March 20, 2014
SUNY's CNSE to merge with SUNY-IT
By: James M. Odato
Source: Times Union
SUNY INSET called step toward creating world-class university
Albany-based College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering is merging
with an established-but-struggling SUNY technology college in Utica as
it leaves the University of Albany.
The SUNY board of trustees on
Wednesday voted to create the State University of New York Institute of
Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology, to be known as INSET.
The merger, scheduled for January, is being billed as a SUNY option to
world-class schools such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
burgeoning NanoCollege and the financially ailing SUNY Institute of
Technology will form the new science, engineering, technology research
and education institution.
Planners said it will be a new draw
for students interested in technology fields, including engineering,
technology, computer science, business, health science and social
The trustees installed CNSE leader Alain E. Kaloyeros
as chief executive officer of the combined institution. It will allow
NanoCollege students to get general college credits at the Oneida County
school and should propel the IT school's growth. Students will also be
able to take general courses at UAlbany.
All NanoCollege land,
facilities, equipment, resources, employees and students under the
administrative authority of UAlbany are being transferred to SUNY IT,
which was formed in 1966 and now has about 2,300 students, about 700
fewer than its highest enrollment.
The merged Utica-based school
and CNSE, with about 325 students, will now be able to market itself as a
niche college that could attract tech students from far and wide, said
Assembly Higher Education Committee Chairwoman Deborah Glick.
see it as a positive," Glick said. She said her initial concerns about
the NanoCollege's separation from UAlbany were allayed because students
will be able to get undergraduate courses under the new arrangement. But
as schools adapt to a changing market, the combined college should
become a valuable offering to students of the 21st century, she said. It
will also help the Mohawk Valley become more of a factor in higher
education, she said.
The merger should also trigger a reversal of a declining trend for SUNY IT.
key is to increase enrollment and increase quality of the students
concurrently," Kaloyeros said. He called the IT school "a diamond in the
The IT school has been struggling financially for years,
and lost about $1.5 million last year. It has cut enrollment and
staffing. Dramatic reductions were envisioned in academic programs and
personnel without some sort of restructuring.
The creation of the merged unit of SUNY is seen as a way to avoid such retrenchment.
whole is by far greater than the sum of its parts," Chancellor Nancy
Zimpher's committee reported on Tuesday, using a phrase she often uses
herself. The committee and the trustees assume that accrediting agencies
will endorse the new school and find it meets standards for academic
performance and that the state Education Department will approve a
master plan change.
The merger would result in a transfer and
revision of CNSE's current academic programs with no modifications other
than changing the institutional home. The plan has no extra costs to
The NanoCollege's 175 doctoral students should be
unaffected, Kaloyeros said. Students admitted to SUNY INSET after its
creation — those coming in the fall of 2015 — will be awarded their
degrees from SUNY INSET. Students would apply through SUNY INSET, but
would attend Albany's or Utica's campus depending on their major.
officials characterized the merged school as "unique" in the 64-campus
SUNY system, offering "the most advanced, extensive and complete
nanotechnology research and development infrastructure and academic
nanotechnology degree portfolio of any university in the world."
planners of the merger, a team created by Zimpher last year, envision
"cross-fertilization" and "free exchanges" of ideas that should advance
Students and faculty will be able to tap into
a growing nanotechnology program SUNY and the Cuomo administration have
been developing across upstate.
CNSE offers its nano chip
fabricating clean rooms and facilities at Albany; photovoltaic and green
energy plants in Malta; a Smart Systems Technology and
Commercialization Center of Excellence and Solar Manufacturing and
Development Facility in Rochester; the Computer Chip Commercialization
Center and Marcy Nanocenter site in Utica-Rome; the Medical Innovation
and Commercialization Hub, the Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing
Innovation Hub at RiverBend and the Buffalo Information Technologies Hub
The spreading Nano campus has been fostered with
hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds matched by a greater sum
of private-sector financial commitment for research, development,
commercialization and workforce training.
Professions President Frederick E. Kowal, who teaches political science
and Native American studies at SUNY Cobleskill, said he is concerned
about the merger if it means the IT school is going to lose its
"Under no circumstances should SUNY IT be absorbed by
CNSE and subsequently cease to exist," he said. "For this merger to
work, SUNY IT must continue as a degree-bearing entity that provides a
comprehensive range of high-quality undergraduate and graduate programs,
as stated in the college's mission statement."
Kowal has been consulted regularly on the merger progress and shouldn't
be raising unjustified concerns about what should be a growing IT