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At a glance: Luncheon with the chancellor

More than 60 members of the campus community - faculty, students, staff and Binghamton University Council members - met SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher at a luncheon during her visit to campus on Saturday, June 6.  Both Zimpher and President Lois B. DeFleur spoke of the vital role the budget and the economy play in public higher education in New York state.

“Even though budgets are shrinking,” DeFleur said, “Chancellor Zimpher intends to build a case for SUNY and will help us advocate for flexibility.”

Given the state Senate’s recent passage of a bill that would provide the University at Buffalo, but not the other University Centers, flexibility in spending and contracting, greater access to capital funding and the ability to set differential tuition as recommended by the Commission on Higher Education,  Zimpher said she has been deeply engaged in the discussions. “I think the concept is a powerful one right out of the Commission report … [but] I’ve made it patently clear that this is flexibility that should be expanded to all four University Centers. … Whether that happens by the end of this legislative session is a big question,” she said.

Zimpher is beginning her new duties with “a big idea, a vision we can all champion,” which she wants to be a collective one, with input from across the state and across constituencies. “We need to be action oriented to show that we can get it done,” she said. “In the end, we have to show our elected officials we’re capable of ‘moving the dial.’

“We have to move out of our own skin and show how what we do connects with others so that the state understands that our connectivity is part of the agenda,” she added. “We need to keep doing really smart things and keep our graduates in the state to perform for our economy.”

Commenting that Binghamton’s reputation precedes it, Zimpher said that, to Binghamton’s credit, some institutions were born as comprehensive research universities, but “you have eclipsed the prowess of many of those.

“I wasn’t here a nanosecond before I realized it,” she said. “I am also aware that the notion of flagships has evolved, and I can’t imagine in any way that we would separate already designated research centers and medical schools from the concept of flagships. Two doesn’t make any sense to me, and … I’m not inclined to go there.”

In terms of research and external funding, Zimpher admitted the environment is a challenging one.

“We have to be very aggressive and opportunistic by cross-pollinating and working together,” she said. “We have to be better at identifying opportunities. … We need to seize every funding opportunity.”

Finally, noting that “there is no stronger advocacy than in this room” for development of a law school at Binghamton, Zimpher said to “stick to process. We build the best process we can, and if we can afford to take the step, we will. We will do this through a process for approvals that is recognized.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08