SUNY chancellor eyes transition, economic development at SUNY Poly

Published May 16, 2018 at 4:01pm

MARCY — The transition to a new president anticipated this fall at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, including a framework for the college moving forward, were topics for State University of New York Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson during her visit to SUNY Poly. Johnson, whose stop at SUNY Poly’s Marcy campus Tuesday afternoon included a “town hall” meeting with faculty, students and staff, said “we want to give...a platform” for the new president to work with.

SUNY Poly’s interim president, Bahgat G. Sammakia, will return June 15 to his vice president of research position at SUNY Binghamton, said Johnson; he was appointed interim president in late 2016. Another interim president will be appointed, and then a new president will be appointed to start this fall, Johnson added. She cited an “international search” for a new president.

When asked about SUNY Poly’s future structure, Johnson said “we’re keeping this organization the same.” SUNY Poly has an Albany campus in addition to Marcy.

The Marcy campus is “spectacular...beautiful,” commented Johnson, who noted increases in both the size and academic achievements of the freshman class. She observed “the future is very bright.”

Johnson, who became chancellor of the statewide SUNY system effective last September, said this was her second visit to SUNY Poly’s Marcy campus, after previously coming for a Faculty Senate meeting. She referred to an upcoming “framework for a sustainable future” process in conjunction with the new president, including “recommendations for moving forward for this fantastic institution.” Included will be involvement from faculty and staff, plus developing “ways and means” to “carry out initiatives.”

Noting her background which includes engineering, Johnson said “I plan to be involved” in “attracting new economic development to SUNY Poly.” The Quad-C building on the Marcy campus is occupied by Danfoss Silicon Power, which has begun operating a silicon-carbide power module production plant there.

Johnson also mentioned a transition to a new organization called NY CREATES to “run the economic development portion” associated with SUNY Poly. NY CREATES is New York Center for Research, Economic Advancement, Technology, Engineering and Science. It will replace the Fuller Road and Fort Schuyler management corporations “to attract private investment and create high-tech jobs as it partners with SUNY Poly and other stakeholders,” according to the college.

An inventor and entrepreneur who holds 118 U.S. and international patents, Johnson is a former U.S. Under Secretary of Energy and former dean of the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University, among prior positions.

During her Marcy visit to SUNY Poly, Johnson addressed faculty, staff and students at a meeting that included the college’s Albany campus through video conferencing. She took questions on various topics, ranging from “the importance of the humanities to high-tech partnerships that can pay dividends,” the college said. She and Sammakia, plus SUNY interim Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development Grace Wang, met with faculty, staff, and students regarding “a positive pathway forward for the institution,” the college added.

Johnson also toured the college’s Center for Global Advanced Manufacturing as well as the Danfoss facility.

Sammakia said that Johnson and Wang “saw the incredible academic opportunities which can lead to future partnerships on both campuses, driving further success for our institution....The chancellor’s candor and willingness to discuss innovative approaches to building on SUNY Poly’s framework provides an inspiring vision for the future, not only for our institution, but also for New York State.”