Chancellor Zimpher, New York Times Best-Selling Author Dan Heath Kick Off SUNY Conference on Collective Impact

October 29, 2014

Thought Leaders Discuss Benefits to Colleges and Universities Adopting Collective Impact Strategies At Scale


Albany – The State University of New York this week is convening its fourth annual Critical Issues in Higher Education Conference, Higher Education Reconsidered: Executing Change to Drive Collective Impact. Successful models of collective impact are being explored by thought leaders from higher education, healthcare, public policy, economic development, business, and other sectors in order to identify opportunities for its use in education.

“Collective impact takes tremendous discipline, patience, and trust building, and it requires a mindset shift that is not easy to accomplish,” said Chancellor Zimpher. “But from what we’ve seen so far, collective impact is the most promising way forward in solving some of our society’s most daunting problems—health care, environmental issues, homelessness—and in our sector, improving education outcomes from kindergarten through college.”

In her welcoming address, Chancellor Zimpher convened 500 leaders, thinkers, and innovators to explore collective impact as the framework in which colleges and universities can effect successful social change at scale. Attendees will come away with tools, resources, and contacts to begin implementing collective impact strategy in their own places of business and fields of expertise.

Dan Heath, a senior fellow at Duke University’s CASE center and co-author of the New York Times best-seller Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, delivered the keynote address and commended participants on their commitment to improve the future of education by adopting some of the successful strategies for change used in other sectors.

Collective impact is an effort in which a group of dedicated leaders work toward a common goal. The process involves assembling the right people at the table, identifying specific and measurable goals, committing to evidenced-based decisions through the use of data, and creating a sustainable environment where stakeholders are likely to remain engaged with the work over time.

“Taking collective impact to scale across our universities and systems of higher education, we have infinite capacity to expand access to college, increase degree completion among students, and ensure that we are producing career-ready graduates to answer workforce demand and drive the economy,” Chancellor Zimpher said.

Additional leaders participating in the conference include:

  • James Kvaal, Deputy Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council
  • U.S. Deputy Secretary for Education James Shelton
  • Carnegie Foundation President Anthony Bryk
  • Jeff Edmondson, StriveTogether Managing Director
  • Retired U.S. Navy Captain David Marquet
  • Jason Helgerson, State Medicaid Director and Department of Health Deputy Commissioner

The SUNY conference, Higher Education Reconsidered: Executing Change to Drive Collective Impact, is being held today and tomorrow at the TimesCenter in New York City. A full list of speakers and additional information about the conference is available at:


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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