Nanocollege may be going solo

The State University at New York may soon create its 65th campus, spinning its fast-growing College
The UAlbany College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering campus in Albany.
The UAlbany College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering campus in Albany.

The State University at New York may soon create its 65th campus, spinning its fast-growing College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering away from the University at Albany under a plan that gives more control to the governor and expands the reach of the college’s program statewide.

The proposal was obtained by The Associated Press and confirmed by two people familiar with the internal discussions. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to announce the proposal. It would have to be approved by the SUNY Board of Trustees, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature.

The proposal says legislation would “re-emphasize the mission of CNSE as a statewide innovation and economic development resource.” The new college would be authorized to maintain “regional campuses and field stations” to provide students “hands-on field and lab activities in locations where state-of-the-art technology is as much at home as it is on the main campus,” it says. In the second of two phases, the new college would create “additional partnerships” with other SUNY campuses.

The proposal comes as SUNY is trying to cut costs and consolidate services. It also is experimenting with having one president in charge of two campuses.

The move would apparently elevate Alain Kaloyeros, one of SUNY’s most high-profile figures dating to the Pataki administration. As senior vice president and chief executive officer of the high-tech center, Kalyeros is credited with attracting top global firms to work with the research and development center.

New York has devoted millions of dollars in tax incentives to attract high-tech jobs through the research college center and it is a critical tool for New York to compete globally in the high-technology field.

State spokesmen declined to comment. Kaloyeros didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The proposal calls for a two-phase approach to create a “freestanding SUNY ‘specialized’ college” with its own budget that would award doctoral degrees. It would be based on the model of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse.

The new college would have its own president and 13-member Board of Trustees, with the University at Albany considered a “partner campus.” The board would include the lieutenant governor and the SUNY chancellor as nonvoting members.

The governor would appoint the remaining board members, according to the proposal still subject to review by SUNY.

Kaloyeros created the nanotechnology center by cajoling and leading Republicans and Democrats who have come and gone to fund his dream. Along the way he amassed substantial power with SUNY where he technically reports to the University at Albany president and SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher. But publicly he is most commonly seen with governors.

The new college would establish a “mutually beneficial educational, research, and business partnership with UAlbany,” according to the proposal. There were no details of what that would include.

The nanoscience facility that has the sleek, modern look of Silicon Valley compared to the concrete-and-steel of the University at Albany main campus is expanding again. A 1.3-million square foot research and development center will focus on the computer chip, driving much of high-tech jobs today. The center has about 2,600 employees after billions of dollars in state investment, but has also attracted some of the world’s top high-tech firms to set up shop.

Kaloyeros has long been among the highest paid state employees, collecting $801,000 in state pay and $507,413 from the SUNY Research Foundation that helps attracted top researchers to New York.

SUNY has 467,991 students and under Zimpher is aimed at reaching the nation’s top academic echelon.

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