January 31, 2013
SUNY colleges pushed to partner
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher speaks Wednesday at a conference in Corey Union at SUNY Cortland.
It is not enough for college students to have access to an education, they must finish degrees and help New York’s economy become more vital in the years ahead.
SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher brought that message to SUNY Cortland in a regional summit Wednesday, telling administrators from 10 State University of New York colleges to find plans for sharing academic, financial and business services.
Zimpher spoke to about 80 people at Corey Union’s Function Room in the first of five regional summits of SUNY campuses. SUNY Central has been trying ways to save money and become more efficient because, she said, the federal government is pushing for it.
She said the need has grown for more online courses and degrees, ways to help students understand and track the cost of college, internships and other ways to learn through experience, and create common data systems that make the rest of it possible.
The attendees, who includes several college presidents, then broke into three discussion groups to review how campuses are cooperating.
SUNY Cortland, SUNY Oneonta and Tompkins Cortland Community College formed one group of about 30 people in a conference room.
They discussed a project where TC3 and SUNY Cortland have been trying a shared course in Arabic, splitting the instructor’s salary and the cost of training the instructor in the technology to make the course possible.
R. Bruce Mattingly, SUNY Cortland dean of arts and sciences, said one problem has been aligning the campuses’ course and break schedules. But he said the experiment has been encouraging enough that the colleges are planning a course in Chinese for the fall.
Marley Barduhn, SUNY Cortland assistant provost for teacher education, said that for 10 years SUNY Cortland has been sharing a teacher education program in Australia with Potsdam, New Paltz and Brockport. Geneseo and Oneonta might be added.
SUNY Cortland President Erik Bitterbaum said the program has been successful enough that a university in the West Indies has asked to see how it is done.
SUNY Oneonta officials said they have formed a printing service with Delhi and Cobleskill as customers, since those campuses either lost staff or do not have the technology to do it.
Bitterbaum said SUNY Cortland has been using a printing system through Potsdam and had saved money, but could consider the Oneonta service, since Oneonta is closer. TC3 President Carl Haynes said he would be interested too but tries to use local businesses in his campus services.
Haynes said TC3 and SUNY Delhi have joined to allow students to obtain a bachelor’s degree through SUNY Delhi, with the other campus having a staff member at the Dryden campus. The program has 40 students. David Powalyk, a SUNY administrator who chaired the discussion, said sharing has gone on for years. Bitterbaum said colleges could do more.
Zimpher said, in a separate talk with news media, that she knows online courses cannot give a student the same experience as being on a college campus and in a physical classroom, but thinks it is needed for people who are working or too far from a campus.
The real challenge, she said, is to create a working system for campuses to share without giving away their individuality.
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