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SUNY Chancellor Shares Goals for Higher Education

John B. King, Jr., Chancellor of the State University of New York (SUNY), shared his goals for higher education on the BCW’s KeyBank Speaker Series held Monday.

The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive university system in the United States and spans 64 campuses throughout the state. King said that SUNY’s trustees and Gov. Kathy Hochul are committed to ensuring that SUNY is the best public university system in the country.

To put SUNY in the top position, King described four core pillars of work that must be done, including: student success; research and scholarship; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and economic development and upward mobility.

Student success at SUNY means that every student in New York has a place at SUNY, whether in a community college, a four-year college, or a graduate school.

“It’s our mission to make sure that every New York family…understands the range of opportunities that are available at SUNY,” said King, who noted that on Monday letters went out to every high school senior in the state reminding them that they are admitted to their local community college.

King described cascading admissions, which informs students who were not accepted into the college of their choice that other colleges are interested in accepting them. SUNY is also ensuring that students graduate from college once they matriculate by deploying the successful Viking ROADS student support program at Westchester Community College throughout the SUNY system.

King noted that SUNY has a great track record of research and scholarship that drives economic growth, such as the state’s investment in nanotechnology at the Albany NanoTech Complex, which is poised to become an innovation hub for the semiconductor sector.

“We’ve got great research happening in renewable energy, which is going to be a key growth area in the economy; phenomenal battery research happening at Binghamton; atmospheric science research happening at Albany. Those are going to be drivers of opportunity as we grow wind and solar,” said King, adding that a top priority is paid research internships for students in these rising sectors.

King described an ongoing attack on the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion around the country.

“Diversity, equity, and inclusion are core to what we do. They are core to our operations. They are core to our values and we’re going to stand up for those principles,” said King.

King called for rejecting a narrative that higher education isn’t necessary for economic success.

“The evidence is overwhelming that if you get a college degree, you’ll earn a million dollars more over your lifetime. The vast majority of new jobs being created, that are good jobs that pay a family sustaining wage, require some level of post-secondary training,” said King.

King said that SUNY needs help from the business community in reminding students about SUNY’s value proposition; defining programs that meet business needs; developing a feedback loop to improve the design SUNY programs; and establishing more paid internships for all students.

“I’m hoping that our conversation provided participants with a very broad scope of what SUNY is about,” said BCW CEO Marsha Gordon. “While SUNY Purchase is known for the arts and that kind of work, I’m delighted that they also prepare students for biotechnology jobs and education. We are very privileged in Westchester County to have two wonderful SUNY institutions.”

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