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February 11, 2009

New chancellor wants SUNY system to be 'global model'

ALBANY — A Midwestern academic named to lead the State University of New York said Tuesday she will work to bring the system to the nation's top research echelons, while keeping tuition affordable and just maybe grabbing some more exposure on ESPN.



University of Cincinnati President Nancy Zimpher said she's committing at least five years to the SUNY chancellor job, which will pay her $545,400 a year in total compensation to lead the nation's largest state university system. She becomes SUNY's first woman chancellor on June 1.



"Five years hence, I would hope that people see this as the best public higher education system in the country, as a global model and that we have learned to work together to create a positive impact and also to be efficient and to be accountable," she said in an interview.



The Board of SUNY Trustees approved Zimpher with a vote Tuesday. Her selection comes after a national search of more than a year.



"We will have a chancellor who recognizes the critical role that public higher education — and particularly our research universities — play in building a knowledge-based economy, and who has the experience and acumen to advance this role in significant ways," said University at Buffalo President John Simpson, who was on the search committee.



Zimpher said more state funding — as well as federal and private sector funding — are needed to reach the SUNY board's goal of reaching the top levels of high technology, scientific and other research.



She said the effort should continue despite the state's fiscal crisis, which is forcing billions of dollars more in taxes and fees to address a $13 billion deficit.



"I really believe that putting off and waiting is inappropriate in challenging times," she said. "I think you have to keep investing so that when the economy turns — and of course I hope we're a contributor to that turn — we're ready."

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