• September 3, 2015

SUNY May Scale Back Top Legislative Priority and Seek Only Limited Autonomy From State

Rebuffed in her efforts this year to win more autonomy for the State University of New York, the system's chancellor, Nancy L. Zimpher, is considering advocating a scaled-back approach during the coming legislative session.

In this year's legislative session, Ms. Zimpher and her staff persuaded Gov. David A. Paterson to include a package of regulatory reforms that the state system argued would allow it to operate more efficiently and would offset the loss of state appropriations. Those changes included giving the system more control over tuition, purchasing, leasing property, and entering into partnerships with private companies.

All of those changes were opposed by the politically powerful union that represents staff members at the 64-campus system. The Legislature not only rejected all of the proposals, but also cut the system's appropriations by more than $200-million.

Michael C. Trunzo, vice chancellor for government relations at SUNY, said on Thursday that the system would now consider shelving much of the package of regulatory changes and would work to build better relationships with the unions and with lawmakers. Mr. Trunzo spoke at a conference of higher-education lobbyists in Austin, Tex.

Instead of seeking the ability to set different tuition rates for different campuses, for example, the system may propose a regular, moderate multiyear increase in tuition on all campuses. Part of that increase would then be used to increase financial aid for students whose families earn too much to qualify for the state's Tuition Assistance Plan, he said.

The system would largely abandon the request to enter more easily into public-private partnerships, he said, and instead seek approval for a private housing development for senior citizens on the campus of Purchase College, Mr. Trunzo said.

The previous proposal to free the system from some state procurement rules may be limited to the purchase of goods and exclude contracts for services, he said.

The new proposals have yet to be finalized and must be approved by SUNY's Board of Trustees in order to go forward, Mr. Trunzo said. And the issues, he added, have yet to be vetted by the unions, whose support will be necessary for the measures to have any chance of passage in New York's infamously fractious Legislature. "We don't want a fight [with the unions] as we walk in the door," he said.

Officials from Ms. Zimpher's office stressed that Mr. Trunzo was not speaking on behalf of the system and that the specifics of the system's legislative agenda have not been finalized.

"SUNY has not shelved anything," said Monica Rimai, a senior vice chancellor and the system's chief operating officer. "We are still developing our legislative strategy, and it is premature to suggest that we have decided what direction that will take."


1. hijole - December 03, 2010 at 09:08 pm

There is a dysfunctional pattern that is beginning to appear throughout public higher education. An inordinately high number of college presidents, chancellors and other administrative minions are now crawling out of the educational doctorate ooze to run our institutions. Each and every one of them, look at SUNY or VCU, surrounds themselves with legal beagles and symbolic appurtenances befitting a banana republic potentate's entourage (my apologies to banana republic potentates and their entourages). They arrive at their new institution spouting nonsensical business platitudes as if they knew how to actually run anything. With apologies to Mencken it is like watching a crab on the shore crawling backward in search of the Atlantic Ocean, and constantly missing. That's the way the mind of your basic PhD in higher ed operates.

As soon as they have inflicted maximal wreckage at a school -- they are plucked, by expensive headhunting firms, from their "mission" and move on to the next institution. The pattern is repeated -- slash, burn and trash the place.

Frankly it is time to throw out this miserable batch of idiots and their minions. I would like to make a modest proposal -- how about running higher education the old-fashioned way -- grow your own and then have the best and the brightest who have come from the faculty ranks run the place temporarily. They can then hand it over to the next one moving up and return to the faculty. All that one needs to do is look at the last paragraph in this news item. I ask you, what does a so-called chief operating officer that has never taught or been tenured know about how SUNY should function? How much longer must we function under the delusion that the administration is the heart and soul of any college or university? The metrics are simple -- it is not a sustainable "best practice."

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