State University of New York

The State University of New York (SUNY, /ˈsni/, SOO-nee) is a system of public colleges and universities in the State of New York. It is one of the largest comprehensive system of universities, colleges, and community colleges in the United States.[3] Led by chancellor John B. King, the SUNY system has 91,182 employees, including 32,496 faculty members, and some 7,660 degree and certificate programs overall and a $13.08 billion budget.[4][1] Its flagship universities are Stony Brook University and the University at Buffalo.[5]

State University of New York
MottoTo learn, to search, to serve
TypePublic university system
Established1948 (1948)
Endowment$3.66 billion[1]
Budget$13.08 billion[1]
ChairmanMerryl Tisch
ChancellorJohn King Jr.
Vice-ChancellorRobert Megna
ProvostTod Laursen
Academic staff
Students394,220 (Fall 2020)[2]
Undergraduates350,889 (Fall 2020)[2]
Postgraduates43,331 (Fall 2020)[2]
United States
Campus64 campuses[2]
ColorsBlue and Gray

SUNY's administrative offices are in Albany, the state's capital, with satellite offices in Manhattan and Washington, D.C. With 25,000 acres of land, SUNY's largest campus is SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, which neighbors the State University of New York Upstate Medical University - the largest employer in the SUNY system with over 10,959 employees.[6][7]

The State University of New York was established in 1948 by Governor Thomas E. Dewey, through legislative implementation of recommendations made by the Temporary Commission on the Need for a State University (1946–1948). The commission was chaired by Owen D. Young, who was at the time Chairman of General Electric. The system was greatly expanded during the administration of Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, who took a personal interest in design and construction of new SUNY facilities across the state.

Apart from units of the unrelated City University of New York (CUNY), SUNY comprises all state-supported institutions of higher education.


New York is one of the last states to set up a state college and university system. The first colleges were established privately, with some arising from local seminaries. But New York state had a long history of supported higher education prior to the creation of the SUNY system. The oldest college that is part of the SUNY System is SUNY Potsdam, established in 1816 as the St. Lawrence Academy. In 1835, the State Legislature acted to establish stronger programs for public school teacher preparation and designated one academy in each senatorial district to receive money for a special teacher-training department. The St. Lawrence Academy received this distinction and designated the village of Potsdam as the site of a Normal School in 1867.[8]

On May 7, 1844, the State legislature voted to establish New York State Normal School in Albany as the first college for teacher education. In 1865, the privately endowed Cornell University was designated as New York's land grant college, and it began direct financial support of four of Cornell's colleges in 1894. From 1889 to 1903, Cornell operated the New York State College of Forestry, until the Governor vetoed its annual appropriation. The school was moved to Syracuse University in 1911. It is now the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. In 1908, the State legislature began the NY State College of Agriculture at Alfred University.

In 1946-48 a Temporary Commission on the Need for a State University, chaired by Owen D. Young, Chairman of the General Electric Company, studied New York's existing higher education institutions. It was known New York's private institutions of higher education were highly discriminatory and failed to provide for many New Yorkers.[9] Noting this need, the commission recommended the creation of a public state university system. In 1948 legislation was passed establishing SUNY on the foundation of the teacher-training schools established in the 19th century. Most of them had already developed curricula similar to those found at four-year liberal arts schools long before the creation of SUNY, as evidenced by the fact they had become known as "Colleges for Teachers" rather than "Teachers' Colleges."

On October 8, 1953, SUNY took a historic step of banning all national fraternities and sororities from its 33 campuses. The resolution was passed as an attempt to combat discrimination based on race or religion in many national organizations at the time.[10] Various fraternities challenged this rule in court since it did not distinguish between those with discriminatory clauses in their by-laws and those who didn't.[11] The SUNY resolution which was upheld in court states:

Resolved that no social organization shall be permitted in any state-operated unit of the State University which has any direct or indirect affiliation or connection with any national or other organization outside the particular unit; and be it further

Resolved that no such social organization, in policy or practice, shall operate under any rule which bars students on account of race, color, religion, creed, national origin or other artificial criteria; and be it further

Resolved that the President be, and hereby is, authorized to take such steps as he may deem appropriate to implement this policy, including the determination of which student organizations are social as distinguished from scholastic or religious, and his decision shall be final.[12]

Despite being one of the last states in the nation to establish a state university, the system was quickly expanded during the chancellorship of Samuel B. Gould and the administration of Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, who took a personal interest in the design and construction of new SUNY facilities across the state.[13][14] Rockefeller championed the acquisition of the private University of Buffalo into the SUNY system, making the public State University of New York at Buffalo.[15]


SUNY is governed by a State University of New York Board of Trustees, which consists of eighteen members, fifteen of whom are appointed by the Governor, with consent of the New York State Senate. The sixteenth member is the president of The State University of New York Student Assembly. The last two members are the presidents of the University Faculty Senate and Faculty Council of Community Colleges, both of whom are non-voting. The board of trustees appoints the chancellor who serves as SUNY Chief Executive Officer.

The state of New York assists in financing the SUNY system, which, along with CUNY, provides lower-cost college-level education to residents of the state. SUNY students also come from out-of-state and 171 foreign countries, though tuition is higher for these students. Although tuition is higher for these non-resident students, their tuition is subsidized by New York State taxpayers.

There is a large variety of colleges in the SUNY system with some overlap in specialties between sites. SUNY divides its campuses into four distinct categories: university centers/doctoral-granting institutions, comprehensive colleges, technology colleges, and community colleges. SUNY also includes statutory colleges, state-funded colleges within other institutions such as Cornell University and Alfred University. Students at the statutory colleges who are residents of New York state receive the benefit of state-subsidized tuition while enjoying all of the campus life amenities of the host institutions.

SUNY and the City University of New York (CUNY) are different university systems, both receiving funding from New York State. Also, SUNY is not to be confused with the University of the State of New York (USNY), which is the governmental umbrella organization for most education-related institutions and many education-related personnel (both public and private) in New York State, and which includes, as components, the New York State Education Department and the New York State University Police.

Presidents and chancellors

Alvin C. EurichPresidentJanuary 1, 1949 – August 31, 1951
Charles GarsideActing PresidentSeptember 1, 1951 – March 31, 1952
William S. CarlsonPresidentApril 1, 1952 – September, 1958
Thomas H. HamiltonPresidentAugust 1, 1959 – December 31, 1962
J. Lawrence MurrayActing Chief Administrative OfficerJanuary 1, 1963 – August 31, 1964
Samuel B. GouldPresident
September 1, 1964 – January 11, 1967
January 12, 1967 – August 30, 1970
Ernest L. BoyerChancellorSeptember 1, 1970 – March 31, 1977
James F. KellyActing ChancellorApril 1, 1977 – January 24, 1978
Clifton R. Wharton, Jr.ChancellorJanuary 25, 1978 – January 31, 1987
Jerome B. KomisarActing ChancellorFebruary 1, 1987 – July 31, 1988
D. Bruce JohnstoneChancellorAugust 1, 1988 – February 28, 1994
Joseph C. BurkeInterim ChancellorMarch 1, 1994 – November 30, 1994
Thomas A. BartlettChancellorDecember 1, 1994 – June 30, 1996
John W. RyanInterim Chancellor
July 1, 1996 – April 20, 1997
April 21, 1997 – December 31, 1999
Robert L. KingChancellorJanuary 1, 2000 – May 31, 2005
John R. RyanActing Chancellor
June 1, 2005 – December 19, 2005
December 20, 2005 – May 31, 2007
John B. ClarkInterim ChancellorJune 1, 2007 – December, 2008
John J. O’ConnorOfficer-in-ChargeDecember 22, 2008 – May 31, 2009
Nancy L. ZimpherChancellorJune 1, 2009 – September 4, 2017
Kristina M. Johnson Chancellor September 5, 2017 – August 31, 2020
Jim Malatras Chancellor August 31, 2020 – January 14, 2022
Deborah F. Stanley Interim Chancellor January 15, 2022 – Present

Student representation

The SUNY Board of Trustees has a voting student member on the board. The student trustee serves a dual role as the President of the Student Assembly of the State University of New York (SUNYSA). SUNYSA is the recognized student government of the SUNY system.

In the 1970s, students pressed for voting representation on the governing board of SUNY colleges. In 1971, the State Legislature added five student voting members to Cornell's board of trustees. However, at that time, all members of a board must be over the age of 21 for a corporation to hold a liquor license, so to allow Cornell to retain its license, the legislature had to go back to amend NYS Alcoholic Beverage Control Law § 126(4) to require half the board must be 21.

In 1975, the legislature added a non-voting student seat to the boards of all SUNY units. Two Attorney General of the State of New York opinion letters[16] reduced the parliamentary rights of the student members to participate at meetings and indicated they were not in fact Public Officers, and arguably subject to personal liability from lawsuits. In 1977, another statutory amendment made student members of SUNY councils and boards subject to the NYS Public Officers Law or NYS General Municipal Law and granted student representatives parliamentary powers of moving or seconding motions and of placing items on the agendas of the bodies. Finally, the legislature gave full voting rights to the student members in 1979, resulting in the students of all SUNY units having voting representatives, except for the NYS College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Finally, in 1986, the legislature gave the student representative of that college voting rights as well.[17]


The SUNY Libraries Consortium (SLC) is an independent organisation which supports its members,[18] the libraries of SUNY.[19]


Location of SUNY campuses within New York state.
Red: University centers; Black: Other doctoral-granting institutions; Yellow: Comprehensive colleges; Green: Technology colleges; Blue: Community colleges.

All SUNY colleges are in New York State, except that the Jamestown Community College operates its Warren Center in Pennsylvania under a contract with the Warren-Forest Higher Education Council and the center is licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The Warren Center is 25 miles south of Jamestown, New York on the grounds of Warren State Hospital, in North Warren, Pennsylvania.[20]

SUNY's sole law school is the University at Buffalo School of Law.[21]

University centers

Specialized doctoral degree granting institutions

University colleges

Technology colleges

Community colleges

Medical Centers and Hospitals

Stony Brook University Hospital

The State University of New York operates three academic medical centers and their associated university hospitals throughout the state:[22]

The SUNY system is also home to the College of Optometry established in New York City in 1971.[22]

Upstate University Hospital

Each medical center serves as the primary teaching site for that campus's medical school. SUNY medical programs have consistently ranked in the top 90 in both research and primary care categories, according to annual rankings published by U.S. News & World Report.[23] The teaching hospitals affiliated with each school are also highly regarded and in 2020 all three medical centers generated US$3.4 billion through patient care accounting for 27.4% of total SUNY revenue.[1]

University Hospital of Brooklyn

In the latter half of the 20th century, the SUNY hospitals became the cores of full-fledged regional health systems; they were gradually supplemented by many outpatient clinics, offices, and institutes. SUNY medical centers currently play a major role in providing healthcare to the most-needy and marginalized populations and serve large numbers of patients who are uninsured, under-insured or covered by Medicare and Medicaid programs.[1]

In 2020, medical school applications increased by 20.4% at SUNY medical schools systemwide,[24] with schools receiving over 24,118 applications from students for only 685 seats.[24][25]

With rising interest in medicine, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras announced the first statewide initiative, the Pre-Med Opportunity Program, to help more EOP students get accepted into SUNY's medical schools in February 2021.[26] Later in the year in May, 25 college students in junior/senior standing from 10 SUNY schools were selected to receive academic guidance at the Norton College of Medicine while pursuing their medical degrees.[27][28] The SUNY system will cover all costs for the summer academic enrichment program and the program will expand over the next few years.[27]

SUNY medical, health professions and nursing schools graduate more than 11,000 health professionals annually, including one of three physicians (1 in 33 in the United States),[25] nearly one of every three nurses and one of four dentists in the state.[26][27]


University centers

New York's largest public university by enrollment is the State University of New York at Buffalo, which was founded by U.S President and Vice President Millard Fillmore. Buffalo has an enrollment total of approximately 32,000 students and receives the most applications out of all SUNY schools.[29][30][31]

Campus Acreage Founded Enrollment[32] Endowment[33] Operations Acceptance Rate[32] USWNR Rank (2022)[34] Athletics Nickname Athletics
Albany 586 1844 17,544 US$77.7 million $0.54 billion 53% 172 Great Danes NCAA Div I America East
Binghamton 930 1946 18,124 US$117.8 million $0.45 billion 41% 83 Bearcats NCAA Div I America East
Buffalo 1,346 1846 31,923 US$788.9 million $3.53 billion 60% 93 Bulls NCAA Div I
Stony Brook 1,454 1957 26,814 US$360.2 million $2.09 billion 44% 77 Seawolves NCAA Div I CAA
Stony Brook's West Campus
University at Buffalo's Kapoor Hall


For the 2017–2018 academic year, tuition costs at SUNY schools for an undergraduate degree are less than two-thirds the cost of most public colleges in the United States. For example, tuition at the University at Buffalo for an undergraduate degree is $9,828 per semester or $27,068 per year for non-resident students.[35] Undergraduate tuition for non-resident students at the University of Maryland is $35,216 per year.[36]

University at Albany's Weather Center

Non-resident tuition and fees at University of Oregon are $32,535 per year.[37]

New York State also offers free tuition for all public college and universities for families who have an income of lower than $125,000 and are residents of the state. Other requirements to qualify for free SUNY education include full-time enrollment and staying in the state for a number of years after graduating.[38][39] In the 2017-2018 award year, 70,694 SUNY students received the Federal Pell Grant.[40]

For the 2019–2020 academic year, medical school tuition costs at the Norton College of Medicine for the M.D. program were: $43,670 (in-state) and $65,160 (out-of-state). Tuition costs across all SUNY medical schools are similar to those at Norton and the cost is less than the average cost of medical schools in the United States.[41]

Research funding

School NSF Funding Rank Funding Dollars (USD)[42]
Stony Brook97$225,712,000
Buffalo State515$2,106,000


Every school within the SUNY system manages its own athletics program, which greatly varies the level of competition at each institution.

Division I

Divisions II and III

  • Most SUNY colleges, technical schools and community schools compete at the NCAA Division III level. The State University of New York Athletic Conference consists entirely of SUNY colleges.

Other associations


The most prominent intra-SUNY rivalry is between the Albany Great Danes and Binghamton Bearcats. The two belong to the America East Conference. Frequently referred to as the I-88 Rivalry, Binghamton and Albany sit at either end of Interstate 88 (roughly 2.5 hours apart). Both teams are known to post the highest visitor attendance at either school's athletic events. Both schools also have less intense rivalries with a fellow America East member, the Stony Brook Seawolves. In football, a sport not sponsored by the America East, Albany and Stony Brook have a rivalry in the Colonial Athletic Association.

The University at Buffalo tends to have a rivalry in basketball with two private colleges in the same geographical area. Canisius College and Buffalo's South Campus are 2.5 miles apart on Main St. in Buffalo. Their other rival is Niagara University in Lewiston, NY. All three share rivalries with Saint Bonaventure University, another private college 70 miles south of Buffalo.

SUNY Oswego and SUNY Plattsburgh also share a notable rivalry in Division III Hockey, with that game almost always having the SUNYAC regular season title up for grabs.

SUNY Cobleskill and SUNY Delhi rivalry focuses on basketball, cross country, and previously track, although Cobleskill track and field started competing at the NCAA Division III level in spring 2009. The SUNY Delhi 2003-2004 basketball season was canceled after a basketball game was called with 48 seconds left after several SUNY Delhi basketball players nearly started a brawl in the Ioro Gymnasium at SUNY Cobleskill on Wednesday February 4, 2004.

SUNY Oneonta has developed a rivalry in almost every sport with SUNY Cortland. They share the red dragon as a team nickname, and their matchups are known as the "Battle of the Red Dragons".

There is an unusual sports rivalry between SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and Finger Lakes Community College, with both campuses sponsoring nationally ranked teams in woodsman competitions.

SUNY Press

The State University of New York Press (SUNY Press) is a university press and a Center for Scholarly Communication. The Press is part of the State University of New York system and is located in Albany, New York. It was founded in 1966, and publishes scholarly works in various fields.[45]

The SUNY Press has agreements with several print-on-demand and electronic vendors, such as Ingram, Integrated Books International, EBSCO, ProQuest, Project MUSE, the Philosophy Documentation Center, Google, and Amazon. SUNY Press is also a member of the Association of University Presses.[46]

Books published by SUNY Press are 80% scholarly works from professors within the SUNY system or other schools and universities. Referring to the remaining 20%, which are considered to be more appropriate for a general audience, co-director of SUNY Press James Peltz said, "You don't have to be a scholar to read [them]."[47]

SUNY Chancellor's Awards

The SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence are conferred to acknowledge and provide recognition for superior achievement and to encourage the ongoing pursuit of academic excellence.

The SUNY Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence acknowledges students for outstanding achievements and is the highest honor bestowed upon a student by the University. The faculty-staff awards include the Chancellor's Award for Excellence, Distinguished Faculty ranks, Conversations in the Disciplines, the Shared Governance Award, and the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching.[48]

See also

  • Education in New York (state)
  • List of colleges and universities in New York
  • List of largest United States colleges by enrollment
  • List of largest universities by enrollment


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