SBU lands funds for online-only innovation MBA

Stony Brook University has been awarded $280,000 to create an exclusively online MBA program with a “concentration in innovation.”

The money is part of $4 million included in the latest round of Investment and Performance Fund Awards announced this week by the State University of New York. That includes $2 million dedicated to helping students complete degree programs through online courses offered by the Open SUNY program, a system-wide collaboration granting “access to the courses, degrees, professors and rich academics of all 64 SUNY campuses flexibly,” according to SUNY.

SBU was also one of four schools – including the University at Albany, Binghamton University and the University at Buffalo – to receive a $250,000 stipend to “build common student learning outcomes and assessments” and increase completion of online “impact gateway undergraduate courses,” SUNY officials said.

Other Open SUNY awards went to the College at Brockport, which will use $100,000 to launch its first online MBA program; SUNY Morrisville and Mohawk Valley Community College, which will funnel $241,000 into a joint program that earns students IT-focused associate’s and bachelor’s degrees; and SUNY Potsdam, which will leverage $368,000 into an online master’s in music program, including efforts designed specifically to increase enrollment and completion.

Open SUNY has successfully expanded access to online-learning opportunities and “continues to play a critical role as we aim toward 150,000 degrees annually,” according to SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher.

“The results of the SUNY Investment and Performance Fund in its first year have made a strong statement to our prospective and current students that SUNY can and will help them finish their degree and prepare them for a successful career,” Zimpher said in a statement.

It’s a critical mission, according to SUNY, which reports that fewer than half of all New Yorkers hold a college degree – and that roughly 70 percent of all statewide jobs will require one by 2020.

Additional IPF awards were made this week to 10 other programs and initiatives at statewide colleges and universities designed to help students finish what they start. Among them: $250,000 to help SUNY Buffalo establish a “virtual concierge” that gives students real-time online access to faculty and administrators, and $370,000 for a “career and transfer student transition lab” at Mohawk Valley CC.

This week’s funding announcement marks the third 2016 round for the IPF, part of a first-of-its-kind, $100 million investment in the state university system built into Albany’s 2015-16 budget. In January, SUNY announced $18 million in inaugural awards, including $1.3 million for Farmingdale State College’s Students First & Foremost initiative, which aims to accelerate graduation rates by promoting tutoring, mentoring and “pivotal learning” opportunities.

Also part of those January awards were $1.75 million to support SBU’s goal of increasing the four-year graduation rate among all incoming freshman to 60 percent by 2020, and $500,000 to support a “digital campus” at SUNY Old Westbury.

In February, SUNY announced $44.6 million in IPF awards exclusively for online-learning and graduation-rate effort on North Country campuses.

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