Statement from SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher on Governor Cuomo’s State of Opportunity Agenda

January 21, 2015

“In today's 2015 State of Opportunity speech, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a bold set of initiatives and set the stage for the continuation of New York’s educational and economic success that we have come to expect over the last four years.

“For the State University of New York, this means additional direct support for our campuses to incentivize performance based funding and a new round of the historic NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grants. This will be matched with higher standards for teacher preparation, a renewed commitment to community college training programs, and a further alignment of our community colleges with their communities and Regional Economic Development Councils.

“I'm proud to say that SUNY is already at the forefront of many of these issues.

“We proudly support the Governor's proposal to implement performance based funding at public colleges and universities. We know this is a model that encourages excellence and is being embraced across the nation. SUNY and its campuses have worked over the past year to develop what will serve as a clear and fair set of guidelines and goals in the areas of access, completion, success, inquiry, and engagement which will drive us to be nothing short of the best at getting better.

“We also applaud the Governor's expansion of the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant program. This competition to achieve the best economic development through unique partnerships between universities and business and industry produces wins for communities from Buffalo to Brooklyn.

“And just as we do for doctors and lawyers, SUNY wants to recruit the best and brightest into the teaching profession, and the Governor's plans lift up this mission. With 25 percent of New York's teachers trained at a SUNY institution, we have worked to transform expectations for teachers by requiring a 3.0 GPA for entry into our programs.

“We also believe in the unmatched potential of our community colleges as the gateway to college and career. SUNY educates 200,000 students each year – 52 percent of our total enrollment – at 30 community colleges across the state, and job training and industry partnerships are an essential part of their missions. We will work with the Governor to enhance the work they already do with job training and meeting the workforce needs of the regions they serve. SUNY will also continue to seek additional funding to support the important access to opportunity that our community colleges provide every day for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, and the significant economic benefit they provide to the regions they serve.

“I thank the Governor for his focus on the educational future of the State, and we will work to support his vision while seeking additional funding to strengthen our ability to deliver results for the people of New York.”

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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