ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The State University of New York, with more than 400,000 students and a budget of $11 billion, is releasing what it considers an unprecedented report card detailing how the nation’s biggest public system of higher education is performing.
“We are asking New Yorkers to hold us accountable,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, who took over in 2009. She said the annual report card, the first of which is to be released Tuesday, is unique in higher education.
“It’s a level of accountability that many would consider a gamble,” she told The Associated Press. “But the risks are outweighed by the opportunity it presents for all New Yorkers to vest in — and take ownership of — SUNY’s advancement and our impact on the economic revitalization of New York state.”
The move comes after SUNY lost nearly 30 percent of its state funding over three years through Albany’s more common fiscal practice of political deals cut in back rooms. Technically a state agency under a governor’s fiscal control, SUNY has absorbed the same repeated 10-percent cuts that former Gov. David Paterson and now Gov. Andrew Cuomo have assessed against agencies to address massive deficits.
But polls have shown strong support for education funding, even in the fiscal crisis, and Zimpher has been crossing the state since she arrived pitching a plan to put SUNY at the top academic rungs in the country while being an economic engine for the state.
The annual guide for taxpayers, students and their families grades SUNY publicly on academics, job creation, partnerships with communities, and ground-breaking research.
Zimpher said the first report card to be released Tuesday will start to allow “the public to assess where we succeed and where we may fall short.”
Some of the baseline figures in the first report card that will be used for comparison in coming years include:
–The average time for a first-time candidate for a four-year bachelor’s degree to graduate is 4.5 years. The average first-time associate’s degree candidate, frequently a student who works at least part-time and often full-time, takes 4.6 years to get the two-year degree.
–65 percent of its 439,500 students are white; 80 percent of SUNY’s 85,800 employees are white.
–The total cost for an average student attending and living at a SUNY college is $15,940, before financial aid.
–5,360 jobs are directly the result of SUNY research.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)