SUNY Empire State College is celebrating 50 years of academic achievements and excellence throughout 2021.
Founded in 1971, SUNY Empire State began as a bold re-imagining of higher education, one focused on increasing accessibility and opportunities for students.
Officials said that for the past five decades, SUNY Empire has transformed the face of student-centered, accessible, equitable education, ushering in a world of possibilities for busy adult learners. The college began utilizing mail-in correspondence and satellite feeds in the 1970s and was one of the first to move to internet-based and blended coursework in the mid-1990s.
Since then, SUNY Empire has been at the forefront of distance and online education and continues to explore new pathways for students of all ages to pursue their educational and career aspirations.
SUNY Empire’s mission aligns with that of the State University of New York’s, which aims to provide students with accessibility to the highest quality academic, professional, and vocational programs, officials said.
During his State of the University System address, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras not only highlighted SUNY Empire graduate student Nelson de Jesus Castilla Jr., who became the first Latino deputy police chief to serve on Stony Brook’s security team while pursuing his master’s degree at SUNY Empire, but he spoke of the recently announced SUNY for All campaign.
SUNY developed the program for economically struggling New Yorkers, and to increase access and support for our nation’s servicemembers and veterans, while also expanding micro-credential courses for lifelong learning.
Upon completion, students will be automatically accepted to any of SUNY’s 30 community colleges or SUNY Empire, with application and orientation fees waived.
“SUNY Empire State College continues to experience remarkable growth, from new programs and academic partnerships to state-of-the-art technologic advancements,” said SUNY Empire State College Officer-in-Charge Nathan Gonyea. “The first 50 years was just the beginning. We are constantly finding ways to engage our students, to develop new academic programs, and to ensure students are fully supported academically and personally while completing their education. SUNY Empire’s nearly 90,000 alumni and 16,000 current students make us proud every day.
Their stories are encouraging and empowering, and we are fortunate to be play a role in their success. This tradition of excellence is one I am proud to be a part of.”
SUNY Empire officials anticipate continued year-over-year enrollment growth, with particular strength in graduate programs, which have increased more than 20 percent. As COVID-19 has highlighted the need for more healthcare professionals, prospective students are exploring SUNY Empire due to the high-quality, affordable degree and certificate options, officials said.
The School of Nursing and Allied Health saw a more than 8 percent boost in students since last spring when the pandemic first hit.
SUNY Empire’s commitment to meeting student needs is evident through the college’s expanding academic programs on the undergraduate, graduate, certificate programs, and the first-ever Ed.D. in educational leadership.
New areas of study on the undergraduate level include addiction studies, security studies, and psychology, a graduate certificate in public administration, and a new certificate program focused on Indigenous studies. Other initiatives developed by the college include the Empire Opportunity Program, the Center for Autism Inclusivity, and the Shirley A. Chisholm Center for Equity Studies.
SUNY Empire State College educates 16,000 students per year in person, online, and through a blend of both, at locations in every region of New York and at eight international sites worldwide.
SUNY Empire awards more than 3,000 degrees annually and 94 percent of graduates stay in New York state, according to the college. To learn more, visit www.esc.edu.