SUNY Chancellor Zimpher delivers State of the University address

On Jan. 19 State University of New York Chancellor Nancy Zimpher delivered her first State of the University address in Albany in which she outlined her plan for "moving SUNY from great to premier" and argued that such an improvement will benefit the whole of New York state.

"Governor, SUNY is up to the challenge and we are well positioned to answer your call," Zimpher said as she began her speech. "We are absolutely focused on leveraging our mission toward economic recovery and job creation for our great state."

After outlining ten of SUNY's biggest accomplishments of 2010, Zimpher began to articulate her pledge "to deliver a more competitive SUNY."

Zimpher's plan for a more competitive SUNY includes plans to "make transfer more seamless." She stated that "by this time next year we will announce that students can also carry up to five courses in their major to another SUNY campus, an unprecedented accomplishment for any institution nationally."

SUNY also joined a national consortium that has pledged to cut the gap in college attendance and graduation for low-income and minority students, which, according to Zimpher, reflects SUNY's "ongoing commitment to student access and success."

SUNY will also increase its use of online courses, make use of the newly created SUNY Global Center, and reform its enrollment program.

In advancing a new approach for SUNY to assume in the face the current economic crisis, Zimpher called for regulatory reform which would allow SUNY campuses to enter into public-private partnerships "that advance our core mission and values, protect collective bargaining rights and advance the interests of the private sector while generating revenue and creating jobs."

Zimpher also articulated SUNY's vision for a five-year rational tuition policy. "SUNY is committed to a fair, responsible and predictable tuition policy that maintains access to a quality higher education experience," she said

"In return," Zimpher said, "we must commit ourselves to be held accountable for how we use our resources."

Zimpher's final major piece in her articulation of SUNY's new approach was a call to implement performance-based resource allocation. Rather than basing state aid allocation on enrollment, this new plan would distribute state funding among campuses based on performance in areas such as research expenditures and awards, student course completion, retention and degree completion, diversity of students and faculty and degree programs that address workforce shortages and the needs of emerging industries. SUNY officials are currently working with college presidents on constructing how this new formula will work and how the criteria might be incorporated. The competitive model will begin to take shape in the 2012 fiscal year.

In order to support these changes, Zimpher said that SUNY now has the goal of doubling its fundraising over the next few years and drawing stronger connections to and among SUNY alumni. The hope, according to Zimpher, is that such fundraising will allow for these innovations to be implemented and for SUNY to do its part in serving the state of New York.