Statutory college

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In American higher education, particular to the state of New York, a statutory college or contract college is a college or school that is a component of an independent, private university that has been designated by the state legislature to receive significant, ongoing public funding from the state. The statutory college is operated by the university on behalf of the state, with the mission of serving specific educational needs of the state. New York's statutory colleges are administratively affiliated with the State University of New York (SUNY) system, and receive funding from SUNY's operating budget. There are five statutory colleges: four located at Cornell University and one located at Alfred University.

The terms "statutory college" and "contract college" derive from the fact that each of these dually affiliated colleges or schools is operated independently from the state pursuant to statute or under contract with the state. In the case of Cornell University, the colleges and schools that do not receive direct funding from the state are generally referred to as endowed colleges, to differentiate them from the statutory colleges. On other campuses they are called "private".

The New York State Education law uses both "contract college" and "statutory college" to describe these state-supported colleges.[1]

At Cornell University[edit]

The four statutory colleges located at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, are:

Another statutory college, the New York State College of Forestry, was founded at Cornell in 1898, only to be closed in 1903 when outcry over a pending lawsuit led Gov. Odell to veto the appropriations bill that provided funding. However, forestry education was continued at Cornell as part of the College of Agriculture. The College of Forestry was later reestablished at Syracuse University in 1911.[2][3] Two of Cornell's current statutory colleges — the NYS College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the NYS College of Human Ecology — existed as non-state-supported colleges (as the College of Agriculture and the School of Home Economics, respectively) before state legislation was enacted to make each a state-supported entity. The NYS College of Human Ecology and the NYS College of Veterinary Medicine trace their origins to Cornell's agriculture college. However, the College of Veterinary Medicine was actually the first statutory college in New York. The Hotel School started in 1922 as a department within Home Economics, but became a separate, endowed college in 1954.[4]

The statutory colleges at Cornell grew out of Cornell's designation in 1865 as New York State's land grant college under the Morrill Act. Under the Morrill Act, Cornell received land scrip based on the population of the state, and the proceeds formed the basis of Cornell's initial endowment. Under the terms of the Cornell's 1865 charter from the Legislature, Cornell was obligated to teach agriculture, mechanical arts and military tactic. (Cornell was also obligated to provide free tuition to students from each assembly district.) By the 1890s, Cornell sought state funding to continue its mission in these areas, and the statutory colleges were formed as a vehicle for direct state funding. In addition, around the start of the 20th century, new federal laws provided land-grant colleges (and their agricultural experiment stations and cooperative extension services) with annual funding conditioned upon matching state funds. As a result, almost all of Cornell's land grant duties were transferred to its four statutory colleges, which receive such state funds through the present.

Academic programs can be transferred between the statutory college side and the host institution. For example, when private funding was sufficient to assure operation of the hotel administration program of the College of Home Economics, it was spun off as a separate School of Hotel Administration in 1950.

At Alfred University[edit]

The statutory college located at Alfred University in the Town of Alfred, New York is:

The New York State College of Ceramics (NYSCC) consists of the School of Art and Design, with its own dean, and four state-supported materials programs cross-organized within Alfred University's School of Engineering. The College of Ceramics is functioning technically as a "holding entity" (overseen by a unit head/Vice President of Statutory Affairs) for the fiscal support of the state programs and the NYSCC mission. The unit head assists with budget preparation for the two aforementioned AU schools and the NYSCC-affiliated Scholes Library of Ceramics (part of the campuswide, unified AU library system), and acts in a liaison role to SUNY.

The School of Art and Design, technically a subunit of the College of Ceramics but autonomously run with its own dean, is further subdivided into divisions. Alfred's School of Engineering (also autonomously run with its own dean) currently has four state-supported programs and two privately endowed programs.

At Syracuse University[edit]

The New York State College of Forestry was reestablished at Syracuse University (SU) in 1911, but was never technically a statutory college. Founded first as a unit within Syracuse University, in 1913 the College was chartered as an independent state institution called "The New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University", with its own Board of Trustees. In 1948, with the establishment of the State University of New York, the College became a specialized, doctoral-degree granting institution within the multi-campus SUNY system. In 1972, the College's name was changed to the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF); it remains administratively separate from Syracuse University. ESF students have full access to SU libraries and recreational facilities. The two institutions share a common schedule of courses, students at either institution may take courses at the other institution, and can apply for admission to concurrent degree and joint certificate programs. ESF students take part in joint commencement exercises in May (and receive diplomas with the seals of both Syracuse University and ESF), and ESF students may participate in all SU student activities except NCAA Division I intercollegiate sports.[5]

Roles of the state and the private university[edit]

The statutory colleges are not state-run; they are operated by a 'contracted' university. In the present arrangement these universities are Cornell and Alfred. However, the five existing statutory colleges have been affiliated with SUNY since its inception in 1948 (but had no affiliation with any umbrella organization before 1948). Statutory college employees legally are employees of Cornell and Alfred Universities, not employees of SUNY.

The State Education Law does give the SUNY Board of Trustees the following authority: the Trustees must formally approve Cornell's and Alfred's appointment of the deans/unit heads of the statutory colleges, and control of the level of state funding for the statutory colleges resides with SUNY. (In addition to money allocated by SUNY, the colleges may be funded by tuition and fees; grants and contracts from state agencies; special state legislative funding; federal funding; and private donations.)

Additionally, the Education Law does mandate a consultatory role for SUNY: the statutory college should consult with SUNY when it sets tuition rates. SUNY also exercises a "general supervision" over the statutory colleges. However, Cornell and Alfred have interpreted this to mean that SUNY does not have the right to create novel policies for the statutory colleges that are not explicitly stated in the Education Law. If there is a conflict between Cornell or Alfred and SUNY in regard to a policy or action that SUNY is requiring from Cornell or Alfred, it must be resolved by negotiation between the two parties, although there is the legal right of court appeal by either party if agreement cannot be reached. However, this legal option has never been used.

The state finances the construction of buildings for the statutory college programs, and New York State owns those buildings as well as the land beneath those buildings. Such construction is managed by the NYS University Construction Fund rather than by Cornell or Alfred.[6]

Since statutory colleges at Cornell and Alfred receive significant state funding, tuition rates for statutory colleges and for endowed colleges are determined separately. 'In-state' residents attending a statutory college pay a separate reduced rate, in contrast to their 'out-of-state' counterparts' rates. When a student enrolled in a statutory college takes a class offered by an endowed college, the endowed college is reimbursed in a budget item called an "accessory instruction fee."[7] At times, statutory college students who take more than their allotted credit hours from endowed colleges were required to pay such fees themselves. Similarly, at various times, a student who matriculates into a statutory college and later transfers to an endowed college has been required to pay the difference in tuition upon the transfer.

Statutory college employees are covered by a separate pension plan and have separate pay scales and fringe benefits than their endowed college counterparts. Most of the statutory college buildings and facilities are owned by New York State.

In addition, SUNY performs a fiduciary role for dispersal of state funds to the statutory units. This may require periodic audits of the use of state funds within the private universities.

There is some debate about whether the statutory colleges are "public" or "private, nonprofit" entities. Legally, they are private and nonprofit; Cornell and Alfred Universities are private, nonprofit institutions, a status which extends to all of these universities' components, which are not separate corporations. Also, the employees of the statutory colleges, as currently affirmed by court rulings, are private, nonprofit employees. An analogy to this relationship is a private, nonprofit health agency which, under contract with a government, regularly receives government money to operate a research institute; the whole private, nonprofit agency (including the research institute) still remains a private, nonprofit entity. New York State's Education Law also states that the statutory colleges do not operate as "state agencies." The fact that each of the statutory colleges contains "New York State" in their official names does not alter the private nature of the statutory colleges; however, the importance of state funding is an important factor in the private vs. statutory unit relationship.

There are two state-supported university systems in New York State: the State University of New York (SUNY), which has degree-granting units throughout the state, and the City University of New York (CUNY), which only has degree-granting units in New York City. New York State's statutory colleges are partners of SUNY and have no affiliation with CUNY.

Summary of statutory college relationship
Factor Private U Public U NY statutory colleges SU-ESF
Lower instate tuition No Yes Yes Yes
Separate board of trustees Yes Yes No Yes
Separate dorms Yes Yes No Yes
Separate intercollegiate teams n/a n/a No Yes
State constructs and maintains facilities No Yes Yes Yes
Funded by annual state appropriations No Yes Yes Yes
Degree from host institution n/a n/a Yes Yes
Separate admission process Yes Yes Yes Yes
SUNY role in budget and selecting administrative head No Yes Yes Yes

Other affiliations between New York State and private universities[edit]

In 1911, the state created the New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, now known as the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) New York Consolidated Laws. However, unlike the statutory colleges, this college was established as an autonomous institution that was (and still is) administratively not part of Syracuse University, its private host institution. The two institutions have adjacent campuses and a close working relationship.

Additionally, there is the New York State Psychiatric Institute, a research facility of the New York State Office of Mental Health located at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. It is not a statutory unit — it does not grant degrees, so it could not be called a college — despite being affiliated with Columbia's Medical Center and its Psychiatry Department. As such, it remains an institute of the state.

Federal, statutory-college-type relationships within New York State[edit]

The National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) is a constituent school of Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), located in Rochester, New York. NTID offers programs — frequently in conjunction with RIT's other colleges/schools — tailored to deaf and hard-of-hearing students, and also offers programs to students who are not necessarily hearing-impaired but who wish to assist hearing-impaired individuals. Domestic (i.e., United States resident) students enrolled in NTID receive a reduced tuition rate which is both lower than RIT's regular tuition rate, as well as lower than the comparable tuition charged to NTID's International (i.e., non-US-resident) enrolled students.[8] NTID was created through US Federal enabling legislation enacted in 1965, and receives Federal funding to subsidize the lower, domestic tuition rate.[9]

Outside New York State[edit]

In neighboring Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth System of Higher Education recognizes a "state-related" status, in which an institution is provided with state funds in exchange for offering tuition discounts to students who are residents of Pennsylvania. The state allocations account for less than 10 percent of the budgets of the four institutions so designated, Lincoln University, Pennsylvania State University, Temple University, and the University of Pittsburgh, which remain academically and administratively independent of the state.

Similarly, the private Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) charges residents of Texas a lower tuition rate than that charged to non-Texans for its Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) program, thanks to grants from the state of Texas. This arrangement, intended to increase the number of physicians in Texas, was put in place in 1969, at which time the medical school became an autonomous entity in order to avoid legal conflicts arising from Baylor's affiliation with the Baptist General Convention of Texas. State support only allays the cost of tuition for in-state students, and the state does not assist BCM with significant ongoing funding for research or outreach/extension purposes.

The University of Miami's Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine is located in Miami, Florida. Starting in 2004, the Miller School began offering instruction on the campus of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida. MD candidates are admitted to either the Miami or Boca Raton programs and spend all four years studying on the selected campus.[10] There is no on-campus housing for students of the Miller School of Medicine in Miami or Boca Raton.[11] The Miami and Boca Raton campuses charge identical tuition, with a lower tuition for in-state students.[12]

The University of Delaware is chartered as a "privately governed, state-assisted" university, as is Delaware State University. The university receives about 10 percent of its operating budget from the state, but is not a state agency, and the extent to which it is subject to laws requiring disclosure of spending of public funds is a matter of dispute.[13]

International use of "statutory college" designator[edit]

The University of St Andrews, in St Andrews, Scotland, United Kingdom, has three units that are designated as colleges. Two of these colleges are designated as "statutory" colleges, which have ecclesiastical beginnings. One of these statutory colleges, United College, founded by a college merger in 1747, today exists as essentially a non-administrative entity kept for the sake of history and tradition. It houses the University's Faculties of Arts, Medicine, and Science. The other statutory college, St Mary's College, was founded in 1538, and is coexistent with the University's Faculty and School of Divinity. The remaining college, St Leonard's College, which is designated as "non-statutory," has similar early beginnings, but was re-instituted in 1972 as a central point of administration for postgraduate students. (St Andrews students who are postgraduates, as well as the University's postdoctoral fellows and research staff, are automatically enrolled as members of St Leonard's College.)[14]


  1. ^ NYS Education Law § 350(3)
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved July 8, 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Guide to the New York State College of Forestry pamphlets, 1898-1933".
  4. ^ Retrieved 2009-01-07.
  5. ^ "The ESF-SU Relationship". State University of New York. Retrieved September 18, 2008.
  6. ^ NYS Education Law § 370 et seq.
  7. ^ Landsman, Jon (April 4, 1979). "Cornell Officials Call Increase in State Funding Insufficient". Cornell Daily Sun. p. 1. Retrieved October 22, 2009.
  8. ^ "Tuition and Fees 2013‒2014". Rochester Institute of Technology. Retrieved July 11, 2013.
  9. ^ "National Technical Institute for the Deaf", United States Code, Chapter, Washington, D.C.: Office of the Law Revision Counsel, 20A, archived from the original on January 15, 2013, retrieved July 11, 2013
  10. ^ "UMSM@FAM | University of Miami". University of Miami. Archived from the original on May 29, 2008. Retrieved February 9, 2010.
  11. ^ "Finding a Place to Live in Miami / Boca". UMMSM: Office of Admissions. Archived from the original on June 9, 2010. Retrieved February 13, 2010.
  12. ^ "Tuition". University of Miami. Archived from the original on August 4, 2012. Retrieved December 26, 2010.
  13. ^ Alamdari, Natalia (March 3, 2020), "Is UD public or private? 'We're special,' lawyer says, and have to agree to charter changes", Delaware News Journal, retrieved August 21, 2020
  14. ^ "St Leonard's College". The University of St Andrews. Archived from the original on August 9, 2013. Retrieved July 18, 2013.

External links[edit]

New York State Education Law governing the statutory colleges[edit]

Court of general jurisdiction case law dealing with statutory college matters[edit]

Administrative case law dealing with statutory college matters[edit]