SUNY, Business-Higher Education Forum to Add 100,000 New Applied Learning Opportunities for Students

February 23, 2015

Washington, DC - State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher and Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF) today announced a partnership to bring 100,000 new applied learning opportunities to SUNY students.

Chancellor Zimpher recently announced that SUNY would establish an Investment Fund for its campuses to bring to scale evidence-based programs that support student completion and career readiness, applied learning among them. SUNY is seeking increased investment from New York State to support the Fund and position the university system to graduate 150,000 students per year by 2020, up from the current 93,000.

“As we prepare to offer every SUNY student an applied learning opportunity to increase their career readiness and give them a competitive edge in today’s marketplace, partnership within the business community is essential,” said Chancellor Zimpher, "BHEF has demonstrated expertise in building the types of hands-on workforce experiences that will lead to our students’ success, and we are grateful to be joining forces with them at a time when on-the-job training has become such a critical component of higher education.”

BHEF CEO Brian Fitzgerald said, "BHEF is proud to partner with the largest comprehensive university system in the US in its effort to provide applied learning opportunities to 100,000 students. We understand the importance of creating deep, sustained collaborations between business and higher education as a means of aligning higher education with workforce needs and developing 21st century workplace competencies in college and university graduates. BHEF's leaders who are collaborating in regions across the country will use their expertise to enthusiastically support this powerful SUNY initiative." BHEF's regional projects design new undergraduate curricula and learning experiences in fields like data science through collaborations between business and universities.

"Ensuring today's students receive the training and skills they need to compete in a 21st century workforce is not only critical to their future success, but also to the viability and competitiveness of American businesses," said Roger W. Ferguson, Jr. president and CEO, TIAA-CREF and BHEF Chair. "BHEF's members look forward to working with Chancellor Zimpher to provide meaningful learning opportunities for SUNY students, and I am confident that the New York State business community will match the enthusiasm that SUNY is demonstrating to meet this challenge."

SUNY, BHEF, and their business and industry members are aligning their efforts to build a reliable pipeline of educated workers that continues to meet the demands of the economy. Applied learning helps students get the most out of their education and more successfully bridge the gap from college to career, and give business partners the opportunity to train and recruit their own top talent.

Applied learning opportunities at SUNY include:

  • SUNY Works – clinical placements, in which more than 20,000 SUNY students are enrolled; and co-operative education programs, in which SUNY faculty and area employers have jointly developed curricula that integrate classroom instruction and on-the-job experience. Ninety-five percent of students who participate in co-op nationally find jobs immediately upon graduation, and nearly all are offered a job with their co-op employer. Approximately 1,500 students are currently enrolled in co-op across SUNY.
  • SUNY Serves – service-learning, community service, and volunteerism. More than 10,000 SUNY students are currently engaged in formal service-learning programs for which students earn college credit, while tens of thousands more participate in community service and volunteer locally, nationally, and around the globe.
  • SUNY Discovers – student research, entrepreneurial ventures, and field study. While SUNY research has historically resulted in breakthrough discoveries, inventions, and startups, increased focus on applied learning has led to an unprecedented level of collaboration between SUNY students, faculty, and industry experts to enable commercialization of the best ideas and innovations born on SUNY campuses.

About Business-Higher Education Forum
Now in its 38th year, BHEF is the nation's oldest membership organization of Fortune 500 CEOs, prominent college and university presidents, and other leaders dedicated to advancing innovative education and workforce solutions and improving U.S. competitiveness. BHEF's business and academic members collaborate in regions across the country to design and deploy education-workforce solutions in the high-demand and emerging fields that are so critical to innovation and national security. BHEF and its members generate insights from research, modeling, and regional projects, work to influence public policy at the national and state levels, and inspire other leaders to act.

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

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Holly Liapis
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