SUNY To Host National Education Summit Exploring "A New Business Model for Higher Education"

September 22, 2015

Chancellor Zimpher Announces Whole Foods Co-CEO & Co-Founder John Mackey as Keynote Speaker

SUNYCON 2015 Set for October 29-30 in NYC

New York City – The State University of New York today announced that it will host the fifth annual “Critical Issues in Higher Education” conference, a national conversation that includes higher education, business, and philanthropic thought leaders, next month in New York City. SUNYCON 2015 discussions will be centered on the theme of Building a New Business Model for the Academy: Partnerships, Affiliations, Mergers & Acquisitions.

"Business as usual in higher education is over, and SUNYCON is an opportunity for higher education leaders to learn how other sectors have adapted so that we can better navigate our own resurgence," said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. "Higher education is not alone in facing seismic change to its business model, which currently is centered on credit-hour tuition, high overhead costs, and outdated funding models. Rising costs of attendance, demands for efficiency, and increased attention to return on investment are forcing higher education to rethink its path forward, and SUNY is proud to lead that conversation."

SUNYCON 2015 will explore some of higher education's most pressing questions:

  • What do colleges and universities need to do today to ensure future strength and relevance?
  • How do the higher education, government, business, and the philanthropic sectors work together effectively to create resilient and sustainable communities?
  • How does higher education adapt to the changing demands of society without compromising the core academic mission?

Chancellor Zimpher today announced that John Mackey, co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, will be the opening keynote speaker. Mackey has devoted his career to helping customers satisfy their lifestyle needs with quality natural and organic products, and has focused on building a more conscious way of doing business. Mackey's successes in developing value-driven business models will set the tone for SUNYCON 2015.

To close the first day of SUNYCON 2015, SUNY will host an all-star media panel featuring some of the most distinguished journalists in the country who cover higher education. The Critical Observers - Journalists on the Future of Higher Education panel will shine light on the perception of higher education among the public and examine how to move toward a business model for the academy that responds to the concerns about student debt, tuition costs, and return on investment that are dominating the national conversation about college today. This dynamic panel will be moderated by Al Roker, proud SUNY Oswego alum and host and weatherman of NBC's Today Show. He will be joined by David Leonhardt of The New York Times, Nirvi Shah of POLITICO, Doug Lederman of Inside Higher Ed, and Liz Benjamin of Time Warner Cable News.

SUNYCON 2015 is OPEN PRESS and will be held as follows:

Date:         Thursday – Friday, Oct. 29-30
Agenda:     Available Online
Location:   The Times Center
                 242 West 41st Street
                 New York, NY
Twitter:     @SUNY; #SUNYCON15


RSVP: Media planning to attend any part of the conference should contact to register for credentials.

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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