SUNY Board Outlines Implementation of Open SUNY

March 19, 2013

Purchase — The State University of New York Board of Trustees today outlined the implementation of Open SUNY, which will bring all online courses offered at each of the system’s 64 campuses onto a shared and comprehensive online environment, making them accessible to all of the system’s 468,000 students and 88,000 faculty.

“Online learning has evolved to include new instructional models and a diverse blend of programs and services, and Open SUNY is our way of keeping pace with that evolution while expanding access and mobility within our system,” said Board Chairman H. Carl McCall. “Open SUNY also furthers our ability to infuse every aspect of instruction, in classrooms and online, with web-based technologies and practices, social media, and mobile learning. The benefits of this initiative for our faculty and students are immeasurable.”

“As outlined by the Board today, Open SUNY will be the largest online learning environment in the world,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “By bringing every online program we offer together under one umbrella, SUNY students will have unprecedented access to faculty expertise and course availability, significantly increasing their opportunities for timely degree completion and success both in school and after graduation.”

More than 86,000 SUNY students registered for at least one online course in 2012. Chancellor Zimpher has estimated that Open SUNY will add 100,000 degree-seeking students to the enrollment total within three years, and that it will contribute to the feasibility of three-year undergraduate degree programs and five-year graduate degree programs.

The following principles will guide the implementation of Open SUNY and the system’s expansion of online degree programs and resources in broad consultation with campus leadership, the University Faculty Senate, Faculty Council of Community Colleges, and SUNY Student Assembly:

  • New and expanded online programs that meet state workforce needs, support workforce development, provide international experiences, and include options for time-shortened degree completion will be identified and implemented.
  • Advances in online learning will be utilized to offer credit-bearing experiential education opportunities, including co-operative education, internship/practicum, research, service learning and community service, and international study.
  • Supports will be established for SUNY faculty, particularly members of the SUNY Distinguished Faculty Academy, in delivering Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
  • Consistent with federal and State financial aid and other regulations, System Administration will work with campuses to create a SUNY-wide consortial structure to facilitate student access to online courses and programs, ensuring affordability, and supporting timely and expedited degree attainment.
  • SUNY REAL, Empire State College’s prior learning assessment program will be scaled to all SUNY campuses to support student success and degree completion.
  • A research initiative will be developed, utilizing the expertise of SUNY faculty to identify best practices and professional development initiatives in support of online learning; as will a mechanism for evaluating SUNY’s progress in meeting goals in this area, including the assessment of student learning and quality of instruction.
  • Strategies that promote academic excellence, encourage innovation, and reduce cost barriers to education and research will be explored and evaluated. Such strategies include: Open Education Resources, Open Access Journals, Open E-Textbooks, and Open Courseware.
  • Implementation and financial plans that address related business policies and practices will be developed to increase system support for students and faculty in the expansion of online courses, degree programs and resources at all campuses.
  • With system support, faculty from all SUNY campuses will be encouraged to openly license the instructional content they produce so that campuses may build capacity to offer more courses and programs online.

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, with 64 college and university campuses located within 30 miles of every home, school, and business in the state. As of Fall 2018, more than 424,000 students were enrolled in a degree program at a SUNY campus. In total, SUNY served 1.4 million students in credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs in the 2017-18 academic year. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Its students and faculty make significant contributions to research and discovery, contributing to a $1.6 billion research portfolio. There are 3 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 opportunity, visit

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