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President Stanley Gives State of the University Address

President Stanley at the annual University Convocation, where he gave the State of the University Address. (Kenneth Ho/The Statesman)

In his State of the University Address Wednesday, President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. advocated for the Public Higher Education Empowerment Innovation Act, or PHEEIA that had been rejected by elected officials of the New York State Assembly last April.

“We are not done fighting,” Stanley told the audience of approximately 300 faculty members and students congregated in the Staller Center for the Arts.  “This is simply too important for New York’s future,” The act known as PHEEIA, would allow differential tuition rates among the SUNY Schools, had been proposed by President Stanley as a means for Stony Brook University to cope with persisting budgetary limitations in a high-cost location.

“When you take a nearly 20 percent budget cut in the state allocation, and couple it with the lack of any significant increase in tuition revenue or regulatory relief and enhanced entrepreneurial flexibility that PHEEIA would have provided,you begin to understand why we have been forced to make some very difficult programmatic decisions.”

Stanley, who has held his position on Stony Brook University’s campus for a little over a year, told the crowd, “Without question, the significant reductions in our budget over the past few years have been a hindrance to our plans for continued growth and productivity.”

The university has recently had to close down one of its leased spaces in Manhattan and has had to relocate the sustainability programs that had existed on the university’s Southampton campus due to an inability to properly fund the satellite campuses.

The faculty and staff, the university’s most important resource, have felt the strains of the fiscal crisis the most as the institution can no longer support past staffing levels.

“Of the 2010-11 State Purpose Funding, 81 percent is used for personnel,” Stanley said. “We have very few areas other than personnel where we can make significant reductions.”

To cope with the nearly $59 million loss in the budget since April 1, 2008, Stony Brook university has been offering faculty members incentives for early retirement and voluntary separation programs.

“We are going to lose many highly valued and highly  qualified employees who will take with them a considerable amount of knowledge and experience when they leave the University,” Stanley said.

Officially, 61 faculty members have agreed to accept early retirement incentives while an additional 163 individuals have submitted paperwork expressing interest in taking advantage of the different separation programs, Stanley said these positions will not be filled immediately.

Budgetary limitations will now not only affect faculty and staff but will also have an effect on the admissions process for prospective freshmen.

“To maintain the level of quality that is expected from a top tier institution and to do what is right for our current students and faculty, we have decided to cap our undergraduate enrollment,” Stanley said.

Despite the sobering facts surrounding the financial struggles of the university, Stanley was sure to recognize the prestigious achievements and awards of more than 15 Stony Brook University Faculty and staff members. Along with awards given to select individuals of the Stony Brook community, the university received 102 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or ARRA, awards resulting in more than $55 million in ARRA funds and an additional $11 million in indirect funding for sponsored research.

Stanley also took time to share his hopes for Project 50 Forward, a program that will enhance fundamental teaching, research and service missions of Stony Brook University in which the Baine & Company consulting group has been employed to help improve efficiency on campus.

“I believe that Project 50 Forward will add value to the Stony Brook degree, propel us into the ranks of the top 20 public research universities and make a positive impact on everyone associated with this great institution,”  Stanley said.  “With Project 50 Forward as our blueprint, we can accomplish all of our goals.”

President Stanley ultimately appeared optimistic about the future despite the numerous fiscally related struggles regarding the university.

“There is no question that we face challenges, but I am absolutely convinced that we have the creativity and the resourcefulness on this campus to rise above the hard times.”

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  • L

    leSep 23, 2010 at 2:06 am

    “enhanced entrepreneurial flexibility that PHEEIA would have provided”

    Stanley tried to give that “enhanced entrepreneurial flexibility” to himself when he illegally shut down Southampton for his own lucrative public-partnership real estate plans. But since there is no PHEEIA, those students still had a voice & avenues to take in the matter.

    PHEEIA may have some good points but the parts about it that would allow university administrators to do whatever they want with our tuition and campuses, even sell to the higest bidder, just cannot be allowed. A public university should not cost in-state students as much as a private one, and that is state property – it belongs to the public, not the university president. He shold not be able to sell, lease of develop the state’s public property with the permission of the state.

    What this guy did at Southampton, secretly bypassing the proper procedures and not getting approvals before illegally closing the college & eliminating some of their majors, is just a sample of what can happen if they have “enhanced entrepreneurial flexibility” & it just proves that students need protection from them.

    He talks like one of those old magic tonic salesman – lots of talk and fancy words hiding what is really happening so you end up not even knowing what you’re really buying.

    The reason PHEEIA didn’t pass is not because of the legislature – it’s because SUNY will not acknowledge the legitimate concerns of its critics and won’t negotiate or compromise to address the problematic pieces of the bill — the pieces that leave students, their programs, and their campus unprotected and at the mercy of autonomous university presidents’ ill-considered administrative decisions.

    Stanley must think he’s talking to a bunch of idiots who will not see through the rhetoric or ask questions. If he wants PHEEIA so badly, he should start compromising – like maybe they legislature could work with SUNY on getting them some of what they want but not the ability to sell off public campus properties for profit while students sit in over-crowded classrooms and housing is bursting at the seams.

    But no. Stan & zimpher are having a tantrum & demanding PHEEIA’s whole lock,stock & barrel. As long as they do, they will never get any part of it. And they’ll just keep making speeches like the one he just did, telling us it’s all Albany’s fault, trying to incite students to demand it all themselves, without the students even realizing what they are actually setting themselves up for.

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