Chancellor Zimpher to Next President: We Need a Higher Education Champion at the Top

October 27, 2016

In Opening SUNYCON Remarks, Zimpher Calls for Reinforcing the Education Pipeline, Reinventing Teacher Training, & Redefining College Promise

SUNYCON 2016 To Develop “Higher Education Brief” of Recommendations for President 45

New York City – With less than two weeks before the country elects a new president, State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher today set ambitious goals for the next commander-in-chief in remarks she delivered to open SUNYCON 2016. Chancellor Zimpher called on the next president to reinforce the education pipeline, reinvent teacher training, and redefine college promise, while also urging conference participants to develop actionable education recommendations for the 45th president of the United States.

“We need a champion at the top,” said Chancellor Zimpher. “President 45 needs to pick up this standard and carry it even further, and faster. The kind of country we are, our collective future and success, depend on it. We can not only suggest what needs to be done, we can point to how it can be done.”

Chancellor Zimpher’s full remarks are available online.

Each year since 2011, SUNY has hosted “Critical Issues in Higher Education” Conference, bringing together national leaders from all sectors for top-level conversations about the status and future of higher education. During SUNYCON 2016, streaming live today and tomorrow, participants from academia, business, philanthropy, and education will explore “The Forces Shaping the Future of Higher Education,” with panels discussions inspired by national headlines.

Chancellor Zimpher urged conference participants to consider expert strategies, insights, and data that could be compiled in a higher education brief for the next president. The final SUNYCON panel, “Dear 45,” aims to bring the idea full circle.

“With this transition of power approaching—as we come to the end of a long, historic campaign season, we are faced with the question of what kind of country we want to be,” Chancellor Zimpher said. “This year is especially poignant. This year, more than any of the first five years, I really feel like SUNYCON—like all of us in this room, collectively—can be a major force in shaping the future of higher education.”

Those who cannot attend but wish to participate in SUNYCON 2016 are encouraged to follow along as the conference is streamed live and submit questions for the panelists on Twitter, using the #SUNYCON hashtag.

Featured speakers and panelists at this year’s conference include Crisis Management Expert Judy Smith, founder and CEO of Smith & Co. and inspiration for the hit TV show Scandal; Marc Morial, President & CEO, National Urban League; Terry Gross, Host of Fresh Air, NPR; Ben Casselman, chief economics writer, FiveThirtyEight; Dr. Mark A. Emmert, NCAA president; Shane Kosinski, deputy director for operations for the Advanced Research Projects Agency, U.S. Department of Energy; Robert Franek, editor in chief, Princeton Review; Muriel Howard, president, American Association of State Colleges and Universities; Roberto Rodriguez, Deputy Assistant to the President for Education, White House Domestic Policy Council; LaVerne Srinivasan, vice president, Carnegie Corporation; and Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers.

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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