Thursday, August 07, 2014

Easy as PI . . . Or Is IT?

SUNY PI  (for Polytechnic Institute)!

Thank goodness they picked out a cool name for the merged SUNY IT and SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE).  The Times Union's Buzz has a rather humorous take on the name change called "Tom Selleck's 3.14 degrees of separation."  But between the humorous lines about Alain Kaloyeros growing a mustache was a kernel of concern over institutional identity.
"SPI is awfully close to RPI and some people may wonder which institute is being talked about when the names come up."
The article makes obvious the Albany institution's strong association with Dr. Kaloyeros.  Rightly so! He made it what it is.  The institution's mission is associated with nanotechnology.  Again, rightly so. That has been CNSE's focus... And in the Capital District's sea of institutions of higher learning, the niche focus of CNSE works to distinguish the institution from others.

In Utica there are different concerns over institutional identity and mission.

Time seems to have cured the association of SUNYIT with Utica (see the 2008 post What's (Not) In a Name) as people became familiar with its location.  But now we are not only back to square one, but behind it,  with "SUNY PI" being located in two different metro areas!  The institution may be unified, but the campuses are separated by 90 miles.

More important is that SUNYIT has had its own genesis . . . not associated with one person and not associated with a niche field. In the rush to create "SUNY PI" it seems that the tradition and mission of Utica's institution are being forgotten and traded for those of the more glamorous CNSE. . . . particularly by our own local officials.

Let's embrace the changes . . . but, at the same time, work to maintain the local identity and preserve the original mission.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Honey pie, sweetie pie, apple pie, suny pie ... This is why I have such doubts that this nano thing is going to be a success. This group can't even get a name right.