Each year, the State of the University address is a whirlwind of preparation and planning. From the speech itself to the media elements accompanying it and the audience and venue coordination, it’s all hands on deck to make the event go off without a hitch. This year was no exception, as Chancellor Zimpher spent nearly an hour telling New York about the progress being made at SUNY on recent initiatives while also outlining new efforts being put forward in 2016.
While delivering her sixth annual State of the University Address today in Albany, Chancellor Zimpher urged all New Yorkers to “Stand with SUNY” as our university system continues to let systemness and data drive its performance in service to students, faculty, staff, and the State of New York.
“Systemness—working together toward shared goals with shared vision—is the only way to ensure that higher education in the 21st century is doing its job,” said Chancellor Zimpher. “That we are truly preparing students for work and for life. That we’re making sure they finish school with the right skills and knowledge. That they are equipped to be critical thinkers, good decision makers, creators, and communicators. That they can be leaders.”
Under the Chancellor’s leadership since 2009, SUNY has identified the evidence-based programs and initiatives that are most effective in increasing access, completion, and success for students. As we continue to implement a Completion Agenda that aims to award 150,000 degrees per year by 2020, Chancellor Zimpher has said that SUNY’s commitment to data as a performance driving force is unwavering.
“There is no other system like SUNY, in scale, scope, and opportunity,” said Chancellor Zimpher. “Maximizing our data capabilities will lead to discoveries that transform public higher education and research in New York, across the country and the world.”
“This is what you get when you Stand with SUNY,” she said, highlighting milestone achievements from the past year that included landmark new policies to ensure seamless transfer and diversity as well as enhanced degree auditing and financial planning services for students, along with advancements in research and business development as an economic driver for New York. “We are methodically figuring out what works, and we know how to grow the best ideas so they reach every single student.”
Investment and Performance Fund Awards
In the speech, Chancellor Zimpher unveiled the first round of investment fund awards which will be investing in 32 proposals across 31 SUNY institutions. The push for an investment fund was started in order to develop a five-year performance funding plan that would allow SUNY to expand opportunities and support evidence-based programs that help students reach completion. In other words, to bring to scale the best ideas that are proven to work.
Choosing these 32 proposals was no easy task, as a total of 211 proposals were submitted by campuses, which translated into $489 million in completion ideas. How did the winning programs get selected? To help form a decision, a panel of independent external reviewers was put together to ensure that the ideas put forward were consistent with or exceeded national best practices. The programs were then selected based on the reviewers’ recommendations that will give our system and our students the most bang for the buck.
What to expect in 2016
During her speech, Chancellor Zimpher introduced several new initiatives for SUNY that will begin to take shape in 2016, including:
- SUNY Path, Predictive Analytics Transforming Higher Education, which will aim to be the most comprehensive set of data analytics on teaching and learning in the world. The goal of SUNY Path will be to identify at-risk students and guide them to the supports and interventions that will keep them on track toward completing their degree. The tool will also be used to enrich SUNY’s diversity, measure and strengthen its economic impact, and inform its reinvention of teacher preparation. As Chancellor Zimpher put it, “Maximizing our data capabilities will lead to discoveries that transform public higher education and research in New York, across the country and the world.”
- InternShop, a cutting-edge database that matches employers with prospective student interns who meet their expressed criteria. InternShop is the result of an historic SUNY alliance with the The New York State Business Council, and was created with the help of Accenture. It will be offered exclusively to SUNY students and Business Council member companies for the Spring 2016 semester. The immersive, “real-world” qualities earned via applied learning experiences make a difference in mastering skills, in completion, and in success after graduation.
- Open SUNY 2.0, which will take the university system’s signature online teaching and learning initiative to the next level. Open SUNY 2.0 will go beyond traditional degree and certificate programs to meet the evolving needs of students and employers, offering new strategies such as prior learning assessment, adaptive learning platforms, competency-based education, and stackable micro-credentials that can be recognized for credit. Chancellor Zimpher noted how Open SUNY 2.0 “will be our Optimized Personal Education Network.”
“We are intent on ensuring that every student’s college experience is meaningful and useful,” said Chancellor Zimpher. “Every program we are bringing to scale is riveted on ensuring that every student has the chance to succeed. Maybe a college degree won’t be the end game for everyone, but it can’t be for lack of opportunity, and it’s certainly not going to be for lack of our trying to get it right. This is the responsibility of public higher education in 2016 and 2017 and 2030 and 2050. And it is what SUNY will keep doing—innovating and adapting to reach every student and give him or her the chance to succeed.”
For all those who weren’t able to be at the event or watch live as it happened, the experience, including video archive, can be revisited online at www.suny.edu/sou.