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Dates set for SUNY 'conversations'

November 03, 2009
Topics such as, "Education pipeline" and "arts and culture" are two of the themes given to six upcoming strategy sessions in the next phase of developing a new strategic plan for the State University of New York.

The first of these sessions, or "conversations," being conducted at campuses in different regions of the state was hosted by new SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher last month at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy.

The first phase of the strategic planning process saw Zimpher on a 64-campus tour across New York state that allowed the chancellor to meet with faculty, staff and students at each of the state university system's schools and then develop a list of themes and core infrastructure issues for phase two's activities.

During phase two, a specific theme is applied to each conversation. Although there will not be a conversation at each SUNY campus, specific schools were chosen "to maximize outreach and participation," according to SUNY's Web site (

According to SUNY Media Relations Director David Henahan, the decision was made to conduct two of the sessions at community colleges, two at a institutions with doctoral programs, one at a technology college and one at an academic medical center.

A group of 200 people that includes faculty, staff, students, alumni and system administrators were nominated by SUNY campus presidents and SUNY affiliates to take part in the conversations and are expected to attend at lease five of the seven sessions, according Zimpher.

The first conversation's theme was "ensuring economic vitality and quality of life." It focused on the SUNY system being a catalyst for improving the economy and also dealt with how the state's higher education system supplies talent, trains employees, creates jobs and provides opportunities for local communities.

The next conversation will take place 8 a.m. Wednesday at the University of Buffalo where the theme will be "education pipeline."

Buffalo's conversation will include many topics, such as how to improve "coordination and collaboration among the state's K-20 institutions so that students can travel seamlessly along the pipeline," working with K-12 schools in communities, increasing educational access, helping low-income families plan for college, preparing students for college and for their career, and guaranteeing that teachers are proficient enough to teach, according to the strategic plan section of SUNY's Web site.

The conversation in Buffalo will focus on strategies the SUNY system should use to approach those issues.

Beyond that, five conversations are scheduled — two of which haven't been assigned themes or specific dates yet.

The remaining conversations will be conducted: Dec. 1 at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan with a theme of "arts and culture;" Jan. 11 at SUNY Delhi with a theme of "diversity and globalization;" and Feb. 4 at Stony Brook University where the theme will be "energy and sustainability." The other two conversations will be conducted the week of Feb. 8 at SUNY Plattsburgh and at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. Each of the sessions is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m.

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