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Statutory college

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; however, SUNY ultimately has little control over the academic functions of these colleges — research to be pursued, admission standards, standards for completion of degrees and which academic programs are offered are determined by the statutory college's private institution. 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 1
  • At Alfred University 2
  • At Syracuse University 3
  • Roles of the state and the private university 4
  • Other affiliations between New York State and private universities 5
  • Federal, statutory-college-type relationships within New York State 6
  • Outside New York State 7
  • International use of "statutory college" designator 8
  • External links 9
    • New York State Education Law governing the statutory colleges 9.1
    • Court of general jurisdiction case law dealing with statutory college matters 9.2
    • Administrative case law dealing with statutory college matters 9.3
  • Notes 10

At Cornell University

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 mililtary 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

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" (currently with an interim unit head) 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

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 department of Syracuse University, in 1913 the College was chartered as an independent state institution, called "The New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University". In 1972, its name was changed to the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF); it remains administratively separate from Syracuse University. ESF students have full access to SU libraries and recreational facilities. Students at the both institutions 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 degrees with seals of both Syracuse University and SUNY ESF), and ESF students may participate in all SU student activities except intercollegiate sports.[5]

Roles of the state and the private university

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 dean No Yes Yes Yes

Other affiliations between New York State and private universities

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) [1]. 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

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

Outside of New York, the privately run Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) has a financial-arrangement structure that is somewhat similar to that found in New York’s statutory colleges. BCM’s Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) program charges in-state Texas residents a lower tuition rate than that charged to non-Texan residents. This arrangement dates from 1969, and was fostered by the state of Texas realizing, at the time, that it needed more physicians, coupled with Baylor University's awareness of this need and its trying to help alleviate it.

Baylor University’s (BU's) medical school, which had been part of BU since 1903, became an autonomous entity in 1969 and adopted the aforementioned tuition dichotomy at that time. The state of Texas’ support of BCM is just to allay 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 divestiture of BCM from BU was necessary to avoid legal conflicts which would ensue from a religiously affiliated BU accepting ongoing State funding. (BU is affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, whereas BCM has been nonsectarian since its divestiture.)

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]

International use of "statutory college" designator

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.)[13]

External links

New York State Education Law governing the statutory colleges

  • Laws specific to Cornell University
  • Laws specific to Alfred University

Court of general jurisdiction case law dealing with statutory college matters

  • A 1999 case against Cornell's College of Veterinatry Medicine about whether confidential records can be obtained through New York State's Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) (hosted by the Cornell Law School)
  • A 2005 case against Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences about FOIL

Administrative case law dealing with statutory college matters

  • Ruling stating that the NYS College of Ceramics is not a public (state) entity (causing the college's employees to not fall under National Labor Relations Board [NLRB] jurisdiction specifically encompassing state or political subdivisions) (PDF File)
  • Attorney General opinion that contracts between a state agency and a statutory college to obtain services is a contract between a state party and a non-state party and not interagency MOUs(PDF File)


  1. ^ NYS Education Law § 350(3)
  2. ^
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ Retrieved 2009-01-07.
  5. ^ "The ESF-SU Relationship". State University of New York. Retrieved 2008-09-18. 
  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 2009-10-22. 
  8. ^ "Tuition and Fees 2013‒2014". Rochester Institute of Technology. Retrieved 2013-07-11. 
  9. ^ "National Technical Institute for the Deaf",  
  10. ^ "UMSM@FAM | University of Miami". University of Miami. Archived from the original on May 29, 2008. Retrieved 2010-02-09. 
  11. ^ "Finding a Place to Live in Miami / Boca". UMMSM: Office of Admissions. Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  12. ^ "Tuition". University of Miami. Retrieved 2010-12-26. 
  13. ^ "St Leonard's College". The University of St Andrews. Retrieved 2013-07-18. 
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