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Campus News

Kermit L. Hall on UAlbany

(February 1, 2005)

President  Kermit L. Hall
President Kermit L. Hall
Talking with students, faculty, staff and friends of UAlbany, President Kermit L. Hall has begun to chart his plans for UAlbany’s future. Here, in his own words, are a few of his initial observations:
  • “First of all, I have been most pleased to find, this University community clearly understands that academics come first, and that the best prescription for continued growth in the stature of the institution is to become even more competitive as an academic enterprise.
  • “The University has an exquisite combination of strong arts and sciences programs, great public and human service programs, and cutting-edge initiatives in technology, notably in nanosciences and biotechnology.
  • “The profile of the UAlbany student population has risen substantially, and the SUNY system seeks even further improvement. From my initial vantage point, UAlbany is not trying to be all things to all people, but instead is emphasizing the preparedness of the student population, building an increasingly strong research profile, developing programs to make students – undergraduate and graduate – as competitive as possible in the larger game of life, and becoming a contributor to the economic revitalization of New York State. I also think one of the great challenges at the university is fashioning a story about what is happening and then constantly reiterating it locally, regionally, and nationally. There needs to be no doubt in the minds of those who lead the state of New York that UAlbany’s success is their success as well.
  • “I am particularly impressed with the cultural, ethnic, and racial diversity of the institution, a diversity that is essential to the effective education of students on campus and to their preparation for the world in which they will compete.
  • “The University has a Division I athletic program headed in the right direction, one that stresses the academic success of its students while striving to be increasingly competitive on the playing field. We have a chance, given the strong academic base of the University, to become a model of success in intercollegiate athletics, and that success, as it has done at places like William & Mary, helps to forge both community and identity.
  • “Albany is a significant city, the capital of one of the nation’s greatest states, and a region with a storied history. At the same time, it is not so large as to be anonymous while offering ready access to two of the nation’s great metropolitan areas – New York and Boston – and equal access to one of the nation’s great outdoor recreation areas.

“Taken together, these qualities made UAlbany and its host city and region at once attractive and challenging. My hope is that we can take this strong set of assets and use them to make the university an increasingly distinguished academic institution – for students to learn, for faculty to teach and do scholarship, and for the community to take pride in its success. We need to be at once an asset – economic, cultural, and educational – for the state that has chartered us, but we must also be viewed increasingly as a player in the world of international higher education based on the qualities of our academic programs.

“All great universities have heart and tradition, qualities that attract and keep people, and continuing to build those qualities is one of the most important challenges for the University.

“Is there work to be done? Of course there is. One of the wonderful characteristics of universities is that their work is never done. As important, however, all of us in American public higher education are going through a period of remarkable, some would say troubling, transformation. Institutions that once featured low tuition and low financial aid are increasingly dependent on tuition dollars, private fund raising, and developing new sources of revenue. To some extent, institutions like UAlbany are increasingly on their own, but as we move forward we should also know that we are not alone. The rest of American public higher education is experiencing the same throes of transformation. That said, it is the quality of the people and the place that should give us every reason to be optimistic about the success of UAlbany. And that has given me every reason to join my new colleagues. We need to have the courage to be patient in addressing the issues raised by this transformation, but we also must have the prudence to act promptly in so doing.

“We need to make sure that we do the small things well. And the best way to do so is to get the president back to the heart of the campus as soon as possible. While we await the completion of the new administration building on Collins Circle, we will put a temporary office for the president on the Podium, one accessible to the entire University community and one from which the president can have access to that same community.”