The Process of the Power of SUNY

The Process of the Power of SUNY

In the spring of 2010, SUNY launched its Strategic Plan: The Power of SUNY. New initiatives developed in the following years to help strengthen SUNY as the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the country. Learn more in the history of the Process of the Power of SUNY, found below organized by year.

Year Five 2013-2014

Start-Up New York

In June of 2013, Governor Cuomo unveiled START-UP NY. This initiative — like no other in the nation in its scale and innovative use of university-industry-government partnerships — designates our SUNY campuses as tax-free zones for new and expanding businesses. Nowhere in the world do businesses and communities stand to benefit more by partnering with higher education than here in New York—a mighty hub of innovation, diversity, and skilled human capital. In June of 2014, twelve businesses were approved for Start-Up New York at campuses in Buffalo, Ithaca, Rochester, and Brooklyn.

Learn more about Start-Up New York

Report Card

In the fall of 2013,The State University of New York released the fourth SUNY Report Card. The SUNY Report Card demonstrates SUNY’s commitment to transparency and data-driven decision making. The fourth edition includes targets – numerical goals – for most metrics, which are embedded in the dashboards. Each dashboard contains data from our baseline year (2008-09, unless otherwise noted), three years of progress data, and targets projected out to the 2016-17 academic year.

See the online SUNY Report Card

‌Power of SUNY Refresh

The Chancellor and Board of Trustees have asked SUNY leadership for help in determining ambitions for a refresh of The Power of SUNY. Leaders were tasked with reviewing and discussing a set of possible performance indicators as they relate to three particular focus areas: academic excellence, innovation and research, and operational efficiencies. The result of these reports was used to frame discussions at four leadership meetings. Each meeting discussed a select number of indicators, culminating with a thoughtful, in-depth discussion of all indicators at the last meeting. 

After the leadership meetings, and taking into consideration feedback provided at the December Presidents Meeting, system leadership reviewed the breadth of metrics discussed, articulated a set of guiding principles, and identified four major organizing ambitions or System-level Outcomes. The establishment of these four outcomes led to the creation of the Performance Management System.

State of the University Address

On January 14, 2014, State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher delivered her fourth annual State of the University Address. The Chancellor announced that the system will build on SUNY's progress over the past four years and take successes to scale with innovative new programs that will expand access to SUNY's top quality, affordable education and continue to prepare all students for success in today's global economy.

Transcript Press Release / Video


During her State of the University Address, the Chancellor also launched Open SUNY, the system's comprehensive online learning platform, which is now offering eight degree programs through six campuses, with plans to grow its portfolio in 2014 and beyond.

Performance Management System

SUNY believes that by acting as a system and by adopting best practices from collective impact partnerships, colleges and universities can operate at peak performance and move the dial on meaningful population-level challenges. Through an inclusive process, SUNY has identified five needs—or system-level outcomes—that we can improve by channeling our collective power:

  1. Increase College Readiness
  2. Increase Degrees and Credentials Conferred
  3. Strengthen the Value of a SUNY Degree
  4. Increase External Investments and Research
  5. Increase SUNY's Economic Contribution

‌Because our work occurs locally, system-level outcomes will be translated by campus leadership into campus-level outcomes appropriate to the mission and vision of each SUNY campus. Each of these will be supported by a series of campus-defined indicators and impacted by a set of campus-defined contextual indicators.

Systemness is defined as “the coordination of multiple components that, when working together, create a network of activity that is more powerful than any action of individual parts on their own.” By holding ourselves accountable with performance metrics identified collectively but implemented locally, we harness SUNY’s ability to improve the lives of every New Yorker in more meaningful and impactful ways than ever before. In essence, we harness The Power of SUNY.

Learn more about the SUNY Performance Management System

Fourth Annual Conference

On October 29-30, 2014, SUNY will host its fourth annual Critical Issues in Higher Education Conference. The topic for this year is Executing Change to Drive Collective Impact. Click here to learn more and register for SUNYCON 2014.  

Conference Publication

In October of 2014, SUNY’s third conference publication will be available for purchase. Visit for more information. ‌

Learn more about Year Five of the Power of SUNY.

Year Four 2012-2013

Tobacco-Free SUNY

The use of, and exposure to, tobacco products is one of the leading causes of preventable health issues and illness. On June 12, 2012 the State University of New York Board of Trustees passed a resolution to develop legislation making all 64 SUNY campuses tobacco-free. In passing this resolution, SUNY is the largest public university system to have a comprehensive tobacco-free policy.

More information on the resolution can be found here.

Reverse Transfer

On October 10, 2012, SUNY received a grant from the Lumina Foundation to help enhance student mobility in the SUNY system by developing and implementing "reverse transfer." This grant helped demonstrate and emphasize the value of an Associate's Degree by helping identify students with enough credits to receive one, but that may have moved on to a four year institution without the Associate's they earned being awarded.

More information on this project can be found here.

Report Card

The State University of New York released the third SUNY Report Card in the fall of 2012. This report card used measurements from the Spring and Fall 2011 report cards to show progress in The Power of SUNY. The 2012 edition was the first time part of the report card was presented using an interactive Business Intelligence tool.

See the online SUNY Report Card.

State of the University Address

Chancellor Nancy Zimpher delivered her third State of the University address entitled "College is Worth It" on January 15, 2013, at the Egg in Albany's Empire State Plaza.

Speech / Press Release / YouTube

Third Annual Conference

On October 29th and 30th, 2013, the State University of New York held its Third Annual Critical Issues in Higher Education Conference. The 2013 conference examined how the big data movement could help build smarter universities — improving the student learning experience, enhancing the research enterprise, supporting effective community outreach, strengthening the education pipeline and advancing the university infrastructure.

Learn more about the 2013 conference, Building a Smarter University - Big Data, Innovation and Ingenuity.

Conference Publication

At the 2013 Critical Issues in Higher Education Conference, The State University of New York released a publication based on the previous year's conference entitled "Harnessing Systemness, Delivering Performance." This publication, Higher Education Systems 3.0, focuses on the remaking of higher education coordination in era of increased accountability, greater calls for productivity, and intensifying fiscal austerity. 

Learn more about Year Four of the Power of SUNY. 

Year Three 2011-2012

Leadership Retreat

On August 2, 2011, the second Power of SUNY Leadership Retreat was held at SUNY Plaza. At this meeting, team leaders were asked to review, prioritize and determine resources for programs and goals determined by the implementation teams in support of The Power of SUNY.

Fall 2011 SUNY Report Card

In the fall of 2011, SUNY released the second SUNY Report Card. This report card used baseline measurements from the Spring 2011 report card to show early progress in The Power of SUNY.

See the Fall 2011 SUNY Report Card

Regional Campus Showcase Days

On October 5, 2011, SUNY kicked off Regional Campus Showcase Days with the first held at Stony Brook University. The intent of these events was to highlight the strengths and accomplishments of SUNY campuses in 10 regions throughout New York State.

View more information on any of the Regional Campus Showcase Days events.

Leadership Retreat & Business Plans

On November 7, 2011, the third Power of SUNY Leadership Retreat was held at SUNY Plaza. At this meeting, team leaders were asked to define our The Power of SUNY investment strategy, related processes and opportunities to leverage our seed investments to achieve systemic impact.

2012 State of the University Address

On January 9, 2012, Chancellor Nancy Zimpher delivered her second State of the University address entitled "Getting Down to Business" at the Egg in Albany's Empire State Plaza.

Speech / Presentation / Press Release / Campus Video / YouTube / Year in Review 2011

Leadership Retreat

On May 14, 2012, the fourth Power of SUNY Leadership Retreat was held at SUNY Plaza. At this meeting, team leaders were asked to develop business plans for projects their teams expect to work on in the coming year in support of The Power of SUNY.

Harnessing Systemness, Delivering Performance

On November 8th and 9th, 2012, the State University of New York held its Second Annual Critical Issues in Higher Education Conference. With demands on higher education becoming greater than ever, the 2012 Critical Issues in Higher Education Conference explored new models for building and rebuilding educational "systemness" to meet the economic and political challenges ahead.

Learn more about the 2012 conference, Harnessing Systemness, Delivering Performance

Conference Publication

At the 2012 Critical Issues in Higher Education Conference, The State University of New York released a publication based on the previous year's conference entitled "Universities and Colleges as Economic Drivers: Measuring Higher Education's Role in Economic Development." Each year at the annual conference, SUNY will release a publication documenting the discussions had and ideas developed during the previous year's conference.

For information on how to order, visit

Learn more about Year Three of the Power of SUNY. 

Year Two 2010-2011

Implementation of the Strategic Plan

The State University of New York's strategic plan, The Power of SUNY, asserts SUNY's intention to be a leading figure in the revitalization of New York's economy while improving the quality of life for all New Yorkers. Following the launch of The Power of SUNY, the implementation process began. Implementation of the Strategic Plan is driven by four fundamental concepts:

  1. The implementation process will be defined by sound academic and intellectual principles
  2. Implementation must embody SUNY's ongoing commitment to a participatory, iterative and transparent learning process
  3. Using objective and readily understandable metrics, implementation will be targeted to reaching the central goal of the plan: that SUNY will be a key engine of revitalization for New York State's economy, and that it will enhance the quality of life for the state's citizens
  4. Implementation must be integrated with the strategic plans developed by each of SUNY's 64 campuses

Power of SUNY Teams

To carry out implementation of The Power of SUNY, the following groups and teams were established:

Implementation Governance Groups

  • Chancellor's Executive Committee and Cabinet
  • Presidents' Council
  • Strategic Planning Steering Committee
  • SUNY Board of Trustees Executive Committee

Innovation Teams

  • SUNY and the Entrepreneurial Century
  • SUNY and the Seamless Education Pipeline
  • SUNY and a Healthier New York
  • SUNY and an Energy-Smart New York
  • SUNY and the Vibrant Community
  • SUNY and the World

Transformation Teams

  • Academic Excellence
  • Strategic Enrollment Management
  • Budget Task Force
  • Leadership Development
  • Innovative Instruction
  • Information Technology
  • Shared Governance

Convening of the Teams

First Meeting: October 20, 2010, University at Albany

At the first meeting, teams were asked to:

  • Discuss methods and theory around measuring success and;
  • Jump start the primary task of The Power of SUNY implementation teams for the year: selecting proper metrics for the annual SUNY report card

Second Meeting: January 6, 2011, SUNY Plaza

At the second meeting, teams were asked to:

  • Provide a list of the metrics their team developed and;
  • Explain the scope of work for the team 

Third Meeting: April 8, 2011, SUNY Plaza

  • At the third meeting, teams presented their proposed initiatives in detail.

First State of the University Address

On January 19, 2011 Chancellor Nancy Zimpher gave her first State of the University address entitled "2011: A Year of Action" at the Egg in Albany's Empire State Plaza.

Powerpoint / Webcast / Press Release / Campus Video

Leadership Retreat

On April 20, 2011 the first leadership retreat was held at SUNY Plaza. At this meeting, team leaders were asked to:

  • Share progress for 2010-2011
  • Review the Report Card
  • Develop 2011-2012 goals

Launch of the SUNY Report Card

As part of Chancellor Nancy Zimpher's five-year strategic plan for SUNY – The Power of SUNY – SUNY introduced the annual "SUNY Report Card," which evaluates and tracks the progress of SUNY across a spectrum of critical areas.

SUNY not only measures success in teaching and research, but also embraces our public mission to play a role in the critical issues facing our state, including helping to turn around New York's economy and improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers. To do this, we have identified priorities in alternative energy, "cradle-to-career" education, globalization, diversity, research and innovation, health and wellness, and the impact SUNY students, faculty, and staff can have on building stronger communities statewide.

The SUNY Report Card uses internally and externally validated metrics to track progress in these areas. More importantly, it allows the public to hold SUNY accountable for the progress we make as a system.

View the Spring 2011 SUNY Report Card.

How SUNY Matters

In June of 2011, The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government at the University at Albany and the Regional Institute at the University at Buffalo released “How SUNY Matters.” This report is a comprehensive economic impact study of the State University of New York system. Using detailed econometric data, a broad survey of campuses, and extensive field research, this study examines the broad role of the university system and established a benchmark for measuring future progress. 

Click here to flip through or download the PDF version.

Universities as Economic Drivers

In 2011, SUNY began holding an annual Critical Issues in Higher Education conference, which analyzed the most important topics national topics impacting Higher Education through the lens of The Power of SUNYUniversities as Economic Drivers was organized as a traditional academic conference, featuring the best work nationally in each of the Six Big Ideas for New York and plenary speakers sharing national best practices. Each year will advance a particular area of focus – 2011’s theme was Measuring Success. This served as an opportunity for the exchange of information about these key policy areas, and a venue to showcase SUNY and progress made toward our goals.

Learn more about the 2011 conference, Universities as Economic Drivers

Learn more about Year Two of the Power of SUNY. 

Year One 2009-2010

SUNY at 60

A close examination of the history, accomplishments, and potential of the State University of New York system

Originating in a lively conference held in spring 2009 to mark SUNY's sixtieth anniversary, the book's authors examine SUNY's origins, political landscape, evolving mission, institutional variety, international partnerships, leadership, and more. Taking its place alongside studies of state systems such as those in California, Michigan, and Texas, this book is a long overdue effort to return SUNY to the national conversation about public higher education during the last half century. Edited by a former interim chancellor of the system and two SUNY history professors, and with a foreword by current Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in the problems and promise of public higher education in New York State or, indeed, anywhere.

64 Campus Tour

Chancellor Zimpher met with SUNY faculty members, staff, students, alumni groups, affiliate organizations, and community and business leaders during her visits to each of the campuses to begin the strategic planning process. In addition, she met with congressional and legislative representatives, the SUNY Board of Trustees, the SUNY campus presidents and members of the media. The Campus Tour provided the Chancellor and her team with an invaluable perspective on the state of SUNY and an initial understanding of SUNY's most pressing issues and possibilities from the ground up. Information collected from these activities was compiled. Sixteen preliminary themes and several core infrastructure issues emerged to serve as a foundation for the development of the Strategic Plan.

Chancellor's Top 10 • Highlights from the Tour • Tour Map 

Statewide Conversations

To begin the development of the Strategic Plan, SUNY formed a Strategic Planning Steering Committee comprised of campus presidents, staff, students and community members. This Committee prioritized themes and objectives for SUNY's statewide conversations and framed strategic actions necessary to realize the full dimensions of the plan. The Steering Committee regularly provided updates to the Strategic Planning Task Force of the SUNY Board of Trustees.

SUNY conducted eight statewide conversations at regional locations selected to maximize outreach and participation. Sessions were held in New York City, Albany, Buffalo, Delhi, Stony Brook, Plattsburgh and Syracuse. Campus presidents and SUNY affiliates nominated two hundred people to participate in these conversations. These individuals represent a cross section of key SUNY stakeholders and include faculty, system administrators, staff, students, alumni, foundation staff, community leaders and others linked to our campuses. Each day-long conversation had a structured dialogue, organized in a way for participants to consider, evaluate, and prioritize the challenges and opportunities facing SUNY.

In addition, teams of distinguished experts from within and outside of SUNY comprised the working groups. Each working group was assigned a theme or infrastructure issue. These working groups reviewed ideas and suggestions from the stateside conversations, feedback from meetings of the Steering Committee and input from the SUNY campus presidents. In the spring of 2010, the working groups completed reports that provide a high-level summary of SUNY's strengths, capabilities and key challenges it faces, and recommended initiatives by which SUNY can provide transformative solutions to meet these challenges.

Chancellor's Strategic Plan 2010 Presentation*

Launch of the Power of SUNY

In the spring of 2010, SUNY launched its Strategic Plan: The Power of SUNY. In conjunction with SUNY partners and campuses, Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher conducted a series of SUNY Strategic Plan launch events at several locations throughout New York State.

Watch the Power of SUNY Launch Video.

Learn more about Year One of the Power of SUNY.

Power of SUNY - Strategic Plan