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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The SUNY side of the street

I can't help but notice that some schools in the State University of New York system are running away from the "SUNY" tag, while others are running toward it.
For years, the SUNY system has had four "university centers" (Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo and Stony Brook), numerous liberal arts colleges (the group that includes such sites as New Paltz, Oneonta, Oswego, Plattsburgh and so on), a couple of two-year "ag and tech" schools and all the community colleges (including, locally, Ulster, Dutchess and Columbia-Greene).
The university centers long were known as "SUNY Albany," "SUNY Buffalo" and so on. New Paltz, formally, was "SUNY College at New Paltz." (Note the slight difference.) And each community college, in general, was known by the name of its home county followed by the words "community college."
But a funny thing happened on the way from the 1980s (when I went to a SUNY school) to the 21st century: The four university centers started referring to themselves with names that didn't include the word SUNY, while the community colleges added the acronym. All of a sudden, we had "The University at Albany," "Binghamton University," "The University at Buffalo," "Stony Brook University" and, as you know if you live in these parts, "SUNY Ulster" instead of Ulster County Community College. (The names of the liberal arts colleges remain largely unchanged.)
I understand the motivation of the community colleges. The phrase "community college" long has had a stigma -- unjustified, in my opinion -- that suggests a glorified high school where kids go if they can't get accepted to a "real" college. If changing the names of these schools to incorporate the acronym "SUNY" helps eliminate that stigma, all the better (albeit a bit misleading).
But let that be a lesson to the four university centers (Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo and Stony Brook): SUNY is NOT a four-letter word. People will NOT think less of you if you include it in your name. The colleges operated by the State University of New York offer OUTSTANDING educational opportunities. Being called a SUNY school is NOT cause for shame.
I went to a SUNY school. So did my sister and my wife, both of whom now have successful sales careers. So did numerous staff members at the Freeman (including our publisher). So did VH-1 General Manager Tom Calderone (a classmate of mine). So did actor John Turturro. And so did countless other people who went on to accomplish great things in life.
And I don't think any of us are embarrassed to say we went to a SUNY school.



Blogger sherijberi said...

I am a proud SUNY grad. Shame on SUNY for being embarrassed by who they really are.

June 10, 2007 at 10:23 AM 

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