SUNY Chancellor Outlines Vision, Foresees Zero-Carbon System

Jan 22, 2018

In her first State of the University System address, Chancellor Kristina Johnson mapped out her vision for the future of SUNY today in Albany.

"I developed a soaring pride that SUNY is able to offer its students so many opportunities to build a better world matched to their own particular talents and interests." ~ SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson
Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Johnson summed up her impression of the 64-campus system she now oversees. 

SUNY Board of Trustees Chairman H. Carl McCall praised Johnson's leadership strategy over her first five months as chancellor.  "I find it more important now than ever that higher education asserts its value to the uplift and progress of our nation. We have a responsibility to provide the high-quality education that our children and citizens need to improve their lives and those of their neighbors. That is why today, we should pause and listen to our chancellor's strategy to strengthen our position."

Johnson outlined themes she believes will position the SUNY system as a national leader in higher education:  "The four themes of my vision for SUNY are innovation and entrepreneurship, individualized education, sustainability and partnerships."

Johnson is looking for SUNY to at least double its cross-disciplinary research, scholarly work, entrepreneurship and outreach over the next decade.   Johnson also announced a plan to source 100 percent of SUNY's electricity from zero-net-carbon sources:   "As SUNY owns and operates 2,346 buildings, or 40 percent of the building infrastructure of the state of New York, it's no surprise we are responsible for about 40 percent of compliance with executive order #166. So I say, 'Why wait until 2030?' It is my pleasure to announce today that SUNY plans to source 100 percent of its electricity from zero-net carbon sources, including renewables and energy storage, as soon as possible. Last year SUNY spent $189 million on energy. We will use SUNY's buying power to buy clean power. And the sooner we do this, the better, as we estimate it will reduce our carbon footprint by 400,000 tons of C02 equivalents per year. Making investments in renewable energy and storage, aligned with the recent initiative Governor Cuomo announced to install energy stored regionally in order to increase the resiliencies of our communities in case of a natural, or man-made disaster. Let me be clear, when the power is out, we plan to have SUNY campuses to have power — the power to help our communities rapidly recover."

Johnson added that effective immediately, all new buildings will be designed for zero-net-carbon emissions. She also announced a partnership with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to help develop a campus facility plan.

Johnson replaced Nancy Zimpher, who wrapped up eight years as chancellor in September 2017.

Audio of Johnson's full address is posted below: