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President Jones Delivers Fall 2015 State of the University Address

Reiterates Need for Increased Enrollment, Innovative Academic Programs and Enhanced Research Initiatives and Resources to Fulfill its Mission

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 27, 2015) - To a packed crowd in the Performing Arts Center Main Theatre, University at Albany President Robert J. Jones today delivered his Fall 2015 State of the University Address.

President Jones praised faculty, staff and students for the progress made in achieving the University’s mission and invited the campus to increase its focus as a community to further accelerate its growth.

The campus community was also joined by special guest, President Katsumi Nakai and his representatives from Fukushima University in Japan, who have worked collaboratively with UAlbany to create exciting, new opportunities for students of both institutions.

Forging a Path to the Future

The President noted that UAlbany, the region’s only comprehensive public research university, is developing new ways to attract and retain students and faculty, creating innovative academic programs, and expanding its research profile, as well as increasing resources to fulfill the University’s mission.

Enrollment and the Undergraduate Experience
Jones reiterated a theme he has shared with the campus in the past: the need to increase academic enrollment at all levels. Sharing the ways in which the University has deployed a diverse set of strategies to increase these numbers, he announced that for the 2015-16 academic year the University had the largest applicant pool and the largest freshman class in its history.

He also advised that the target is to increase enrollment to 20,000 students by the year 2020 by advancing the largest academic expansion in 50 years, with an emphasis on high-growth areas like health sciences, cybersecurity, engineering, and advanced data analytics, as well as continuing a commitment to the social sciences, arts, and the humanities.

To advance a strong core of arts, social sciences, and humanities, the President announced the creation of the Institute for History and Public Engagement. The initiative will provide greater collaboration across disciplines, attract grants, host colloquia, and develop experiential learning programs for students.

“A key component of this strategy also includes enhancing the undergraduate experience to attract and retain students and prepare them to lead lives of purpose and influence in a global society,” Jones stated.

Some of the other ways in which this is being addressed are through increased evidence-based practices, more personalized orientation experiences, growing the EOP program that the Legislature expanded this year, and developing new living-learning communities.

Innovative Academic Programs
Jones shared the initiatives that will open doors to new students, including several new opportunities in high-need fields. UAlbany is building out its academic enterprise in response to what students and the economy are demanding.

There are several major initiatives already in progress that achieve this goal, including:

  • A new College of Engineering and Applied Sciences including a new Advanced Data Analytics Institute;
  • The College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity;
  • Growth in the health sciences and biomedical research; and
  • A deeper affiliation with Albany Law School.

The President also announced plans to launch an Innovation Challenge Grant to support the development of strategic new academic programs.

Expanding the Research Profile
The President shared with the campus a recently announced development that emerged from the affiliation agreement with Albany Law: a $1.6 million grant for an international health law project through UAlbany's Global Institute for Health and Human Rights. This includes a team with distinguished faculty from the School of Criminal Justice and Albany Law School.

He also praised Adam Frelin from the Department of Art and Art History, who serves as the lead artist on a collaborative project that was awarded a $1 million grant from the Bloomberg Philanthropies. His public art project Breathing Lights will illuminate hundreds of vacant homes in the Capital District — drawing attention to the potential of distressed neighborhoods.

To infuse research funding into areas across campus, the University renewed its Presidential Innovation Fund for Research and Scholarship, and is continuing its efforts to position the University to win significant federal research grants.

Enhanced Resources to Fulfill the Mission
The President advised that to achieve the University’s vision it must grow and sustain financial resources. Financial growth, he noted, follows three primary pathways:

  • Maximizing public funding;
  • Strategic investment of resources; and
  • Growing the endowment through philanthropy.

With declining state resources, the University is in fierce competition for public funds. Led by a strong government relations team, UAlbany is advocating for the continuation of the SUNY2020 funding.

The initial funding received in 2013 allowed UAlbany to increase faculty hires and student scholarships, while maintaining predictable tuition and advancing its academic expansion goals.

Jones also graciously acknowledged two landmark gifts: one from the Massry Family of $5.25 million dollars for the School of Business and the second the recently announced $10 million dollar gift from the Bernard and Millie Children’s Foundation, which is providing a transformative investment in UAlbany’s athletics program.

A full transcript of the President's address may be viewed here.

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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than
120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.