In her first State of the State Address on Jan. 5, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the formal designation of Stony Brook University and The University at Buffalo as New York State’s flagship universities as part of her plan for “A New Era for New York.”
A joint statement from the two universities said, “The official recognition of these premier centers of higher education as joint flagships of the State University of New York (SUNY) system reflects the preeminent role that The University at Buffalo and Stony Brook University play statewide, nationally and internationally as models of research and academic excellence. This designation acknowledges the excellence and reputations of our universities and it will further enhance our ability to continue to recruit the world’s most accomplished faculty and attract outstanding students — regardless of their income or socio-economic background — and attract even more highly competitive federal research funding.”
“We are nationally recognized for our ability to produce cutting-edge research at the same time as we offer a world-class education to students from all socio-economic backgrounds, which in turn provides them unmatched social and economic mobility,” said Stony Brook President Maurie McInnis. “Our ambition, as leading public research universities, is to grow our combined annual research expenditures to bring jobs, innovation and renown to New York State. This recognition by the State of New York will strengthen our mission to deliver the benefits of our research, clinical care and education locally, regionally, nationally and globally. We thank Governor Hochul for her decision to designate our campus as one of two SUNY flagships.”
Hochul’s plan includes a number of proposals aimed at higher education in general and Stony Brook specifically, including:
- Additional funding to construct a multidisciplinary engineering building on campus
- Supporting the Stony Brook/Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory partnership to launch NeuroAI, an initiative that combines neuroscience and artificial intelligence
- Expansion of the Stony Brook Center for Clean Water Technology research to include wastewater treatment technology and creation of the Suffolk County Wastewater Management District, both with the goal of protecting Long Island’s aquifer system
- Funding for the modernization and repair of scientific labs
- Funding for “Grand Challenges” that will encourage cross-disciplinary research
- Increased funding to attract world-class faculty and researchers
The joint statement noted that across the country, flagship universities are those that provide vital leadership in advancing their home state’s public higher education mission, provide a comprehensive array of professional schools and degree programs, and are proven economic catalysts. “Flagships attract the world’s best and brightest faculty and students and are nationally and internationally recognized for the quality and impact of their research and academic innovation and rigor.”
Stony Brook and Buffalo are both members of the prestigious Association of American Universities, have built reputations as research-intensive institutions with preeminent academic programs, and their combined economic impact on the state exceeds $8.9 billion annually. They enroll nearly 59,000 students, have hundreds of thousands of alumni, have annual research expenditures of over $660 million, and offer more than 700 degree programs across academic disciplines.
Hochul also outlined a healthcare plan aimed at rebuilding and growing the state’s healthcare workforce by 20% over the next five years, with a $10 billion commitment that includes $4 billion to support higher wages and bonuses, and $2 billion for healthcare capital infrastructure and improved lab capacity. The plan also calls for increased training, attracting students by providing financial support for the education of healthcare professionals who work in New York State, supporting career flexibility for direct care workers, investing in digital innovation, making affordable healthcare coverage available to everyone, expanding and improving access to prenatal and postnatal care, establishing a state master plan for aging, and strengthening addiction, suicide, mental health and domestic violence services.
Hochul’s agenda includes nine key components: rebuilding our healthcare economy; protecting public safety and taking strong action against gun violence; investing in New York’s people; investing in New York’s communities; making New York’s housing system more affordable, equitable, and stable; making New York a national leader in climate action and green jobs; rebuilding New York’s teacher workforce and reimagining higher education; advancing New York’s place as a national equity model; and making critical reforms to restore New Yorkers’ faith in their government.