Utica, NY (WIBX) - A Roundtable discussion with some of the areas college presidents and business leaders is underway in the Economic Crime, Justice Studies, and Cybersecurity Building at Utica College. Congressman Richard Hanna, (CD-24),  is hosting the event and says part of the goal is to discuss a bill he plans to introduce later this year that would help pay for tuition and related expenses for students majoring in Science, Technology or Mathematics.

Hanna said, "Pell Grants are under threat and certainly we give a lot of lip service to the importance of higher education. I want to see Congress put their money where their mouth is and I've also talked to these people about a bill I'm introducing. A bill to encourage people to go into Science, Technology, Engineering and Math--what's commonly called STEM--that will help us maintain our standard of living, vis-a-vis the world, be more competive and get back our placement in the world and grow jobs."

Some of those in attendance include, UC President, Dr. Todd Hutton and SUNYIT President, Dr. Bjong Wolf Yeigh. Hutton said the dialogue taking place is about important issues facing higher education. "Particularly at the federal level and especially issues that are impacting our students. Issues related to Pell Grants and the preservation of Pell Grants for the most needy students of our country," he said.

Yeigh added that Hanna is reaching out to his customers and people of the region to offer assistance through these Roundtable talks. He said, "Our region needs a lot of, and in fact Richard is addressing this through his legislation that he's putting forward on STEM--Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics--but also a right balance of education across the spectrum, from Liberal Arts all the way to technical education, and better coordination of how our educational support feeds into developing the community and supporting the community, and those are all the things that we'll need."

Hanna says education affects all of us. "And if there's a single indicator of your success--financial and I would argue otherwise, how far you go in education and how well you do--the message is, get yourself an education if you want to compete in the world because it's tough."