The University at Buffalo and Buffalo State College could be grouped with Erie Community College and Niagara County Community College in a new regional campus alliance to share administrative functions, reduce costs and increase efficiency.
The concept of regional campus alliances was announced earlier by State University Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher but it generated little public attention in Western New York until the president of Niagara County Community College brought it up Wednesday at a meeting of his board of trustees.
NCCC President James P. Klyczek gave no specific details, but he said the concept did not call for a merger or consolidation of any colleges. He said it could provide for shared services such as purchasing and other administrative functions and that one president might some day serve two colleges in the region at once.
According to the State University of New York, alliances to share services among colleges could be set up in 12 regions across the state. The Buffalo region would consist of ECC and NCCC, in addition to UB and Buffalo State.
The move is part of a systemwide effort to consolidate administrative expenses, human resources and information technology. The savings would be redirected to academic programs.
The first wave of change already is under way.
Zimpher said Wednesday in Albany that she plans to recommend that two college presidents in the state system each take the helm of a second school.
The chancellor said she would ask state university trustees to approve the appointment of Wolf Yeigh as president of Morrisville Technology College in addition to his duties as head of the state Institute of Technology at Utica, and of Candace Vancko to head the Cobleskill State College in addition to her present position at Delhi State.
Donald Zingale resigned unexpectedly on Aug. 3 as president at Cobleskill, and Vancko already has been appointed officer-in-charge there.
State colleges at Potsdam and Canton also are scheduled to share a president by the end of the year, but Klyczek told NCCC trustees in Sanborn that advisory boards at those two schools have "revolted" against the plan.
State college presidents in New York typically are paid nearly $200,000 a year, and the elimination of one president could pay the salaries of an additional faculty member or two.
All 64 campuses under the SUNY umbrella would remain open and each campus would keep its individual identity, name, unique programs, colors and insignia, the university system said in a prepared statement.
Zimpher said campus alliance networks would give students access to additional academic resources, courses and programs at other campuses in their regions. She said business and academic resources at campuses in each region would become available to students, faculty and staff at each site.
The extent to which services will be shared among alliance partners is expected to vary by campus and region, and will follow discussion among campuses and the office of the chancellor, the university system said.
SUNY officials added that planning "is just beginning" on the consolidation of administrative services, procurement procedures and academic offerings.