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SUNY Upstate makes $5 million investment in new faculty

SYRACUSE, N.Y. —SUNY Upstate Medical University will create 46 new faculty positions in a sweeping faculty initiative designed to strengthen its academic mission, increase enrollment and enhance Upstate New York's research prowess. The initiative will also benefit the local economy as it is expected to add at least $5 million to the Central New York payroll bring millions of dollars more in research growth to the area.

"The return on this investment is going to benefit all," said David R. Smith, M.D., president of SUNY Upstate Medical University. "It will not only bring significant enhancements to our academic mission, but it will enable us to attract and recruit top-flight researchers who will bring new intellectual capital to Central New York with the promise of greater collaborations between industry and academe."

The recruitment for the new faculty has already begun and officials hope to have most of the positions filled by fall 2007. Areas slated for the new faculty are the basic and clinical sciences, as well as positions for the new master's degree program in public health and for the new certified registered nurse anesthetist program, both of which are in development.

The faculty hiring initiative is being funded in part with increases in state support specifically earmarked for the university's academic and research mission, savings from unfilled administrative positions and a $263,000 grant from New York's Empire Innovation Program, which rewards campuses for faculty recruitment efforts.

Perhaps the greatest beneficiary of the new faculty hiring initiative will be the university's research mission—and the upstate New York economy. Funded research support at the university now stands at more than $37 million, up 13 percent from $33.4 million in 2005. It is expected that many of these new faculty will bring with them to campus federal and privately funded research support.

"These additional faculty are essential for SUNY Upstate to continue its path of significant growth in its research enterprise," Smith said. "The value of a strong and prominent research enterprise cannot be underestimated either for its impact on the campus and our community."

University officials are planning on an increase of $250,000 to $450,000 in new grant funding per faculty member that could result in a $22.5 million boost to the local economy over the next several years. The increased research activity will also lead to new hiring, as faculty will recruit graduate students and other professionals in carrying out their research projects.

Smith noted that the increase in new faculty and research programming could lead to increased synergies between the various universities and high?tech companies that call Central New York home. "We welcome the opportunity to become more engaged in research excellence with our neighbors," he said. "Partnerships, such as these, can accelerate scientific discovery and bring a greater return on the investment from state, federal and private funding sources."

Smith said that investments in infrastructure must keep pace with investments in human capital. He said he would continue to work with legislators to gain support for new research space at the Institute for Human Performance and upgrades to existing space in Weiskotten Hall.

Additionally, the new faculty positions are essential as the university undertakes a commitment to increase enrollment, Smith said. "The investment we are making today in faculty is also an investment in students," he said. "More faculty mean more and varied research opportunities for students, more clinical rotation opportunities and enhanced faculty-student interactions."

SUNY Upstate is already the area's largest employer with a total workforce of over 6,300. Its impact on the local economy has been set at $1.2 billion, according to recent studies.