Binghamton University President C. Peter Magrath, speaks during a news conference announcing an articulation agreement and memorandum of understanding with SUNY Upstate Medical University at the Couper Administration Building on July 25. SUNY Upstate Medical President David Smith, left, state Assemblywoman Donna A. Lupardo and state Sen. Thomas Libous, right, also took part in the event.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
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Binghamton University and SUNY Upstate Medical University leaders signed an articulation agreement July 25 that links the two institutions academically in new ways, and a memorandum of understanding for shared course offerings in their neuroscience graduate programs.
President C. Peter Magrath and SUNY Upstate Medical President David Smith signed the agreements during a ceremony in the Couper Administration Building. State Sen. Thomas Libous and state Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo also attended and spoke at the event.
“These agreements affirm Binghamton University’s commitment to this strategic partnership with a respected, first-class medical university,” Magrath said. “One focus of our strategic plan is increased activity in the health and natural sciences, and this synergistic partnership in research and teaching is a win-win that will enrich the offerings available to our students.”
The articulation agreement will allow an exceptional Binghamton University student to be automatically admitted into SUNY Upstate Medical’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program, and reserves, at minimum, one slot per year for an exceptional student to enroll in SUNY Upstate Medical University’s College of Graduate Studies to pursue a PhD in the biomedical sciences.
“This is one of the most competitive programs to get into,” Magrath said of SURF. “Even a person as brilliant as Dr. Smith might struggle to get in. This is a big deal.”
The SURF program enrolls only 10 students a year from a pool of more than 100, and last year the College of Graduate Studies enrolled an entering class of just 21.
The MOU will allow both institutions to expand and diversify their curriculums in the neurosciences through use of video conferencing technology.
In addition to the MOUs being signed, the two institutions are celebrating completion of the first collaborative projects between the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science and the medical school. Experts in healthcare delivery are working to improve the functionality of operating rooms and the emergency department at Upstate hospitals.
Additional research partnerships are being explored in both cancer research and the neurosciences at the two institutions, with the eventual goal of developing research synergies that capitalize on the expertise available at both locations.
“We’re not just signing pieces of paper,” said Smith, who Magrath called “a great ally” to work with. “It’s about the people and the programs. It’s about the individual talent we want to keep in the region. … Why do we know this is a good thing to do? The quality of students at Binghamton University is remarkable. They define excellence by their very nature.”
Libous emphasized that the agreements will help the area on a “new journey” not only for new jobs, but for careers, as well.
“What we want to do here today is to begin creating opportunities for careers,” he said. “It’s a chance for people to live here and to stay here.”
Lupardo, who serves as chair of the Legislative Commission on Science and Technology, was credited by Magrath and Smith as the catalyst for getting the two schools to come together and form a partnership.
“It’s all about regional assets, regional collaborations and regional strengths,” she said. “The more groups like this can pool their resources and maximize their assets, the more economic-development efforts will be successful.
“As we go forward as a region – together with the Syracuse region – I expect great things to happen.”