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Simpson: UB 2020 in 'serious jeopardy'

11:45 a.m.: BUFFALO -- University at Buffalo President John B. Simpson warned this morning that the university's long-range UB 2020 plan is "in serious jeopardy" if the state Legislature does not adopt a measure to give state universities more flexibility on matters such as tuition.


"Our ability to complete UB 2020 is in serious jeopardy, and with this, the future of Buffalo and Western New York is in jeopardy," Simpson said during a news conference this morning at UB's Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences. "UB 2020 is about excellence in education, it is about jobs, and it is about our community's well-being."


The changes, proposed by Gov. David A. Paterson, would give SUNY campuses more autonomy to manage tuition and other funding areas. The Assembly cut the proposed changes from its budget resolution last week. The State Senate has kept the reforms in its budget proposal.


Simpson said he has reached out to members of the Western New York delegation to support the initiative as the 2010 state budget deadline nears Wednesday.


"We recognize that New York has a huge deficit, and that money is not available," Simpson said this morning. "Yet the changes we seek are policy, not financial. We are simply asking for the tools to help ourselves."


Simpson wrote earlier this month in The News' Sunday Viewpoints section that UB's 2020 plan will require both state and university funding -- two areas in which UB is limited.


"UB 2020 is neither a magical plan nor a panacea for all of what ails Western New York," Simpson wrote in The News' Sunday Viewpoints section March 21. "But it is realistic and thoughtful, and it is already producing early gains. But its ultimate success is not assured."


Simpson cautioned in the op-ed that UB 2020 could be hurt by state funding cuts and "outdated policies that hamper our ability to enhance our revenues."


The state has slashed UB's funding by $40 million since 2008 and another $16 million in reductions are expected this year, Simpson wrote.


See a portion of Simpson's remarks:

-- Denise Jewell Gee

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