"Generation SUNY" discussions begin

Nancy Zimpher, chancellor of the State University of New York, has called for a comprehensive state-wide discussion of public higher education, dubbing this era "Generation SUNY."

Zimpher said that she plans to use Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Web streaming, blogs and e-mail to communicate with everyone who shares an interest in the future of SUNY. In one YouTube video, Zimpher encouraged members of Generation SUNY to "not only listen, but contribute and share our story" through what she calls a "social media initiative."According to a SUNY press release, it is important that these public conversations are held in the most collaborative and transparent manner possible.

Phase I of the chancellor's strategic plan involved a tour of all 64 campuses that began June 1 and concluded Sept. 3. "By working in an inclusive and collaborative way, we can succeed in making SUNY the finest system of higher education in the nation and a model for the world," Zimpher said.

Phase II calls for seven significant statewide conversations, slated to take place in different regions of the state. To set the groundwork for Phase II, SUNY formed a Strategic Planning Steering Committee to vet and prioritize themes and objectives for these discussions as well as to "frame strategic actions necessary to realize the full dimensions of the plan," according to the SUNY Web site.

The first of these conversations, which took place at Hudson Valley Community College on Oct. 21, was concerned with ensuring economic vitality and quality of life. "The bottom line is that we are a major - if not the major - catalyst for New York's economic recovery," the Web site states. Zimpher wrote that SUNY could play a central role in New York's economic transformation, especially considering its current fiscal crisis.

The second conversation, which took place Nov. 4 at the University of Buffalo, was focused on the theme, "Education Pipeline." The premise of the discussion was that all young people in New York deserve the opportunity to have access to high-quality education, as well as preparation for college, work and life.Johanna Duncan-Poitier, the chancellor's deputy for the Education Pipeline, wrote on Nov. 3 that the conversation would "help to frame SUNY's leadership role to improve college readiness, expand accessibility, reduce attrition and strengthen teaching by systemically strengthening the educational pipeline."

The remaining five discussion themes include Arts and Culture, which will be discussed at the Fashion Institute of Technology on Dec. 1; Diversity and Globalization at SUNY Delhi on Jan. 11; Energy and Sustainability at Stony Brook on Feb. 4; Quality of Place and Health Affairs. The final two discussions have not yet been scheduled.Students can read the strategic plan online at suny.edu/strategicplan.