Senator Stavisky, a longtime education advocate, receives SUNY medal of honor

Queens State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky and Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy received a medal of honor from the SUNY Chancellor on May 22.
Photo courtesy of Senator Stavisky’s office

Queens State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, the first woman to chair the Senate Committee on Higher Education, was honored with a SUNY medal this week for her longtime advocacy of education. 

The distinction came on the 50th anniversary of SUNY’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), which covers the full cost of tuition for many low-income students studying full-time. Senator Stavisky, along with fellow honoree Albany Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, recently led a successful “Turn on the Tap” campaign to boost funding for the program. 

In this year’s recently passed state budget, the minimum TAP award was doubled from $500 to $1,000, and the minimum income level needed to qualify was increased from $10,000 to $30,000 for independent tax-filing students. For dependent students, the income eligibility was raised to $125,000 from $80,000. 

“During my tenure as Committee Chair, we have worked tirelessly to reverse a decades-long pattern of disinvestment in funding SUNY,” said Senator Stavisky, who represents much of northern and eastern Queens. “We are now seeing its first enrollment increase in many years. We must continue to deliver for our students by investing in infrastructure and operating aid and research and development to keep pace with modern technology.”

The chancellor presented Senator Stavisky and Assemblymember Fahy the medal of honor following SUNY’s State of the University address on Wednesday, May 22. 

The SUNY chancellor lauded Senator Stavisky’s efforts to secure additional funding for the TAP program in this year’s state budget, as well as passing legislation to allow nursing students to complete a third of their clinical training through simulation in the past. 

“Since becoming Chancellor, I’ve enjoyed the incredible opportunity of working alongside Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. She fights tirelessly for New Yorkers’ access to high-quality, affordable, higher education every day,” SUNY Chancellor John B. King Jr. said. “It is truly an honor to present the SUNY award to such a champion.”

While Stavisky did not attend a SUNY school herself, she completed graduate courses at CUNY—Hunter College and Queens College. She later taught at NYC public high schools before pivoting to politics. 

“I have often said that when a student attends a public higher education institution, they receive a ‘Tiffany education’ at a ‘Target price.’ We are committed to continuing to meet and exceed that standard,” added Senator Stavisky.