Chancellor calls for increased state funds for SUNY system

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher attended a legislative budget hearing on Monday, Feb. 11 to request more funding for the SUNY system.

 In response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2013-14 state budget proposal, Zimpher requested an additional $19.9 million in state support to reconcile the 9.1 percent increase in enrollment that occurred over the past five years.

“During the same period, our state support has been reduced or kept level,” Zimpher said at the hearing in respect to the past five years. “This means that this growth has been funded only by tuition dollars, with no accompanying contribution from the state.”

According to, should the additional funds be awarded, Zimpher plans to allocate those funds to “growth in high-demand fields, such as health care, agribusiness and information technology.”

Further, Zimpher requested additional support for both Downstate and Upstate Medical Centers. According to Cuomo’s budget, both hospital centers are set to receive the same amount of funding as last year.

This allocation of funds does not include two additional allocations totaling $29.8 million made by the state legislature.

Zimpher requested that the $29.8 million be included in the state’s budget for funding SUNY hospitals, in addition to another $99 million in aid to Downstate Medical, which is under economic distress.

According to a SUNY press release from June 2012, Downstate Medical began planning a financial transformation in order to “stabilize its finances and ensure continued high-quality medical care and education for its patients and students.”

This transformation includes a line of credit of up to $75 million from the SUNY System Administration. Zimpher’s request is for an additional $99 million for Downstate Medical, as well as $35 million to support Upstate Medical.

“This one-time funding will allow us to make great strides in restructuring Downstate, and I strongly urge you to consider support for this request,” Zimpher said. “Without it, the burden will have to fall on the backs of our other campuses.”

According to, Zimpher said the $75 million line of credit would only support Downstate until March. Zimpher suggested that legislation should allow SUNY hospitals “increased flexibility” in order to respond “more nimbly and responsively to the operational changes that are needed to run a hospital business in these challenging times.”

“It’s a very difficult thing to do that well as a university,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Carol Long. “There are many different models around the country for teaching hospitals and hospital education, but SUNY hasn’t had a particularly strong financial model for how to do that. I think that’s what they are struggling with.”

 “The problem for us is that were all in this one big financial pocket,” Long said. “If one of the hospitals is having financial problems we’re on the hook to help solve those.”

Zimpher also appealed for an additional $37.3 million for community college operations, $35.7 for capital projects at the community colleges and $5 million, which SUNY will match, for competitive performance grants for SUNY’s four-year colleges.