SUNY Empire announces new Opportunity Program

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — SUNY Empire State College announced the launch of its Empire Promise Program, an academic-support system designed to provide enhanced academic supports to students who show promise, but who may have experienced barriers to education in the past. It is the third Opportunity Program being offered by the college.

The Empire Promise Program is open to qualified first-time freshmen and transfer students and includes dedicated mentoring, monthly academic programming, increased academic supports, basic-needs assistance and referrals, and an opportunity to participate in the college’s laptop loaner program. The Program begins in January and has 50 available slots. Students who apply to SUNY Empire will be screened for qualification and may receive an invitation to join the Program.

At a press conference announcing the Empire Promise Program’s launch, several members of the SUNY Empire faculty discussed its importance to the SUNY community.

“Enrichment and opportunity programs hold a special place in my heart,” said Dana Brown, Director of the Empire Opportunity Program. “Opportunity programs truly go above and beyond support for students.”

Lydia Smith, an alumnae of SUNY Empire’s Opportunity Programs, joined the conference remotely to offer her insight.

“This is something you should take advantage of,” she advised. “It will prepare you for something more.”

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras commented that the newest Opportunity Program, which gives flexible, individualized attention to participating students, is in line with the school’s educational philosophy.

“We have to adapt, we have to grow, we have to change – that’s the ethos of SUNY Empire,” he said.

While all of SUNY Empire’s Opportunity Programs seek to increase opportunities for students, the Promise Program looks to be more flexible and more inclusive than its predecessors. Like the school’s other Opportunity Programs, it utilizes a very proactive approach to student advising, making resources available and helping students stay on track for success.

“Traditional Opportunity Programs have a financial need criteria,” explained Nathan Gonyea, SUNY Empire Officer in Charge. “We wanted to expand to support students who don’t fit that criteria.”

“It expands access,” added Brown. “It’s opening up to a wider audience. This model is proactive, focusing on the holistic health of the students.”

Malatras explained that the importance of Opportunity Programs in the SUNY colleges comes from the increasing need to adapt to what best suits students. Programs are found throughout the SUNY network, with the Empire Promise Program being the newest in the lineup. Presently, only a handful of SUNY colleges statewide do not have any Opportunity Programs. It is Malatras’s goal to first close the gap and bring that number to 0, and then to increase the number of Programs available at each school.

“What you’re finding is, just getting into college isn’t enough,” Malatras explained. “There’s different needs, and you need a flexible program like this to meet those needs.”