This concerns me.

To sum, Eliot is looking for candidates for the SUNY Board of Trustees. Of the three in this article:

Carl Hayden: “Hayden graduated from Hamilton College, a private college near Utica, and earned his law degree from Cornell Law School on the G.I. Bill.”

H. Carl McCall: “McCall received his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College, a private college, and was also educated at the Andover Newton Theological Seminary and the University of Edinburgh. He received full scholarships through college.”

Linda Sanford: “She graduated from St. John’s University, a private university, and received her master’s degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy.”

Now, if you look at the rest of these individuals’ resumes, they are impressive. They’re all progressive thinkers who care about higher education and likely (especially with Carl McCall – who, by the way, I quite adore) understand how frightening the cost of college can be to working class and middle class New Yorkers.

But nonetheless, I find it disheartening that of the six degrees among these candidates, not one of them is from a SUNY. For that matter, not one of them is even from a public university of any sort. Maybe this was unintentional, but I think that it continues to drive home the point that anyone who graduates from a SUNY school isn’t worth his (or her) salt.

I attended SUNYs for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees. The undergrad SUNY was one of the “university colleges”, and the graduate program I attended was a small, nationally ranked program that is probably more “private school” like, whatever that means. While at both colleges I recognized problems in the system, I recognized students who were either frustrated because they weren’t challenged, or saw this as carte blanche to act like “typical undergraduates.” This also bothers me, because from talking to friends at private schools, I don’t see where there is a huge difference in this. With SUNY, you can choose small, intimate liberal arts, large, diverse universities, and just about everything else in between. And you get this for around $12K per year – about a third of what most private colleges cost.

I know just as many successful people who graduated from SUNYs as did other, more “prestigious” private schools, and there is an underlying myth that is perpetuated that tends to make people think that SUNY grads are all lazy, and incapable of succeeding, and this is just not true. I certainly don’t think that Eliot is deliberately trying to perpetuate this myth, but this is nonetheless troubling for someone who views herself as one of those alumni who disproves this myth.

I don’t necessarily think that there shouldn’t be anyone on the Board of Trustees who didn’t attend a SUNY, as I’m sure that these three individuals will have a lot to offer, but I also think that showcasing successful, motivated graduates of the State’s university system is something that should be encouraged, not swept under the rug.

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