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As associate vice chancellor of the Office of External Affairs for the State University of New York, I would like to respond to a recent editorial, which misstated some basic and undisputed facts about SUNY.

Under the leadership of Gov. George Pataki and the trustees he has appointed to the SUNY board, virtually every important aspect of a first-rate public university -- enrollment, academic standards, state support, private fund-raising, marketing and recruitment -- is on the rise.

Contrary to the editorial, tuition is not "spiraling" but has been held steady since 1995. In fact, the members of the graduating class of 2000 will have experienced no tuition increase during their entire time at SUNY. State budget support per full-time equivalent student has grown 10 percent in the last four years.

New and renovated residence halls, laboratories, classrooms, recreation centers and athletic venues are under construction at campuses throughout the state, thanks to a $2 billion capital construction program initiated by Pataki.

SUNY is also rebuilding itself academically. For the first time in its history, the system has undertaken a thorough review of its academic mission, defining a special niche for each of its colleges and universities. It is only one of several initiatives to enhance the value of a SUNY degree.

And students are responding. What The News sees as "turmoil" is actually the dynamism of thousands of new students pouring into our 64 campuses. This year's freshman class is the largest in 10 years. In fact, the system is now enrolling a record 37 percent of New York State's college-bound, high school graduates.

With Chancellor Robert King at the helm, the State University's position as a leader in higher education will grow with its role as an economic catalyst for the entire state.



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