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May 10, 2000

SUNY Chancellor creates new post to expand SUNY's economic-development impact

Declaring that "this university can serve you as a powerful tool for economic development," State University of New York Chancellor Robert King told a Business Council audience this week that SUNY is creating a new position that will focus on helping the business community use university resources in economic development.

The professional hired for this position will focus on developing and maintaining a new data base that would give New York businesses and other one-stop shopping for information on all programs on all 64 campus that might be of value to employers.

King made the announcement May 8 at The Public Policy Institute's annual Issues Forum, which this year focused on the upstate economy. King, the keynote speaker, spoke on the role of universities in economic development.

"Ultimately, the world is our customer," King said. "You are our customer."

King said SUNY is already interviewing candidates for the new position. The data base envisioned will include information on research programs, for-credit curricula and job training programs, and students interested in permanent or parttime employment.

King also proposed meetings between business leaders linked to The Business Council and deans and provosts of SUNY campuses to explore potential collaborations.

Most New York businesspersons have some familiarity with nearby campuses but lack knowledge of the strengths and programs of distant campuses and the 64-campus system as a whole, King said. As a result, SUNY is an under-utilized resource for economic development, he added.

He cited a number of system strengths of which he said many New Yorkers remain unaware, including the ceramic engineering and arts programs at Alfred University, an emerging semiconductor fabrication program at the University at Albany, and royalties from patents at the University at Stony Brook that last year were enough to exceed Harvard's.

In a wide-ranging panel discussion on issues related to the upstate economy, King was joined by Hugh Johnson of First Albany and Andrew Rudnick of the Buffalo-Niagara Partnership.