Binghamton plays host to University Faculty SenateTweet
Building a SUNY base and “searching for every alumnus of every campus” are among the keys to producing a more competitive SUNY, Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher told the University Faculty Senate at its winter session dinner on Jan. 28.
“I cannot tell you how many times people say to me, ‘SUNY doesn’t have any champions’ or ‘SUNY doesn’t have a constituency that votes,’” she said. “Are you kidding me? Our constituency votes in every legislative district. But we have under-utilized the advocacy of our constituency.”
This potential 3 million-member network could not only work together to support SUNY, but eventually could become donors in challenging economic times.
The University Faculty Senate met on campus from Jan. 27-29. Zimpher discussed and highlighted her State of the University address during the dinner in Old Union Hall. Her presentation began with an airing of “The Power of SUNY: It’s Catching On!” video, which features a bouncing blue ball traveling to a student from each of the 64 campuses. The video was greeted enthusiastically by senators, as some of them tried to clap along with the song accompanying the video: Taio Cruz’s Dynamite.
“I feel this was a university speech,” Zimpher said of her State of the University address, which was delivered Jan. 19. “Yes, I go all over the state talking about the role of economic development. But make no mistake, in a State of the University address, you ought to be talking about the university.”
Zimpher gave examples of how she “bragged” about SUNY’s accomplishments in 2010: the unveiling of a strategic plan; 11 schools on Kiplinger’s best-value lists; numerous faculty awards (Interim Vice President for Research Bahgat Sammakia was featured on the PowerPoint screen for his iTherm Achievement Award); and 61 million hits on the SUNY website.
Zimpher also told the senators that SUNY will help create a more competitive New York by closing the achievement gap in the state, producing teachers who stay in the profession and answer Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call that SUNY serve as the state’s economic anchor.
“We are going to be asking you to play well together within your region to create an inventory of contributions you are making to the economic welfare of the state of New York,” she said.
Zimpher summarized “The Power of SUNY” with a quote from writer David Leonhardt: “Education – educating more people and educating them better – appears to be the single best bet a society can make.”
Before the dinner, Zimpher attended a University Faculty Senate sector meeting in the Mandela Room and heard questions, concerns and comments from a representative of each sector (university centers, university colleges, health sciences, technical colleges and special/statutory colleges).
Both the university centers and university colleges sectors asked Zimpher about potential consolidation of services on campuses. In her State of the University address, Zimpher proposed streamlining operations through shared services “by consolidating backroom operations and administrative infrastructure.”
Zimpher told the senators that it is imperative for campuses to find ways to help each other. She pointed to SUNY Ulster offering a bachelor’s degree in nursing after nearby SUNY New Paltz was forced to drop its program in 2009.
“This is a tight and disciplined administration,” Zimpher said of Cuomo, who has proposed cutting aid for SUNY schools. “One of our goals with this administration is to befriend it, be its partner and help the governor and state be successful.
“I want us to thrive,” she added. “I want our 64 campuses to maintain their presence and contributions, but I can’t imagine any other way to do this but through some kind of compatibility and collaboration. If we can’t find a way to do this together, shame on us.”