SUNY College at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
BUFFALO, NY - The State University of New York (SUNY) annual Critical Issues in Higher Education Conference, attracting 350 attendees from all over the country, was held over two days in November at the Millennium Broadway Hotel near Times Square.
The Albany Times Union says conference costs totaled just over $300,000 ...about 12% of which ($37,000) went to stage a cocktail reception at the NASDAQ headquarters in Manhattan.
"That was a small portion of a much larger event," said David Doyle, SUNY's Director of Communication. "SUNY hosted the event, but it was covered by the registration of the attendees. There was no public money spent," Doyle told WGRZ-TV, while noting the cost of the conference was picked up by the SUNY Research Foundation, which he says is not supported directly by state tax dollars, but by grants, including from the federal government.
However, it is also true that the Research Foundation, which administered a record $940.5 million in contracts and grants for research programs conducted at SUNY campuses in 2011, lists as its largest New York state sponsor the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC).
As for attendees who are employed by SUNY, Doyle said, "certainly there were attendees who were college presidents, other administrators, faculty and members of the (SUNY) Board of Trustees. I can't speak to how a registrant paid to get to the conference... If they came from a SUNY campus it's possible it came from a travel budget, but it's also possible it came from their foundations... It would clearly run the spectrum where the registration fees came from."
"Obviously at times like these you have to really watch every dollar," said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY). "They're cutting back on SUNY programs while tuition goes up, so I'd be very careful before I spent money on things like this. I don't know the details on this specific event, but I'd be real careful I'd put the priorities in the classroom and to keep tuition down."
But Doyle says a primary aim of the conference was to explore the re-tooling of SUNY to meet those economic challenges, and the challenges faced by higher education as a whole.
"You are bringing together experts in the field of education to talk about best practices and to talk about shared services...It was a good event and it was done for all the right reasons," he said.
Doyle noted the 2011 conference was held in Buffalo, and was quick to cite a news release, prepared by SUNY, which claims the conference had an economic impact of $600,000 on the Western New York economy.
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