BUFFALO, NY (2009-06-04)
The New York State Senate Wednesday passed legislation that sets the stage for UB to operate more like an independent business. Click the audio player above to hear Joyce Kryszak's full story now or use your podcasting software to download it to your computer or iPod.
The bill is called the "UB 20-20 Flexibility and Economic Growth Act." But its effect is potentially more exciting than its name. To become law, the bill still must receive final passage from the State Assembly.
But lawmakers and UB officials say it paves the way for UB to become a major economic driver for the region. Senator William Stachowski says it is a win for UB - and for Buffalo.
In addition to the important business flexibility, there are other major reforms. The law would let UB implement regular, incremental tuition increases. Officials say that would prevent large, unexpected increases and allow for nbetter planning. Tuition revenues would be used exclusively at UB for programming and financial aid.
UB also could make purchases faster without Albany approval. The law would also expand on another recently passed law that established a separate UB Corporation for capital projects. It would include access to state financing.
UB President John Simpson said the pending UB 2020 law is very much a tipping point - for the region and eventually for all SUNY schools.
That argument is one that Western New York lawmakers used to persuade their reluctant down state colleagues. It took nearly two years to get the law passed in the Senate. It is being considered now in committee at the Assembly.
Still, the good news comes on the heals of deep budget cuts for UB. Simpson admits the cuts will slow progress with implementing the ambitious UB 2020 plan. But he said there is forward momentum.
Simpson said that with the reforms UB will finally be on competitive footing with state university systems across the country, where such flexibility and independence already exist.