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Hedging Bets on SUNY

The Answer Lady’s blog draws our attention to this story in the NY Times which describes how James Simons, a hedge fund manager worth $8 billion is offering SUNY Stony Brook $150 million dollars—provided legislators pass the PHEEIA/UB 2020/empowerement plan that state senator Bill Stachowski has famously supported.

The plan is notable because it would free State University of New York colleges and universities from some state oversight, pave the way for public/private “partnerships”, allow the institutions to set their own tuition rates and keep all the money—but it’s also significant in that it’s the first time Stachowski has strongly spoken up for anything in his 30-year political career.

New SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher also supports the measure. Zimpher was chosen for the post in 2009, based on her job performance at the University of Cincinnati, where she saved the school money by employing adjunct instructors in half the classes. The non-union adjuncts were paid just $1,700 for each course they taught.

Also under her tenure at the University of Cincinnati, she championed a plan called UC/21. UC/21…now why does that sound familiar?

Wait, don’t tell me…I’m sure it will come to me


  • AL

    At over $600,000 a year we couldn’t expect Zimpher to come up with anything new now could we.

  • Peter A Reese

    Old questions which won’t die, but now assume biblical proportions:

    1)What has three decades of “economic development” by SUNY Buffalo cost the taxpayers and what have the returns been?
    2) What are the costs and returns of this latest proposal?
    3) Why should anyone believe anything will be different in the future?
    3) Does John Simpson’s penchant for secrecy in all matters reassure you?
    4) What have WNY legislators been promised from the UB Foundation(s) to buy their slobbering support for this absurd legislation?

    Come on kids this is real basic stuff. Why the deafening silence?

  • In April 2010, while renovations were still on-going at SUNY’s Southampton campus for its 3 year old environmental sustainabilities college, new dorms were being constructed, and SUNY’s 1st L.E.E.D.-certified library had just recently celebrated its grand-opening ribbon-cutting ceremony at that campus, Stony Brook University abruptly announced the termination of the entire 4-year college. $78 million tax dollars had been invested to acuire the property and operate the state’s only environmental sustainability college. The college was a successful start-up & gaining a national reputation. Enrollment had increased by 54% for the coming fall. It was right on track to reach its maximum capacity of 2500 undergarduate students and become self-sustaining within 2 years when SUNY killed it & shut down the college, evicting its 800 students and “mothballing” the newly-renovated 82-acre campus property, just as the college began to show a return on the tax-payers’ investment. While Stony Brook University is terminating an entire brand new, state-of-the-art, environmental college and disrupted the education of 800 students, it’s creating a panel to decide “other uses” for the campus. In the meantime, Old Westbury is falling apart & its enrollment is declining but it remains operational. Does this making any sense?

    I guess it does when you realize that the PHEEIA SUNY proposal would allow Stony Brook University to enter into partnerships with private corporations and lease out its property to the highest bidder without legislative oversight. And the Southampton campus is 82 acres of newly-renovated ocean-front property.

    SUNY just killed an entire college & disregarded 800 students as well as $78 million taxpayer dollars for the profit it can make off the property through the partnership & leasing deals that will be allowed under PHEEIA.

    If this is what they could do with legislative oversight, G-D help us if PHEEIA passes & an autonomous SUNY has to answer to no one.