New plan for SUNY does not destroy from systemness

Nancy Zimpher is chancellor emerita of the State College of New York gadget and the director of The Energy of Methods, a countrywide effort by means of the Nationwide Affiliation of Device Heads to reconsider upper schooling.

Jason Lane is former vice provost for the SUNY Device. He’s recently dean of the School of Training, Well being, and Society at Miami College in Ohio, a senior fellow of the Nationwide Affiliation of Device Heads, and co-editor of “Upper Training Methods 3.0.” Lane could also be co-editor of “Upper Training Methods Redesigned,” which SUNY Press is scheduled to post in April.

While you introduce a brand new thought to raised schooling, there may be inevitably dialogue, debate and discord. This has unquestionably been true with the perception of “systemness,” which we offered to SUNY and the upper schooling sector round a decade in the past.

Nancy Zimpher

Nancy Zimpher

Permission granted by means of David Belsky


Actually, we had been extremely joyful to look the time period invoked in a Jan. 6 article in Upper Ed Dive discussing a contemporary proposal by means of New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to reinvigorate SUNY. However we had been dissatisfied to learn that the brand new proposal, which contains developing additional differentiation within the SUNY gadget with two tiers of study universities, used to be seen as “breaking” from SUNY’s systemness.

We could not disagree extra with this observation.

Jason Lane

Jason Lane

Permission granted by means of David Belsky


As a part of the management workforce that complicated the Energy of SUNY strategic plan and the idea that of systemness, we will say that the imaginative and prescient used to be to leverage the collective belongings of each and every of SUNY’s 64 campuses to learn all the state and each and every of the scholars enrolled. The Upper Ed Dive article wrote that the plan “emphasised the gadget’s energy as a unit, moderately than homing in on establishments’ specializations.” Sure, we did emphasize the want to view the gadget as a unit; and that the facility of that unit used to be jointly more than the sum of its portions. The view used to be by no means on the exclusion of specialization; as an alternative, we would have liked to leverage and improve the ones specializations.

Since its inception, SUNY has constructed itself on having a assorted portfolio of establishments — neighborhood schools, regional schools, technical institutes, scientific campuses and analysis universities. Throughout the ones divisions, there used to be additional diversification by means of educational foci. Actually, as sources was extra scarce, we actively labored with campuses to create collaborative stage systems and to spend money on spaces of specialization — spotting that each and every campus may just now not supply all spaces of analysis.

To signify another way is just unfaithful.

Sure, we carried out a unbroken switch gadget and required all campuses to take part, because it benefited all scholars and discovered a 40-year purpose of the gadget. We introduced a systemwide on-line finding out initiative to foster a systemwide technique to on-line finding out (Open SUNY, now known as SUNY On-line). We created SUNY’s SAIL Institute to advance skilled and management building, as we had to spend money on the capability of our folks.

All of this used to be executed as a gadget as a result of no person establishment had the sources to move it on my own.

For us, systemness used to be transferring past the ancient notions of methods as regulators, coordinators, and allocators, and towards a better imaginative and prescient of facilitating collaboration, leveraging shared sources, and specializing in supporting the state and advancing pupil good fortune.

Whether or not or now not one consents with the most recent proposals by means of Gov. Hochul, they constitute a transparent extension of systemness and now not a retreat. The theory of making a unbroken admission procedure used to be first complicated right through our tenure. The theory used to be to make it as simple as conceivable for college kids to be admitted to SUNY campuses whilst best having to use one time. The idea that used to be constructed on a program first undertaken at SUNY Binghamton, the place scholars who had been put at the waitlist had been presented the chance to pursue research at within reach SUNY Broome Group School. They may keep in Binghamton’s place of abode halls after which switch to Binghamton of their 3rd yr. Right here, two establishments paintings in combination to learn the scholars (and themselves). Why now not lengthen this concept systemwide to mechanically admit scholars to some other SUNY college if they don’t get into their first selection?

Lately, we see methods from Maryland to California leaning into systemness. Actually, the idea that is instantly spreading around the country’s greater than 65 methods, which serve roughly 78% of scholars in public four-year upper schooling. From the advent of the momentum yr for pupil good fortune within the College Device of Georgia to the California State College gadget’s Commencement Initiative 2025 to the Montana College Device’s switch initiative, methods are advancing cross-campus efforts which might be designed round scholars as an alternative of establishments.

Hochul’s proposal leans into the person and collective strengths of the SUNY gadget with total objectives of accelerating enrollments and increasing analysis. The purpose is to give a boost to New York and extend advantages to the gadget. That, we will say no doubt, is the essence of systemness.

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