VOLUME 23
NUMBER 7
Dec. 2, 1999
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UAlbany Economic Impact in Next Decade Assessed at $7 Billion
By Vinny Reda

   The University at Albany will drive more than $7 billion into the state’s economy over the next ten years, according to its latest economic impact report. Much of that economic growth will be focused in the Capital Region, where an estimated 5,400 temporary positions alone will be created by UAlbany’s capital improvement projects and nearly 2,000 more from University research.
    The report was produced for the University by the Economic Impact Study Committee, a subgroup of The University at Albany Foundation’s Council for Economic Outreach, made up of local business people and other private citizens. The figures were computed and verified by the Capital District Regional Planning Commission.
    “I worked on the last economic impact report for the University in 1990, and I believe the increase in its economic impact in the 1990s to what we anticipate for the next decade is extremely impressive,” said Kevin O’Connor, chair of the Economic Impact Study Committee and president of the Center for Economic Growth. 
    “I believe it is a tribute to the increase in research activity at the University as well as to the general vibrancy of its campuses,” said O’Connor. “This is reflected not merely in economic impact, but in the University’s investment in human capital and in its enhancing of the region’s cultural, educational and artistic quality of life.”
    Using the economic assessment model employed by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, the study committee appraised the University’s annual impact on selected industries as follows:

Business services: $50.4 million

Health services: $25.1 million

Retail trade: $22.5 million

Printing and publishing:  $14.2 million

Hotels and lodging: $9.3 million

    “The twin engines of research and scholarship have made the University at Albany an intellectual cornerstone of future job growth for the region,” said University President Karen R. Hitchcock.
    A major contributor to UAlbany’s economic impact, according to the new report, is the growth of high tech research that has occurred on the campus and in its incubator facilities in the last decade. The University’s Center for Advanced Thin Film Technology (CAT), with an economic impact of $42 million (according to the Empire State Development Corporation), has pioneered research for future generations of computer chips, and has been ranked in the highest tier of New York State CATs.
    A year ago, UAlbany’s Center for Environmental Sciences and Technology Management (CESTM) became home to Focus Center - New York for Gigascale Interconnects, a leading component of the semiconductor industry’s national Focus Center Program. In partnership with RPI and a consortium including MIT, Stanford, Georgia Tech and Cornell universities, it is expected to generate in excess of $50 million in funding by 2001.
    Other initiatives with large growth potential include the University's Institute for Fuel Cell Science and Technology, which works to develop alternate energy sources, and the Center for Comparative Functional Genomics, which is developing new strategies to arrest vascular and other diseases through greater understanding of the human genome.
     Not taken into account in the economic impact model is the nearly $123 million received in overall research funding by UAlbany - representing more than a tripling of its federal research awards since 1991. UAlbany's Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, the Center for Social and Demographic Analysis, the campus-based National Research Center on English Learning and Achievement, the Center for Technology and Government, and the Hindelang Criminal Justice Research Center are a few of the centers and institutes growing in research scope and influence.
    Such advancements have contributed to campus and regional job growth, according to the report. External funding obtained by UAlbany programs directly supports 1,900 jobs in addition to the 10,000 permanent jobs tied to the University. The University's incubator firms have created hundreds more employment positions. And the study committee's findings also estimate that UAlbany's Small Business Development Center has created or saved 2,191 jobs over the past ten years.
    Current plans call for the University to expand its enrollment from 17,000 students to 20,000 in the next decade. Construction and design dollars to accommodate that growth will total $130 million, and will result in some $2.5 billion generated for the state's economy, according to the impact study. 
    The report also notes the University's contribution to “Quality of Life,” through its roles as home base for the New York State Writers Institute, Art Museum and Performing Arts Center, its sponsorship of such programs as the last two years' Shakespeare and Irish semesters, its more than 100,000 hours per year of volunteerism by students, faculty and staff, its two-million volume University Libraries, and, starting this year, its Division I athletic program.


Master’s in Planning Program Receives National Accreditation
By Vinny Reda

  The University at Albany’s master’s in urban and regional planning (MRP) program has long been successful in preparing highly trained graduate students for professional careers. Now, the 48-credit program has achieved an important academic distinction: full accreditation from the Planning Accreditation Board, the sole national accrediting body for planning. 
    It becomes one of only 60 programs so designated nationally by PAB, whose accreditation program is a cooperative undertaking sponsored jointly by the American Institute of Certified Planners, the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, and the American Planning Association. Only planning programs at Cornell and Columbia universities, and Hunter College of CUNY, represent the northeast region, in addition now to UAlbany.
    “One of the major reasons for our achieving accreditation at this point is that the program has only recently grown to sufficient size in terms of faculty, program areas and graduate student enrollment,” said Ray Bromley, chair of the   Department of Geography and Planning.
    Bromley noted that the core planning faculty members consist of himself, MRP program director Tom Daniels, and Cliff Ellis, plus a junior faculty position currently being filled. “We also have a large and distinguished pool of associated faculty from within the University teaching the program,” said Bromley, “as well as adjunct faculty from professional practice in the region.”
    Many of the program’s 50 current students will themselves wind up in professional practice, if history is any guide. Since its founding in 1982, MRP has graduated 177 students, with more than 90 percent of them now working in planning or planning-related jobs. 
    Student participation at Albany in in-depth regional planning studies - called “planning studios” - has been a key in preparing the master’s students for professional success. “The students regard these projects with the utmost seriousness because they are meant to become part of their professional portfolios,” said Professor Cliff Ellis, who has served as the students’ chief instructor on the majority of the planning studios.
    The yearly published studies have produced five straight “Outstanding Student Project” Awards from the New York State division of the American Planning Association (APA). “We've been told by the APA's judges that these are professional-quality assessments,” said Ellis. “There is no doubt that outreach is critical to what we do and how we prepare our students for professional careers.”
    An assessment of Main Street in the Town and Village of Schoharie and one of the Albany Street commercial corridor in Schenectady were the last two MRP projects - and APA-award winners. In 1997, the program made a preliminary study of enhancement and coordination for a Champlain Canal Trail scenic byway, to run from Waterford north to Whitehall. The year before was devoted to dealing with preservation of the Battenkill Watershed. In 1995, the team concentrated on planning alternatives for north central Troy.
    Said Pete Lopez, chairman of the Schoharie Revitalization Committee: “Through participation in the Rural New York Grant Program, and with the support of the state Planning Federation, we were fortunate to tap UAlbany's planning studio to advance our Main Street revitalization effort.”
    “Our intent going into the project was to develop a working document to guide local efforts. Professor Ellis and his students took this charge seriously. The blueprint for action they produced will serve the community for years to come.”
    Cindy Allen, chair of the steering committee on the Saratoga and Washington counties effort to enhance the Champlain Corridor, said, “the UAlbany planning team jump-started us by a couple of years. They gave us a tremendous amount of technical assistance and preliminary study. They prepared us for the presentation to the municipalities and they identified the resources we had available to us.”
    “They really brought us to the point of getting in to the Department of Transportation management process long before we otherwise would have. I am now very hopeful that the Champlain Canal Trail Scenic Byway will receive official designation in March.”


Standish Gift to Assist with 
UAlbany’s New Library

By Christine Hanson McKnight
   Albany business leader J. Spencer Standish and his wife, Patricia, have pledged $100,000 to the University’s campaign to equip and furnish its new library. The Standishes’ gift boosts the total raised in the campaign to $2.7 million. The University must raise $3 million by Dec. 31 to collect a $500,000 challenge grant from The Kresge Foundation.
    Standish, chairman-emeritus of Albany International, became the founding chair of The University at Albany Foundation in 1982. As president of the Foundation from 1992-98, he played a key role in making the University’s $55 million “Campaign for Albany,” which concluded in December of 1996, the largest and most successful drive for private funds in the history of public higher education in New York. Standish remains a member of the Foundation board.
    University President Karen R. Hitchcock said the Standishes’ gift comes at a critical time.
    “Spencer Standish, who has been an active supporter of the University for nearly two decades, has once again demonstrated his commitment to Albany. We are most grateful to Spencer and Pat for their leadership, energy and generous financial support as the University works to meet the challenge of The Kresge Foundation,”  Hitchcock said.
    Standish served as chairman of Albany International, which supplies the global paper industry with consumable, technologically sophisticated products called paper machine clothing, from 1984 to 1998, when he retired and was named chairman-emeritus.

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