Utica, NY (WIBX) - SUNY Provost, David Lavallee confirms the merger of SUNY presidencies is underway. The official with the State University Of New York says due to economic strains and the conclusion of a cost saving study of its smaller campuses, the college system will consolidate administrative services at certain campuses.

He said, "Each of the campuses keeps their separate labor agreements, the way they operate and it's a question of having them administered with a unified administration. And there's a third one, so it's Canton and Potsdam, Morrisville and SUNY-IT, and Cobleskill and Delhi." He says immediate appointments for presidents will be announced following consultations with the various campuses and official approval from the Board of Trustees. He adds the merger proposal comes from a recent study that shows, the way to get large scale savings and provide a better service for students and faculty, is to have a unified administration system.

Lavallee says the actual cost saving figures will be determined within 3 to 4 years but the real objective is to shift the cost savings into the class room. "The savings that are made on administration, we expect to go into the class room so that we can offer more classes and we can help to increase the enrollment. With all of the cuts that we've taken over the last three years what we're seeing is our capacity or access has actually been decreased for new students." He says the school system is also feeling pressure from its community colleges who are not able to accept capable students.

He explained that the projected savings was determined by calculating how much the smaller campuses are currently being supplemented, which is nearly $2 million dollars a year. "That gives us sort of an idea of what the difference is in the administrative overhead for a small campus verses larger campuses, and if you can really save that all the way across the system, that's between $25 and $30 million dollars," Lavallee said.

The shared services will include Payroll, IT, and Human Resources. The merger plan has been approved by a Trustee Resolution that delegated the Chancellor to undertake the alliances in a variety of ways. Lavallee said the general parameters have been approved but the specific changes of the presidents, each one will have to be voted on separately by the Board of Trustees as they come up. "For example, at Canton, President Kennedy will be president there for this coming  year, so that change could not happen until that year is over. At Morrisville, the Interim-President is definitely likely to serve at least through the Fall semester so that's coming up then. At Cobleskill and Delhi there is an open vacancy in the presidency so President Vancko from Delhi is appointed as the Officer In Charge here, but not as the president yet.  We have to consult with campus constituency and with the college council before we do that," Lavallee said.

He said the audit by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli of the SUNY Research Foundation, "does not affect the basic operation budget that we deal with the campuses." Lavallee goes on to say that SUNY welcomes the audit of its Research Foundation. "It is always useful to have some outside eyes on an operation. It's just to make sure that everything is set up appropriately that there are appropriate policies, appropriate safeguards involved." He says he plans to take major responsibilities on the academic side for SUNY interaction with the Research Foundation. SUNY-IT President, Dr. Wold Yeigh, is expected to lead both SUNY IT and SUNY Morrisville.