A new chancellor has been selected by the SUNY Board of Trustees.
In December 2022, John B. King, Jr. was appointed as 15th SUNY Chancellor by the Board of Trustees. King has previous experience in education, most recently serving as the Secretary of Education under former President Barack Obama. King, a New York City native, also helped to implement Common Core Standards and Regents examinations as the New York Commissioner of Education from 2011 to 2014.
After his appointment in December, King pledged to visit all 64 campuses in the SUNY System. On Jan. 17, 2023, he visited Binghamton University and spoke with President Harvey Stenger.
“The University is a hub for battery technology innovation, which will help move the nation toward a more sustainable future,” King wrote in an email. “During my visit to campus, I was also impressed with the Decker School of Nursing. We need nurses across our state, and [BU] has been growing this school to help supply a new generation of health care heroes.”
Going into the role, King outlined his vision to make SUNY “the best system of public education in the nation.” To realize this, he plans to focus on three distinct priorities.
“First and foremost is student success, as well as research and scholarship — much like the battery research being conducted by Nobel Prize winner [and BU professor] M. Stanley Whittingham,” King wrote. “We must also ensure that diversity, equity and inclusion are embedded into everything we do at SUNY. And that all leads to my [final] priority — economic development and upward mobility for every student and our state as a whole.”
Members of the BU community offered words of encouragement for King, and reinforced the importance of the relationship between SUNY and BU.
Stenger was a member of the search committee that was tasked with replacing interim Chancellor Deborah Stanley, who served for the entirety of 2022 following Jim Malatras’ resignation at the end of 2021. Stenger discussed the opportunity to work with Chancellor King going forward.
“Chancellor King brings with him an abundance of experience in higher ed and the ability to help SUNY continue on a positive trajectory as it provides an accessible education for [New York state] residents,” Stenger wrote in an email. “I’m looking forward to working with him on SUNY’s next chapter of success.”
Nia Johnson, president of the Student Association (SA) and a senior majoring in human development, emphasized the value of the University’s campus and services to the rest of the state.
“What makes BU unique and important to the SUNY system is that [SUNY] utilizes BU as a hub of innovation, and uses many of our services that we provide,” Johnson wrote in an email. “For instance, at the height of the pandemic, [New York state] utilized Harpur’s Ferry as their backup EMT service in order to transport Binghamton residents — not only students — to hospitals in the area. In terms of innovation, [BU] is unique in a sense that we have our Koffman Southern Tier Incubator and Start-up Suite Facilities.”
Johnson also commented on the SA’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts. The SA works with SUNY leadership to address these issues through the SUNY SA, which features representatives from each school in the system.
“We’ve been advocating for basic needs for students with disabilities, so for instance not all of the handicap buttons on campus work,” Johnson wrote. “The [Vice President for Student Success] office is going around campus and reporting non-functional buttons to admin and the DEI office. We have also done our due diligence in advertising the SA to BIPOC students, so they can run for these positions and use these positions to uplift the BIPOC community and their voices.“
Some undergraduate students also offered suggestions for improvement in the SUNY system, specifically at BU. Coral Braverman, a junior majoring in biochemistry, expressed frustration with financial aid options for students.
“I would like to see them offer more choices for low-income students [at BU],” Braverman wrote in an email. “Currently, the way financial aid is set up is hard to navigate and very time-consuming. Hopefully, they can make a system that not only works for [BU], but every school in SUNY.”