Stony Brook University has been dramatically cut in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget, but recently, Cuomo has proposed a NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program consisting of $35 million in funding for each of the four SUNY University Centers, according to a press release on May 2.

According to the statement, SUNY is one of the largest public higher education systems in the United States and educates more than 468,000 students in over 7,500 programs within 64 campuses. Specifically, the university centers in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo and Stony Brook educate 86,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs and have generated more than $600 million in research activity annually in the last three years.

“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 the 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.”

The overall mission of the program was to make SUNY a leading catalyst for job growth and strengthen academic programs. In order to be eligible for the funding, the four campuses will submit detailed, long-term economic and academic plans with criteria such as endorsements from surrounding local governments in support of the plan and funding mechanisms, such as capital financing and tuition increases. The funding will also be integrated with Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Councils.

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“I think that 2020 initiative seems like a good program that will help Stony Brook and students when they get into the workforce,” said senior pre-med student Anna Sverkunova.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher is supportive of this initiative.

“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,” she said.

In a statement released by Stony Brook University, President Samuel L. Stanley, Jr. also showed optimism about the program.

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“NYSUNY 2020 is exciting for SUNY, for Stony Brook University and for our region,” Stanley said. “We applaud Governor Cuomo for his leadership and Chancellor Nancy Zimpher as well, for her commitment and support; together they are advancing the role of SUNY’s research institutions and the future of the State’s prospects for economic development.

Stanley said the governor’s plan is long-term economically and academically. The capital dollars will go toward construction for research Stony Brook has finalized.

“This visionary plan presents the opportunity for Stony Brook to increase tuition resulting in additional operating revenue while helping us generate the necessary private funding that will enable us to populate new facilities with leading research faculty and staff, and provide opportunities for the most exceptional students,” Stanley said. “In so doing, the plan will further our mission of education, research, and discovery of cutting edge technology and new medical treatments.”

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