SUNY, Albany Promise Highlighted at White House Summit on College Opportunity

December 4, 2014

Chancellor Zimpher Participates in Panel Discussion on K-12 Partnerships, Calls on Systems Nationally to Increase Completion By 350,000 Students in 10 Years

Albany Promise Lauded as National Cradle-To-Career Model

Washington, DC – State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher, SUNY Fredonia President Virginia S, Horvath, University at Albany President Robert J. Jones, and Dr. Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, superintendent of the City School District of Albany, today joined President Obama, the First Lady, and Vice President Biden at the second annual White House Summit on College Opportunity, where hundreds of educators from across the country made new commitments to help more students prepare and graduate from college.

Chancellor Zimpher participated in a panel discussion on the important role of cradle-to-career partnerships between K-12 and higher education in meeting those goals, and in her role as chair of the National Association of System Heads (NASH), called on its members to increase completion by 350,000 students in the next 10 years.

“Bringing the opportunity of a college degree to every American in an affordable and attainable way will make us a stronger, more competitive nation; rebuild our economies and our communities; and once and for all close the achievement gaps that persist among our young people,” said Chancellor Zimpher. “Education – delivered effectively from pre-k, to and through college, and into career – is the best investment we, as a nation, can make as we strive to create a brighter future for all citizens. I commend President Obama and his administration for a consistent focus on collectively improving education from cradle to career.”

“As SUNY’s university center in the Capital District, it is important for us to take the lead in this transformative work designed to enhance the educational and career outcomes for our citizens thus ensuring our region’s economic vitality,” said President Jones. “The University at Albany stands firmly alongside Chancellor Nancy Zimpher to serve as the institutional host of this broad-based partnership, and is pleased to collaborate with key community leaders to ensure its success.”

"I am incredibly ‎excited that the Obama administration has chosen to highlight the important work that needs to be done around ensuring every child has the opportunity to reach their full potential by pursuing college and that all students achieve post secondary success, despite the historical gaps related to race and economic status,” said Dr. Vanden Wyngaard. “The work that the Albany Promise and the city school district is doing to make this a reality for the students of Albany is critical to this vision, and we are honored to be a part of the college opportunity summit.” 

Expanding opportunity for more students to enroll and succeed in college, especially low-income and underrepresented students, is vital to building a strong economy and a strong middle class. Today, only 9 percent of those born in the lowest family income quartile attain a bachelor’s degree by age 25, compared to 54 percent in the top quartile.

The White House College Opportunity Summit is held in support of the president’s commitment to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders, and nonprofits to support students across the country to help our nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment. Participants were asked to commit to new action in one of four areas: building networks of colleges around promoting completion, creating K-16 partnerships around college readiness, investing in high school counselors as part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative, and increasing the number of college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

From those ideas submitted, the White House selected commitments to support at the summit. Chosen for inclusion in today’s event were commitments that SUNY made as a system as well as through its partnerships with Albany Promise and NASH.

SUNY’s collective efforts to increase access, completion, and success among students while serving as an economic engine for New York’s state and local economies have positioned the system as the national model in public higher education. New commitments from SUNY supported by the White House are:

  • A 7.5 percent growth in STEM undergraduate degrees from SUNY over the next 10 years, and a 5 percent increase at the graduate level;
  • Double the amount of New York State Master Teachers to surpass 600 in the next year, supporting outstanding teaching professionals who will reach more than 50,000 students across the state and inspire them to pursue STEM studies; and
  • An annual SUNY Undergraduate Research Conference (SURC), a multidisciplinary event hosted each spring by a different SUNY institution, bringing together undergraduate student researchers and faculty mentors from across the system for a full day of activities highlighting their work.

Albany Promise, which now includes more than 100 partners collectively working together to transform outcomes for children, has prioritized the challenges students in Albany face, from cradle to career. Using data to identify impactful practices and bring them to scale to benefit more students, the partnership has committed to:

  • Increasing the SAT completion rate from 56 percent (2013) to 75 percent by 2017;
  • Increasing FAFSA completion rate from 52 percent (2013) to 80 percent by 2017;
  • Increasing college application rate from 64 percent (2013) to 75 percent by 2017; all in order to
  • Increase postsecondary enrollment rate from 49 percent (2012) to 65 percent in 2017.

Additional information about the summit, including a summary of new commitments made today and progress toward commitments made at the January event, will be available online.

About Albany Promise
Albany Promise is cross-sector partnership where community leaders in Albany, New York come together to support a shared cradle to career education vision. Albany Promise is made up of education, community, business, civic and philanthropic leaders. Partners have developed a cradle to career education vision, mission, and goals for the Albany community. Partners meet frequently to tackle some of the most pressing challenges and to take advantage of some of its biggest opportunities, such as aligning and leveraging existing resources. The partnership serves as a catalyst for working together, across sectors, and along the educational continuum, to drive better results in education.


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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