New York City – Dr. Kristina M. Johnson outlined a series of initiatives that will enable The State University of New York to meet major societal challenges at this critical juncture in history, as she was officially inaugurated the 13th Chancellor of SUNY on Sept. 14.
Chancellor Johnson spoke of plans to expand educational opportunity “staying power” by strengthening student retention programs, enhancing online learning, and expanding entrepreneurship initiatives. The university’s expectation of excellence will come from SUNY’s faculty whose work influences fields of study crucial to the future of New York State and beyond. She said the system is expected to make an impact in multiple ways, including by boosting research and innovation, harnessing the power of data, and facilitating community service.
Led by the SUNY Board of Trustees, presidents, and delegates from SUNY’s 64 campuses, the inauguration was held at the Morris W. & Fannie B. Haft Theater at the Fashion Institute of Technology. The event was attended by approximately 600 people, including students, campus leaders, and representatives from 116 U.S. and international higher education institutions. Also in attendance were representatives from the government, business and community sectors, along with family and friends.
The ceremony began with an invocation from President Calvin O. Butts III of SUNY Old Westbury, followed by a welcome address from SUNY Board of Trustees Chairman H. Carl McCall. The benediction was given by President Joseph M. McShane of Fordham University.
Chairman McCall said, “Today, we celebrate our new chancellor as she looks to secure a bright future for our great system. Dr. Johnson possesses the experience, ingenuity, and enthusiasm to lead SUNY and take us to even greater heights.”
Emphasizing her vision of creating opportunity and defining excellence to enable impact, Chancellor Johnson pledged “to do all I can to make SUNY more than the sum of its many remarkable parts, and the individual campuses better for being a part of the whole.”
Research and innovation, she said, are a means to mitigate climate catastrophe, prepare for growth in emerging industries, and solve for issues impacting society. She also stressed the importance of collaboration among academia, business, and government in achieving these goals.
Chancellor Johnson said professors are “key to our ambitions in research and innovation.” With 40 percent of current SUNY professors approaching retirement eligibility, she announced the launch of PRODI-G (Promoting Retention, and Opportunity for Diversity, Inclusion and Growth), a program to attract and retain an increasingly diverse and inclusive faculty. The program will be created through a partnership among the SUNY system, individual campuses, and donors, “whose collective goal will be to hire 1,000 PRODI-G faculty with named chairs within the next decade,” she said.
Chancellor Johnson described SUNY’s role as an engine in the state’s economic growth. “We will prepare the state to thrive in challenging times, while adding to the economic and cultural vibrancy of our communities,” she said. “And, we will embrace the diversity that makes New York the most dynamic state in the nation.”
Additional speakers at the inauguration included:
- Anthony Domestico, Purchase College, Associate Professor of Literature, speaking on behalf of the faculty of the university
- Kyle Richard, Senior, SUNY Cortland, Biden Courage Award Recipient, speaking on behalf of the students of the university
- Nana Banerjee, President and Chief Executive Officer, McGraw-Hill Education, Alumnus, Binghamton University, speaking on behalf of the alumni from the university
- Joyce F. Brown, President, Fashion Institute of Technology, speaking on behalf of the presidents of the university
- Karla FC Holloway, James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of English, Duke University, speaking on behalf of academia
- Paul D. Tonko, Congressman, United States House of Representatives, speaking on behalf of government
- Robert Freelen, former director of public affairs at Stanford University
SUNY Potsdam senior Ivan Ukich, of The Crane School of Music, sang the National Anthem. The color guard was provided by SUNY Maritime, and the music was performed by The Purchase Symphony Orchestra.
A link to the Chancellor Johnson’s address, as well as an archive of the event can be found at this link.