Leadership & Governance

SUNY Sets a New Course With the Release of Its Strategic Plan

April 13, 2010

The State University of New York has released a new strategic plan meant to improve the system's reputation nationally and position the system as a vital economic engine within the state.

"There is a growing and welcome recognition that in a knowledge economy, institutions of higher education can—and must—be pivotal in generating growth and revitalizing communities," Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher wrote in an opening message to the new plan. "I am convinced SUNY can carry out this role for New York in ways that will set a standard for the rest of the nation."

The plan, "The Power of SUNY," focuses on eight themes that system leaders believe are central to the educational and economic interests of the state and that capitalize on the strengths of the system's 64 campuses.

Those themes include: creating new business opportunities through research, improving the education pipeline from secondary schools to colleges, improving health care within the state, and creating more sustainable forms of energy.

The new plan also proposes to make SUNY's colleges and universities a more visible part of their communities—by, for example, increasing the kinds and amount of service learning and volunteering by students and faculty members.

The system intends to release a document later that explains how it will achieve those goals and the measures it will use to gauge its progress.

The plan is one major component of Ms. Zimpher's efforts to revitalize the system, which has been plagued by frequent turnover in leadership and state budget cuts during the two recessions of the past decade.

Her other key initiative is a package of regulatory changes to give the system greater control of tuition, and opportunities to lease its land and engage in more public-private partnerships. Those measures were introduced as part of Gov. David Paterson's executive budget for the 2010 fiscal year, which began on April 1. The new budget has yet to be approved and the future of the changes is uncertain.