SUNY's overarching challenge in the next decade will be answering this question: How can SUNY promote meaningful and lasting economic vitality and improve the quality of life in the communities it serves, throughout New York and beyond? Our first Conversation will be dedicated to addressing this critical set of issues, which is at the heart of the six Conversation themes to follow.
With an enrollment that's approaching half a million students and a truly staggering range of educational programs - everything from nursing to nanoscale engineering, and marine biology to midwifery - we know SUNY is far more than an innovative educational system. We're an economic powerhouse.
We don't just educate minds and prepare active citizens. We train workers, we create jobs, we supply a knowledgeable talent pool for the workplace. We promote public-private partnerships to develop new technologies and resources. At our state-of-the-art research institutions, we invent entirely new industries that will change the way we live and fuel our economy for decades to come.
We are creative thinkers, researchers, and practitioners who put our best ideas and skills into our communities. SUNY campuses add tremendously to the quality of life in our communities - with educational, cultural and employment opportunities that generate regional vitality and economic resilience.
The bottom line is that we are a major - if not the major - catalyst for New York's economic recovery. We are New York's economic lifeblood. And what we're doing is being noticed. We are recognized around the world for our accomplishments. We've become a national model for change.
This Conversation looks at SUNY's overall role as an economic catalyst in the local and global economy and explores opportunities for us to have an even greater impact. We'll be turning to you for help in setting our goals and priorities. Which programs and policies will speed up the process? What heights should we be scaling? Bring us your best ideas on how to translate our aspirations into concrete strategies for the future.
Creative thinking and self-expression are at the very heart of the academic mission. At SUNY we challenge our students, no matter what they're studying, to develop their expressive skills and become more creative thinkers. But arts and cultural programs can also be powerful economic engines, critical stepping stones in the development of a new creative economy. Our campuses provide access to music, theater and visual art opportunities that would not otherwise exist in many communities.
This Conversation explores the ways in which the creative industries are having real economic effects that ripple through society, producing businesses, generating jobs, revitalizing infrastructure, fueling innovation, and giving communities new promise and renewal. But how can we best leverage our creative resources? Should we be working with local arts organizations to give our students more real world exposure to professional opportunities? Developing our curricula in arts management, arts administration and the other areas of the creative economy?
We'll be looking for your ideas about how to make arts and culture not only the means for creative expression but also incubators for ideas and industries that contribute to a new economy based on cultural production.
At SUNY, diversity is one of our greatest strengths as an educational system. When our students, faculty and staff come together to learn, teach, and collaborate, they draw from an extraordinarily rich pool of personal experience. And it spans all forms of diversity - from ethnicity and economics to cultural background and sexual orientation.
We know that diversity has a profoundly positive impact on the learning experience. We know that diversity promotes the ability to think creatively and remain open to new ideas and perspectives - all critical skills in a complex and intensely competitive workplace.
But what will diversity mean to this generation of students, who accept far more difference than ever before - in fact, they often seem to take it for granted. How can we make sure that the lessons of difference are fully integrated into their educational experience, and that we're preparing them to participate in a globalized marketplace? In a world increasingly defined by the global exchange of people and ideas, how can we build upon our diversity to embrace a broader, international perspective? And how can we put these resources to strengthen the economic situation here in the State of New York?
In this Conversation, we'll want your input on how to create a
diverse environment in which we're fulfilling the mission of higher
education to enhance the learning experience, advance knowledge, and
promote democratic values within an increasingly diverse and globalized
This Conversation starts with the idea that every young person in the state of New York deserves the opportunity for high-quality education and preparation for college, work and life. Unfortunately, the journey from cradle to career is filled with unnecessary twists, turns and gaps. The result is too many students who get to college without the preparation they need to succeed.
How can we improve coordination and collaboration among the state's K-20 institutions so that students can travel seamlessly along the pipeline? How can we increase educational access, help students get ready for college, and prepare them for the working world? How can we ensure that our teachers gain the proficiencies our students need them to possess?
With its geographical reach and wealth of resources, the SUNY system is working to fix this problem. But what strategies should we pursue? How do we more closely couple the distinctive strengths of our community colleges, four-year colleges and graduate programs?
In this conversation, we'll be asking questions like: How do we team up with elementary, middle and high schools in our communities? Strengthen our teacher education programs? Provide special programs to help low-income families plan earlier for the costs of higher education? Participants will help us explore these and other ideas for strengthening the pipeline - to make sure all students in New York can achieve their greatest potential.
As one of the state's largest energy consumers, SUNY has a special responsibility to slash our energy consumption. That much is a given. But we have set our sights much higher. We are aiming for nothing less than becoming international leaders in solving the global energy challenge - and becoming the greenest public university system in the world.
But what will that mean, exactly? At the very least it means committing our intellectual resources to the quest for sustainable energy sources and solutions. Our researchers, working with local, state, and federal partners, are exploring solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, micro-turbine, fuel cell and a host of other technologies - innovations that will boost our local and state economies and become models for our local communities and the world.
It also means changing the way we do things on each of our 64 campuses. What are the ideas we can push forward across each and every campus? Can you envision a greener SUNY? Would there be more bike paths and fewer cars? More LEED-certified buildings? More hybrid-electric vehicles? Yes, all that, and much more.
In this Conversation, we'll want your input to help ensure we're moving in the right direction by encouraging smart and informed debate, promoting green tech, creating jobs, and fostering more prosperous and sustainable communities for generations to come.
The forces of global integration are rapidly transforming our world. At SUNY, we're asking ourselves how we can make sure our students and our campuses are prepared for the new economic and cultural realities. What are the key skills for surviving and thriving in the modern, globalized world?
We know our students will need the nimbleness and flexibility to adapt to different environments. They'll need to be prepared to work effectively anywhere in the world. They'll need to be able to design and develop products that appeal to a highly diverse marketplace. They'll need to think in international terms – when they make choices about what courses to take, what languages to study, what skills to develop.
Should we create more programs that focus on global awareness and cultural identities? Strengthen our curricula in interdisciplinary studies like environmental technology, global health economics, and geopolitics? Create more opportunities for international exchange? Recruit more foreign students?
And perhaps most importantly, how can we manage our institutions of higher education to better achieve these goals?
We'll be asking for your help in identifying strategies that expand our international reach and vision. At a time when education is at the center of international competition, our students must have the tools to thrive in the modern global economy and make a difference around the globe.
Health care: it's fundamental to our society, and at the heart of our most intense policy debates. And when we need it ourselves, nothing on earth is more important.
Whenever you turn to a medical professional in New York, the chances are pretty good it'll be someone who's studied, trained, conducted research, worked or taught at SUNY at some point in their career.
Our nurses and doctors provide state-of-the-art healthcare in communities across New York. Our labs are filled with researchers exploring the frontiers of biotechnology and biomedical science. Our public health experts analyze how we behave as a society and tell us where we're headed. We flood the medical and health care sector with talent, jobs, care, and knowledge. But what does the future hold for our hospitals and health care professionals? And how do we make sure SUNY is able to adapt to policy changes and remain on the cutting edge?
This Conversation looks at our role as world-class medical and healthcare educators, researchers, and providers. We want your best ideas on how we can have an even greater impact on the health and well being of your community and region. Should we bring more medical and nursing students into the education system? Produce more nurses to address the nation's nursing shortage? Create more clinics to serve your communities and improve access to healthcare? We need your ideas on how to maximize our reserve of people, facilities, technology and skills to provide excellent health care for New Yorkers and leverage the economic opportunities our institutions create.
What makes a place special? How do we transform an assortment of buildings and roadways, shops and schools, bricks and mortar, into an exciting, vibrant community? How does an ordinary "space" become a "place" - something greater than the sum of its parts? And what makes that place a magnet for creative individuals, entrepreneurs and innovators - people who'll be learning, living, playing, and staying? In New York State, SUNY is a big part of the answer.
Our 64 campuses draw faculty, staff and students from across the state, nation and globe - bright minds, talent and diversity that infuse our communities with creative energy. We are not temporary visitors. We sink deep roots. We put our imaginations and resources to work. We are your partners for the long term. Our ties are strong and enduring.
In this Conversation, we'll take a close look at how we connect with our diverse communities. We want to use our knowledge and skills to promote safe and livable neighborhoods, stable housing, and thriving workplaces. We'll consider how we can help make communities stronger and more resilient, the kinds of places that attract the very brightest, and keep that talent right here in New York.