December 2022 Announcements

By Office of Communications & Marketing | Dec 1, 2022

SUNY Pilot Telecommuting Policy Extended through June 30, 2023

TelecommutingAs a reminder, SUNY has extended the Pilot Telecommuting Policy until June 30, 2023.

If you are an employee whose title has been identified as eligible to telecommute, please be advised that the SUNY Telecommuting Policy set to expire for UUP, CSEA, NYSCOPBA, and PBANYS on December 31, 2022, has been extended to June 30, 2023. Therefore, if you have an approved application, no further action is required on your part.

If you have not submitted your telecommuting application and would like to participate, please contact for more information.


SUNY and CUNY Students Whose Families Make Up to $125,000 Annually Can Apply for Tuition-Free College

Applications Accepted Through February 9, 2023

NYS logoGovernor Kathy Hochul today announced that the application for the Excelsior Scholarship for new applicants for the Spring 2023 term is now open here. The Excelsior Scholarship, in combination with other student financial aid, allows eligible full-time students to attend a SUNY or CUNY two-year or four-year college tuition-free. 

"Since its inception, the Excelsior Scholarship has enabled tens of thousands of students from low and middle-income families the chance to pursue a quality education tuition-free," Governor Hochul said. "By easing the financial burden associated with the cost of attending college, students and their families can focus on their education, providing New York's students every possible opportunity to climb the ladder of success."

Students from households with federal adjusted gross incomes up to $125,000 are eligible for a Spring Excelsior Scholarship award. Students must also: 

  • Plan to attend a SUNY or CUNY two or four-year college 
  • Complete 30 credits per year towards their program of study (including Summer and Winter terms); and 
  • Be on track to graduate with an Associate's Degree in two years or a Bachelor's Degree in four years 

Dr. Guillermo Linares, President of the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation said, "The cost to attend college is often a barrier for students from low and middle-income families who wish to experience the benefits that come from earning a postsecondary degree or credential. The Excelsior Scholarship offers the opportunity for students who, without financial support, could not readily afford to purse a college degree."  

SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley said, "The data clearly shows that a college degree is the most effective tool for upward mobility - boosting earning power, expanding career opportunities, and even lengthening your life. Yet that experience remains out of reach for far too many. The Excelsior Scholarship helps address the college affordability problem, reinforcing SUNY's longstanding commitment to delivering a world-class education by eliminating financial barriers for hardworking students from across the state. I applaud Governor Hochul's ongoing efforts to help more New Yorkers earn and benefit from a SUNY education."

CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez said, "The Excelsior Scholarship program has aided CUNY's efforts to expand educational opportunity and access for New Yorkers of all backgrounds. Excelsior has given thousands of CUNY students the opportunity to attend college tuition-free, opening the door to educational achievement, career success and, ultimately, economic and social advancement. We thank Governor Hochul for her continued recognition of the unmatched value and importance of higher education for all New Yorkers."

The Excelsior Scholarship is just one of the many ways New York State makes college affordable and accessible. Check out the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation website to explore other options available to help pay for college.

The Spring 2023 Excelsior Scholarship application is open to first-time students entering college in the Spring 2023 term and current college students who have never received the Excelsior Scholarship. Students currently receiving an Excelsior Scholarship do not need to complete this application to receive continued award payments. Students eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship under the Senator José Peralta New York State DREAM Act can apply here.

Applications will be accepted through February 9, 2023.

A Message about the Passing of Rowena Blackman-Stroud 

Rowena Blackman Stroud

We are saddened to announce that Rowena Blackman-Stroud passed away following a brief illness. Ms. Blackman-Stroud served as Statewide Treasurer for United University Professions (UUP), retiring from the post in 2017. As President, where she served for more than 35 years in the Downstate Chapter, Ms. Blackman-Stroud’s hard work and dedication helped to save thousands of jobs that were in jeopardy at our institution.

Ms. Blackman-Stroud is widely credited for organizing and spearheading a union-backed fight from 2012 through 2015 to block planned retrenchments. She singlehandedly assembled the SUNY Downstate Coalition of Faith, Labor, and Community Leaders, which was instrumental in gaining legislative support to save jobs at our hospital.

During the pandemic, Ms. Blackman-Stroud demanded protective gear for UUP members and at SUNY’s public teaching hospitals in Stony Brook and Syracuse. She also pushed for and secured support for retention pay bonuses for frontline workers from UUP’s statewide and national affiliates, the New York State United Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers. Ms. Blackman-Stroud helped secure thousands of surgical gowns, gloves, and face masks for our frontline workers, achieving this during a severe nationwide PPE shortage. Her contributions to Downstate and the great State of New York are immeasurable, and we appreciate all she has done for us.

Please join us in honoring the life of Rowena Blackman-Stroud.

Health Insurance Option Transfer Period, Pre-Tax Program, and Health Insurance Opt-Out Program

The Department of Civil Service (DCS) has announced that the Option transfer Period for health insurance changes runs from December 1, 2022 through December 30, 2022. Changes made during this period will go into effect for the calendar year 2023. This period is not for “New Enrollment”. New enrollment can be done at any time during an employee’s employment with the New York State.

Option Transfer Period: 

During the 2023 Option Transfer period, an employee may change his/her NYSHIP health insurance option from or to: The Empire Plan or Emblem Health - HIP of New York, cancel coverage or delete dependents, make changes to the Pre-tax Contribution, and/or OPT-OUT of health insurance for a dollar value, if eligible.

In September, DCS mailed information describing each of the specific programs above to an employee’s home address on file. If you have not received the Planning for Option Transfer report from the DCS or require clarification of the information, you may contact the Benefits Office, by calling (718) 270-3015 or email  Also, please take this opportunity to ensure that the address on file in the Benefits Office is correct for future mailings.

Health Insurance Opt-out Program

The Opt-Out Program allows eligible CSEA, PEF, Management Confidential (M/C), NYSCOPBA and PBANYS employees, who have ‘other’ employer-sponsored group health insurance, to opt out of their NYSHIP coverage in exchange for an incentive payment. On an annual basis, employees will receive incentive payments totaling $1,000 for Individual coverage or $3,000 for Family coverage. The incentive amount of $38.47 for Individual coverage ($1,000/26 paychecks) or $115.39 for Family coverage ($3,000/26 paychecks) will be credited to the employee’s bi-weekly paycheck and will be treated as taxable income. 

As defined by the Dept. of Civil Service, “other” means an employer sponsored group health insurance provided through employment outside of any New York State Government Agency).

Eligibility Criteria for Opt-out Incentive Payment:

Employees must meet the eligibility criteria to receive the Opt-out incentive payment:

  • Must currently participate in the Opt-out Program; or
  • Must have been continuously enrolled in NYSHIP, as a State employee, on April 1, 2022, or on the date first eligible for NYSHIP if that date is after April 1, 2022 through the end of the plan year; and
  • Must provide plan information on employer or benefits letterhead, and can attest to having other employer sponsored group health insurance in effect for the Opt-Out period, which begins January 1, 2023.

Employees who are currently enrolled in the Opt-Out Program and wish to continue participation in the Opt-Out Program for 2023 are no longer required to make an annual re-election.  

Opting Out for Newly Eligible Employees:

  • An employee who is newly eligible to enroll in NYSHIP and wishes to participate in the Opt-out Program must make the election no later than the first date of his/her eligibility for NYSHIP benefits, (after the 42- or 56-day waiting period has been satisfied).
  • A newly eligible employee is one who was not previously eligible for NYSHIP benefits as an employee of New York State.
  • An employee who is newly eligible for the Opt-Out Program due to changes in the bargaining unit may elect to participate in the Program within 30 days of the effective date of the bargaining unit change.
  • An employee who is transferring from one State agency to another within one year is not considered as newly eligible, unless the employee was previously working in a non-benefits eligible position or in a bargaining unit not eligible for the Opt-out Program.
  • A newly eligible employee must complete both a PS-409 Opt-Out Attestation Form, and the PS-404 NYS Health Insurance Transaction Form (both forms attached) in addition to providing proof of employer sponsored coverage.

Incentive payments to employees participating in the Opt-out Program will begin on January 4, 2023.


Pre-Tax Contribution Election Period (PTCP)

The Pre-tax Contribution Program (PTCP) now runs concurrently with the Option Transfer Period dates and ends close of business December 30, 2022. This period allows an employee to change the status of his/her health insurance premium deductions from post–tax to pre-tax or pre-tax to post-tax based on an employees’ preference.

The deadline for these changes is close of business December 30, 2022. No document will be accepted after this date.  Attached to this memo is a PS-404 form for changes to health insurance and Pre-Tax, and PS-409 form to decline or enroll in the Opt-Out Program.

Email completed application to, faxed to 718-221-5722 or call 718-270-3015 for assistance.

2023 NYS Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP) Rates
Employee Health Insurance Deduction Per Bi-Weekly Paycheck

NYS Empire Plan (001) Individual Coverage Family Coverage
MC, UUP, CSEA, PEF, PBANYS, NYSCOPBA, – SG- 09 & below – less than $47,024 $56.01 $241.79
MC, UUP, CSEA, PEF, PBANYS, NYSCOPBA, -- SG- 10 & above – equal to or more than $47,024 $74.68 $287.98

Emblem Health – HIP (050) Individual Coverage Family Coverage
MC, UUP, CSEA, PEF, PBANYS, NYSCOPBA – SG- 09 & below – less than $47,024 $107.49 $314.58
MC, UUP, CSEA, PEF, PBANYS, NYSCOPBA, – SG- 10 & above – equal to or more than $47,024 $127.17 $364.59

Excess Vacation Accruals Update

The Office of Employee Relations (OER) reached agreements with all of the unions to further extend the forfeiture date for excess annual leave to December 31, 2023.  This extension also applies to Management/Confidential (M/C) employees.

All unused excess ANNUAL leave can now be carried through December 31, 2023.

At a later date, we will provide additional administrative details about treatment of excess annual leave after December 31, 2023.

If you have any questions about the extension, please do not hesitate to contact the Department of Human Resources (DHR) at extension 1191 or email us at:

NYS Flex Spending Account (FSA) 
2023 Open Enrollment

2023 NYS FSA Flyer

The Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER) has announced that the 2023 Enrollment Period for the New York State Flex Spending Account (FSA) Program runs from November 1, 2022 to 11:59 PM (EST) December 12, 2022. Internal revenue service (IRS) regulations do not allow employers to make exceptions for employees who miss the deadline, regardless of their reason.

The FSA, a program negotiated between the State and its public employee unions, consists of three important benefits for employees -- the Health Care Spending Account (HCSA), the Dependent Care Advantage Account (DCAA), and the Adoption Advantage Account (AAA). Eligible employees may choose to enroll in any or all of the benefits. Enrollment is paperless and is done online at or by calling the toll-free number: 1-800-358-7202.

Contributions to the FSA Program are deducted from an employee’s gross pay on a pre-tax basis through the payroll deduction. This program helps employees save on out-of-pocket costs related to health care, dependent care, and/or adoption expenses. The funds set aside are not subject to Federal, State, or local taxes, but are subject to FICA taxes. 

Under State regulations, employees must submit claims by March 31, 2024, for services rendered in the calendar year (CY 2023). Otherwise, any funds remaining in the FSA account at the end of the year will be forfeited under the “Use it OR Lose it rule”. However, new for CY 2023, a “carry -over” of $610.00 of funds from CY 2022 will be allowed for expenses incurred between January 1, 2023 and March 15, 2023.

Accordingly, employees are strongly encouraged to estimate their expenses carefully and to submit claims before the end of the run-out-period, to avoid forfeiture.

View the Full PDF

NYS EAP Frontline Newsletter

For the month of December 2022, the NYS EAP Frontline Newsletter focuses on some very important topics.  The article titled, "Facing Loss During the Holidays" resonates with me during this time of year.  Please take some time to review some valuable information that can help you and/or someone you know.

I encourage everyone to register for the WellNYS Everyday Challenge Once you sign up, you will receive helpful tips every morning.  Go beyond the challenge this month and "Use a Journal to Plan Healthy Activities for 2023".  Be pro-active and plan your goals and objective for the new year.

For more information on Employee Assistance Program (EAP), please contact
Magda Alliancin, Ed.D., CEAP, EAP manager at 718-270-1489.

EAP Newsletter

SUNY Pilot Telecommuting Policy Extended through December 31, 2022

TelecommutingAs a reminder, SUNY has extended the Pilot Telecommuting Policy until December 31, 2022.

If you are an employee whose title has been identified as eligible to telecommute, please be advised that the SUNY Telecommuting Policy set to expire for UUP, CSEA, NYSCOPBA, and PBANYS on August 31, 2022, has been extended to December 31, 2022. Therefore, if you have an approved application, no further action is required on your part.

If you have not submitted your telecommuting application and would like to participate, please contact for more information.

Dr. Pardo Receives Grant

photo of Christina Pardo, M.D.This month, Christina Pardo, M.D., MPH, FACOG, Vice Chair, Quality & Innovation, and Director, Division of Health Equity in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology,  was awarded a grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation. The Foundation approved Dr. Pardo’s project called ‘Healthy Immigrant Families’ for $250,000 to Downstate. This grant will be a great public service and help many in our Brooklyn community.

College of Nursing White Coat Ceremony & Convocation

College of Nursing White Coat Ceremony
College of Nursing Convocation, Pinning & Awards Ceremony

Upcoming Events

EAP Coat Drive

December 5-9, 2022

EAP Coat Drive

Grand Public Menorah Lighting at SUNY Downstate Campus

December 21, 2022 at 5:30

Public Menorah Lighting 2022


Annual Toy Drives 

Peds Toy Drive


Toy Drive

Third Annual SOHP Dean’s Lecture Series: "Using Data-driven Decision Making to Improve a Clinical Practice or Program"

Wednesday, January 4, 2023 

event poster cover

2022-2023 Chancellor's Awards for Excellence in the Classified Service

Deadline: Friday, January 27, 2023

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Begins Sunday, December 18 - December 26

ChristmasChristmas Day
Sunday, December 25

(Observed Monday, December 26)

Begins Tuesday, December 26 - January 1


new years

New Year’s Eve 
Saturday, December 31 


Calendar of December observances, celebrations, and recognitions!

Health Observances: 

  • Dec 4–10: National Handwashing Awareness Week 
  • Dec 5–9: National Influenza Vaccination Week  

Cultural/ Religious/ Miscellaneous Observances: 

Dec 5 -9: Older Driver Safety Awareness Week

Health Observances: 

  • Gift of Sight Month

Cultural/ Religious/ Miscellaneous Observances: 

  • National Safe Toys and Gifts Month 
  • National Impaired Driving Prevention Month 
  • Universal Human Rights Month 

Check back for regular updates to this page!

* New information highlighted in yellow *