Proposed Budget Increases Funding for SUNY Schools

UAlbany Sets Sights on Schuyler Building Renovations

By Bailey Cummings and Peyton DeNault


The proposed New York State budget for the 2021 fiscal year was announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo on January 21.


A rendering of the Schuyler Building on UAlbany's downtown campus (The Office of Government and Community Relations)

THE HIGHER EDUCATION BUDGET


The budget, which would add $257 million to higher education, will see the state’s investment towards schools in the SUNY and CUNY program reach a record $7.8 billion.


While the 2021 state budget won’t be finalized until March, the university has an estimation of the funding it will receive as well as plans for where the money will go.


“So what the governor is proposing, we [SUNY Albany] would get about $56.4 million in direct state operating support and that’s pretty much comparable to what we got last year,” says Jordan Carleo-Evangelist, Director of Media and Community Relations at the University.


Governor Cuomo has also proposed $550 million for critical maintenance projects on SUNY and CUNY campuses.


“That’s money we can use to repair, upgrade, renovate existing buildings,” Carleo-Evangelist explains. “We would get about $9.7 million, which again, is comparable to last year.”


THE SCHUYLER BUILDING


One of the capital projects the university has its sights set on is renovating the Schuyler Building on UAlbany’s downtown campus. The building, which was once used as Albany High School, will house the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences when it opens in the 2022-2023 school year.


“We are asking for, and this is not in the proposed budget, but we are asking as we speak to our legislators, for $20 million that would be enough to finish the Schuyler Building.”

UAlbany’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences has not had a specific facility for the program since its beginning in 2015.


“We hired great faculty, students started to come here wanting to study engineering, and we had to figure out where to put them,” Carleo-Evangelist says. “They were in the basement of Earth Sciences, environmental engineering was, until recently, in UAB which is the building off of Western Avenue down by Uncommon Grounds.”


According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there is an expected 13.2% increase in the electrical engineering field between 2016-2026. With entry-level salaries for electrical engineers starting at $71,000, job positions in all engineering distinctions are also expected to rise in the coming years.


Through the renovation of the Schuyler Building with the help of the proposed 2021 state higher education budget, the school is hoping that more students will begin to apply and enroll in the program, especially since UAlbany is currently the only SUNY institution with a competitive engineering major.


“Our engineers need modern, purpose-built lab spaces and classrooms and that’s what this will do,” says Carleo-Evangelist.


Renovations on the South end from the sub-basement to the top floor is slated to begin in May of this year.


“We’re asking for $20 million with the hope that once we finish the South end and we move students, faculty, staff, researchers in here in 2022, 2023, we just shift construction over to the North end.”


While the University will be advocating for more financial support from the state, renovations on the Schuyler Building will begin regardless of what happens in the budget.


“We’ve sort of scrimped and saved and pulled the money together for that,” says Carleo-Evangelists. “That’s a $28 million piece and that’s a really, really big, important piece of the project.”


There will be a higher education joint budget hearing February 4 and to view the 2021 New York State proposed budget, go to https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-outlines-fy-2021-budget-making-progress-happen

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