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Visiting SUNY chancellor wants to start college preparedness in kindergarten

July 30, 2009
By NATHAN BROWN, Enterprise Staff Writer

SARANAC LAKE - The new State University of New York chancellor visited North Country Community College's main campus Thursday morning.

Nancy L. Zimpher was appointed on June 1 and is visiting all 64 SUNY campuses in her first 100 days in office. She planned to visit Clinton County Community College at 1 p.m. Thursday and SUNY Plattsburgh on Friday. She will not be visiting NCCC's Ticonderoga and Malone campuses at this time, but she spoke to people there via video while in Saranac Lake.

Zimpher said she visited to get acquainted with the school and support the new president, Carol Brown. Brown, who was present for Zimpher's visit, will start on Aug. 31, replacing interim President Fred Smith, but she will be at NCCC a couple of weeks before to get acquainted and ensure a smooth transition.

Article Photos

New SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher, left, poses with North Country Community College's soon-to-be president, Carol Brown, and interim President Fred Smith Thursday morning at NCCC's main campus in Saranac Lake.
(Enterprise photo — Nathan Brown)

Zimpher said she worked with Brown in Wisconsin when Zimpher was chancellor of the University of Wisconsin and Brown worked at Waukesha County Technical College. Zimpher said Brown's presence Thursday and intent to arrive early "says a lot about her character and her intentions as a leader.

"She knows how to work with business," Zimpher said. "She also knows how to partner with other universities."

Zimpher said partnership with other universities is important and that she would like SUNY schools to cooperate in sharing programs. For example, she said, courses currently offered at SUNY Potsdam or Plattsburgh could be brought to NCCC, and programs currently unique to NCCC could be brought to those schools.

Zimpher said more of an effort needs to be made to reach students when they're younger, rather than in high school.

"We spend all our time talking about college preparedness," Zimpher said. "Frankly, it's about kindergarten preparedness."

Zimpher said the elementary school teaching system, which hasn't changed in decades, needs to be reformed to better serve the students.

"We ask an elementary teacher to be excellent in eight or 10 disciplines," Zimpher said. "Nobody can do that."

Zimpher said the SUNY system should put in an application as a group for $12 billion in federal funding for public colleges currently available, to make it more likely to get a large share. She said some of that money should be used for outreach into schools at all levels, to help students in the "pipeline" before college.

Community college enrollment is up statewide. College enrollment increases historically during bad economic times, Zimpher said, as people try to learn new career skills or change careers, and she said enrollment will continue to increase, as people now are more likely to have several careers in their lifetimes instead of sticking with one occupation. She said SUNY schools, which have lower tuition than private schools, are seeing a good share of the increase.

"Where else in the world can you have an accessible, affordable, high-quality education than at a SUNY institution?" Zimpher said.


Contact Nathan Brown at (518) 891-2600 ext. 26 or



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