CNSE and UAlbany going separate ways
By Kassie Parisi
The College of Nanoscale Engineering has separated from the University at Albany as of July 16, 2013. The structure now functions as the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.
Discussion of the split began in March and a final decision was made after delegation of an advisory board put together by SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher which included members of the Board of Trustees, SUNY Administration, UAlbany, CNSE, and the Governor’s Office.
According to the Associated Press, the goal is to turn the NanoCollege into a specialized college, similar to the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry located on the Syracuse campus.
A seven-member advisory group put together by SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher has been instrumental in creating the proposal that is orchestrating the split. Zimpher and the group all agreed that in order to reach its full potential the NanoCollege needed the ability to function independently. This full potential includes generating up to $500 million in research funds by 2015.
The proposal says that the NanoCollege will be an independent establishment by the 2014-2015 school year. The SUNY press release said, “the establishment of SUNY CNSE will further cement New York’s position as a global center for nanotechnology innovation, high tech industry and research, and unmatched educational opportunities.” Speaking about the split, Board Chairman H. Carl McCall said, “This action is reflective of SUNY embracing the new paradigm in higher education of developing entrepreneurial college campuses. We are confident that under the new arrangement, Dr. Jones and Dr. Kaloyeros will take UAlbany and CNSE to the next level and both institutions will be well-positioned to further innovate, commercialize, and expand opportunities for our students.”
The newly independent NanoCollege will also make it easier for students attending the school to receive their degree there. Until now, those students have had to rely heavily on SUNY Albany to complete their degrees on time.
Chancellor Zimpher gave credit to UAlbany for allowing the NanoCollege to grow into the power that is today. “UAlbany deserves enormous credit for incubating the growth of CNSE into the groundbreaking research and innovation center it has become,” she said. “Because of CNSE’s success, importance to SUNY and New York State, and its unique statewide economic development mission, this is a natural progression in its evolution. It is also a tremendous opportunity for UAlbany to build on its experience with CNSE and the start of a new era of reinvestment and focus for the campus. Today, we begin the thoughtful and deliberative work that is required for an undertaking of this magnitude and many details will need to be addressed as we move forward. I am confident that we are on the precipice of creating something that is new, exciting, statewide in its scope, and the first of its kind in public higher education.”
UAlbany President Robert Jones stated that he is looking forward to the partnership that will emerge between the two campuses. In order to address any issues that arise during the separation process, an Implementation Team will be established to step in.
This team will have experts from SUNY Administration, the Research Foundation for SUNY, CNSE, and UAlbany at its disposal. Some of the aforementioned issues this team will deal with include governance, academics, purpose, and shared services. Though the NanoCollege is going to become its own entity, it will continues to compensate UAlbany for student housing, general education courses, access to clubs, activities, and dining facilities.
However, opinions of the trustees differed during the discussion. SUNY trustee Cary Staller criticized the split. Staller commented that the report given to the trustees by the seven-member group left many questions unanswered. Many of these questions pertained to the futures of both the NanoCollege and UAlbany after the split was done. Staller also said that going forward with the split might mean that CEO of the NanoCollege, Alain Kaloyeros, could end up holding more power than the other campus presidents.
Despite Staller’s criticism, there were many other trustees who agreed that the splitting of the establishments would be instrumental in keeping both campuses functioning at a highly competitive level.
Many students are voicing the same concerns that Staller mentioned. There has been continued talk about how the split will definitely benefit UAlbany, but there have been no concrete answers presented as to what will actually be benefitted.
According to the Times Union, many UAlbany boosters have taken to social media methods to voice their concerns. Graduate Student President Caitlin Janiszewski criticized the fact that those in charge of orchestrating the split are keeping students and the general public almost completely in the dark. Some people are worried that losing the NanoCollege will negatively affect UAlbany, and mention that President Barack Obama came to visit the NanoCollege, not SUNY Albany.
Times Union reporter Scott Waldman attempted to get an answer a question about what will specifically be benefitted about UAlbany. CNSE spokesman Steve Janack replied with, “The question that should be asked is not which campus benefits how, but more appropriately, how the citizens and students in the Capital Region benefit from this new organizational change.”