After huge investments from the state and technology companies in equipment and new facilities, the nanotechnology college of the University at Albany is growing by leaps and bounds. The question is, has it grown to the point where it should leave its parent and become a separate SUNY campus, a proposal currently under consideration in Albany?
The answer lies in whether a spin-off would change how the nanocenter is run, what it would do, and whom it would benefit most.
There's no obvious reason for a change in the center's operation or mission. That's because, under the leadership of CEO Alain Kaloyeros, it is working quite well, pulling in research dollars and spurring new companies and ventures, including GlobalFoundries' chip manufacturing plant. Not only the university and city of Albany, but the entire region has benefited from this.
Creating a separate campus would presumably increase Kaloyeros' profile and power. But he already has plenty of both, respected and well-treated by corporate and government leaders, and reporting directly to the SUNY chancellor.
A spin-off would also put the center more under the governor's control, since the SUNY board of trustees is dominated by his appointments. That's not necessarily a good thing, as the center's fate could be determined not by institutional considerations but by who is governor and who is its leader, and how they get along.
Another concern is the students at the University at Albany. Where would they fit in? Would they lose opportunities and access to the center's facilities?
All these issues should be addressed before the required approval is given by the SUNY board of trustees, the Legislature and governor.