SUNY Morrisville’s mission is to offer diverse learning experiences so that graduates may pursue rewarding lives and careers, become engaged citizens and contribute to our collective future.
I was recently offered the opportunity to discuss the importance of providing a high-quality and affordable education to all New Yorkers and others who seek it during the Senate Standing Committee public hearing on Higher Education, held at the SUNY Oswego Syracuse campus.
The hearing, chaired by Senator Toby Ann Stavisky and co-sponsored by Senator Rachel May, examined the cost of public higher education and its effect on student financial aid programs, state support, TAP/GAP, student borrowing and other challenges to affordability and accessibility.
Please find below the full transcript of my testimony from the hearing, which can also be viewed via the video in the sidebar. I look forward to our continued efforts working together as a campus and with our state legislators as we aim to provide affordable access to education for our students.
Senate Higher Education Hearing Testimony
“The Cost of Public Higher Education”
President David E. Rogers, Ph.D.
I am David Rogers, President of SUNY Morrisville.
Thank you to Chairperson Stavisky, Senator May of our district, members of the Senate and legislative staff for providing this venue to discuss the importance of providing a high-quality and affordable education to all New Yorkers and others who seek it.
SUNY Morrisville’s mission is to offer diverse learning experiences so that graduates may pursue rewarding lives and careers, become engaged citizens, and contribute to our collective future. Our vision is that SUNY Morrisville aspires to be a recognized leader in innovative applied education.
Since its founding, Morrisville has had a mission of providing access and improving regional communities and economies. Originally started as an institution to help farmers and their households improve their own operations, Morrisville has been dedicated to making practical, hands-on education accessible and affordable.
As the needs of Central New York have changed, so has Morrisville. We began offering two-year degrees, then four-year degrees, and now we are on the cusp of introducing our first graduate degree, a proposed master’s degree in food and agribusiness. Each of these changes has been in response to the needs of our students and the communities we serve.
SUNY Morrisville is an institution focused historically on access to underserved populations, especially those living in rural areas and, more recently, to first-generation students from larger urban areas. As a college of applied learning, our students benefit from distinctive hands-on learning in fields, facilities, shops and labs filled with specialized equipment, technology, living plants and animals that bring different requirements than other more traditional program areas.
Our students benefit from distinctive facilities designed to prepare them for industry, whether it’s the family farm, a major automotive manufacturer, solar and wind power installation and maintenance, cybersecurity firms, reemerging cannabis markets, health care providers and hospitals or a number of other enterprises essential to everyday life throughout the great State of New York and beyond.
For 40 years before SUNY was formed, Morrisville worked closely with individuals and communities to adapt and employ new technologies and methodologies to become more efficient and effective. As part of the SUNY system, we have continued to benefit from public officials who have believed and invested in quality higher education as an instrument of strengthening communities and lifting up individuals.
Initiatives like the Excelsior Scholarship and the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) are evidence that Governor Cuomo and our legislators are leaders in prioritizing access for students who can realize their potential through quality public higher education.
Investments in our facilities, such as massive utility improvements that we have undertaken this year and major building projects in the upcoming year, contribute significantly to ensuring that the educational experience of our students is workforce ready and can enhance the dynamic needs of New York State.
We recognize the growing needs of students, whether they are physical or mental health needs, tutoring, advising or coaching to help them succeed in all aspects of life. We make significant efforts to properly recruit students for whom Morrisville is the right fit. We provide orientation to help them start on the right foot. We provide summer bridge programming for those who need additional preparation. We have monitoring and alert software and programs to identify when students need helpful intervention before their educational pursuits are endangered by obstacles or challenging circumstances. We connect them with field experiences, job shadowing, apprenticeships and internships with industry partners so they have a real experience in their chosen field. We work with employers to help graduates begin meaningful work as soon as possible after their time with us.
All of this support is important, because it enriches the core classroom, lab and field learning that is central to how we teach students. Our work-integrated approach is all the more important for students who know that they must have an affordable education that leads to gainful employment. It also helps them prepare for changes in industry and their own careers as the world continues to evolve at an ever-increasing pace.
SUNY Morrisville has been recognized for its impact on the social mobility of its graduates. Last month, U.S. News & World Report announced that we achieved Top 10 status as a “Best College” in the North for “Top Performers on Social Mobility.” Prior to this year’s ranking in this new category, SUNY Morrisville was recognized through research published in The New York Times that reviewed institutions’ ability to promote the social mobility of their graduates. Morrisville ranks 14th out of 68 nonselective, four-year public colleges on the overall mobility index, which indicates students who move up two or more income quintiles.
The Morrisville College Foundation and the Morrisville Auxiliary Corporation are our close partners in providing services, scholarships and other services that enable students to have rewarding and fulfilling educational experiences during their time at SUNY Morrisville. We have worked ever more closely to provide more support, reduce expenses and otherwise boost the quality of a Morrisville education. Without their help, fewer students would have access to fewer services.
These entities and others on campus have helped us address additional needs of students, from food insecurity to use of free or low-cost textbook materials, and from on-campus childcare to reduced-cost laptops. We know that investment in student success is a complicated and resource-intensive endeavor.
I am thankful again to Governor Cuomo and the legislators who support our efforts, provide meaningful leadership and implement effective initiatives that aim to provide affordable access to education for our students while ensuring quality in our system of statewide higher education.
I look forward to our continued work together to pursue these worthy endeavors.