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Union Cheers “Thousands More” Professors for SUNY and CUNY

December 21, 2007

New York — It ain't Santa Claus, but the New York State Commission on Higher Education is getting as much mail this week as Old Saint Nick, thanks to its new report recommending big changes in the state's university systems, CUNY and SUNY.

Fred Floss, acting president of United University Professions, says much of the feedback is due to a key conclusion of the report: Students at the city and state system campuses need thousands more full-time professors.

"The biggest issue is the recognition that we need to invest in full-time academic and professional faculty. That's the starting point that makes all of the rest of the engines and all of the rest of the recommendations go."

The Commission recommends hiring 2,000 more full-time faculty for the two systems, including 250 eminent scholars, over the next five years. Floss says he doesn't mean to be a Grinch, but points out that 2,000 new hires would barely make up for the loss of professors in the last decade. Still, he says, it's a place to start.

The report also suggests various ways the universities could raise additional money, but Floss cautions that state government has to step up first when it comes to financing.

"So we're looking for state dollars to make these investments, because that's the only way we can generate the other dollars that are going to come from research and philanthropy and everybody else. If the state isn't seen as putting dollars into the program, why would anybody else invest?"

Giving more control to individual schools is another major theme of the higher education report. Floss says that has already started at some State University campuses, with varying success.

"The next step is to say: 'OK, what have we done in the past?'; 'What's worked?', 'What hasn't worked?' and 'How can we work together better?' That doesn't mean we are against decentralization, it just means that we've got to talk this through before everybody goes off on their own."

The full list of Commission recommendations is at

Michael Clifford/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - NY