The College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany and the SUNY Institute of Technology in Utica are looking to merge in 2015.
The State University of New York academic affairs committee voted in favor of a master plan amendment to SUNYIT on Tuesday. The resolution establishes an equal merger between the two schools.
Robert Geer, acting president of SUNYIT, said discussions have been ongoing for months about a potential merger. The SUNY Board of Trustees will vote on the plan during a meeting this afternoon.
“The partnership that exists has matured rapidly over the last 10 months or so, and it has been fantastic for not only CNSE but we are seeing the impact here at SUNYIT,” said Geer, who is also vice president for academic affairs at the nanocollege. “It is a dramatic benefit for the Mohawk Valley. Moving that partnership forward is a positive thing.”
This comes following the board’s approval in July to split the nanocollege from the University at Albany. But the schools, which are next to each other in Albany, plan to continue their relationship.
UAlbany and CNSE are currently working on a services agreement for the 2014-15 academic year, when the schools officially divorce. CNSE students will continue to have access to resources on the UAlbany campus for general education courses, athletic programs and health services.
“UAlbany is focusing on offering academic programs of the highest quality and relevance to our 17,000 undergraduate and graduate students, and to ensuring an undisrupted and positive transition for the current students in the nanotechnology degree programs,” said UAlbany spokesman Karl Luntta. “We will do everything we can to see that the planned merger becomes a success for the state and for SUNY, and for the students.”
The SUNY committee unanimously voted on the resolution to combine CNSE and SUNYIT by next year. SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher said she supports the merger and recommends the plan to the board.
“Chancellor Zimpher strongly believes that a merger between CNSE and SUNYIT will form a unique and powerful new high tech SUNY campus, positioning affordable public higher education in New York at the pinnacle of next-generation research and academic instruction,” said SUNY spokesman David Doyle.
SUNY is looking to complete the merger by Jan. 1. Combining the two schools would build SUNYIT’s nanotechnology programs in Utica. SUNYIT will be renamed as the SUNY Institute of Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology, or SUNY INSET.
All registered nanotechnology programs, such as in Nanoscale Science and Nanoscale Engineering, will be transferred from UAlbany to SUNYIT. The administrative authority of CNSE’s land, facilities and equipment will also be transferred from UAlbany to SUNYIT.
“The combination of partnerships between SUNYIT and CNSE should become the affordable education — MIT of New York,” nanocollege CEO Alain Kaloyeros said during the committee meeting. Kaloyeros will be named chief executive of the combined institutions.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Kaloyeros spearheaded the development of a $125 million computer-chip commercialization center at SUNYIT, known as “Nano Utica,” which is expected to be up and running by the end of this year.
Six technology companies, including IBM and Tokyo Electron, invested $1.5 billion to partner on research and development at the center. The initiative is expected to create more than 1,000 high-tech jobs.
Kaloyeros touted the hub as an academic mission that supports both CNSE and SUNYIT. Faculty and students will have the opportunity to work with the companies on research and development.
Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, D-Utica, said he sent a letter to SUNY expressing support for the merger. He said it would “go a long way” to further boost economic development in the area.
“This is an idea I support, which will further strengthen the partnership between CNSE and SUNYIT,” Brindisi said. “I think the reason they are doing this is so SUNYIT can expand courses that they are offering with more Ph.D. programs and build a strong faculty here to work on the Nano Utica project.”