March 20, 2014

After unanimous vote, SUNY INSET is born

By: Elizabeth Cooper

Source: Utica Observer-Dispatch


The name might not stick, officials said, but with the SUNY Board of Trustees’ unanimous vote Wednesday, the merger of SUNYIT and Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering is becoming reality.

“The merger of CNSE and SUNYIT sets a high bar for what a 21st-century entrepreneurial college campus can achieve for the Capital Region, Mohawk Valley and the entire state of New York,” SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher said in a statement. “We are bringing together two institutions with similar missions and existing partnerships to create a high-tech academic and economic development juggernaut that does not exist anywhere else in public higher education.

In the near future, the NanoCollege will be under the administrative authority of SUNYIT. The first class of incoming freshmen at SUNY Institute of Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology will enter in fall 2015. NanoCollege Senior Vice President and CEO Alain Kaloyeros will head the new entity.

The employment status of faculty and other staff at both schools will be unaffected, and students currently enrolled in either school can choose to get their degree from that school, not SUNY INSET, if they wish.

The school will be spread across the two existing campuses and will offer everything from undergraduate degrees to PhDs.

CNSE and SUNYIT have been partners since 2009 in the creation of the Computer Chip Commercialization Center at SUNYIT, a $1.5 billion public-private partnership. CNSE is helping market a parcel in Marcy hoping to draw a chip manufacturer.

The melded school is envisioned to become a center for nanotechnology research and academics, and is expected to help grow the tech-savvy workforce the Mohawk Valley – and the state – needs.

“Oneida County is becoming a nanotechnology hub with the creation of Nano Utica and Quad C and the pieces in place at the Marcy Nanocenter Chip Fabrication site,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente. “Now, we can add to the list a brand new 21st century entrepreneurial university specializing in the fields of nano.”

Much remains to be worked out about how the two campuses will function together. Among the questions:

- How will students wishing to take classes at both campuses be accommodated?

- How much will the school continue to support SUNYIT’s non-technology focused courses?

Acting SUNYIT President Robert Geer said those questions will be resolved over time.

Course offerings at both campuses are expected to grow, and students might be able to access classes electronically.

“That will grow organically,” Geer said.

Kaloyeros said working groups already set up at both campuses would continue to operate and offer input.

“We are not going to jump the gun and tell either campus what they should or should not have,” Kaloyeros said. “The faculty will be the ones driving it. This has to be a grassroots effort.”

He called SUNYIT “a diamond in the rough,” and pointed to its existing engineering, business, social science and nursing programs. But he also admitted SUNYIT needs attention. The college has run deficit budgets since 2009 and exhausted its reserves.

“We need first to strengthen, stabilize and maintain the current programs,” he said. “That is going to take a while.”