AASCU Honors SUNY Cobleskill with 2019 Excellence and Innovation Award for the Institute for Rural Vitality

College Receives National Recognition for Regional and Economic Development

Cover photo accessible here: IRV Bubble Chart

Cobleskill, NY – The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) today announced SUNY Cobleskill as the recipient of the 2019 Excellence and Innovation Award for Regional and Economic Development. This national award recognizes the achievements of the Institute for Rural Vitality at SUNY Cobleskill, created in 2016 as an extension of the College’s commitment to serve the public good. Through Institute funding, faculty fellows and student interns fully engage with the community on sustainable economic development and enrichment of regional services, ranging from launching incubator businesses to providing unique intergenerational programming for those living with Alzheimer’s disease. To date, the Institute has been instrumental in securing more than $6 million for community-based economic development projects, and has actively recruited a private partner poised to build an $84 million grow center on campus.

“Higher education rural-serving institutions have a unique opportunity and obligation to be Stewards of Place,” says SUNY Cobleskill President Marion A. Terenzio. “The Institute for Rural Vitality at SUNY Cobleskill fulfills this role, in partnership with local and regional communities. Together they build human capital and create innovation, entrepreneurship solutions, and products that enhance community well-being.”

“As a premier institution for applied learning, we must promote an academic enterprise that calls the College to engage with communities and set an example for our students,” continues President Terenzio. The first SUNY school to institute an applied learning requirement, SUNY Cobleskill draws upon this founding commitment to provide students with opportunities that prepare them for immediate and long-lasting workforce success. Through the Institute’s five distinct centers, education is extended beyond the classroom as students, faculty, and community partners address the region’s most pressing issues and enact sustainable solutions. Ongoing projects focus on economic development, rural legal and policy services, new business development, regional arts and culture, and comprehensive community advancement.

“Each year, I am inspired by how AASCU institutions move the bar to serve their students and advance the economic and cultural development of their communities,” said AASCU President Dr. Mildred García. “These Excellence and Innovation Award winners truly demonstrate how our members serve as Stewards of Place, prioritizing student success and leaving a lasting impact on their regions.”

The Excellence and Innovation Awards honor AASCU member institutions for achievements in major areas of campus life and leadership. In addition to SUNY Cobleskill, AASCU will be recognizing two California State University campuses as well as institutions in Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. The awards will be presented on October 27 at the opening session of AASCU’s Annual Meeting, in Phoenix. The winning programs had top-level administrative support, connected with an institution’s mission and strategic agenda, contributed to significant institutional improvements or programming, were grounded in research, and incorporated best practices.

Regional and Economic Development Award

Institutional excellence in regional and economic development can involve campus activities that: demonstrably promote innovation and technology transfer to local businesses, non-profit organizations or governments; improve regional competitiveness and prosperity; foster entrepreneurial activity on the campus and in the community; and address workforce development/job creation issues. The impact of regional and economic development on the campus also must be considered. Changes in the curriculum, the engagement of students and faculty members, and increases in sponsored programs funding are all important components of an effective regional and economic outreach initiative.

Specific Criteria for the Regional and Economic Development Award: 

  • The institution must outline the extent to which external organizations were involved in the planning and implementation of the project. Both length and depth of involvement will be considered.
  • The institution must explain the degree to which there were quantifiable benefits from the project demonstrating impact on the quality of the local workforce, job creation or other economic or community impact. The institution must explain the degree to which faculty and students were engaged in project development or implementation and how the project resulted in curriculum development or re-design. The institution must demonstrate the extent to which the project involved sponsored programs funding or in-kind support from the institution or external agency.

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