University's Ambitious Agenda

By WBNG News

August 2, 2011 Updated Aug 2, 2011 at 5:22 PM EST

Vestal, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Binghamton University is thinking big.

The University has presented its proposal for NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant program. It outlines an ambitious plan for the next five years that increases enrollment and brings jobs to the local economy.

"It's an aggressive plan, no doubt about it. But that's how you accomplish good things. You set the bar high and you go for it," said James Van Voorst, Vice President of Administration at Binghamton University.

Binghamton University and the other three SUNY University Centers are able to apply for up to $35 million in state grant funds for enhancing the schools' academics and capital development.

Of that, $20 million has been pledged by the State and Governor Cuomo and $15 million from SUNY capital sources.

BU presented its proposal Monday in Albany. Van Voorst delivered the plan to the Executive Committee of the SUNY Board of Trustees.

The five-year strategic plan looks to expand enrollment at Binghamton University by 2,000 students by 2016. BU's current enrollment is around 15,000.

"Our plan is while we're going to bring in more students, we're also going to hire more faculty. We're talking about 150 more faculty over that period as well as support staff and support services," said Van Voorst.

Under legislation signed by Governor Cuomo, tuition at SUNY schools will be going up $300.00 a year for the next five years.

Van Voorst says Binghamton University will commit 25 percent of the additional money from tuition to provide financial aid to students to those in need and scholarships.

With faculty and staff hiring, construction projects and indirect employment opportunities, the University says its plan will pump $800 million into the region and create 1,300 local jobs and 1,6000 state wide.

Binghamton University's plan is also about economic development and capital investment.

$2 million dollars would go to the Southern Tier Economic Development Center downtown Binghamton. It will be a one-stop shop for businesses to provide economic development and expertise to offer flexible incubator space and short programs on product and marketing development. It will also provide information on state and federal loans and grants.

Also, the plan includes construction of a new state of the art Health and Natural Sciences building. It will capitalize on Binghamton University's strong expertise in the industry and develop its regional research an relationships with hospitals, health organizations and biomedical firms.

"We do a lot in the health care area. We have the practicum for our nursing school as well as designing equipment, operations, etc. Throughout the health care industry," said Van Voorst.

Van Voorst says $15 million dollars would go into the Center of Excellence building which is being built right now on Murray Hill Road.

"The next step now will be to work with SUNY, the governor's office and fine tuned the items we layed out in the plan and continue to develop the details," said Van Voorst.

Timeline:

2011-2012 - Procure capital resources
Launch an aggressive, multi-year faculty hiring campaign
Enter design for new Health and Natural Sciences Building
Consolidate economic development efforts at Southern Tier Economic Development Center.

2012-2013: First major wave of new student enrollment
Complete design phase for new Health and Natural Sciences Building.
Downtown housing projects completed by private developers

2013-2014- Center of Excellence opens
Final phase of East Campus housing project opens to accommodate new students.

2014-2015- Begin construction of Health and Natural Sciences Building.
Enrollment growth and faculty hiring continue

2015-2016- Enrollment rises to 17,000 students.
150 new faculty hired with average salary of $131,000.

2016-2017- Health and Natural Sciences Building opens
1,300 new jobs in the Southern Tier and 1,600 new jobs across New York state.

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