Genesee Valley Advocates Back Governor's Plan to Strengthen New York's Higher Education System

Press Release

Date: March 5, 2008


Creation of Endowment Will Drive New York to Compete in the Innovation Economy

Education advocates from Rochester and the Genesee Valley today joined Governor Eliot Spitzer at SUNY Geneseo where they endorsed his plan to strengthen New York's higher education system and turn it into a world-class network of the State's public colleges and universities, driving job creation and expanding New York's Innovation Economy.

The Governor's visit to Geneseo is the latest stop in his statewide tour "Investing in New York's Future," designed to engage New Yorkers across the State in a discussion about the importance of creating a $4 billion endowment, which will serve as the foundation for future improvements to public higher education. Geneseo and other regional institutions attended the event, including students, administrators and faculty.

Governor Spitzer visited Geneseo's new Integrated Science Building before joining students, faculty, advocates and community leaders to celebrate the university's achievements and to discuss his proposed higher education plan. The Governor is traveling the State to convey, in real terms, what this year's Executive Budget means to New York's universities, students, families and communities.

The $4 billion public higher education endowment, announced in the Governor's State of the State Address earlier this year, is expected to initially yield $220 million per year and would provide a new funding stream for New York's public colleges and universities. Within 10 years, the endowment is expected to grow to $6.3 billion and generate more than $330 million per year.

Supporters of the Governor's plan for higher education include United University Professions (UUP), New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), the State University of New York (SUNY), the City University of New York (CUNY), and leaders from student, faculty, labor, business, and advocacy groups across the State.

"SUNY Geneseo, like many other institutions within the SUNY system, is poised to become one of the preeminent liberal arts colleges in the United States," said Governor Spitzer. "But to make this a reality it is imperative that we provide the tools needed to prepare our students for the innovation that is driving our economy, so that New York's system of higher education is second-to-none. Investing in our SUNY institutions will become the force behind the revitalization of Upstate - creating jobs, spurring economic growth and thereby profoundly changing the business climate in this region. Creating an endowment to support this investment is critically important to the lifeline of our 2- and 4-year institutions, as it will pay dividends for years to come. We are committed, along with our partners in business, labor and higher education, to building a public higher education system that will help build a future for our State in which we not only thrive economically and intellectually, but in which we lead the world."

Christopher C. Dahl, President of SUNY Geneseo, said: "We are delighted and honored to have Governor Eliot Spitzer visit our campus. We are witnessing history in the making on two fronts. The Governor is the first since Nelson Rockefeller to come to Geneseo, and his proposal to create a $4 billion endowment has the potential to transform SUNY and CUNY in a powerful way. This will elevate New York higher education to even greater prominence. Geneseo stands ready to help achieve this bold and visionary goal."

Thomas Flynn, President of Monroe Community College, said: "The Governor's proposed $4 billion endowment will help community colleges escape the cycle of yearly budget battles and allow college presidents like myself to develop multi-year strategic plans. I welcome the Governor's proposal and the transformative potential it has for community colleges to better provide workforce training and a stepping stone toward further higher education."

Ruel McKnight, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at SUNY Geneseo, said: "The endowment proposed by Governor Spitzer would allow us as faculty to delve into our more creative side and to carry out the type of creative activities and innovative research that we are capable of doing. Furthermore, we could offer more mentorship opportunities to our very valued students."

Mehr Qureshi, SUNY Geneseo student and Presidential Scholar, said: "The time is right to invest more resources in the education of students who will become more desirable candidates for graduate schools that have come to expect such high levels of dedication, motivation, and experience from them. The endowment proposed will be an investment that will keep giving year after year as the college as well as our community as whole enjoys the rewards."

Daniel Elliott, Student Body President at Monroe Community College, said: "Community Colleges - like Monroe - not only need to adapt to changing workforce needs within our communities, but also to emerge as a gateway to 4-year higher learning institutions. In order for these needs to be met, funding is required, and the endowment proposed by the Governor is one way to do this."

SUNY Geneseo is in position to become one of the top public liberal arts colleges in the country and is among the nation's top producers of bachelor's degrees in physics, according to the American Institute of Physics. Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine recently rated Geneseo as the nation's "Best Value" for out-of-state students and sixth "Best Value" for in-state students.

The Governor's visit included a tour of Geneseo's recently dedicated $33 million Integrated Science Center, a world-class educational and research center that includes a state-of-the-art particle accelerator which has become a key asset for scientific research in Western New York.