February 3, 2021

Dear Members of the Legislature:

New York University (NYU) and private higher education institutions across New York look forward to continuing our long-standing partnership with the State, especially as we work to collectively address the public health and financial challenges facing our communities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  No sector of the state’s economy has been left untouched by the pandemic, and private higher education is no exception. Our sector has lost nearly $2 billion statewide, causing unthinkable damage to our respective institutions. Now more than ever, the relationship between research, academics, industry, and government is essential, not only toward enabling our students and researchers to discover new knowledge that will limit the suffering caused by COVID-19, but also in ensuring the continuity of our institutions and their profoundly impactful missions. As we look to the upcoming state budget, despite the financial challenges the State faces, it is critical that educational opportunity and academic research continue to be prioritized. The recovery of New York’s economy, as well as the State’s response to similar future crises, can only succeed with a strong private higher education sector.  

While I am grateful that the Governor’s Executive Budget proposal for FY 2021-2022 preserves key financial aid programs—including the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and the Opportunity Programs, both of which support access to higher education for marginalized communities—I urge the Legislature to reject the Governor’s proposal to eliminate the Direct Institutional (“Bundy”) Aid Program.  The Governor’s proposal eliminates Bundy Aid funding in FY22 and cancels payments that are due to institutions in the current fiscal year, amounting to a devastating $51.9 million cut for private, not-for-profit colleges statewide. Bundy Aid awards funds to institutions based on the number of degrees conferred and helps private colleges and universities provide students with robust institutional aid and support programming that are critical to promoting degree completion. NYU utilizes our Bundy Aid funding (approximately $4.5 million) for institutional financial aid that supports 166 undergraduate scholarships annually. In order for NYU and other institutions to continue providing this aid to our well-deserving students, I hope the Legislature will support maintaining funding for this program in the FY22 State Budget.  

In addition to allowing access to higher education for students of all backgrounds, the State’s support has also enabled universities to become critical drivers of New York’s local and regional economies. For decades, the New York State Center of Advanced Technology (CAT) and Center of Excellence (COE) programs have supported the transfer of research and innovations into the marketplace with a tremendous return on investment. These Centers have been an extremely successful tool in connecting industry and universities, spurring innovations to the marketplace, and fostering new and emerging research fields, including critical COVID-19 related research and solutions. NYU, along with our public and private colleagues statewide, were disappointed to see that the Governor has proposed to consolidate the two programs and reduce funding for both. I urge the Legislature to restore funding for both the CAT and COE programs to $1 million per Center and ensure each program remains independent. 

Finally, few other issues are as urgent and consequential as the threat of climate change. We applaud the Governor and the Legislature for their continued efforts to decarbonize the State’s energy sources and become a worldwide leader in sustainability. NYU sees itself as a leader on this issue in the higher education space. We have committed to cutting our carbon emissions 50% by 2025 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2040. Through the tireless work of our Office of Sustainability, we seek to build a healthier and more sustainable community by leveraging the creativity of our students, faculty, and industry partners to find the solutions to some of our environment’s most pressing problems. We stand ready to collaborate with the State in pursuing our shared goals in this area.  

I have enclosed a summary describing all of NYU’s legislative priorities as well as information about how our community has proudly supported local COVID-19-related recovery efforts. I look forward to building upon our partnership and continuing the State’s long history of cultivating the growth and success of world-class institutions of higher learning for years to come. Thank you for your consideration.    

Sincerely,

andrew hamilton signature

President