Dear SUNY Family,
Serving as chancellor of The State University of New York during a time of such change and challenge, and of wonderful opportunities and possibilities, is a great honor. The strides we have made together to improve the delivery and quality of public higher education in New York State are the highlights of my career.
Today, I write to tell you that I will end my tenure as chancellor on June 30, 2017. My hope is that by sharing this news now, Chairman McCall and the SUNY Board of Trustees will have ample time to find my successor, someone who will continue to carry out our collective vision for SUNY.
When I came to SUNY seven years ago, New York was in a period of major transition. You know better than anyone the serious toll the Great Recession took on our state’s finances, creating challenges for our campuses and SUNY System Administration alike. As this university has done throughout its 60-plus year history, we rose to the challenge and met our responsibility to students, faculty, staff, and taxpayers. SUNY came together and worked in a more unified way than ever before. In realizing our full potential for systemness, we brought together SUNY’s 64 campuses to serve as an engine of economic revitalization and life-enhancing opportunity throughout our state.
In the face of economic crisis, we have increased course offerings, added full-time professors, and implemented the nation’s most comprehensive seamless transfer system. These improvements and others have helped us decrease the time it takes students to complete their degrees and reduce student debt. We have prioritized completion, because far too many students leave college without earning degrees or the training needed to compete and succeed in today’s economy. And we’ve put a spotlight on the necessity to create a truly seamless education pipeline, from K-12 to college, most recently launching an historic partnership with the State Education Department to elevate the teaching profession.
For your partnership, your leadership in this work, you should be very proud, and I am very grateful. I cannot thank you enough. Over the last seven years, we’ve not only weathered the challenges at hand, but come out stronger for our efforts. Now more than-ever, SUNY is New York’s number one asset.
But our work is far from done, and I intend to stay focused on several key initiatives over the next year. Foremost, we will continue our collaboration with State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia on the TeachNY campaign to ensure that we have enough highly skilled teachers to meet the growing demand. Additionally, I will continue to focus on furthering SUNY’s completion agenda to ensure students earn degrees on time and with as little debt as possible. We will also continue to work diligently to secure an extension of NYSUNY 2020, which provides students and their families the ability to plan for the cost of their college education.
These three initiatives embody the totality of the work we do at SUNY: providing a world-class education that makes SUNY one of our nation’s premier university systems and training the workforce that keeps New York competitive in a global marketplace.
I cannot underscore enough how important partnership has been to the work we have accomplished. Without you-your ideas, your hard work, your insights, your enthusiasm, your willingness to come to the table and try something new-we would not have made the tremendous headway we have as a system, and for which New York has gained national, and much deserved, attention. I have been deeply honored to serve as chancellor of this great system, and I look forward to guiding SUNY through the next year-a new time of change and opportunity-as we continue to serve our students, faculty, and staff, and the people of New York.
Nancy Zimpher is the Chancellor of The State University of New York.