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Unveiling this Year’s UB 2020 Bill

This morning, at UB’s Center for Tomorrow—home of the secretive UB Foundation(s)—local state legislators took the opportunity to present a united front in support of S1502, a bill introduced last Friday, January 7, 2011, by Senator George Maziarz (R-Newfane). It’s this year’s version of the UB 2020 legislation that failed to pass two years ago, before morphing into the Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act (PHEEIA) last year, when it again failed to become law.

In the immediate aftermath of that defeat, SUNYAB President John Barclay Simpson petulantly complained that UB 2020 was going to become UB 2030 thanks to Albany’s dysfunction. He subsequently quit, on August 30—the first day of classes—although he remains on while the secretive search for his successor grinds on.

Whereas PHEEIA had expanded to include SUNY Albany, SUNY Stony Brook, and SUNY Binghamton, this year’s bill is scaled back to apply only to SUNY Buffalo.

Among the many controversial aspects of S1502, there are the provisions for raising tuition without the approval of SUNY Trustees. According to the wording of the bill, tuition could be raised by the university president (Simpson, or whoever is chosen to replace him) in consultation with the UB Council (Jeremy Jacobs, chair). No other approval necessary. The biggest jumps could apply to professional programs, “including, but not limited to, doctor of medicine, doctor of dentistry, doctor of nursing practice, doctor of physical therapy, juris doctor, doctor of pharmacy, and masters in business administration.”

Tuition for these programs could, under the language of the bill, increase by as much as fifteen percent annually.

So much for SUNY’s mission as a public corporation and governmental entity created to provide quality educational services with the widest possible access to the people.

To illustrate this bad-case scenario, consider that tuition for a New York state resident seeking a degree in medicine from SUNY at Buffalo was $22,800 in 2009-20010. That increased by nine percent to $24,850 in 2010-2011.

Let’s see what fifteen percent increases could mean for young New Yorkers aspiring to become doctors in the future…


2011-2012          $28,578

2012-2013          $32,864

2013-2014          $37,794

2014-2015          $43,463

2015-2016          $49,982

2016-2017          $57,479

2017-2018          $66,101

2018-2019          $76,016

2019-2020          $87,418

Last year, the decidedly private, number one ranked Harvard Medical School charged $42,500 tuition.

The bill explains that tuition “may be increased each year to the public institution mean tuition as most recently reported by the American Association of Universities (sic) for each such program…”—implying there would be some kind of rationale to increases in comparison with other public universities across the country.

But there are a couple problems with that safeguard. First, as noted, there’s no such thing as the American Association of Universities. Second, “The Association of American Universities (AAU),” which we can presume the authors of the bill were attempting to name, “does not collect statistical data about tuition and fees at its member institutions,” according to Ann Speicher, Associate Vice President of Public Affairs for the AAU.

After years of pushing for this legislation, you’d think someone (professors, legislators, business leaders) would at least have taken the time to proofread the bill and make sure the claims tucked into it are not built on authoritative-sounding reports that don’t even exist.

It’s as if the bill is designed to remove all public transparency and accountability for the State University of New York at Buffalo—while also requiring the state to continue funding SUNYAB at present levels indefinitely into the future, “until such time as the program objectives of the State University of New York at Buffalo’s UB 2020 initiative are achieved.”

Since there are no milestones and no delivery schedule for UB 2020, who’s to say when it will be achieved?

Next thing you know, they’ll even want to eliminate oversight by the attorney general. Oh, wait. They do. Right there on pages 2 & 18 of the attached PDF.

Click here to read the new UB2020 bill for yourself.

  • Jim Holstun

    Thanks, Buck, for another great story on UB. If we had an upper administration with 1/10th of your devotion to public education, we’d be sitting pretty.

    As we bid farewell to UB President John Barclay Simpson, plywood magnate; and contemplate the continued stewardship of Jeremy Jacobs, overpriced nachos and dogtrack magnate, it can be helpful to remember the beautifully-worded SUNY Mission Statement, which they have both forgotten:
    Mission Statement

    The mission of the state university system shall be to provide to the people of New York educational services of the highest quality, with the broadest possible access, fully representative of all segments of the population in a complete range of academic, professional and vocational postsecondary programs including such additional activities in pursuit of these objectives as are necessary or customary. These services and activities shall be offered through a geographically distributed comprehensive system of diverse campuses which shall have differentiated and designated missions designed to provide a comprehensive program of higher education, to meet the needs of both traditional and non-traditional students and to address local, regional and state needs and goals. In fulfilling this mission, the state university shall exercise care to develop and maintain a balance of its human and physical resources that:

    * recognizes the fundamental role of its responsibilities in undergraduate education and provides a full range of graduate and professional education that reflects the opportunity for individual choice and the needs of society;

    * establishes tuition which most effectively promotes the university’s access goals;

    * encourages and facilitates basic and applied research for the purpose of the creation and dissemination of knowledge vital for continued human, scientific, technological and economic advancement;

    * strengthens its educational and research programs in the health sciences through the provision of high quality general comprehensive and specialty health care, broadly accessible at reasonable cost, in its hospitals, clinics and related programs and through networks and joint and cooperative relationships with other health care providers and institutions, including those on a regional basis;

    * shares the expertise of the state university with the business, agricultural, governmental, labor and nonprofit sectors of the state through a program of public service for the purpose of enhancing the well-being of the people of the state of New York and in protecting our environmental and marine resources;

    * encourage, support and participate through facility planning and projects, personnel policies and programs with local governments, school districts, businesses and civic sectors of host communities regarding the health of local economies and quality of life;

    * promotes appropriate program articulation between its state-operated institutions and its community colleges as well as encourages regional networks and cooperative relationships with other educational and cultural institutions for the purpose of better fulfilling its mission of education, research and service.

  • UBBulls

    I’m an avid AV reader and agree with much that I read, but there are many inacuracies in this story. The tuition jumps are inaccurate. They would not jump in that manner (research further, please. It’s not hard to find). The AAU does not collect data on its institutions, but other sources do. It’s well known SUNY has abnormally low tuition compared to systems in other states. It’s easy to research.

    The majority of states allow their public universities to keep tuition, or have their own BOT who control setitng tuition. The majority of states allow their public universities to enter into partnerships with private entities. Pennsylvania’s research schools are state-related, meaning campuses have control but the state provides funding. Public universities in Michigan have the same powers as municipalities, allowing them to enter into their own development deals. As a result, the public universities in other states are more well-known and regarded, than the SUNY’s. Other state schools have larger numbers of out-of-state students. UB’s out-of-state enrollment is less than 5%. Ask around the country, and few know what SUNY, of Buffalo, is. We are a good school, and system, but not a great one.

    I realize this story was written containing many of the talking-points used by the UUP, who do not want the state to release control to the schools. They fear giving away power from a centralized point, to 64. That decreases their influence. The UUP’s only solution: Fund SUNY. The problem is, it’s a pipe-dream. The money from NYS is not coming back. It has to come from somewhere.

    Also, the greater UB community has agreed overwhelmingly that they want UB2020 to become reality. It’s not just the admins and boards. The professors, staff, and the students themselves, have all voted in favor of pushing forward with UB2020.

    And to your speaking of ‘secretive’ dealings in the presidential search…that the way it’s done. All universities do it this way. They release a list of candidates at the proper time.

  • Jim Holstun

    UB bulls indeed.

    So it doesn’t bother you, Mr./Ms. Bulls, that the University at Buffalo is claiming for itself the right to increase tuition each year to a rate that doesn’t exist determined by an organization that doesn’t exist–i.e., the “mean tuition as most recently reported by the American Association of Universities”? You want to trust the future of UB to the geniuses who drew up a proposal like this?

    Don’t tell me, let me guess: you ARE one of the geniuses who drew up this proposal! Well, congratulations.

    Your parting statement about “the greater UB community” is sheer nonsense: unless and until faculty, staff, and students are polled on this matter, you can’t make this claim, even if the knob-burnishing little careerists in UB student government and the Faculty Senate make some ill-informed judgment.

  • Chutzpah

    Yeah, it’s better to collect tuition money the way it is now, give it to the legislature, including the tuition increases they recently passed, so that they can sweep into the state budget to plug up holes.

    How immoral is that? Some students paid that tuition increase through student loans, and they’ll be paying that targeted tax increase (when you boil it down, that’s what it was, a shot at students) for the next 20 years. Disgusting.

    And what did the students get back? Hundreds of millions in budget cuts, whole departments eliminated, fewer courses, total dysfunction in the education system. That’s why the students (who now pay under $5k in tuition) voted for the tuition increase. They want a better education. The state closest to UB has a flagship institution that charges 3x what UB charges.

  • UBProfessor

    Mr. Bull, when did this “vote” take place to support UB2020 by faculty, staff and students. I work at UB and never got a ballot. I know hundreds of students, staff and faculty at UB, not one “vote” on UB2020. UB has a PR campaign that suggests there is universal support for UB2020. Let’s see the actual empirical data to back it up.

  • Jim Holstun

    Chutzpah–you have chosen the perfect alias, given your slippery way with the truth! UB students as a whole NEVER voted for UB2020, of course–do you really think they would vote to increase their tuition? You are either misinformed or telling an untruth. Shame on you in either case.

    Of course, UB and all of SUNY needs to be better funded–ideally, by restoring the progressive income tax in place in NYS thirty years ago. John Simpson and the UB Administration could have come together with faculty and staff and citizens as a whole to call on the Senate and the Assembly to do the right thing and support its system of public higher education. Instead, they hob-nobbed with their local pals at the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and with legislators, and cooked up a plan to transfer money from students’ pockets to the pockets of local lawyers and building contractors, by privatizing UB.

    But New Yorkers love their university and don’t fancy seeing it looted.

  • Chutzpah

    You’re calling me a liar when you have severe deficits in reading comprehension. I wrote the students voted for a tuition increase. I’m talking about the student assembly voting to approve the $620 that was stolen from them by the legislature.

    You’re totally dishonest and disingenuous.

  • UBBulls

    Jim, I am a UB alum as well as a UB graduate student. Your best guesses to paint me as a UB2020 planner are false.

    To UBProfessor, your Faculty Senate endorses UB2020.

    UB’s Student Senate and Assemblies voted in support of UB2020.

    UB’s Alumni Association endorses UB2020.

    Even the SUNY Student Assembly wants a rational policy to tuition increases:

  • Charley Tarr

    Thank you Jim Holstun, for your courage and wisdom.

    Despite changes from the original PHEEIA draft, S1502 remains as ‘Class-Separation’ legislation that is rife for corruption.
    Your summation is absolutely correct:

    “John Simpson and the UB Administration could have come together with faculty and staff and citizens as a whole to call on the Senate and the Assembly to do the right thing and support its system of public higher education. Instead, they hob-nobbed with their local pals at the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and with legislators, and cooked up a plan to transfer money from students’ pockets to the pockets of local lawyers and building contractors, by privatizing UB.”

    It is impossible to say the tuition rates in the article are “inaccurate” because they haven’t been set yet. The legislation enables the university to set rates identical to the ones Mr. Quigley posted. If “they’re-never-going-to-do-that,” then they should remove the enabling language from the bill. Fifteen percent annually is absurd, as that list of possible, if not probable, tuition hikes shows.

    The anonymous poster is among the many who fail to grasp the distinction between the uniquely public setup that is SUNY, and any old private college….or even public colleges like Pennsylvania’s, which were formed differently than SUNY.

    As for the propaganda statements of the other anonymous posters… It is students who stand to loose the most in the presence of any legislation that would serve to autonomously insulate a state educational organization toward a ‘hollow shell’ sub-contracted corporate model. Toronto author Naomi Klein, devoted her latest book to summarizing the severe failures of sub-contracted models across the last decade in relation to government and commerce:

    Successful leadership disappears behind the glory and health of a joyously loud populous richly inspired. Disastrous leadership disappears behind the shameful rhetoric of assurances; fetid with complacency and consumed by greed.

  • Jay

    Last week on Robert Reich on Marketplace radio addressed the philosophy on cutting. ROBERT REICH: In a recent survey of 34 advanced countries, American students came in 25th in math, 17th in science and 14th in reading.

    President Obama calls this a “Sputnik moment,” referring to the wake-up call we had in the 1950s with the Soviet’s successful launch. The result then was billions of dollars to make sure our children didn’t fall behind. In subsequent decades, big business pushed for additional education spending to make sure we didn’t fall behind in the global competitive race.

    But now we’re going in the opposite direction. The tax bill signed by the president in the closing hours of the last Congress widened the budget deficit, inviting cuts in public education. Pell Grants for disadvantaged young people to attend college are already squeezed.

    Less visible are cuts the states are making. Starved for revenues, 33 states are slicing school budgets, meaning more kids to a classroom and fewer courses. And 43 states are reducing funding for public universities. Many qualified young people won’t be able to attend.

    Now I’m not one of those who believes the only way to fix what’s wrong with American education is to throw more money at it. Teacher performance also has to be squarely on the table, and bad teachers let go. But given the increasing population of young people and their educational needs, and the new competitive challenge of skilled workers all over the world, more resources are surely needed.

    So why are we allowing these big cutbacks? Partly, I think, because America’s biggest corporations are no longer pushing for school funding. Increasingly, they’re getting the talent they need all over the world. Many now have research and development centers in Europe and China. Meanwhile, America’s well-off families have enough money to send their kids to good private schools, and to pay high tuitions at private universities.

    But without the political support of big companies and the well-off, public education has become vulnerable. Which means less investment in our nation’s most important asset — our kids.

    RYSSDAL: Robert Reich was secretary of labor for President Clinton. His most recent book is called “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future.” January 12, 2011 the PM show

  • Sarah

    Index tuition to a verifiable source such as the consumer price index. Preserve the intent of the institution to “.. (establish)tuition which most effectively promotes the university’s access goals”.

  • Jay

    To Sarah, They have a plan to index the tuition costs. It is called the Higher Education Price Index, HEPI. You can access information about it by going to the website that compiles the index. What is surprising and I am speculating is that I will bet very few of the politicians have accessed and read the material. Commonfund Institute, the HEPI. The director writes a long explanatory letter on how the HEPI regularly exceeds the Consumer Price Index, (CPI). In the material he explains that the HEPI has exceeded the CPI , 36 out of the last 45 years, but our UB President , and business community believe that this will make tuition increases “predictable, rational, and affordable.” Last summer I asked the candidates at the Allen Hall forum to comment on the HEPI index and affordability , their replies were indicated lack of knowledge.

  • UBBulls

    To Charley,

    My UBBulls name is one I use on forums to I.D. my fandom. My name is Christopher Morgan. I have nothing to hide.

    First, Pennsylvania’s colleges were not set up differently than NY’s. For exapmple, UB was privately chartered for 120 years before being bought by SUNY and receiving state funding, just a U. of Pittsburgh and Temple(though they are not centrally controlled as UB is within SUNY). What is the “uniquely public” set-up that is SUNY? What is unique about it compared to other state systems? Having a lower fundign rate than peer state systems? That we are the ONLY state who gave our land-grant status to a private uiversity? “Class-Separation legislation..rife for corruption”? Please explain how, when other state systems have used the same reforms, and have not experienced such corruption? Corruption is a serious term that should not be thrown around lightly.

    Rochefeller did not view all SUNY schools as equal. He sought 4 great ‘Centers’ for post-graduate education and research. He had said he wanted UB to become “The Berkeley of the East”. He understood greatness and access are not mutually excusive goals. I understand there are concerns of access with these reforms, but it’s not something that we can’t solve if we all sit down and work together. Anything else, from ‘corruption’ to ‘privitization’, are invalid arguments when one examines the systems in other states. Other states have schools with enacted the reform measures UB is seeking, yet they do not view their schools as ‘privitized’. Why would things develop differently in New York?

  • Jordan D

    To UBBulls,

    Though the Faculty Senate and the Undergraduate Student government have voted in favor of UB2020, both have been heavily swayed by the enthusiastic PR campaign undertaken by the University administration.

    Notably absent from this list of supporters are the UUP and the GSEU, labor unions that represent many of the professors and teaching assistants that provide the majority of the education on campus. Also notably absent is the Graduate Student Association (of which you are a part).

    While many involved in the discussion here agree that there are certainly some issues with the SUNY system as it currently stands, the problem with this legislation, and the PHEEIA bill that preceded it, is a distinct lack of forethought and a carelessness with which it undertakes a specific kind of reform. Buck’s striking reading of this bill, with its reference to a non-existent organization, is quite telling.

    Perhaps a better model to look at for the SUNY system is the UC system. Equally bankrupt state, equally large system, and equally large problems. I have had a number of discussions with graduate students and laborers on the similarities between SUNY and UC, and it strikes me that UC seems to be 1-5 years ahead of SUNY, in the absolute wrong direction. Huge tuition hikes, massive budget cuts, ballooning ranks of administrators, and increasing steps toward “public-private partnerships” (a.k.a. privatization).

    I’d love to chat with you more about the issue. As a fellow graduate student and Buffalo transplant, I’ve become heavily involved in the fight against UB2020 — I’m constantly struck by how readily this region is prepared to sell away its resources (see: clean water, air, soil, a living wage, etc.) in exchange for some promised future “economic development”. Send me an email at multitudes at


  • James Burnette

    A beautiful blend of capitalism and socialism. UB wants the upside of free market pricing while simultaneously enjoying State subsidies? Why not cut them loose from the SUNY system, let them privatize and fail — without dragging the rest of SUNY and the State of New York down the sewer with them. And why hasn’t the king rat “Baby Doc” Simpson left the ship yet?

  • Vernita G

    “Huge tuition hikes, massive budget cuts, ballooning ranks of administrators, and increasing steps toward “public-private partnerships” (a.k.a. privatization).”

    Yet, somehow universities in the UC system manage to remain ranked as some of the finest and most competitive institutions of higher education in the nation and, according to annual reports by the NSF, are consistently in the top bracket of universities able to attract R&D dollars. Those are real dollars, not some “promised future ‘economic development'” as you so pejoratively put it.

    I concede that I do not know the exact mechanics of the PHEEIA legislation currently languishing in Albany, however, one must be able to separate the ends from the means in this case. Perhaps the vehicle for UB2020’s realization is flawed in some aspects, but then let’s work towards rationalizing the legislation and take the ultimate goals of UB2020 out of the crosshairs. Maybe the differences have been small, maybe unnoticed by many, but I’ve read the hundreds of pages in ‘Building UB’ and I notice every little thing around campus that this process has put in motion. Giving a soul to the otherwise sterile and alienating concrete behemoth known as North Campus by building informal gathering and study spaces for students, rehabilitating and restoring an incredible EB Green designed South Campus by adopting sustainable technologies like permeable concrete and rain gardens, and finally reconnecting the school to the core of the city and integrating the classroom, laboratory and operating room all within a downtown campus. That’s what’s at the heart of UB2020, and I wish more people could see that.

    “I’m constantly struck by how readily this region is prepared to sell away its resources.”

    I’m constantly struck by how readily this region has settled for mediocrity when it should be striving for excellence.

    As a fellow UB grad student and WNY native, I can really appreciate the amount of dialogue that UB2020 has generated among the community. I just hope that a workable solution will ultimately be reached to allow the plan itself to move forward.

  • Charley Tarr

    Genuine wisdom from Assemblymember Deborah Glick in the Sunday Times-Union:

  • Peter A Reese

    Simpson as President Emeritus:

    I just threw up in my mouth.

  • Jim Holstun

    Ah, what a vital activity for the UB Council to take up as retrenchment proceeds apace at UB: as mere academic mortals lose their jobs, the Olympians hand out titles of honor to each other.

    Is that “emeritus” designation a way to keep sending John Simpson a hefty “emeritus” check from the UB Foundation?

    If not, then I’d like to second Mr. Jacobs’s proposal. Also, I’d like to propose that Mr. Jacobs be named UB Council Chair emeritus. Of course, he’d have to resign first.

  • ub2010, 2020, 2030blows

    — Be concerned Very concerned! See warning below. —

    “…S1502, a bill introduced last Friday, January 7, 2011, by Senator George Maziarz (R-Newfane)…by Senator George Maziarz (R-Newfane)”


    IS THIS Faulty legislation? Self-serving interest? Faulty legislation? Self-serving interest?

    As the population-to-voter ratio continues to decrease with loss of that population base away from WNY (less and less people to even vote), George’s only constituents left are the very people (and their families and cronies) that he provides patronage salaries to. Get it? Apparently, he’s now trying to gain some additional votes from the state-paid University at Buffalo crowd (no offense meant to the actual paying U.B. crowd – the students) to further increase his ratio of that decreasing voter base.

    Or, would that be the University at Buffalo’s “crowned” Mr. Jacobs ? that Maziarz’ is-a-courtin?


  • ub2010, 2020, 2030blows

    Oopsie, almost forgot, then there are these other connection(s) directly to the George Maziarz political money train.

    “…UB’s Center for Tomorrow—home of the secretive UB Foundation(s)

    —local state legislators took…”

    Look into it if you’d like. It’s there.