By STEPHEN BARTLETT
PLATTSBURGH — Times are tough.
And the State University of New York continues to be a bit needy, says Dr. Nancy Zimpher.
"I feel we need to change the discussion," said SUNY's new chancellor. "I think what we have to say is: What is our contribution to the state of New York and its economic recovery?"
SUNY's first female chancellor spoke at Clinton Community College Thursday during an open forum as part of her 100-day, 64-campus tour.
She is working to create a SUNY-wide strategic plan that is expected to be completed in the spring.
Zimpher, who started her new role June 1, spent part of Thursday's meeting with area business and community leaders and CCC faculty, staff and students before speaking at an open forum.
The CCC visit marked her 39th campus tour, with plans to spend today at Plattsburgh State.
"This strategic vision will allow the SUNY system to represent the work of the campuses," Zimpher said.
During the planning process, she will gather suggestions, ideas and comments from thousands of stakeholders.
She stressed that SUNY should help the state transform the economy.
"If we present a thoughtful, data-based strategy for moving New York forward, this will entice elected officials to invest in us. We need a strategy that involves our state legislators as we move along.
"This current strategy is not really working."
SUNY needs to be the best partner it can with the state of New York and create a collective vision, she said, and it needs more state, federal and private-sector funding.
"We have got to work on the SUNY brand," Zimpher said. "We have to promote ourselves, and with that pride will come investment."
She wants to create a client-centered administration at SUNY Central in which the campuses are the clients and they, in turn, serve their clients: the students.
Before accepting her current position, Zimpher was president of the University of Cincinnati. She earns $545,000 yearly in total compensation as SUNY's chancellor.
"My relationship with community colleges has been a strong one in each of the communities I worked," Zimpher said. "This is a big answer to what ails America and the American work force.
"We will get the right blend of what SUNY stands for and what Clinton stands for and put it all together."
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