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Legislative Breakfast at SUNY Corning: Update

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

Friday, 10 February, 2023 the annual Legislative Breakfast was held in our very own library at SUNY Corning. A myriad of topics were discussed from the college’s new mission and vision statements to a controversial clause that was added to a funding request.

The latter was hung over the second half of the event when the assemblymembers in attendance, Phil Palmesano, Christopher Friend, and Senator Tom O’Mara’s chief of staff Sarah Lattin came to the stage for questions.

Here are the main takeaways from the breakfast with the legislatures:

New Mission Statements, Visions, and Values

After the bonhomie of the mingling Trustees, Assemblymembers and several students near the breakfast bar, seats were sat upon and president of SUNY Corning, Dr. Mulaney stepped up to speak.

Mulaney said that upon reflection over the course of post pandemic years, the mission and value statements of SUNY Corning were obsolete to the modernity of the college. They were made antiquated by simply being too long and truly not resonating with members of the college’s faculty and partners. Thus, a new mission, vision, and values were created.

The college’s mission is now “Empower Students. Elevate Community.” The Vision: “To be the educational heart of the community where all identities thrive, students reach new heights, and transformative partnerships grow.”

When it came to the college’s values, instead of having a paragraph of exact phrasing that may prove stultifying in this ever-changing world a list of keywords was given. Equity. Critical Thinking. Connectedness. Expression. Creativity. Exploration. Grit. Collaboration.

New Academics in Progress

I was unsure what pertinence reporting on the Legislative Breakfast would have for students, but it proved to be illuminating in learning more about what our college does.

Among the academic news that may be of interest to many students is the new programs coming to SUNY Corning. A Mechatronics A.A.S and a Digital Design A.S will be added to the college’s academic roster soon. Along with a mechatronics lab and even a makerspace for Digital Design students. A colossal upgrade from the 3D printer in the Ceramics Hut closet.

New Microcredentials and Career Readiness

One of the most overt themes of the meeting was the need to boost college attendance to not only benefit the college but also to provide the community with not just more degree inflation but with workforce ready employees. The college currently has an enrollment of 4,700 students; a smaller enrollment than usual partly due to shrinking demographics of high schoolers.

This has led SUNY Corning to focus on retaining current students but also having a more potent emphasis on enrolling non-traditional students. Microcredentials are an efficient pathway for those who wish to have more than a highschool diploma/GED but do not wish to have a degree that will not provide them with a promised job.

The microcredential programs at the college will include courses to put Teacher’s Aids on a pathway to being full-time teachers and prep for a college degree.

During the event there was also mention of a Optical Technician program so if that is something that peaks your interest keep a lookout for that in future college academics.

The Political Atmosphere of The Breakfast

In America it many times feels as if the country is made up of factions; Democrats over here, Republicans over there. While I am used to the political discussions I have with my peers on campus, all who have varying beliefs, it was fascinating to see the nuances of political beliefs (even in the same party) come to life during the event.

It is generally given that Democrats prefer higher spending budgets with higher taxes while Republicans support lower spending and lower taxes. The past weeks in NYS for legislatures have been filled with budget hearings to decide how to allocate the state’s budget.

SUNY Corning has requested NYS for a 4% raise to the base funding of the college to counteract inflation, and while the process has been smooth there was a clause added to their request (I do not know by who) that basically stated in the case of insufficient fund allocation, the college would have a 20% clawback.

Now, in the face of club spending at SUNY Corning already being cut by approximately 15% this could affect students as well as the other departments of the college.

Both Phil Palmesano and Christopher Friend advocated for ridding the budget request of the controversial clause. However, Palmesano countered that it will have to be through allocating funds creatively instead of increasing spending is his (and many of Upstate New Yorkers’) concern about increasing taxation in the following years.

What Students Should Do

At the end of the question and answer session I got a chance to speak with Phil Palmesano with Student Body President Joshua Goodwin, Student Trustee Wyatt Stoner, and Activities Coordinator Dylan Maynard. Palmesano was exhortatory in encouraging us, and all students at SUNY Corning, to reach out to our legislators in our districts. For many of us Phil Palmesano and Christopher Friend are our Assemblymembers; ready to advocate for us only if we let them do so.

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