Chancellor Malatras Announces SUNY Selected by the U.S. Naval Community College to Expand Educational Opportunities for Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen

December 30, 2020

First Ever Pilot Program Will Launch in January 2021 with Nearly 130 Students  

Partnership Aims to Better Prepare Enlisted Service Members, Improve Operational Readiness, and Support Lifelong Learning

Instruction Will Be Delivered by SUNY Empire State College, a Leader in Providing Education for Military Students Since 1971

Albany, NY – State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras and United States Naval Community College (USNCC) President Dr. Randi Cosentino today announced that SUNY and USNCC are partnering to provide expanded educational opportunities for sailors, marines, and coastguardsmen through USNCC's Phase I pilot program beginning in January 2021. The collaboration aims to better prepare enlisted service members, improve operational readiness, and support lifelong learning with naval-relevant education opportunities and tailored support services. SUNY is one of five institutions across the country providing educational support for Phase I of this USNCC pilot program.

SUNY's inaugural class of nearly 130 students will enroll in Naval Leadership and Ethics as well as Introduction to Literature, Introduction to College Writing, and Contemporary Mathematics for the spring term at SUNY Empire State College. With its experience in military-supportive education, SUNY Empire State College will provide online course delivery and student support services, with SUNY Online providing additional coaching and support for USNCC students. As a leader in military-supportive education among four-year SUNY institutions, SUNY Empire serves more than 450 active-duty, guard, and reserve students stationed around the world, and approximately 600 veterans of all branches of the military. It is also a leader in online learning, having launched its first online courses in 1995.

"SUNY is proud to support our nation's service members by increasing access to the higher education they need to better serve our country while advancing their careers," said Chancellor Malatras. "Our new collaboration with the United States Naval Community College brings together the expertise of SUNY Empire State College in serving military students and delivering online instruction with the added support of SUNY Online to provide the best possible educational experience for USNCC students. I'd like to thank President Cosentino for the opportunity to give back to our service members who give so much to our country." 

"We are very excited to make this announcement," said United States Naval Community College President Dr. Randi Cosentino. "Working with institutions, like SUNY Empire State College, will bring to the members of our maritime service community programs that are going to be of high value to them and help them achieve their educational goals. The pilot will allow us to collect important data that will inform the development of the USNCC.  Working with leading colleges will help us explore outcomes around the design of the program, the processes involved, working relationships and overall impact." 

"SUNY Empire State College has a half-century-long tradition of proudly serving and supporting our military-aligned students, and our partnership with the United States Naval Community College simultaneously underscores and strengthens our expertise in military-supportive education," said SUNY Empire State College Officer in Charge Nathan Gonyea. "With our second-to-none military advising services, we are honored to welcome the inaugural class and watch it grow in the years to come."

"Throughout the past 15 years, while juggling active-duty military service and assignments that took me from Norfolk, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maine, San Diego, South Korea, and now the Kingdom of Bahrain, SUNY Empire faculty and staff supported my educational goals as I traveled the globe," said Derek Jefferson, three-time SUNY Empire graduate, and Chief Warrant Officer 4 in the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. "No matter my location, I always felt the school was there for me. Earning my college degree was a lifelong personal goal. I was surprised that I was able to complete three degrees while serving full time on active-duty military service. Even though my commission program doesn't require a college degree, the Navy expects their leaders to improve and grow in their professional development, which includes higher education."

The concept of USNCC, came out of a study seeking to identify opportunities to better prepare enlisted service members and to support them throughout their career. Naval leadership directed the USNCC to begin pilot programs to identify the best way to help enlisted naval service members access naval-relevant education opportunities.

SUNY Empire State College has been a leader in providing education for military students since 1971, and has a global alumni network of nearly 3,000. SUNY Empire's Office of Veteran and Military Education (OVME) works closely with our nation's military to offer undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates, free pre-enrollment advising, and college credits for training and experience gained through military service, including standardized testing, licenses, and certifications. Service members have earned a wealth of knowledge, skills, and experience, which SUNY Empire quantifies as college credit to help these dedicated men and women earn degrees in less time and at lower cost.

The college has been conducting online instruction since 1995, blended with face-to-face learning at campuses and learning hubs in every region of the state. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, SUNY Empire transitioned to fully remote instruction in the spring and is continuing in that mode through the fall. For more on SUNY Empire, visit

About the United States Naval Community College

The United States Naval Community College (USNCC) was introduced to support enlisted Sailors and Marines in achieving professional Certificates and Associate's degrees that will enhance operational readiness and improve warfighting capabilities, while putting Sailors and Marines on a path to lifelong learning. With the addition of the US Coast Guard, Coast Guardsmen will also be able to access the USNCC. For more information visit the USNCC on Facebook, LinkedIn or follow us on Twitter at @USNCCollege.

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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