Chancellor Malatras Launches SUNY Veteran and Military Action Council to Help Expand Access and Lower Cost to a College Education for All Military-Connected Students

November 11, 2020

Council Will Develop and Advance Plan to Reduce Cost By $5,000 Over Four Years for Active Military, Reserve, and National Guard Students

Will Release Comprehensive Implementation Strategies to Transfer Military Service to College Credit at All SUNY Schools

Full Implementation Expected by Fall 2021

Data Show Significant Increases in Enrollment by Servicemembers, Veterans, and their Families When Access Is Expanded Making it a Win-Win for Those Military-Connected Students and Colleges

Council Co-Chaired By UAlbany President Havidán Rodríguez and FLCC President Robert Nye

Council to Make SUNY the Most Inclusive System for Military-Connected Individuals in the Nation

Albany, NY – As we honor our servicemen and women on Veterans Day, State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras today announced the formation of the SUNY Veteran and Military Action Council (VMAC). Co-chaired by University at Albany President Havidán Rodríguez and Finger Lakes Community College President Robert Nye, the Council will work directly with college leaders, elected officials, and state agencies to implement a series of policy shifts that increase access and improve the educational experience for all current and prospective military-connected students.

The council will make SUNY the most inclusive system for military-connected individuals in the nation, starting with their work to enact the following changes by fall of 2021:

  • Program to close a key gap in tuition assistance for all Active Military, Reserve, National Guard, specifically reducing tuition to $250 per credit military-connected students. Overall, the goal of VMAC would be to save military-connected students $5,000 over the course of four years. Studies have shown that closing the tuition gaps for active servicemembers, veterans, and their families has increased overall enrollment in college. For example, at SUNY Empire State College where the campus expanded its fee waivers for the spouses of all veterans, enrollment rose more than 50 percent over the prior year period.
  • Releasing comprehensive implementation strategies to transfer military service to college credit at all SUNY schools.
  • Establishing priority registration for all military-connected students.

"These heroes who have put their lives on the line for this country deserve all the assistance we can provide to make it possible to pursue a higher education and transition to their next career," said Chancellor Malatras. "Our new Veteran and Military Action Council include professionals who understand the unique needs of student active service members and veterans, some of them being veterans themselves serving our country. They will work collaboratively with colleges, elected officials, and state agencies to reduce the cost of tuition for veterans, count military service for college credit, and reduce barriers for veterans’ families. We want to make SUNY the most inclusive system of higher education for these heroes and their families."

University at Albany President and SUNY Veteran and Military Advisory Council Co-Chair Havidán Rodríguez said, "My service in the Air Force was a critical part of shaping the person I am today—including making it possible for me to complete my undergraduate degree. I am honored to be a part of this new Council, and thank Chancellor Malatras for ensuring our veterans have the benefit of a life-changing education worthy of the selfless sacrifices they make on our behalf every single day."

Finger Lakes Community College President and SUNY Veteran and Military Advisory Council Co-Chair Robert Nye said, "Our military and veteran students have much to offer our institutions and communities. I am proud to be part of a team seeking more ways to make them feel welcome and to foster their academic and personal success."

Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Didi Barrett said, "New York is home to among the greatest number of veterans of any state in the country. As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Veteran’s Affairs, one of my biggest priorities has been to create pathways for our veterans and military families to successfully transition from service, empowering them to utilize their skills and training to engage with their communities and grow our economy. I applaud Chancellor Malatras and SUNY leaders for taking this very important step forward on behalf of those who have selflessly served our country."

NY Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair John Brooks said, "On this day, we pause to recognize those who have served our country in the most honorable way, as veterans of our armed services. These men and women have committed themselves to safeguarding the freedoms that we as Americans enjoy. I commend Chancellor Malatras for addressing the unique needs of our veterans, as well as our active military and their families by providing an even greater opportunity to earn an excellent college education to pursue their dreams."

SUNY Veteran and Military Advisory Committee Members:
Photos are available online for the committee members, which include:

  • Co-Chair Havidán Rodríguez, President, University at Albany
  • Co-Chair Robert Nye, President, Finger Lakes Community College
  • Executive Director Aaron Gladd, Chief of Staff, SUNY System Administration
  • Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney, Chief of Staff, Buffalo State College
  • Desiree Drindak, Director for the Office of Veteran and Military Education, SUNY Empire State College
  • Eric Farina, Director Veteran Affairs, Farmingdale State College
  • Patrick Massaro, Director of the CREST Center and Veteran Coordinator, SUNY Canton
  • Shannon O’Neill, College Director of Veterans Affairs, Suffolk Community College
  • Diana Pasterchick, Coordinator of Veterans and Military Affairs, SUNY System Administration
  • Benjamin Pomerance, Deputy Director of Program Development, New York State Division of Veteran Services
  • Dan Ryan, Director, Veteran Services, University of Buffalo
  • Eric Wheeler, Asst. Director, Veterans Services, Monroe Community College

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York 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 2023, 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

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