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Interim President Magrath connects with community

Interim President C. Peter Magrath spoke to the Binghamton University Forum on July 22, before answering a number of questions. His opening remarks addressed a number of issues, including what it’s like to return to Binghamton University after 36 years. See a video of his remarks at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-Jcjoss1LU.

Magrath’s remarks

It's good to be here. I was clearing out some old files a couple of weeks ago and stumbled onto a story from an April 9, 1974 Sun Bulletin (the Binghamton, N.Y. daily at the time) about my leaving here to go to the University of Minnesota. The headline said ‘Magrath wanted to do more’ and went on to say, ‘He wishes he could have done more here’. It quoted me as saying, “I wish that in two years I had been able to develop a better budgetary base for the University.”

So, I got my wish. This is back to the future. But the core fact is that Binghamton University and our Southern Tier have an exciting future as partners. We are two sides of the same coin. The Southern Tier’s future depends on the growth and success of Binghamton University, and Binghamton University’s success as a driver of economic and social development depends on the growth of this region and our ability to work as partners together. We must continue and expand our partnerships in every possible way. Together. If we’re indifferent — and pardon my grammar — we ain’t going anywhere!

This won’t be easy. There are tough challenges in a very harsh world. Resources, the budgetary fuel we need, is a key. But these are worthy challenges and we have skills and smarts and lots of dedicated leaders. And, Binghamton University is an entrepreneurial university with a Division I faculty, hard working staff, many of the brightest students found at any public university and a growing, national cadre of alumni who care.

Above all, our high quality must never be compromised. In fact, let's be dissatisfied with our quality and improve it further. As good as it is, let's do even better.

I think we should think about growth — even as many as 20,000 students, and in the future even more given the powerful draw of our super applicant pool. But we must never forget that it's our quality that counts in our researchers, our faculty, our students, our outreach, our teaching. But there’s a heck of a qualification on our ability to deliver this and achieve our public mission. We can't do it without the resources essential to teaching and research programs. That is why Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and the SUNY Board of Trustees are spot on in pushing to give us flexibility in our tuition programs and more.

Also, we are an academic institution with athletic programs, not the other way around. Athletics should and must be part of this University and must be done with integrity. Whatever happened in the past, it's in the rear view mirror. Issues are being dealt with and we’re moving ahead. It's also worth trumpeting that our student-athletes are students in fact, not in name. About a third of them are on the Commissioner's Honor Roll with a GPA of about 3.5. And I certainly don't mind saying that I would like to see the men's and women's basketball teams win conference titles and keep going on.

Binghamton University is a key to its vital partner — its home in the Southern Tier of New York. But also of this state and the State University of New York, and we are a national and international intensive research university. Someday, I want us recognized as a rare national gem among America’s leading public universities, and I think we can get there.

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Last Updated: 10/14/08