OSWEGO, NY Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Dr. Nancy L. Zimpher, the 12th chancellor of SUNY, visited SUNY Oswego this afternoon as part of a whirlwind tour of all the campuses in the system.
She answered a variety of questions from members of the college’s student body and faculty as well as the general public. The forum was held in the Campus Center’s auditorium.
Dr. Zimpher is the first woman to be named chancellor in SUNYÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 60-year history.
She was president of the University of Cincinnati. Her appointment as chancellor was effective June 1.
The chancellor hopes to visit all 64 SUNY schools within her first 100 days in office in an effort to create a strategic plan for the future.
She applauded Deborah Stanley, SUNY Oswego president, for her leadership.
“It was the biggest, the best welcome in 27 (college) visits,” Dr. Zimpher said of Oswego’s hospitality. “It might be our 27th visit, but believe me, your welcome and your attention to business will stay as a constant memory. And, of course, we’ll be back!”
As a former president herself, Dr. Zimpher said she has great respect for the role Stanley plays.
Her visit to Oswego was delayed by an unplanned trip to SUNY IT to help announce the opening a new nano technology center.
“That’s the kind of partnership we’re looking for SUNY wide,” she noted.
Her 64-campus tour is a way to say hello and get acquainted with the colleges. It is also a way to lay the foundation for a comprehensive vision of the State University of New York for the next five to 10 years, she said.
“You only get one chance at this every so often. And, we really have to make it work. So these visits are really phase I of that strategic planning process,” she explained.
She will take the input she receives from people at campuses across the state and then hold regional town hall meetings later this year to discuss the issues.
“The (college) presidents will co-sponsor a regional hearing; there will be an open mic where we can take in more of your input. Then, all of what we’re doing will go up on the (SUNY) web,” she said. “But nothing is more important than our time right now to hear from you.”
She invited questions and comments about great things Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and not so great things.
Gary Toth, business manager of Carpenters’ Local 747, asked the chancellor about involving apprenticeship programs.
“The things we’ve done on this campus over the last 10 years or so have been amazing,” he said. “Not only educational wise, but economically and just community wise, this school has been a boon to the Oswego County area, a lot of work, a lot of community events, everything. This campus has been very important to this region.”
The union would like to see an apprenticeship program included in the construction plans throughout SUNY, he said.
It would create many jobs, and give a lot of young people a reason to stay in the area instead of relocating, he added.
“If we can be supportive in any way, we will,” she said. “I’m sort of thinking we will because I really believe in that kind of applied learning.”
The new chancellor also spoke of the need for partnerships.
“What in the world would this region do without (SUNY) Oswego? I think about the 2.4 million alumni that SUNY has produced; not all of them live in the state of New York, but a good many of them do. What would we do without them working and contributing to the state of New York?” she said.
Business / industry partnerships are a great way to enhance the economic future of the region, she said.
“We’ve got to match up the demands sectors of business and industry in the state and match them with the production of highly skilled workers. That takes strategic enrollment planning across campuses and it takes problematic prioritization,” she said.
She would like to see the academic leaders at SUNY institutions form working groups around those issues.
The president of Student Association asked what could be done to stop tuition costs from continuing to skyrocket.
SUNY needs to weave together three concepts: Access, Quality and affordability, the chancellor replied.
“My leadership role is to join hands with you to keep SUNY tuition affordable,” Dr. Zimpher said.
It’s a two-way street; they have to partner with the legislature and Governor’s Office, she added.
“We also have to help ourselves. We have to have some creative revenue streams,” she added.
The relationship between college and community is also very important, Dr. Zimpher noted.
“This campus is all about the quality of life offered in your community. I have not explored Bridge Street, but it’s the culture of this community,” the chancellor said. “It’s very important that we have both; young people come to study and to live together on this campus and in this community.”
Dr. Zimpher succeeds former SUNY Chancellor and United States Navy Vice Admiral John R. Ryan, who stepped down to become the president of the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, NC.
Dr. Zimpher holds a bachelorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s degree in English education and speech, a masterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s degree in English literature, and a PhD in teacher education and administration in higher education, all from The Ohio State University.
She is married to Dr. Kenneth R. Howey, a Research Professor in the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services at the University of Cincinnati.