SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher announced she would recommend to the board of trustees that SUNYIT President Bjong Wolf Yeigh be appointed to lead a second college, too — Morrisville State College in Madison County.
Morrisville, which is roughly 35 miles away, has been searching for a permanent president since January when Raymond Cross stepped down from the $197,000 a year job to become chancellor of University of Wisconsin Colleges. Cross was at Morrisville for 13 years.
SUNY Delhi President Candace Vancko also will serve at SUNY Cobleskill, where she has been appointed to replace that school's retired president, Zimpher announced.
The decision to consolidate the presidents' offices is part of the recently established SUNY Campus Alliance Networks, a collaboration of regional campuses to share services and save money.
"Financial constraints in recent years have resulted in less course availability on our campuses, causing our students to spend more time and money to complete their degrees," Zimpher said in a news release. "Strategically aligning our campuses where appropriate and implementing a rational tuition policy across the system puts SUNY in a stronger position to reverse this trend."
Last year, SUNYIT broke ground on two buildings, an academic building called the Center for Advanced Technology, and infrastructure, a technology infrastructure company, committed to locating a regional headquarters in SUNYIT's other new building, the Computer Chip Commercialization Center.
"It's pretty clear that what we're talking about with this alliance is a process and it's not something that going to be done lightly," SUNYIT spokesperson John Swann said.
Richard Novak, vice president of the Association of Governing Board of Universities and Colleges, applauded the consolidation as fiscally sound.
"I think it makes great sense," Novak said.
However, the news has not been met with wholesale approval.
"It's clinging to an archaic system." Writes the Post Standard.
"State University of New York officials — armed with details of the appointment of one president to head both Utica's SUNY IT and Morrisville State College — were met with shock, frustration and outright anger."
Whole institutions in Louisiana have discussed merging, he said, as have colleges and universities in Maryland. Connecticut recently incorporated its community colleges into the state university system.
Because SUNY is already a statewide system, the university is in a unique position to make specific cost saving moves, such as combining the presidents' offices.
The benefit in Wednesday's move is that both campuses keep their identity, he said, but also save money.