Nancy L. Zimpher Announces Final Year As SUNY Chancellor

May 31, 2016

Albany – State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher today announced her final year as SUNY chancellor. In a letter to the SUNY family this morning, Chancellor Zimpher praised the university system’s progress toward its strategic goals and outlined priorities for her final year, which include continuing to increase completion, furthering TeachNY, and securing an extension of NYSUNY 2020.

SUNY Board Chairman H. Carl McCall praised her leadership and the collective impact it has had on higher education nationally as well as SUNY students, faculty, and staff, the state’s communities and its economy. He said a national search for SUNY’s next chancellor would begin soon.

"During her seven year tenure with the State University of New York, Nancy Zimpher has transformed SUNY and lifted our system up as the national model of higher education for the 21st century," said Chairman McCall. "Throughout her leadership, Chancellor Zimpher has put our students at the forefront, championed efforts to create a more efficient system, enriched the intellectual edge of our teaching and research initiatives, and positioned SUNY as New York’s economic engine. On behalf of the Board as well as SUNY presidents, students, faculty, and staff across New York State, I want to thank Chancellor Zimpher for her tireless and exemplary leadership and for staying on as chancellor as we begin the difficult task of finding someone to follow in her footsteps."

"The State University of New York is the greatest, most impactful system of higher education in the country, and being chancellor of SUNY is a highlight of my career," said Chancellor Zimpher. "Guided by the strategic vision for SUNY that we developed in partnership with all New Yorkers, and through the collective and outstanding leadership of our trustees, college and university presidents, faculty and student shared governance organizations, and our partners in government and communities across the state, SUNY has made incredible progress.

"Our work is far from done, and I intend to stay focused on several key initiatives over the next year," she added. "At a time when SUNY has become the go-to model for higher education nationally and our campuses are realizing their full capacity for systemness, it is more important than ever that we continue to increase access, completion, and success for all students and fulfill our promises of quality, affordable higher education and economic development for every family, business, and community across New York State."

In more than 40 years as an education professional, Chancellor Zimpher has attained international recognition for her visionary institutional and community leadership. She has led three major public research universities throughout her career and, as chancellor of SUNY, is the chief executive of the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the country.

Over the course of her distinguished career, Chancellor Zimpher has pushed universities to realize their power as economic engines, spearheaded community initiatives that improve education outcomes from cradle to career; helped set higher standards for clinical teacher preparation; and developed initiatives that ensure student mobility, shorten time-to-degree, reduce student debt, and drive efficiency.

In her seven years at SUNY, Chancellor Zimpher has forged an unprecedented level of cross-sector partnerships that have resulted in the following achievements, among others:

  • The Power of SUNY, the system’s first multi-year strategic plan developed with input from all of SUNY’s stakeholders. Chancellor Zimpher spent her first 100 days at SUNY visiting each of the system’s 64 campuses to launch this collective strategic planning process.
  • Completion Agenda – In her annual State of the University Address in 2015, Chancellor Zimpher announced an ambitious Completion Agenda for the university system with the goal of awarding 150,000 degrees per year, up from 93,000. SUNY continues its work to increase completion by bringing evidence-based practices and initiatives to scale across its campuses.
  • Teacher Preparation – Governor Cuomo and Chancellor Zimpher have positioned New York as a national leader in teacher preparation and training through SUNY’s Statewide Teacher Education Network (S-TEN), the Master Teacher Program, increased admission standards for SUNY teaching programs, and more. Most recently, Chancellor Zimpher was joined by State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia to launch TeachNY, a campaign to lift up the teaching profession and transform teacher preparation as New York faces a teacher shortage.
  • Applied Learning – Driven by a strong belief in the power of learning by doing, Chancellor Zimpher has set the system on course to ensure that every SUNY student has access to an applied learning opportunity such as cooperative education, even those attending online.
  • Cradle to Career – In partnership with StriveTogether, a national organization co-founded by Chancellor Zimpher, SUNY now supports 7 community partnerships across New York in an effort to mend the state’s education pipeline and support youth as they prepare for college and career.
  • SUNY Seamless Transfer - In service to the nearly 30,000 students who transfer within the system each year, SUNY now has the country’s most comprehensive transfer policy, which assures the seamless transfer to and from all campuses of every course approved for SUNY’s 30 credit general education requirement, and the coursework students need to complete the degree requirements of their major.
  • Shared Services – By coordinating services with other campuses in the system, each of SUNY’s campuses have been able to reinvest cost savings into services that directly benefit students. From sharing online tutoring programs and training facilities to collaborating on purchases and course offerings, SUNY campuses generated more than $100 million in savings.
  • SUNY Smart TrackSUNY Smart Track is the nation’s most aggressive and comprehensive initiative to ensure financial aid transparency. Smart Track resources - including SUNY’s own Net Price Calculator – are designed to help students and families understand college costs and develop a financial plan for the future. 
  • Early College High Schools – New York now has 20 Early College High Schools, 33 P-TECH partnerships, and five New Tech Schools, with some transitioning to "Smart Schools," which will provide a streamlined program where students acquire an associate degree in high school—at no cost—and then transfer to one of SUNY’s four-year colleges to earn a higher degree. These models share an average graduation rate that exceeds 90 percent.
  • Open SUNY – Launched in January and growing rapidly, Open SUNY is on pace to become the world’s largest online learning environment while increasing SUNY enrollment by more than 100,000 students.
  • SUNY Excels – Now in its second year, the SUNY Excels performance management framework ensures that campuses and the system as a whole continues to make strides toward its strategic planning goals, within five priority areas – Access, Completion, Success, Inquiry, and Engagement.
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policy – Approved by the SUNY Board in September, SUNY’s policy will make the university system the most inclusive in the country.
  • NYSUNY 2020 – NYSUNY 2020, ground-breaking state legislation championed by Governor Cuomo and passed in 2011, enabled a long-sought rational tuition policy and further positioned SUNY campuses to maximize their economic development efforts with competitive annual state-funded grants.
  • Capitalize Albany – As a resident of downtown Albany and member of the Capitalize Albany Board of Directors, Chancellor Zimpher has broadened SUNY’s presence in New York’s capital city, including a re-opening of historic SUNY Plaza to the public.
  • SUNY Networks of Excellence –These networks connect SUNY students and faculty with private sector experts, as well as national labs, to support the commercialization of the system’s most promising and effective research.

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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