municipality, corporation and nation. In the struggle to meet financial commitments, cuts must be made: cuts to programs, cuts to payroll, cuts to utilities, cuts to investments in the future.
Since the first shockwaves of the economic recession began to hit in 2008, the SUNY system has endured a stunning $424 million in cuts. The college has responded by drawing from reserve accounts, leaving faculty and staff positions vacant, reducing the size of the incoming class and reducing non-personnel budgets, among other measures. The effects are felt softly but consistently, and should the critical Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act not pass, the college will have to make even further serious and consequential decisions.
In context, though, Geneseo students should be proud of the savvy and intelligent management that Vice President of Administration & Finance Kenneth Levison and his staff have quietly engineered for the past decade. By adhering to the basic conservative principle of saving before spending, the college has upheld its promise to adhere to its mission of educating students as sister SUNY institutions have struggled to do.
The most visible impact of the cuts on the SUNY system came earlier this month when SUNY Stony Brook announced that it would effectively shut down most programming at its Southampton campus. SUNY New Paltz has phased out its nursing program and suspended 10 graduate programs. While Geneseo is certainly tightening its belt, the administration has done so in a way that preserves the core experiences and benefits that make Geneseo a pretty decent place to spend four years.
Financial relief for SUNY remains unclear. The end is not in sight, and more sacrifices will have to be made - by students, by faculty, by staff and by the people of New York. Let us not fail to recognize, though, all the tireless work that is being done to preserve what we still have.