CICU President Lola W. Brabham Testifies On the Impact of COVID-19 On the Future of Higher Education

News Date: 11/30/2021

CICU President Lola W. Brabham testified before the Assembly Committee on Higher Education on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, during a hearing on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the future of higher education. 

Click here to read her full testimony. An excerpt of her testimony is below. 


Testimony of Lola W. Brabham, President, the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU)
Assembly Committee on Higher Education, Public Hearing on The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Future of Higher Education

Despite the challenges the pandemic brought, and the many challenges colleges faced before COVID-19, New York remains uniquely positioned for success because of the strength of its higher education ecosystem.

The future of our state is in the hands of the students on our campuses today. Fifty-nine percent of New York’s future teachers, 57 percent of nurses, and 61 percent of STEM graduates will earn their degrees from a CICU member campus.

On behalf of these colleges and their students, I urge the Legislature to adopt policies that will strengthen the pipeline for these critical careers by supporting all students.

Chair Glick, thank you for your leadership on the recently enacted legislation to reform admissions requirements to graduate education programs, which will help diversify and strengthen our teacher workforce. CICU is grateful for your partnership on this important issue.

We encourage the Legislature to continue its support for increasing the pipeline of healthcare workers. CICU notes that Governor Hochul recently announced the Nurses for Our Future Scholarship that will cover tuition for 1,000 new healthcare workers at SUNY and CUNY to achieve an RN degree.

We urge the Legislature to include students at independent colleges in scholarships or programs designed to strengthen the pipeline, and address the State’s healthcare worker crisis.

The Legislature can also help students directly by investing in student aid programs. Our member campuses contributed $6.7 billion in financial aid to students from our own resources last year, but we cannot meet students’ needs alone.

Last year, the Legislature took a huge step by providing the largest increase to TAP awards in nearly two decades. But students in need are still being left behind because the income limit for TAP eligibility has remained stagnant, as has the minimum award.

The Legislature should increase the TAP income limit from $80,000 to $110,000 and the minimum award from $500 to $1,000. Students and families need this help now more than ever.

This pandemic also taught us that although most students want to study in person, remote education is an important option for many, and colleges proved they can effectively deliver courses virtually.

Along those same lines, we urge the Legislature to examine potential improvements to the State Education Department’s program approval process (A.8389 / S.6592) that will enable our colleges to respond to students’ needs quickly and efficiently.