SUNY Strategic Plan

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher brought her strategic planning tour to the College at Old Westbury last week. It was an unintended irony, we suspect, that the new chancellor chose Old Westbury, ranked as a fourth-tier school where last year dozens of students lost dormitory privileges over low grades.

And, Zimpher's visit came as students from SUNY Southampton continued protesting the state university's arbitrary decision to mothball most of their school, a decision State Senator Ken LaValle and other East End officials are working to reverse.

Some strategy. While much of Zimpher's vision makes sense, such as strengthening SUNY's economic development role, the chancellor has tied her strategy to a questionable tuition-raising plan. She supports passage of Governor Paterson's plan to give SUNY campuses flexibility in setting tuition, letting them keep the funds.

While it makes sense to let a major research university like Stony Brook raise and retain tuition funds, Zimpher's plan fails to address the cost problems that are burying young people in student loan debt.

Is SUNY too big and too costly? Does it need 64 campuses? Some say Old Westbury and Farmingdale should be merged. And what about better integrating the community colleges that are educating growing numbers of transfer students?

It's obvious that a strategic plan is lacking when SUNY Stony Brook can take over Southampton College one year, and essentially close it three years later.

SUNY certainly needs a strategy, but one with less blue sky and more nuts and bolts.