President Harvey Stenger introduced SUNY Chancellor John B. King Jr. to the campus Tuesday, Jan. 17, after taking a whirlwind tour of the Health Sciences Campus, University Downtown Center and Innovative Technologies Complex.
“I was on the search committee that interviewed all of the candidates for chancellor,” said Stenger. “We were impressed that John King was convinced to apply. He’s got know how government works and it’s so important that a chancellor does to make sure there’s a good balance between requirements and resources. John understands that very well.”
King, a former U.S. secretary of education under President Barack Obama, and former New York state education commissioner, began his duties as the 15th chancellor of SUNY system this month, and pledged to visit all 64 campuses in the system this semester. Binghamton was his second stop.
Noting it had been a wonderful morning so far, King said his vision includes four areas of focus and he sees Binghamton playing a role in that vision. He also sees a shared commitment from the governor and the SUNY Board of Trustees to make SUNY the best higher education system in the nation.
To accomplish that, “First and foremost is student success,” he said. “This is a place for all students. Every New Yorker should know that SUNY is a place where they can gain skills and access to opportunity and where they can gain the tools needed to succeed in our 21st-century economy.”
Next, King said, is investment in research. “It’s a privilege to have Stan Whittingham on Binghamton’s faculty,” he said. “It’s also a privilege to have national and global research leadership here at Binghamton, and we have to continue to invest in research and scholarship.
Following that, King said there is work to be done to ensure all of SUNY is welcoming. “We have work to do to advance diversity, equity and inclusion, to see that students and faculty represent the diversity of our state,” he added. “It’s not just the role of chief diversity officer, but it’s the responsibility of the entire system to welcome the full diversity we have in the SUNY system.”
The fourth pillar of King’s vision focuses on economic growth. “We have to do more in partnership with others to drive economic growth,” he said. “We have to turn research into enterprises. Binghamton reflects the best values of the SUNY system. Its growth is impressive and with the New Energy New York commitment to research it will NENY only grow.”
King noted that Binghamton is also leading the way in its commitment to a quality student experience, with clear efforts to create a campus that says to every student: “You belong here and we are invested in you and your success.”
King emphasized the governor’s deep commitment to advancing and investing in SUNY. “She has committed resources to growing faculty, which Binghamton is already benefiting from. And in her State of the State address, she committed to a matching endowment fund that will lead to a $1.5 billion investment in SUNY research and faculty.”
Finally, when asked about a merger between Binghamton University and SUNY Broome, King said any partnerships between the campuses provide opportunities to leverage the benefits of being a system, and some benefits are already happening.
“The Binghamton Advantage Program (BAP) is already delivering opportunities to move from SUNY Broome to Binghamton,” he said. “The first step is to grow that over time and in the long run look for opportunities where resources can be directed to student experiences, which is the focus.”
With fewer high school graduates and a low unemployment rate, the key is to grow community college enrollment, King said. “SUNY Broome is doing better than most and the promise of a smooth transition to a four-year degree at Binghamton is a way to grow enrollment there. Integration of activities and programs is a way to counter those trends.”