Tuesday, November 10, 2015

SUNYCON 2015 – A Window into the Future? (Part 1)

I always find the annual SUNY Critical Issues Conference to be a mind-expanding experience as well as a divination tool to gain insight into the future before it unfolds completely. This year’s SUNYCON 2015 did not disappoint.  
While the panels and speakers were powerful and made for an action-packed, thought-provoking day and a half, it was Chancellor Zimpher’s context-setting welcome remarks that stayed with me. She told us that the sessions would promote new ideas and could be considered as an intentional collective brainstorming session about the future – and to get us started, she offered her “Top 10” considerations:
10. How do we meet students where they are? – Think of the convenience banking offers.
9. How can we create the equivalent of a universal student record? – Think of the move to a common individualized medical record in health care.
8. How can we right-size our college campus infrastructure? – 232 public and private physical college campuses in New York State … perhaps a few too many?
7. What are the implications of learning by doing? – Think of the power of simulations, internships, and service learning.
6. How do we best secure public/private partnerships? – Think of Start-Up NY and the countless partnerships throughout the SUNY system.
5. How can we better share resources for common goals? – Think P-Tech and the notion of “braided” funding that ties organizations together through integrated funding streams.
4. How can we better incentivize innovation and investment? – SUNY received more than 211 proposals of nearly $500 million in requests for the $100 million total available through the SUNY investment fund.
3. How can we incentivize changes in student behavior? – Think of the Finish in 4 program at the University at Buffalo or the notion of a possible Finish in 2 program for community colleges.
2. Is there anything to be learned from the for-profit education sector? – Think of their successes in recruitment and outreach.
1. How can we unpack quality and pitch our value proposition to the public?  - This underscores the need for higher education to find a better way to create a public message and unpack quality.
As the Chancellor shared in her 2015 State of the University address last January, we need to find ways to “become the best at getting better.” The answers to these 10 questions will move us in that direction. Finding the answers won’t be easy, and that message was reinforced throughout the SUNYCON 2015 agenda.  
If you have any questions or comments, please contact me directly at presblog@mvcc.edu.