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Faculty Senate to Form Start Up NY Committee

 Faculty Senate to Form Start Up NY Committee

12/03/2013 

The Faculty Senate wants a say regarding SUNY Cortland’s participation in the newly created, state-wide Start Up NY program that lets not-for-profit colleges partner with companies launching or expanding operations on or nearby the campuses.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s groundbreaking initiative is creating tax-free zones across the state for new and expanding businesses. The chosen corporations can operate 100 percent tax-free for 10 years, meaning no business, corporate, state or local taxes, sales and property taxes or franchise fees, according to the program website.

Senators are interested both in shared governance on major College decision-making as well as ensuring that such unions benefit SUNY Cortland students and are in keeping with the institution’s core mission.

So during the Dec. 3 meeting, rescheduled due to a weather-related cancellation on Nov. 26, a narrow quorum of senators approved the slightly amended draft of a four-page, written process to take part in Start Up NY. The senate decided, unanimously, that a committee will be created that can participate in the evaluation of any companies that apply for incentives to locate on or near the campus under Start Up NY.

The recommendation goes to SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum for his approval.

The ad hoc committee met several times and completed its task of drafting the proposal without naming a chair. Representing the committee before the faculty senate were Senators Orvil White, childhood/early childhood education, and Joy Hendrick, kinesiology.

The draft primarily serves as a benchmark for how companies measure up in the following areas:

• whether they will share their expertise with the campus;

• whether they will provide quality transformational educational opportunities for students;

• how their products or resources align with the College’s academic programs; and,

• how the partner can contribute to the well-being of the campus and Cortland community.

The companies also would be assessed for their potential value to the campus community through a number of different lenses, including research, leadership, diversity, culture, regional economic development, internship and training opportunities, direct job opportunities for students, internationalization, and whether a company’s product converges with a specific area of specialization at SUNY Cortland.

The Start Up NY program will formally begin on Jan. 1, when tax exemptions are officially available for participating companies and their employees. Businesses will be able to apply directly to schools once the tax-free areas have been approved. The first business applications will be accepted beginning in late 2013.

Bitterbaum noted during the meeting that one company already has contacted the College about engaging in such an arrangement.

Given the program’s timeframe, senators first moved to fast-track the new business item and then to approve it at the same meeting.

Following the vote, Faculty Senate Chair Jeff Walkuski said he’ll contact Human Resources directly after the meeting to initiate the process of forming the new Faculty Senate committee to assess potential corporate partners and perform subsequent, annual reviews of how the business aligns with the College’s academic mission. This committee will be comprised of three faculty members representing at least two schools and one professional staff member.

Senators had tweaked the four-page draft to strengthen the role of this new committee as a whole in determining whether a corporate partner would or had aligned well with the College’s academic goals. In the original draft, that decision to make or withhold a final endorsement on a particular corporate partner was left to the committee chair.