Magazine article The Presidency

State Government and Independent Colleges: A View from New York

Magazine article The Presidency

State Government and Independent Colleges: A View from New York

Article excerpt

The year 2011 brought both a new governor to the executive chamber here in New York, and a new way of thinking about how to tackle challenges facing the Empire State. Although New York faced persistent, structural budget deficits and waning confidence among New Yorkers both as an electorate and as consumers, Governor Andrew Cuomo and leaders in the state legislature adopted a fiscal plan that invested in student aid programs.

This strong leadership from the new governor and a spirit of cooperation from the legislature resulted in New York state enacting an on-time budget of $132.5 billion for the state's 2011-12 fiscal year. This plan closed a $10 billion budget deficit and reduced spending by two percent over the prior year. On the whole, this budget was good news for state student aid and targeted programs for disadvantaged students.

With the state's budget adopted, Governor Cuomo set an ambitious economic development agenda called "Open for Business." In this job-building agenda, the governor clearly communicated an understanding that colleges and universities are essential to supporting economic growth within the state by educating its next generation of leaders, as well as generating economic impact themselves. In his January 5, 2011 State of the State address, Governor Cuomo affirmed that "higher education will be the key economic driver."

This support for higher education in New York state-which is home to the nation's largest collection of private, not-for-profit colleges and universities- recognizes the essential dual role higher education institutions play today. First and foremost, colleges and universities are educating individuals to be active citizens and skilled, creative employees. At the same time, they are the backbone of the state's economic well-being. In urban neighborhoods and small upstate towns, they often are the largest employer.

New York's independent sector of higher education is actively supporting the governor's vision. Our colleges and universities are talent magnets, anchor tenants, private employers, innovation and workforce catalysts, and community partners. These essential roles lift higher education from an economic mainstay to a driver of the next generation of leaders, as well as the entire state economy.

Talent Magnet: Supporting the State's Students

As you look across New York state, you will find our campuses are defined by history and tradition, and are located in urban, suburban, and rural locations. They are first-class research and cultural facilities. As a world-recognized brand, New York state higher education attracts students from around the world. They are drawn to the impressive array of renowned academic programs, campus environments, social diversity, and quality faculty. In fact, according to research from Postsecondary Education Opportunity, New York state leads the nation in attracting first-time freshmen. These students contribute $4.5 billion to the economy.

New York's independent education sector enrolled 38 percent of the state's 1.3 million students studying for degree credit in fall 2010. Additionally, New York continues to rank first among the states in the number of private, not-for profit campuses on the top 50 lists of national universities and liberal arts colleges in the U.S. News and World Report rankings.

In the independent sector of higher education, talented students are more likely to stay in New York and complete their degrees than their counterparts elsewhere. According to the U.S. Department of Education and the New York State Education Department, the five-year graduation rate for the independent sector is 65 percent, compared with 61 percent nationally for peers and just less than 60 percent for all New York state colleges and universities.

Anchoring New York's Communities and Driving Economic Development

Governor Cuomo's "Open for Business" agenda- built around the creation of 10 Regional Economic Development Councils-redefines the relationship between state government and businesses with the goal of stimulating regional economic development and creating jobs. …

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