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Growing Opportunities: Think Binghamton

By : Rachel Coker

Dozens of students, faculty and staff members fanned out across Albany on Tuesday to focus attention on the University’s achievements and plans for the future.

Advocacy Day Photos

“Growing Opportunities: Think Binghamton University” was the theme for the annual Advocacy Day lobbying effort, led by the University, United University Professions and the Civil Service Employees Association.

Numerous teams met with members of the Assembly and Senate and their staffs and set up kiosks in the Capitol to discuss research initiatives and other special projects. Baxter the Bearcat was on hand for the day, and Decker School of Nursing students offered blood pressure checks to passers-by.

President Lois B. DeFleur led a team, along with UUP chapter President Darryl Wood and CSEA chapter President David Lee. They focused on topics such as the University’s achievements in international education, community partnerships, Binghamton’s increasingly competitive undergraduate admissions picture and the success of the new University Downtown Center.

The team also emphasized the University’s commitment to establishing a law school and its need for support as the proposal advances.

“We feel this is crucial as a next step for our University because it builds on our strengths,” DeFleur said. “This is not just an intellectual enterprise for the University but the major economic development effort in the Southern Tier. There’s an unbelievable excitement in the community.”

She and Wood noted that a law school will build on Binghamton’s historic strengths in the liberal arts as well as create synergies with programs in fields ranging from engineering to management.

“We feel we’re the right school at the right time in the right place,” DeFleur said.

The president’s team also included Katie Ellis, director of communications; Joshua Kay, a senior bioengineering major; and alumnus Arun Gowda, a 2004 graduate with a doctorate in systems science.

 “I owe a lot to Binghamton,” said Gowda, a native of Bangalore, India. “It prepared me to do this job, got me ready to work in industry. It enabled me to succeed now. Nobody could beat the value of that education.”

Gowda works for General Electric Global Research, collaborating with scientists and innovators at a center near Albany as well as with researchers at centers in India, China and Germany.

“GE has benefited a lot from Binghamton in New York but also globally,” Gowda said. “It’s a great partnership.”

“That’s why we’re so strongly international in our focus,” DeFleur said.

Wood talked about the early successes of the University Downtown Center when the team met with Deborah Glick, chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee.

“It was a great investment that paid off for the community,” Wood said, noting the facility has been a First Friday venue and has been welcomed by area merchants.

The Downtown Center has also has provided meeting space for the annual leadership institute coordinated by Catalysts for Intellectual Capital 2020, said Kay, who’s president of the student-run think tank.

Kay, a native of Scotch Plains, N.J., plans to pursue a law degree and hopes to do work in intellectual property.

“I’m disappointed that I have to leave, actually,” Kay said jokingly as DeFleur and others discussed Binghamton’s plans for a law school. He said his training in bioengineering, especially the entrepreneurial senior design project, has been invaluable.

“We feel that we’re very good stewards of these resources,” DeFleur said as the team met with representatives of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. “We always say that we spend every dollar twice.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08