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SUNY 2014 State of the University Address Pushes Online Learning

WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas

Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, who heads the 64-campus SUNY system, set the bar high last year when she outlined goals and strategies designed to move the system to the head of the educational pack: the crown jewel of 2013's address was the three-year program to graduate students faster than the traditional four years of study ...

At that time, she announced the "Open SUNY" initiative... and today it has come full circle. Open SUNY is expanding online learning across the SUNY system.   Estimates have Open SUNY enrollment reaching 100,000 students within two to four years, making it the largest online education presence of any public institution in the country.

Credit WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas
SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher gave her fourth State of the University address Tuesday in Albany.

Zimpher says SUNY is already a "power player" in online education.   "Today 85,000 SUNY students are enrolled in 12,000 online courses taught by 7,000 SUNY faculty with more than 150 fully online and incredibly high-quality degree programs. In fact, last week, U.S. News & World Report included seven SUNY campuses among the best in the online business, ranking SUNY Delhi #1 in the Nation."

Open SUNY is anchored by a website the chancellor calls "an open door" — to guide students through course selection, financial aid, internships and other practicalities of study.  Zimpher also pointed out that nine SUNY schools rank best value in public colleges on Kiplinger's List.  “We are doing great things here that should be emulated in every state. We are good. But we can be even better.”

Zimpher is also looking for 100 percent participation from New York's Fortune 500 companies in the SUNY Works initiative meant to better prepare students of the public university system for the workplace.   "We have solicited from every one of our campuses the initial list of interested business partners. I hoped to have the list today, but you know it has to be vetted and there are procedures that have to be followed. But trust me, every president of every one of our campuses knows that job one is to seek those partnerships in keeping with the mission of that campus.”

University at Albany President Bob Jones says SUNY is in “outstanding shape.”  "We plan to continue to be a partner in StartUpNY and playing a role in economic vitality, as well as using these innovative strategies to continually educate even more students than we are today."

UAlbany President Bob Jones talks with reporters after the Chancellor's address.

Zimpher unveiled eight online programs at six colleges:
Broome Community College: Clinical Laboratory Associate of Applied Science;
Empire State College – Bachelor of Science in Business, Management and Economics in either information systems or human resource management;
Finger Lakes Community College – Associate of Applied Science or Associate of Science in Tourism Management;
Stony Brook University – Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering;
SUNY Delhi – Bachelor of Science in Nursing;
—- SUNY Oswego – Master of Business Administration and Master of Business Administration in Health Services Administration

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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