New York Sea Grant and SUNY “Systemness”
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NYSG and “Systemness”: The whole is more than the sum of its parts

For the second annual Critical Issues in Higher Education Conference sponsored by the State University of New York (SUNY) in November 2012, New York Sea Grant was invited to present a poster that shows how NYSG exhibits “systemness” by interacting with other campuses in the SUNY system.  The conference entitled Harnessing Systemness, Delivering Performance, aimed to explore new models for building and rebuilding higher education to meet the economic and political challenges ahead.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher explains the term systemness this way: “The State University of New York has so many assets, but there is not one greater than our ‘systemness.' Beyond the individual strengths that each of our 64 campuses possess, there is a powerful and unmatched capacity to reach our most ambitious goals together and to realize our highest achievements.” In other words, by working together, the many campuses across the state can produce better results than each of them working apart.

New York Sea Grant, a partnership of SUNY and Cornell University with funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is itself an example of ‘systemness’ at work by drawing on the talented pool of researchers from universities and colleges throughout the state and working with extension specialists who are part of Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Says NYSG Director, Dr. Jim Ammerman, “Over the last 40 years, New York Sea Grant has served the coastal stakeholders of New York by providing over $120 million for cutting-edge university research on vital coastal issues, ‘bringing science to the shore’ via our highly talented extension specialists, and making it possible for hundreds of graduate students to get advanced degrees.  NYSG’s administrative, research and communications personnel are located at Stony Book University and extension personnel are Cornell University employees currently housed at Cornell University, University at Buffalo , SUNY Oswego, Ulster County Cooperative Extension, Stony Brook University, and Long Island Horticultural Lab (Cornell) in Riverhead.”

During the conference, administrators and faculty from throughout the SUNY system attended sessions about important issues facing higher education such as public policy, changing demographics, and resource allocation led by speakers not just from the SUNY system, but leaders from major university systems around the country.

The NYSG poster on view during the conference gave just a few examples of the SUNY interactions that help further NYSG research and outreach throughout the state with efficacy. Working together, researchers from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and the University at Buffalo are tackling the problem of harmful algal blooms that occur in popular Sodus Bay in Lake Ontario.  A research group from SUNY College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University is credited with discovering how a virulent pathogen in fish (Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Virus) is transmitted. Numerous climate change research projects have been funded at Stony Brook University and climate change educational training at SUNY College at Brockport.

For a more complete list of New York Sea Grant projects and examples of systemness, visit the list of recent research (pdf) and view the poster (pdf).

– Barbara A. Branca

At the November conference in New York City,  New York Sea Grant Associate Director Dr. Kathy Bunting-Howarth (right) and NYSG Communications Manager Barbara Branca (left) explain a poster to SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher that shows how NYSG brings researchers and coastal educators together from many SUNY campuses. (Photos courtesy SUNY)

New York Sea Grant joined The State University of New York for a two-day New York City-based "Systemness" Conference in early November 2012.

NYSG's poster (pictured below), which was on display during the sessions, highlights the program's coastal research, extension and education efforts state-wide through the SUNY campuses as well as with Cornell University, Sea Grant's other partner institution in New York State.

What exactly is "Systemness"? It's a concept that encourages connectivity between the many programs and initiatives under the SUNY umbrella. During the conference, new models for this concept are being explored as well as ways these 'system' models can be retooled and rebuilt to meet current (and future) economic and political challenges. An emphasis on the ever-growing public need for higher education is a common theme for the discussions.

Dr. Samuel Stanley, President of Stony Brook University (left) at the 2012 SUNY Systemness Conference with (l to r) Dr. Jim Ammerman, NYSG Director; Dr. Kathy Bunting-Howarth, NYSG Associate Director; and Barbara A. Branca, NYSG Communications Manager.

More Info:

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, is one of 33 university-based programs under the National Sea Grant College Program (NSGCP) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The NSGCP engages this network of the nation’s top universities in conducting scientific research, education, training and extension projects designed to foster science-based decisions about the use and conservation of our aquatic resources. Through its statewide network of integrated services, NYSG has been promoting coastal vitality, environmental sustainability, and citizen awareness about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources since 1971.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links. NYSG also offers a free e-list sign up via for NY Coastlines, its flagship publication, and Currents, its e-newsletter supplement, each distributed 3-4 times a year.

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