SUNY Chancellor Announces Ben Wildavsky as Rockefeller Institute Director of Higher Education Studies, University at Albany Policy Professor

September 13, 2013

Albany — State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher today announced that Ben Wildavsky - a national thought leader in higher education - has been appointed director of higher education studies at the Rockefeller Institute of Government (RIG) and policy professor at the University at Albany.

The appointment is a reflection of SUNY's position as a leader in bringing the best and most innovative ideas in higher education to scale. The SUNY system was recently held up as a national model for the future of public higher education by President Barack Obama and has become one of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's most valuable and reliable partners in shaping education policy as well as driving economic and workforce development in New York State.

"SUNY's ability to attract a top visionary leader in Ben Wildavsky is a testament to the system's emerging role as the world's premier system of public higher education," said Chancellor Zimpher. "Ben's insight and leadership as director of higher education studies at the Rockefeller Institute and policy professor at UAlbany will be incredibly valuable to SUNY as we continue to address the most critical issues facing higher education in the 21st century."

"Universities and colleges have long been viewed as staid institutions, better at preserving educational practices and arrangements across generations than at changing them, but Ben has the acuity to pick out the innovations transforming higher education, not just in the U.S. but all around the world," said RIG Director Thomas L. Gais. "The Rockefeller Institute is privileged to have such a keen observer and an insightful synthesizer of educational research. We expect Ben's work with the Institute, SUNY, and the University at Albany will make these changes more visible and will help spread the most effective, evidence-based ideas worldwide."

"We are excited to welcome Ben to our University," said Robert J. Jones, president of University at Albany. "His affiliation with our Department of Educational Administration & Policy Studies in our School of Education complements our strong faculty profile in global higher education policy, and his work will create even broader opportunities for policy engagement for both students and researchers."

"It's a great honor to join SUNY, the Rockefeller Institute, and the University at Albany," said Wildavsky. "Our nation needs an effective higher education system more than ever - and our colleges and universities are increasingly operating in a global marketplace. I'm delighted to be working with an incredibly strong group of colleagues who are dedicated to thinking about innovative approaches to addressing the challenges we face. Thank you to Chancellor Zimpher, President Jones, and Director Gais for this exciting opportunity."

With this appointment, SUNY continues the momentum of its successful Critical Issues in Higher Education conference and book series, which explores the future of higher education on a national and global basis by bringing thought leaders together annually to share ideas, practices, and policies that are shaping higher education for the 21st century. Wildavsky's appointment also complements RIG's mission of understanding the changing relationship between higher education and state government.

Kevin Kinser, associate professor and chair of the Department of Educational Administration and Policy Studies at the University at Albany, said, "Ben has been well known to several of our faculty for his writing on innovation and globalization of higher education. We look forward to working with him on a research agenda that explores the future direction of higher education."

About Ben Wildavsky
Ben Wildavsky is director of higher education studies at the State University of New York's Rockefeller Institute of Government, and policy professor at the University at Albany. A former senior scholar at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and guest scholar at the Brookings Institution, he is the author of the award-winning book, The Great Brain Race: How Global Universities Are Reshaping the World (2010). He is also the co-editor of Reinventing Higher Education: The Promise of Innovation (2011). His articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, New Republic, The Atlantic, and many other international publications. As an editorial and strategic consultant, he has provided advice to education leaders and written influential policy reports. Wildavsky also held several positions at U.S. News & World Report, including education editor, from 1998 to 2006. Wildavsky graduated from Yale University (Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude).

About Rockefeller Institute of Government
The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. The Institute conducts fiscal and programmatic research on American state and local governments.

About the University at Albany
Educationally and culturally, the University at Albany-SUNY puts "The World Within Reach" for its more than 17,500 students. An internationally recognized research university with 50 undergraduate majors and 125 graduate degree programs, UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as public policy, nanotechnology, and criminal justice. With a curriculum enhanced by 300 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers. Visit UAlbany's extensive roster of faculty experts.

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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