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Stony Brook Poll Documents Strong Support Among University Faculty for the PHEEIA Legislation as a Solution to the University’s Budget Woes

Stony Brook Poll Documents Strong Support Among University Faculty for the PHEEIA Legislation as a Solution to the University’s Budget Woes

Faculty support all provisions of the PHEEIA legislation

STONY BROOK, N.Y., April 13, 2010 – The Center for Survey Research at Stony Brook University polled university faculty and non-teaching professionals on their opinions concerning the Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act (PHEEIA).  Roughly 330 faculty and 116 non-teaching professional staff were surveyed for the study. [A complete review of the results can be found on the Stony Brook University Senate website.]

Faculty supported the PHEEIA provisions across the board, and expressed strong support for the legislation. A majority of faculty and a majority or plurality of staff supported giving greater control of tuition to the SUNY Board of Trustees, letting tuition increase up to $400 per year for the next ten years, and allowing the four SUNY university centers (including Stony Brook) to charge higher tuition than other SUNY campuses. A majority also supported relaxing state control of public-private partnerships on campus.

According to Professor Leonie Huddy, Director of the Center for Survey Research, “Stony Brook University faculty are pessimistic about the future and see the PHEEIA legislation as the only solution to the university’s current budget woes. Faculty see some flaws in the legislation but believe that tuition will have to increase and come under direct SUNY control to maintain educational excellence at Stony Brook and prevent further declines in university faculty and staff.” 

Faculty and staff reported widespread pessimism if the PHEEIA legislation is not passed. Without it, most foresee a decline in university faculty over the next five years. If the legislation passes, however, a majority are optimistic that the university can grow. As one faculty respondent said about PHEEIA, “It is a rare opportunity to change the way the university is funded in New York state; it is an opportunity that we will have to make work. It comes with pitfalls and dangers like all opportunities, but it should not be allowed to slip away.”

Key Survey Findings:

  • Broad support for PHEEIA. 75% of faculty and professional staff support PHEEIA; 52% support it strongly. Broad support for the legislation exists across the campus, covering the health sciences, engineering, arts and sciences, marine sciences and journalism, and existed at all faculty academic ranks. Professional staff were somewhat less supportive than faculty of the legislation.
  • Want Control of tuition shifted to SUNY.  Almost four-fifths (79%) of Stony Brook faculty and professional staff supported transferring the power to set tuition from the legislature to the SUNY Board of Trustees. Almost 9 out of 10 faculty (88%) supported this aspect of the legislation.
  • Support Tuition Increase:  Roughly 80% of faculty and staff support an increase in tuition up to 2.5 times the Higher Education Price Index, resulting in possible tuition increases of roughly $400 per year for up to 10 years. Almost 9 in 10 faculty supported this provision of the legislation.
  • Favor differential (higher) tuition at the University centers: 83% of faculty and non-teaching professionals (and almost 90% of faculty) support higher tuition at the SUNY University centers– Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, and Stony Brook.
  • Positive, but more qualified support for private-public partnerships: The PHEEIA legislation loosens state control of public-private partnerships, and faculty and professional staff favored this but with some misgivings. Two-thirds (66%) of faculty and professional staff support expanded public-private partnerships on campus, but a majority also expressed concern about environmental protections in this aspect of the legislation. And a majority or near majority were concerned that this would weaken union protections for campus workers and increase the number of non-union workers.
  • Pessimism if PHEEIA is not passed. Over 7 in 10 faculty and professional staff believe that the number of faculty and staff at the university will decrease over the next 5 years without PHEEIA. In contrast, 73% think there will be an increase in faculty and staff if the legislation is passed. 

The Stony Brook University Center for Survey Research conducted this survey on the web between March 25 and March 31, 2010.  All full-time faculty and non-teaching professionals who are represented by the University Senate (all full time employees who pay dues to United University Professionals — UUP –and are employed in the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, East and West campus libraries, Health Science Center, Southampton and Journalism) were invited to participate.  A total of 333 faculty and 116 professional staff participated in the survey, for an overall response rate of 30%. The survey respondents are broadly representative of the faculty and staff invited to take the survey. Fully 47% of the faculty respondents held the rank of professor. 

About the Stony Brook University Center for Survey Research
The SBU Center for Survey Research is a high quality survey research facility that conducts telephone, web, and mail surveys on Long Island, New York state, and the nation. The Center received initial funding in 2000 from the National Science Foundation and has conducted numerous polls and surveys funded by Newsday, Suffolk county, the Long Island Sound Study group, New York state, the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, various other government agencies, and local non-profit groups. The Center has conducted all polls for the Long Island Index since 2005.  Professor Leonie Huddy, Director of the Center for Survey Research, frequently appears on national CBS radio as an exit poll analyst.  Polls conducted by the center have received extensive media coverage in Newsday, the New York Times, and other news sources around the country. A more complete description of the projects conducted by the Center for Survey Research can be found at

For more information contact:
Leonie Huddy, Director
Center for Survey Research
(516) 680-3574 (through 4/14/10)
(508) 866-0910 (after 4/14/10)

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