Unveiling this Year’s UB 2020 Bill
by Buck Quigley - posted 4:00 pm, January 14, 2011
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…
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.