UNIVERSITY SENATE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE RESOLUTION ON THE PROPOSED PUBLIC HIGHER EDUCATION EMPOWERMENT AND INNOVATION ACT (PHEEIA)

Whereas, Stony Brook University is facing a significant budget cut for the 2010-2011 year and another substantial cut for the 2011-2012 year;

Whereas, New York State faces a multibillion dollar budget gap for the next several years and is unlikely to provide the financial support that SUNY and the campus requires to maintain its academic programs at an appropriate level of quality;

Whereas, cuts of this magnitude would result in (a) the elimination of approximately 500 faculty and staff positions from Stony Brook University, (b) reduction in hundreds of course offerings, (c) closure of entire academic programs of study, (d) reduction in a variety of campus services, and (e) lead to the degradation of the campus’s physical infrastructure;

Whereas, these faculty and staff reductions would result in extreme hardship on our students, their ability to receive a quality education, the availability of the courses they need, and their ability to graduate on time;

Whereas, it is our belief that the proposed Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act (PHEEIA) is the most viable solution to date to provide funds necessary for public higher education;

Whereas, PHEEIA would provide a predictable revenue stream for public higher education (SUNY and CUNY) and would provide for modest, predictable tuition increases in contrast to the large and unpredictable tuition increases that have occurred over the past few decades;

Whereas, PHEEIA would allow for differential tuition based on the varying costs of delivering specific educational programs, a practice that is common at most major public research universities;
 
Whereas, SUNY System Administration is preparing a policy document that will spell out the criteria for differential tuition and provide an annual ceiling on the total percent increase in tuition from all sources;

Whereas, the Stony Brook University Administration has pledged to set aside a sufficient portion of any tuition increase to reduce the burden of these increases on economically disadvantaged students;

Whereas, PHEEIA would grant more autonomy and efficiency to the SUNY campuses by removing many of the bureaucratic encumbrances (e.g. “pre-audit”) to campus operations (e.g. purchasing research equipment);

Whereas, PHEEIA would facilitate the establishment of joint ventures and public-private partnerships that are congruent with the campus’s educational mission, and which would allow the campus to leverage the benefits of these partnerships to provide revenue for the campus’s educational and research programs as well as the economy of Long Island;

Whereas, SUNY System Administration is preparing a policy document that will detail the criteria for the use of University property for public-private partnerships that include oversight at SUNY (both the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees) and the New York State government level (State University Asset Maximization Review Board, with members appointed by the Governor and the Legislature);

Whereas, PHEEIA preserves all current rights and benefits negotiated through collective bargaining for employees of SUNY;

Whereas, the SBU University Senate has the following concerns about PHEEIA, including but not limited to the following:

  • Potential for weakened labor-union protection for campus workers;
  • Potential for hiring non-unionized workers;
  • Potential to cede power to campus administration to extend unrestricted ground leases without appropriate oversight;
  • Potential to diminish environmental safeguards;

Therefore, be it resolved, that the SBU University Senate supports the passage of PHEEIA presuming the following modifications are made by the legislature and/or through SUNY implementation policies:

  • That the State of New York will not use the revenue stream generated by the tuition increases to reduce the State’s funding of SUNY by a comparable amount;
  • That all rights and benefits of collective bargaining preserved for the current  labor contracts be extended to all future negotiated labor contracts;
  • That SUNY flexibility is only for procurement of goods and not for procurement of services that could lead to outsourcing academic, professional or classified services positions either via face-to-face or via electronic methods;
  • That the legislation prohibit the Board of Trustees from establishing and/or levying student government fees where such fees would be under the control of the Board and not of the student government;
  • That a viable mechanism for local consultation or review through faculty and student governance regarding environmental and property issues be established;
  • That the oversight of public-private partnerships on the campus require that these arrangements conform to all relevant SEQRA environmental laws and to “best environmental practices” consistent with local community and campus traditions and oversight; and
  • That the authority of the State Legislature in approving all ground leases for the private use of public lands shall not be abridged.

April 27, 2010

Approved by the University Senate at the May 3rd, 2010 meeting.