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NY Higher Ed Staffing Crunch Hits Students

January 11, 2007

With students being turned away from the State University of New York because of a shortage of faculty, the challenge for the new governor and state lawmakers is what to do about the problem. Lawmakers were told Wednesday that it would take 2,000 more full-time faculty to get the faculty-student ratio back to normal. United University Professions President Bill Sheuerman spoke before a legislative committee, saying last year's infusion of $25 million helped, but chronic understaffing continues.

"We hope last year wasn't a blip on the radar screen. Let's put our money where our mouths are and make New York a stronger state by continuing to fix what has been broken over the past 12 - 15 years."

Scheuerman told committee members that young New Yorkers are being denied college admission because of funding decisions that go back more than a decade.

"We still need another 650 faculty to get back to where we were in the early 90s, and once we do that, there is still no faculty to make up for the 44,000 new students, so we still have a long way to go."

Scheuerman also asked lawmakers to reject the Berger Commission's recommendations to privatize three SUNY-operated public hospitals.

"It's just a bad, bad move, the trauma center will close, the HIV center downstate will close; it's a disaster. We expect the legislature to come back and make the necessary adjustments to protect the population from the recommendations."

In his State of the State message, Governor Eliot Spitzer pledged to make New York's higher education system the "best in America," and he said higher education can play a major role in helping the upstate economy.

Scheuerman testified before the Assembly Standing Committee on Higher Education.

Michael Clifford/Eric Mack, Public News Service - NY