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Another Voice: Albany must understand the importance of keeping tuition affordable

By Katherine Conway-Turner

Public institutions like SUNY Buffalo State play a pivotal role in the public good of the state and its people. SUNY colleges and universities build aggressive research agendas that address critical issues, lead discussions on important matters that affect our state and provide thousands of hours of service to our communities.

The SUNY system enrolls more than 460,000 students each year, and as these students graduate, they serve in positions across the state – leading businesses, solving critical problems and working in every segment of the economy. It is well documented that attaining a college diploma increases the lifelong earning potential of graduates and puts them in a position to live comfortably and join the community of citizens who enhance the public good.

At Buffalo State, nearly 60,000 of our alumni live and work in Western New York, infusing the regional workforce with highly skilled graduates who are prepared to tackle the issues of today and the jobs of our new economy. For example, enrollment in our electrical engineering technology and mechanical engineering technology programs has grown by 137 percent and 55 percent, respectively, since 2010.

College graduates have greater job stability and less chronic disease, and they give more to philanthropic organizations. So investing in higher education is good for the individuals receiving the education and for the communities in which they reside. Community engagement is a hallmark of a Buffalo State education. In 2012-13, our students, faculty and staff spent more than 500,000 hours engaged in the Western New York community through volunteering and service-learning activities.

Public higher education serves a larger percentage of our state by keeping tuition low and thus more accessible to families from all economic backgrounds. SUNY campuses are deeply committed to keeping tuition affordable so that we can continue to help students excel, regardless of their financial circumstances.

To continue to address the cultivation of all citizens, Buffalo State, like all SUNY campuses, relies on a state appropriation to maintain the lowest tuition possible and to address critical construction needs. Quality education can effectively occur only when we are able to meet the ever-changing and increasing demand for affordable tuition.

As the governor and the Legislature complete the state budget for next year, I remind us all of the public good that is enhanced when each and every capable student is afforded a college education. All students deserve to be taught by outstanding faculty and served by exceptional staff within facilities that will advance their learning. Buffalo State and all SUNY campuses lead the way in fulfilling a mission that advances our state and furthers the good of all.

Katherine Conway-Turner is president of SUNY Buffalo State.