Chancellor Johnson Underscores Her Vision for SUNY As She Highlights the Critical Role of Higher Education

January 31, 2019

Delivers Second State of the University System Address to a Sold Out Albany Capital Center

Speech Details 2019 Initiatives to Increase Faculty Diversity, Expand Online Offerings, and Enhance Student Support

Albany – Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson today advanced her vision for The State University of New York, highlighting the critical role of higher education as a necessary path to the American Dream. In her second State of the University System address, delivered at the Albany Capital Center, Chancellor Johnson spoke of the importance of a college degree and additional credentials as a way for New Yorkers to move toward employment and social mobility.

"One of the bright spots in the American scene is higher education, which still levels the playing field for those who complete a degree at any level," said Chancellor Johnson. "Increasingly, higher ed is the only path to opportunity."

Chancellor Johnson pointed to research showing that people with college degrees earn 80 percent more than those who have a high school degree. The lack of a college degree also raises the risk for unemployment, poor health, and poverty.

Under Chancellor Johnson’s leadership, SUNY is building on the four key themes of her chancellorship—individualized education, innovation and entrepreneurship, and sustainability, all of it underpinned by partnerships. Chancellor Johnson highlighted the many ways SUNY and its campuses are delivering access to education and research opportunities, while identifying critical areas to build on across the system.

Among the new initiatives at SUNY in 2019:

PRODI-G (Promoting Recruitment, Opportunity, Diversity, Inclusion and Growth)

While student diversity is increasing across SUNY, the diversity of its faculty has not kept pace. The PRODI-G initiative is designed to enable SUNY campuses to hire up to 1,000 early-to-mid-career professors over the next decade who continue to meet persistent barriers in achieving certain careers, including underrepresented minorities and women in STEM disciplines.

"To create our own diverse professoriate, we will expand the pathways for high-achieving graduate students in underrepresented groups," said Chancellor Johnson. "We will support campus strategies for diversity and inclusion, including offering our campuses PRODI-G guidance to educate search committees about best practices in hiring. We will also use proven evidence-based strategies to retain our young PRODI-G professors and ensure their success."

Buffalo State College will be the first campus to receive funding for five new faculty members beginning in fall 2019. The campus will also begin developing a multi-disciplinary Africana Studies department, a move championed by students. All SUNY campuses are invited to participate, and a request for proposals will be issued in February 2019. Funding for this initiative will be secured through private contributions as well as New York State investment through the Performance Improvement Fund.

SUNY Online – Support for Lifelong Learning

This fall SUNY will launch a new system-wide online learning initiative that will focus on increasing opportunities for exclusively online learners.  

"We will rethink our online platform in a way that recognizes that lifelong learning is the new reality, and there is much more we can do to serve adult learners," Chancellor Johnson said.

This new initiative will build upon investments and expertise its 64 campuses have developed individually to build tomorrow's workforce here in New York State. SUNY Online will establish new cutting-edge programs, as well as enhance the ones most in demand today, and SUNY system will offer those programs seamlessly through campus partnerships. 

SUNY Online is New York State higher education's response to a dramatically changing market and will prepare students, and New York, for the changing and growing global economy, Chancellor Johnson explained.

"With SUNY Online, we will build new partnerships with businesses in need of skills, and use machine learning to give students new tools to map their futures," Chancellor Johnson said.

Ensuring Success in College – SUNY Achieve

"Some of our students have trouble clearing the academic hurdle represented by their first college-level courses in math and English. We have had tremendous success with the Carnegie math pathways quantway and statway courses that combine preparatory math with math for college credit," said Chancellor Johnson.

SUNY system is expanding its remedial support so students are better prepared for college. SUNY Achieve is an initiative to expand intensive, evidence-based academic supports that are helping students succeed both statewide and nationally. The program focuses on student-centered pathways called guided pathways, as well math pathways and co-requisite Developmental English to help more students complete their gateway courses in their first year leading to better completion rates. 

To date, almost 20,000 students have participated in one of the programs. Funding, in large part, from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Strong Start to Finish, SUNY, as well as other foundations will help to scale these programs further to all 30 SUNY community colleges and eight state operated colleges.

SUNY Green Revolving Fund

SUNY continues to forge ahead as a leader in sustainability. The system recently issued design criteria for all new buildings that will make them net zero carbon. In addition, 16 campuses have joined the 22-member New York Large Scale Renewable Energy Consortium to source their electricity from renewable sources.

"Because SUNY operates about 40 percent of the buildings owned by New York State, we are a key part of the Governor’s green new deal, which intends to make New York's electricity 100 percent carbon neutral by 2040 and put the state on the path to eliminating its carbon footprint," said Chancellor Johnson.

In keeping with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Green Bank, SUNY is launching a Green Revolving Fund for its 64 campuses. Using loans from the fund, SUNY will assist its campuses in financing investments in conservation, efficiency, and clean energy. Loans provided to campuses will be repaid to SUNY from energy cost savings realized on campus.

In all its initiatives, Chancellor Johnson said SUNY strives to preserve the American Dream by offering excellence at scale for all, enabling individual success and social and economic mobility.

"We are working to restore the essential promise of America, in the state that first welcomed so many of our ancestors from distant shores," Chancellor said. "I am so delighted to be able to join forces with our students, our faculty, our staff, our campus leadership, Governor Cuomo, the legislature and the citizens of New York State to underscore that New York remains what it always has been—a beacon, an inspiration, and a place of shining hope for all."

A link to the Chancellor Johnson’s address can be found here.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2022, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

Share this:


Holly Liapis
Email the Office of Communications