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SUNY and CUNY institutions are pillars of our communities, founded with the crucial mission to make high-quality education accessible to all. This mission has only become more urgent over the past decades, as inequality has increased, and more and more jobs require higher education. Yet over that same period, austerity and disinvestment have undermined SUNY and CUNY’s ability to serve the students and communities who need them most. 

Religious and faith leaders: Sign on via the form below to demand that this year's New York State budget reverses that trend and fully funds our CUNY and SUNY system!

To: Gov. Kathy Hochul, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Carl Heastie 

Dear Governor Kathy Hochul, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Speaker Carl Heastie;

As faith and religious leaders from across New York State, we urge you to reverse decades of harmful disinvestment in our public higher education system by fully funding CUNY and SUNY in the state budget. 

SUNY and CUNY institutions are pillars of our communities, founded with the crucial mission to make high-quality education accessible to all. This mission has only become more urgent over the past decades, as inequality has increased, and more and more jobs require higher education. Yet over that same period, austerity and disinvestment have undermined SUNY and CUNY’s ability to serve the students and communities who need them most. Tuition and fees have risen, faculty and staff have been cut, facilities have fallen into disrepair. And, in the second year of a pandemic, there are zero dollars budgeted for critical mission funding for SUNY’s public teaching hospitals, zero dollars set aside for critical elements of the New Deal for CUNY, including mental health counselors. As SUNY and CUNY institutions have been squeezed, it is not only students, patients, faculty and staff that have borne the cost. Our whole state is worse off when higher education becomes a privilege rather than a right.

For generations, CUNY and SUNY have opened doors of opportunity to New Yorkers from all backgrounds and have helped develop great leaders and innovators in education, government, community development, religion, the arts, business, and more. Tragically, rising tuition and disinvestment in CUNY and SUNY began to close these doors, just as the student population became more racially and ethnically diverse. 

Our religious traditions call us to advocate for justice, equity, and the well-being of our communities. A vibrant SUNY and CUNY system that makes debt-free higher education accessible to all; meets the academic, social and emotional needs of students; and treats workers with dignity and respect is a necessary ingredient for a just and healthy New York. Therefore, we call on you to allocate over $500 million in additional operating funding above the governor’s executive budget for CUNY and SUNY campuses. Specifically:

  • $255.8 million in additional funding to provide adequate resources to SUNY campuses and SUNY’s three teaching hospitals, which includes $100 million in additional direct support to SUNY campuses to allow them to attract and retain students by providing support and essential academic services; and $155.8 million to provide critical mission funding for public teaching hospital operations and to account for the debt service, a cost that only the SUNY hospitals bear. 

  • $254 million in additional funding to stabilize and increase support for CUNY colleges in alignment with New Deal for CUNY, including hiring an additional 1,385 full-time faculty ($135.9 million) and 541 mental health counselors and academic advisors ($78.9 million). In addition, these resources would enable a $300 per student enhancement to base aid, and for the State to make 2018-2019 the reference year for the hold harmless provision in the Executive Budget, stabilizing CUNY community colleges. 

  • Stabilize and restore funding for SUNY community colleges by pegging the hold harmless provision to levels based on enrollments in 2018-2019, the academic year prior to the pandemic. This would generate $35.7 million for SUNY community colleges. 


Many of us or our families are students and alumni of SUNY and CUNY. All of us live and serve in communities that rely on high-quality, accessible public higher education. We call on you to take decisive action this year to end the disinvestment in SUNY and CUNY and re-prioritize public higher education as a critical part of the fabric of our great state.

Thank you,

Rev. Andrea Abbott, Baldwinsville

Rev. Carl Adair, Zion Episcopal Church, Sunnyside

Rev. Olivia Armstrong, Spiritual Light Ministries, Nichols

Rev. Earl Arnold, Presbyterian Church USA, Owego

Rev. Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft, Middle Collegiate Church, New York 

The Rev. Kimberlee Auletta, Holy Apostles, Brooklyn

Rev. Dr. Gail Badger, New Mt. Zion Baptist Church, New York 

Rev. Sara Baron, First United Methodist Church, Schenectady

Rev. Dr. Alan Bentz-Letts, Beloved Earth Community, Riverside Church, New York

Rev. Ashley Birt, Bronx

Rev. Dr. Roxanne Booth, Riverview Missionary Baptist, Selkirk

Rev. Emily Brewer, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, Brooklyn

Rev. Micah Bucey, Judson Memorial Church, New York

Rev. Dr. Karyn Carlo, Bellerose 

Rev. Dr. Daniel Carlson, First Reformed Church or Schenectady, Niskayuna 

Rev. Laurie Carson, St. Luke Lutheran Church, Ithaca

Rev. Dr. Mark Caruana, Westminster Moriah and First Presbyterian Churches, Utica 

Rev. Mark Chaffin, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Albany

Roshi Shinge Sherry Chayat, Zen Center of Syracuse, Syracuse

Rev. Lynn Carman Bodden, First Reformed Church, Schenectady

Rev. Joe Cleveland, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga Springs, Saratoga Springs 

Rev. Lane Cobb, Tarrytown

Deacon William Coffey, Diocese of Rochester, Fairport 

Rev. Joya Colon-Berezin, The Scarsdale Congregational Church, Scarsdale 

Martha Corneil, Journey UCC, Delmar 

Rev. Peter Cook, New York State Council of Churches, Albany

Rev. Terry Culbertson, Church of God, Syracuse

Rev. Marilyn Cunningham, Graves Memorial CME Church, Rochester

Rev. Sandy Damhof, Journey United Church of Christ & Protestant Campus Ministry, Albany

Minister Sellers Davis Jr., Second Canaan Baptist Church of Harlem, New York

Sister Catherine Darcy, RSM, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Justice Team, Latham

Elder Daniel DeBrucker, Cross Street Community of NYC, Ridgewood

Rev. Kyle Delhagen, Hamilton Union Presbyterian Church, Guilderland

Claire Deroche, Long Island Council of Churches, Flushing

Mary Dewar, Garden City Community Church, Rosedale

Rev. Jennifer DeWeerth, United Church of Christ, Clinton

Rev. Molly Dowell Baum, First Presbyterian Church, Albany

Rev. Beth DuBois, Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse

Rabbi Barat Ellman, New York

Dr. James Fairbanks, Saving Justice Newsletter, Bronx

Imam Shahid Farooqi, ICNA Council for Social Justice

Rev. Valerie Faust, Living Word Tabernacle, Albany

Minister Wanda Feaster, Metropolitan New Testament Baptist Church, Schenectady 

Minister Arelis Figueroa, La Iglesia del Pueblo, New York

Rev. Sharon Fuller, Macedonia Baptist Church, Troy 

Rev. Darienne Gagné, North Chatham United Methodist, North Chatham

Rev. Ron Garner, Wantagh Memorial Congregational Church, Wantagh

Rev. Dr. Richard Gilbert, Unitarian Universalist, Rochester

Rev. Bruce Gillette, First Presbyterian Union Church, Owego

Rev. Carlos Gonzalez, Strong Place Baptist Church, Brooklyn 

Rev. Dr. R. A. Gregg, U.S. Community Affairs, Staten Island

Rabbi Miriam Grossman, New York

Reverend Darrell Hamilton, Middle Church, New York 

Pastor David Harris, First Baptist Church of Syracuse, Syracuse 

Rev. Martin Haused, Grace and St. Paul’s Church, New York

Rev. Yvonne Headley, Second Baptist Church, Poughkeepsie

Rev. Sarah Henkel, United Church of Middletown, Middletown 

Prof. Christine Japely, New York Quaker, New York

Narinder Kapoor, Geeta Ashram of New York, Syosset

Rev. Jim Ketcham, Troy

Sister Honora Kinney, Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, Albany

Rev. Heather Kirk-Davidoff, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Albany

Rev. Mark Koenig, New York 

Rev. James Konicki, Holy Name of Jesus National Catholic Church PNCC, Schenectady 

Rev. Frank Kotowski, Summerland Church of Light, NSAC, Bay Shore

Rev. Cheri Kroon, Plainview Reformed Church, Brooklyn  

Rev. Liz Kuney, Zen Center of Syracuse, Syracuse

Rev. Archdruid Jeremiah Lennox, Nemeton of the Ways, Cohoes

Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Middle Collegiate Church, New York 

Chaplain James Litkett, Riverside D.A.R.T, New York 

Deborah Little, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Stony Brook, East Setauket

Rev. Jonathan Litzner, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church Ft. Plain, Niskayuna 

Rev. Michael Livingston, The Riverside Church in the City of New York, New York

Rev. Robin Lostetter, Geneva Presbytery, Owego

Rev. Brian Lothridge, Olean

Rev. Dr. Cynthia Wickwire Lundquist, Presbytery of Western New York, Forestville

Rev. Doug Mackey, Burnt Hills United Methodist Church, Burnt Hills 

Rev. Dr. M. Bruce McKay, United Church of Christ, Buffalo

Rev. John Magisano, Brooklyn

Rabbi Marc Margolius, Institute for Jewish Spirituality, New York 

Rabbi Jeffrey Marker, Brooklyn

Rev. Lea Matthews, St. Paul and St. Andrew United Methodist Church, New York

Rev. Dr. John W. McNeill, Fairport

Rev. E. West McNeill, Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State, Schenectady

Rev. Dr. Sally McNichol, New York

Rev. Danielle Miller, Advent Lutheran Church, New York 

Rev. Dr. Kevin D. Miller, Carter Community AME Church, Jamaica

Rabbi Lev Meirowitz Nelson, Flatbush Jewish Center, Brooklyn 

Rabbi Dan Ornstein, Albany 

Rev. Emily Otto, United Church of Christ, Schenectady 

Rev. Jeffrey Palmer, The Community Hospice, Albany 

Rev. Joe Paparone, Mennonite Church USA, Albany

Rev. David Parsons, St. John-St.Matthew- Emanuel Lutheran Church

Rev. Natalie Perkins, Middle Collegiate Church, New York 

Rev. Benjamin Perry, Middle Church, New York 

Tamara Plummer, Pursuing Call, Brooklyn 

Rev. Karen Pollan, Delmar Presbyterian Church, Delmar 

Rev. Thia Reggio, First Presbyterian Church, Astoria

Rev. Dr. Bruce Rivera, Christ Church UCC, Bronx Multi-Faith Advisory Group, Bronx 

Sister Marlene Ann Roeger, Sisters of St. Joseph

Chaplain Brandon Roiger, New York

Toni Rorapough, First Congregational Church UCC, Binghamton

Rev. Deacon Ella Roundtree-Davis, Diocese of New York, Bronx

Rev. Charles Ryu, Morningside United Methodist, New York

Rev. Dr. Kelly Hough Rogers, The Scarsdale Congregational Church UCC, Scarsdale 

Rev. Caiphia Carolyn Rolle, UMBA/Abyssinian, New York 

Pastor Richard Rose, FBC Painted Post, Ithaca 

Rabbi Peter Schaktman, Temple Emanu-el, Utica 

Cantor Lisa B. Segal, Kolot Chayeinu, Brooklyn

Rev. Constance L. Seifert, First United Methodist Church, Corning

Rev. Monko Susan Spang, Tendai Buddhist Sangha/Tendai Buddhist Institute, Albany

Rev. Jonathan Spear, NYS Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, Brooklyn 

Rev. Andrew Sperry, Calvary United Methodist Church, Latham 

Rev. William Spilly, Hamlin

Rabbi Joshua Strom, Congregation B’nai Yisrael, Chappaqua

Rev. Monica Styron, Presbyterian Church (USA), Skaneateles

Rev. Amaury Tañón-Santos, Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State, Albany

Madrikh Barry Swan, Beth Haskalah Rochester Society for Humanistic Judaism, Rochester

Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice, New York

Rev. Jo-Anne Tipple, Reformed Church of America, Ghent 

Rev. Dr. Noel Vanek, Community Church of the Pelhams United Church of Christ, Pelham

Rev. Richard Vosko, Roman Catholic, Clifton Park

Rev. Kris Watson, Safe Haven UCC, New York 

The Rev. Timothy Weisman, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church of Manhattan, New York 

Sister Rebecca White, Ursuline Sisters of Mount St. Joseph

Rev. Andrew Wilkes, Double Love Experience Church, Brooklyn

Minister Lakisha Williams, Antioch Baptist Church, New York

Sister Susan Wieczynski, Religious Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Ballston Lake

The Rev. Canon Claire Woodley, Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, Hartsdale

Rev. Dustin Wright, Messiah Lutheran Church, Schenectady

(list in formation)

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