The State University of New York (SUNY /ˈsn/) is a system of public institutions of higher education in New York, United States. It is the largest comprehensive systems of universities, colleges, and community colleges in the United States,[2] with a total enrollment of 606,232 students, plus 1.1 million adult education students, spanning 64 campuses across the state. Led by Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson, the SUNY system has 88,000 faculty members and some 7,660 degree and certificate programs overall and a $10.7 billion budget.[3]

SUNY includes many institutions and four University Centers: Albany (1844), Buffalo (1846), Binghamton (1946), and Stony Brook (1957). SUNY's administrative offices are in Albany, the state's capital, with satellite offices in Manhattan and Washington, D.C. SUNY's largest campus is the University at Buffalo,[4][5][6][7] which also has the greatest endowment and research funding.[8][9]

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 the General Electric Company. 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 City University of New York (CUNY), SUNY comprises all other institutions of higher education statewide that are state-supported.


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.[10]

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.[11] 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 national fraternities and sororities that discriminated based on race or religion from its 33 campuses.[12] Various fraternities challenged this rule in court. As a result, national organizations felt pressured to open their membership to students of all races and religions.

"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."[13]

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.[14][15] Rockefeller championed the acquisition of the private University of Buffalo into the SUNY system, making the public State University of New York at Buffalo.[16]


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 Student Assembly of the State University of New York. 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 have the benefit of state-subsidized tuition while receiving all of the campus life amenities of the host institutions.

SUNY and the City University of New York (CUNY) are different university systems, both funded by 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

Executive Title Term
Alvin C. Eurich President January 1, 1949 – August 31, 1951
Charles Garside Acting President September 1, 1951 – March 31, 1952
William S. Carlson President April 1, 1952 – September, 1958
Thomas H. Hamilton President August 1, 1959 – December 31, 1962
J. Lawrence Murray Acting Chief Administrative Officer January 1, 1963 – August 31, 1964
Samuel B. Gould President
September 1, 1964 – January 11, 1967
January 12, 1967 – August 30, 1970
Ernest L. Boyer Chancellor September 1, 1970 – March 31, 1977
James F. Kelly Acting Chancellor April 1, 1977 – January 24, 1978
Clifton R. Wharton, Jr. Chancellor January 25, 1978 – January 31, 1987
Jerome B. Komisar Acting Chancellor February 1, 1987 – July 31, 1988
D. Bruce Johnstone Chancellor August 1, 1988 – February 28, 1994
Joseph C. Burke Interim Chancellor March 1, 1994 – November 30, 1994
Thomas A. Bartlett Chancellor December 1, 1994 – June 30, 1996
John W. Ryan Interim Chancellor
July 1, 1996 – April 20, 1997
April 21, 1997 – December 31, 1999
Robert L. King Chancellor January 1, 2000 – May 31, 2005
John R. Ryan Acting Chancellor
June 1, 2005 – December 19, 2005
December 20, 2005 – May 31, 2007
John B. Clark Interim Chancellor June 1, 2007 – December, 2008
John J. O’Connor Officer-in-Charge December 22, 2008 – May 31, 2009
Nancy L. Zimpher Chancellor June 1, 2009 – September 4, 2017
Kristina M. Johnson Chancellor September 5, 2017 – Present

Board of Trustees

Trustee Name Notability Board Term
H. Carl McCall (Chairman) Served as New York State Comptroller, 1993-2002; first African American elected to state office in New York; 2002 New York gubernatorial candidate; 3-term New York State Senator; former UN Ambassador; former Citibank Vice President.[17][18] October 22, 2007 – June 30, 2021
Joseph Warren Belluck Served as counsel to New York State Attorney General in litigation against tobacco industry; former Director of Attorney Services for Trial Lawyers Care; former consumer lobbyist for Public Citizen; partner at Belluck & Fox, LLP.[19] July 1, 2010 – June 30, 2017
Courtney Eagles Burke Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at Albany Medical Center. Previously served as New York State’s Deputy Secretary for Health for Governor Andrew M. Cuomo from 2013-2015.
Marc J. Cohen President of the SUNY Student Assembly, 2016-2018. June 1, 2016 - May 31, 2018
Eric Corngold New York State Executive Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice, 2007-2009; former Assistant United States Attorney, Eastern District of New York; partner at Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman LLP.[20] June 20, 2014 – June 30, 2021
Robert Duffy President and Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce. Previously, he served as New York lieutenant governor in Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's administration from January 2011 to December 2014.
Ronald G. Ehrenberg Nationally known labor economist and author; Irving Ives Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations and Economics at Cornell University; founding editor of Research in Labor Economics; recipient of Jacob Mincer Award for lifetime contributions to the field of labor economics, 2011.[21][22] May 2009
Angelo Fatta Founder and CEO of consumer products testing laboratory ANSECO Group; co-founder of ACTS Testing Labs; Chair of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Board of Trustees, 2004-2008.[23] July 1, 2012 – June 30, 2018
Peter Knuepfer Associate Professor of Geological Sciences and Director of Environmental Studies Program at Binghamton University; President of Binghamton University Faculty Senate; author or co-author of more than 40 scientific papers.[24][25] July 1, 2013-
Eunice A. Lewin Founder member of Roswell Park Alliance; Commissioner of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority; recipient of Marcus Garvey Community Service Award, 2004; member of the National Women's Hall of Fame.[26][27] February 2, 2010 –
Marshall Lichtman Board Certified hematologist (M.D.); Professor at University of Rochester Medical Center; Dean of University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, 1990–95; National Cancer Institute-sponsored researcher; editor-in-chief, Blood Cells, Molecules and Diseases.[28][29] June 21, 2012 – June 30, 2018
Stanley Litow Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs at IBM and President of IBM’s Foundation. Previous public and non-profit leadership includes service as Deputy Chancellor of the New York City Public Schools, and founder and CEO of Interface, a nonprofit think tank. July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2022.
Richard Socarides Writer for The New Yorker and TV commentator; former White House Special Assistant and Senior Advisor during the Presidency of Bill Clinton; founding President of Equality Matters; Head of Public Affairs for Gerson Lehrman Group.[30][31] July 1, 2012 – June 30, 2015; reappointed through June 30, 2022
Carl Spielvogel U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia, 2000-2001; member of the Council on Foreign Relations; former reporter and columnist for The New York Times; chairman and CEO of the Penske Automotive Group, 1994–97; trustee for Metropolitan Museum of Art.[32][33] July 15, 2008-
Edward Spiro Partner at Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello P.C. Mr. Spiro is also a member of the Departmental Disciplinary Committee of the Appellate Division, First Department and a member of the House of Delegates of the New York State Bar Association. June 22, 2016 - June 30, 2020.
Cary Staller President of commercial real estate firm Staller Associates, Inc., secretary and trustee of the Stony Brook Foundation at Stony Brook University, and member of the Board of Directors of the Staller Center for the Arts at Stony Brook.[34] Previously he was mayor of the Village of Old Field, 1999-2008. June 3, 2009 – June 30, 2015; reappointed through June 30, 2022
Nina Tamrowski President of the SUNY Faculty Council of Community Colleges. She is also a professor of Political Science at SUNY Onondaga Community College.
Lawrence Waldman Former Chairman of the board of trustees of the Long Island Power Authority; treasurer and member of the board of directors of the Long Island Association; member of the Dean's Advisory Board of the Hofstra University Frank G. Zarb School of Business.[35][36] June 24, 2014 – June 30, 2020

Student representation

Photograph of Student Services at SUNY Purchase College

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[37] 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.[38]


Location of SUNY campuses within New York state.
Black pog.svg Black: University centers; Red pog.svg Red: Other doctoral-granting institutions; Yellow pog.svg Yellow: Comprehensive colleges; Green pog.svg Green: Technology colleges.
University at Albany
Binghamton University.
University at Buffalo
Stony Brook University

University centers and doctoral-granting institutions

University centers

Other doctoral-granting institutions

Comprehensive colleges

Technology colleges

Community colleges



For the 2015-2016 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 $8,871 per semester or $22,291 per year for non-resident students.[105] Undergraduate tuition for non-resident students at the University of Maryland is $31,144 per year.[106] Non-resident tuition and fees at University of Oregon are $32,022 per year.[107]

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.[108][109]

Size, financing, rankings

New York's largest public university 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 30,000 students and receives the most applications out of all the SUNY's.[110][111][112]

Campus Acreage Founded Enrollment Endowment Operations Athletics Nickname Athletics
Albany 586 1844 17,600 US$30 million 548.3 million Great Danes NCAA Div I America East
Binghamton 930 1946 16,695 US$116 million 456.2 million Bearcats NCAA Div I America East
Buffalo 1,346 1846 30,183 US$624.8 million 3.53 billion Bulls NCAA Div I
Stony Brook 1,364 1957 24,594 US$180.7 million 2.09 billion Seawolves NCAA Div I America East

Selectivity and admission

School Selectivity rating[113] Percent students admitted[114] Middle 50% SAT[citation needed] Students in top 10% of class[citation needed] Middle 90% GPA[citation needed]
Albany 78 56%[115] 1110–1260 15% 88-94
Binghamton 93 44%[116] 1200–1380 50% 92-95
Buffalo 85 51%[117] 1120–1290 34% 90-96
Stony Brook 89 41%[118] 1130–1270 Not reported 87-93

Research funding

School NSF Funding Rank Funding Dollars (USD)[8]
Albany 134 137,759,000
Binghamton 161 76,005,000
Buffalo 56 387,863,000
Brockport 577 1,321,000
Buffalo State 515 2,106,000
Cobleskill 625 908,000
Cortland 629 819,000
Downstate 211 39,354,000
ESF 259 21,239,000
Farmingdale 441 3,213,000
Geneseo 592 1,201,000
Optometry 428 3,637,000
Oswego 632 725,000
Purchase 567 1,433,000
Stony Brook 97 225,712,000
Upstate 222 34,286,000

SUNY Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence

The SUNY Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence is an annual award given out by the SUNY system to distinguished student leaders across the State of New York. Established in 1997, the system considers the Chancellor's Award to be "the highest honor bestowed upon the student body."[119]


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


Division I

  • The four university centers compete at the Division I level for all of their sports. All but Binghamton field football teams, with Buffalo in Division I FBS (formerly Division I-A) and Albany and Stony Brook in Division I FCS (formerly Division I-AA). The four Cornell statutory colleges compete as part of the university as a member of the Ivy League, an FCS conference that chooses not to participate in the FCS postseason tournament.
  • A small number of community colleges compete at the NJCAA Div. 1 level.

Divisions II and III

  • Most SUNY colleges, technical schools and community schools compete at the NCAA or NJCAA Div. II or III level.

Other associations

  • SUNY Delhi is a member of the NAIA.
  • SUNY Canton and SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry are members of the USCAA.[120][121]


The most prominent 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.

SUNY 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.

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.

See also


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External links