BU President: We're driving ahead fast

By Matt Porter

January 31, 2014 Updated Feb 3, 2014 at 11:50 AM EDT

Vestal, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger said the university either ahead of, or meeting most of its milestones in his second state of the university address.

The university, still in its first two years of a decade-long project of increasing enrollment to 20,000 students by 2020.

Stenger said enrollment rose by 1,300 in the past two years, 500 more than the goal set by the university for this point.

"We had 10,000 students and their parents visit the campus last fall," Stenger said, "And we anticipate maybe doubling that in the spring semester as students come around to make that last visit before they make their final decision."

The university increased its population of graduate students by 300.

Stenger said the university is below average when it comes to graduate student enrollment compared to other public universities its size.

He wants to double graduate student enrollment by 2020.

"We all know that the bachelor's degree isn't always the final degree to be successful," Stenger said.

Part of Stenger's plan includes encouraging prospective students to come study for advanced degrees is through a program he's calling "Binghamton 411."

The program would recruit undergraduates to do internships while also being able to earn course credit towards a Master's or Ph. D.

"The concept of adding experiential opportunities into our graduate program I think will be a secret to our success of expanding our graduate programs," Stenger said.

The program will be piloted this year with students from Binghamton University.

Eventually, the program would be aimed at attracting undergraduates from other universities to come to BU after graduating.

University officials said the additional 1,300 students have brought $30 million in additional economic revenue over the last two years.

Republican Binghamton Mayor Rich David said the city sees a lot of extra business due to more students living or working downtown.

"What we're seeing right now is students living downtown or other various parts of the city," David said, "But increased foot traffic downtown with regards to various businesses, stores and restaurants."

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-123rd) said the Tri-Cities area has come to depend on the university as a major cornerstone of the local economy.

"The amount of value that's added to our economy, the energy and vibrancy from the students coming into our community," Lupardo said. "It's very very positive."

Binghamton University has generated more than $1 billion for the local economy.

The university expects that number to rise as enrollment numbers continue to approach 20,000 by 2020.