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January 10, 2012

SUNY chief delivers 'State of University' speech

ALBANY — The head of the State University of New York called for "systemness" in her second "State of the University" address on Monday.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher coined the term to emphasize that the 64 campuses in the nation's largest university complex need to work together to lower costs, improve productivity and stimulate the economy of the state.

"The State University of New York has so many assets, but there is not one greater than our systemness," Zimpher said. "SUNY will tap into that power of systemness to create a more affordable, productive, and accessible university, while doing its part to generate economic development, create jobs, and prepare the workforce of tomorrow for New York state."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vowed to turn SUNY campuses into stronger economic engines for communities, using research and new programs to boost economies.

Goals outlined by Zimpher include increasing graduation rates, saving money by reducing the need for remedial education, and expanding online course offerings and paid internships.

While SUNY's state funding has been cut by $1.4 billion in the past four years, Zimpher said the university system is more stable financially than it was a year ago because the Legislature and Cuomo approved a five-year plan for annual tuition hikes.

Zimpher said it costs SUNY more than $70 million a year to provide remedial courses in areas students should have mastered in high school. She called on schools across the state to work with SUNY to eliminate the need for remedial courses.

Other initiatives outlined by Zimpher include:

—All campuses will shift at least 5 percent of their administrative spending to academics and student services over the next three years;

—Community college graduates will be able to transfer to a four-year school without losing credits by the fall of 2013;

—OpenSUNY, an expanded online learning system, will be launched by the 2013 fall semester;

—A portion of total funding will be directed to campuses based on performance, while most will still be apportioned based on population and course requirements;

—SUNY will utilize data to ensure that program offerings meet workforce demands in the competitive global job market.

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