Facing criticism for focusing economic development efforts only on University of Buffalo and not the state’s other three university centers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher announced today the start of the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program.
SUNY Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo and Stony Brook will compete for up to $140 million. In the announcement, Cuomo said that the program will initially fund $35 million in capital funding per school ($20 million administered by Empire State Development Corporation and $15 million from SUNY’s construction fund).
The University of Buffalo has been trying to get state legislative approval to allow it to set its own tuition rates and enter into its own economic-development deals.
However, this program makes funding available for all the university centers after the others raised concern about why UB was getting all the attention. The funding will be part of the Regional Economic Development Councils being overseen by Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy.
“NYSUNY 2020 brings our economic development goals together with the world-class SUNY system in a way that boosts higher learning and creates good paying jobs all over New York,” Cuomo said in a statement. “We need to put New Yorkers back to work, and this new partnership with SUNY will be a major part of the reinvention of New York.”
Said Zimpher, who has been pushing for an overall economic-development plan for the state’s 65 campuses: “Governor Cuomo’s vision of reopening New York to business fits perfectly with SUNY’s ability to be an economic driver for our state – a ready-made asset for New York’s recovery.”
The campuses will have to develop a plan for its economic-development goals to obtain the money, another move by Cuomo to tie grants to accountability.