Chancellor Zimpher’s agenda strengthens opportunities for SUNY students

State University of New York Chancellor Nancy Zimpher championed the idea of a new year bringing new innovation and discovery to the SUNY campuses across the state during her State of the University Address on Jan. 14.With a key goal of revitalizing the state’s economy and citizen welfare, Zimpher gave a speech that encouraged pushing boundaries and challenging students.

Topics spanned from general advances in the science, technology, engineering and mathematical fields to more specific programs like Open SUNY, which provides online college degree opportunities to New Yorkers. There was also discussion of expanding internship opportunities with Fortune 500 companies or those of a similar caliber.

In regard to developing a focus on STEM fields, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has given incentive through proposing scholarships covering full tuition to those students in the top of their high school classes wishing to pursue STEM on a SUNY campus.

“We have very strong STEM programs and have made great progress,” Geneseo Interim President Carol Long said during her address. “But we also try and keep some balance. We do not want to be entirely a STEM school. We want to keep strength in all of our liberal arts disciplines.”

With notable STEM programs already present on campus, it leaves room for the college to pay attention to other incentives present within the State of the University Address, such as internships. The emphasis on internships in Zimpher’s address has left the Department of Career Development eager to aid students in their search for work experience.

“My goal is to support Chancellor Zimpher any time she emphasizes internships,” Associate Director for Internship Opportunities Rob DiCarlo said. DiCarlo said that not only Fortune 500 Companies but also the smaller yet successful companies are what are truly changing opportunities for students. Big internship contenders include Morgan Stanley, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

“We are also currently working with [the Walt Disney Company] for internship opportunities,” DiCarlo said. On March 6, the Department of Career Development will further its push for internships with a professional job and internship fair, where companies like First Investors, the Peace Corps and Teach for America will be present.

The address also emphasized digital learning and degree programs by announcing the launch of Open SUNY, a center of eight degree programs and other avenues of education via the Internet. This program provides students and graduates opportunities to take classes online, therefore making it easier to obtain a SUNY degree.

Long, who previously taught online courses herself, said she finds the program generally beneficial to the Geneseo campus.

“Geneseo’s approach has been to try and determine, identify and discover how the digital learning environment can enhance what we already do,” she said. “If a student has a challenge graduating on time because there is not a course available and there is a way to take it at a distance, that is a great opportunity.”

Ultimately, Zimpher’s address and its outlined initiatives will have an impact on the SUNY system as well as New York State as a whole.