The State University’s 64 geographically dispersed campuses bring educational opportunity within commuting distance of virtually all New York citizens and comprise the nation’s largest, centrally managed system of public higher education.
When founded in 1948, the University consolidated 29 state-operated, but unaffiliated, institutions. In response to need, the University has grown to a point where its impact is felt educationally, culturally and economically throughout the state.
Nearly 400,000 students are pursuing traditional study in classrooms or are working at home, at their own pace, through Empire State College, whose students follow individualized and often non-traditional paths to a degree. Of the total enrollment, more than 100,000 students are 24 years or older, reflecting State University’s services to specific constituencies, such as refresher courses for the professional community, continuing educational opportunities for returning service personnel and personal enrichment for more mature persons.
State University’s research contributions are helping to solve some of modern society’s most urgent problems. It was a State University scientist who first warned the world of potentially harmful mercury deposits in canned fish, and another who made the connection between automobile and industrial exhaust combining to cause changes in weather patterns. Other University researchers continue important studies in such wide-ranging areas as immunology, marine biology, sickle-cell anemia and organ transplantation.
More than 1,000 Public Service activities are currently being pursued on State University campuses. Examples of these efforts include special training courses for local government personnel, state civil service personnel and the unemployed; participation by campus personnel in joint community planning or project work and campus-community arrangements for community use of campus facilities.
A distinguished faculty includes nationally and internationally recognized figures in all the major disciplines. Their efforts are recognized each year in the form of such prestigious awards as Fulbright-Hays, Guggenheim and Danforth Fellowships.
The University offers a wide diversity of what are considered the more conventional career fields, such as business, engineering, medicine, teaching, literature, dairy, farming, medical technology, accounting, social work, forestry and automotive technology. Additionally, its responsiveness to progress in all areas of learning and to tomorrow’s developing societal needs has resulted in concentrations which include pollution, urban studies, computer science, immunology, preservation of national resources and microbiology.
SUNY programs for the educationally and economically disadvantaged have become models for delivering better learning opportunities to a once-forgotten segment of society. Educational Opportunity Centers offer high school equivalency and college preparatory courses to provide young people and adults with the opportunity to begin college or to learn marketable skills. In addition, campus-based Education Opportunity Programs provide counseling, developmental education and financial aid to disadvantaged students in traditional degree programs.
Overall, at its EOC’s, two-year colleges, four-year campuses and university and medical centers, the University offers 3,600 academic programs. Degree opportunities range from two-year associate programs to doctoral studies offers at 12 senior campuses.
The 30 two-year community colleges operating under the program of State University play a unique role in the expansion of educational opportunity. They provide local industry with trained technicians in a wide variety of occupational curriculums, and offer transfer options to students who wish to go on and earn advanced degrees.
During its brief history, State University has graduated more than 1 million alumni, the majority of whom are pursuing their careers in communities across the state.
State University is governed by a Board of Trustees, appointed by the governor, which directly determines the policies to be followed by the 34 state-supported campuses. Community colleges have their own local boards of trustees whose relationship to the SUNY board is defined by law. The state contributes one-third to 40 percent of their operating cost and one-half of their capital costs.
The State University motto is to learn, to search, to serve.