Chancellor Zimpher Holds Up SUNY As National Model, Sets Ambitious Agenda in State of the University Address

Chancellor Zimpher Holds Up SUNY As National Model, Sets Ambitious Agenda in State of the University Address

January 15, 2013 Updated Jan 15, 2013 at 12:17 PM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher on Tuesday delivered her third annual State of the University Address, highlighting the value of a college degree and setting an ambitious agenda for the year ahead as SUNY aspires to be a national model for higher education in America.

“SUNY’s progress and the system’s unprecedented level of collaboration with schools, communities, and businesses are having an astounding collective impact on New York State and all who live and work here,” said Chancellor Zimpher. “We believe SUNY has a national roadmap for education and we are committed to using it.”

According to a news release:

Chancellor Zimpher highlighted breakthrough strategies at work across SUNY that increase college access and completion and make universally available the opportunity for all citizens to achieve success in school, college, and career.

“The Board is proud to stand behind the aggressive vision and strategic goals that Chancellor Zimpher has outlined,” said SUNY Board Chairman H. Carl McCall. “We have every confidence that the great State University of New York is an impeccable model for higher education worldwide and that our campus presidents along with their faculty and staff and partners in communities across the State are willing, capable, and eager to get started on the new initiatives announced today.”

Chancellor Zimpher introduced several new goals, including:

•    Launch of Open SUNY in 2014, including 10 online bachelor’s degree programs that meet high-need workforce demands, three of which will be piloted in the fall. Open SUNY will leverage online degree offerings at every SUNY campus, making them available to students system-wide using a common set of online tools, including a financial aid consortium so that credits and aid can be received by students across campuses. Chancellor Zimpher said Open SUNY enrollment will reach 100,000 students within three years, making it the largest online education presence of any public institution in the nation.

•    Full Adoption of SUNY Smart Track and decreased student debt default rate. By 2014, every SUNY campus will have adapted the SUNY Smart Track program, including using the newly developed system-wide Financial Aid Award Letter based on the federal Financial Aid Shopping Sheet. Through Smart Track, SUNY’s student debt default rate will decrease by at least 5 percent over the next 5 years.

•    Leveraging the combined capacity of Open SUNY and SUNY Smart Track, Chancellor Zimpher committed to the development of Three-Year Bachelor’s Degree Programs, to be offered via Open SUNY, furthering SUNY’s commitment to affordability and the reduction of student debt.

•    Development of the SUNY Plus Diploma Designation, which will annotate a student’s participation in any one of SUNY’s experiential learning programs. Whether a student had a co-op experience, volunteered regularly at a local non-profit, or worked with a professor to start a new business, the new SUNY Plus designation will ensure that these out-of-the-classroom experiences will be recorded on an extracurricular transcript and designated on the diploma as an added value. Every student will have access to experiential opportunities, even those attending online.

•    Establishment of a SUNY Innovation Hub by 2015 that combines next generation research, academic and workforce training, and the major needs of the community will be developed in partnership with the state’s Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs) for every major metropolitan area in New York. These efforts will also align with the Governor’s Innovation Hotspot initiative.

•    Common Data Systems to be implemented at all SUNY campuses in 2014, including an IT delivery platform, indicators for data entry, and targets for comprehensive SUNY success. Common data systems will serve as the foundation for performance-based funding throughout SUNY, parallel to Governor Cuomo’s plan for the system’s community colleges. 

Chancellor Zimpher also addressed an ongoing national dialogue about the value of a college degree, using SUNY’s efforts to improve access, completion, and success to show that a college education is “worth it.”

“Investing in a low-cost, high-quality college education is simply the best investment anyone or any country can make for their citizens,” Chancellor Zimpher said. “The past few years have been tough on the economy, but there’s only one solution—we are going to have to educate ourselves out of this mess. We need to put more well-educated graduates into the world to create and innovate our way into the new economy.”

A complete transcript of Chancellor’s Zimpher’s State of the University Address is available online.

SUNY Fredonia President Virginia Horvath said, “The continued dedication that Chancellor Zimpher has shown for nurturing new ideas and innovation on our campuses, and this expanded commitment to seeing the best and brightest ideas through to market, sets SUNY on a very promising path as a leader in harnessing innovation and creating jobs in the 21st century.”

Monroe Community College President Anne M. Kress said, “Chancellor Zimpher’s vision for community colleges builds on the positive momentum sparked by Governor Cuomo’s State of the State Address and further expands our capacity for workforce training and economic development. MCC has well-established partnerships with local employers; in collaboration with them, we are ensuring that MCC graduates are prepared for our local workforce. We look forward to meeting the new challenges laid out by the Chancellor and continuing to meet the needs of our students and local employers.”

Empire State College Acting President Meg Benke said, “Around the world, online learning and education has increased at an explosive rate and during the last decade, the SUNY system has been a leader in innovation and quality assurance. Now, Open SUNY is potentially the greatest expansion of open and online learning in the nation and Chancellor’s Zimpher’s commitment to bring Open SUNY to every campus in the system is highly commendable.”

Upstate Medical University President David R. Smith said, “The SUNY hospitals and medical centers are a large part of Chancellor Zimpher’s vision for the future, providing excellent patient care and training the doctors, nurses, and technicians needed to meet New York’s healthcare needs in every respect. We will be proud to carry out this vision in collaboration with our colleagues across SUNY and with our community partners throughout Central New York.”

Binghamton University President Harvey G. Stenger said, “The State of New York, SUNY, and Binghamton University continue to benefit from Chancellor Zimpher’s outstanding leadership. Today’s continued focus on innovation, entrepreneurship and student success upon graduation is certain to enhance our strategic goals on campus and throughout New York.”

SUNY New Paltz President Donald P. Christian said, “From expanding our online offerings to ensuring access, completion, and affordability, Chancellor Zimpher has laid out an admirable agenda for SUNY New Paltz and our colleagues state-wide. On behalf of our students, faculty, and staff, I am pleased to support the chancellor’s vision for 2013 and beyond. I am confident that it will serve us and our students well.”

SUNY Trustee and Faculty Senate President Ken O’Brien said, “I am most pleased that the Chancellor’s vision for SUNY contains increased opportunities for faculty research and the possibilities for our distinguished faculty to reach new audiences via Open SUNY.  These are but two of the many ways by which SUNY meets its obligation to our students and the state by making its expertise available through teaching, service and research.”

SUNY Trustee and Student Assembly President Kevin Rea said, “Chancellor Zimpher consistently puts students first and today’s address continues that tradition. The 2013 agenda expands access, keeps students on a path to graduate on time – and with less debt – and gives us the competitive edge we need to be successful after graduation.”

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