President Harvey Stenger and other members of the Binghamton University delegation meet with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Deputy Senate Majority Leader Thomas Libous during an advocacy visit to Albany on March 5.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
Binghamton University goes on the road to meet with state legislatorsTweet
More than 60 Binghamton University faculty, staff, students and administrators took the Road Map to Albany on March 5 to meet with legislators and highlight the University’s strategies for becoming the premier public of the 21st century.
“It’s been a year of planning and we’ve done a good job of planning for our growth,” President Harvey Stenger told Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, chair of the Assembly’s Higher Education Committee. “The Road Map process is creating a path to prominence.
We’re known as the premier public of the northeast – premier of the regionals. Now let’s go to the nationals.”
Throughout the day, 14 teams of three met with legislators and legislative staff members, telling Binghamton’s story. Stenger and his co-team leaders Jim Dix, president of the University’s chapter of United University Professions, and Marty Honeychuck, vice president of the campus CSEA chapter, met with Glick, as well as with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Deputy Senate Majority Leader Thomas Libous and Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo. The team, which included Vice President for Research Bahgat Sammakia, also met with senior staffers for Assemblyman Sheldon Silver and Senator Kenneth LaValle, chair of the Senate’s Higher Education Committee.
“Binghamton is incredibly important to that region of the state and I’ve said for many years that the pathway for the state has been its higher education institutions,” Glick said. “They’re a vehicle for sparking economic activity. If you take SUNY out of upstate, you’ll have a ghost town.”
Stenger spoke of why Binghamton can be better: according to national surveys, it’s the third most friendly campus to international students in the country and the eighth most selective public in the nation. “Public education has a different mission than private,” he said. “We’re here to help the region. For example, our student volunteers contribute millions of dollars in community service each year.
Honeychuck and Dix reinforced the value of the Road Map process as well.
“With NYSUNY 2020 and the Road Map structure in place, CSEA is behind it 100 percent,” Honeychuck said. “Our goal is attainable and we’re excited about what’s coming. The University is moving forward.”
“With the NYSUNY 2020 plan money coming in and with our new leadership, new students and new faculty, we’re really looking forward to what Binghamton is becoming in the next few years,” said Dix.
The team also reviewed Binghamton’s emphasis on smart energy, transdisciplinary areas of excellence and the downtown high-tech incubator. “In smart energy, we’re looking at energy harvesting, storage and efficiency in electronic systems,” said Sammakia. “We have an NSF Center in that area to reduce energy consumption.”
During a combined meeting with Skelos and Libous, Stenger talked about the great opportunity Binghamton now has to maximize what it received from the NYSUNY 2020 legislation.
“We get to define what premier is and we’re focused on great student experiences, career-directed programming and building a road map,” he said. “This road map will allow us to invest our NYSUNY 2020 money. We’re pretty good, but we’re still pretty young and worried that we’re not getting the best, so we’re trying to add features to make us attractive.”
One possible attraction that is being investigated is the establishment of a school of pharmacy.
“There was talk a few years ago about a law school, “ said Libous, “but we’ve redirected ourselves and believe a pharmacy school makes sense – if we look at the entire state. We really think this fits.”
Libous noted that what little economic growth the Southern Tier has been able to achieve is due in great part to Binghamton University. Lockheed Martin’s lost of the presidential helicopter contract had a devastating effect on the community, he said. “The University fills what it can with companies and wants to continue to grow.”
“We’re a slower engine than a Lockheed Martin, but we’re a positive one heading in the right direction,” Stenger said. “The area depends upon us and we have to manage these experiences. It’s a non-linear effect. Our technology can lead to the success of the incubator, which benefits the community and helps make it an attractive place for entrepreneurs to live.”
“Whatever we can do to be helpful, we’ll be helpful,” Skelos said. “My constituents love going to Binghamton.”