Dismantling the Last Acceptable Prejudice

Rural-serving institutions have the opportunity and obligation to support economic and community development initiatives, writes SUNY Cobleskill President Marion A. Terenzio.

Cobleskill, NY – Today, “Inside Higher Ed” published “Dismantling the Last Acceptable Prejudice” by SUNY Cobleskill President Marion A. Terenzio. The opinion piece focuses attention on a cultural prejudice towards rural America that “not only has an adverse impact on students from rural towns but also negatively affects the broader rural revitalization efforts that must rely heavily on higher education partnerships,” writes President Terenzio. “Policy and action leaders across sectors, including higher education, must reduce, even eliminate, the rural-centric prejudice and create pathways to rural recovery.”

In the article, President Terenzio discusses methods to move beyond this prejudice, citing the “Good Jobs for all Americans initiative”, by the National Governors Association (NGA), and three key success strategies that are identified, culminating in rural resurgence with broad educational and economic opportunities. The NGA report features SUNY Cobleskill as an exemplary rural anchor institution. Through the College’s Institute for Rural Vitality, students and faculty are at the fore of community partnerships and coalitions, adding their expertise to support economic and community development initiatives.

SUNY Cobleskill was recently recognized by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), for the achievements of the College’s Institute for Rural Vitality. The 2019 Excellence and Innovation Award for Regional and Economic Development honors the broad scope of Institute-led initiatives across its five distinct centers. Since 2016, faculty fellows and student interns have engaged with the regional community to cultivate sustainable economic development and enrich regional services.

“Higher education rural-serving institutions have a unique opportunity and obligation to be Stewards of Place,” said President 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.”

President Terenzio was recently appointed co-chair of the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council (MVREDC). Through eight rounds of the REDC initiative, the MVREDC has delivered $615 million for 640 projects. The MVREDC is composed of Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego, and Schoharie Counties.

“Rural-serving higher education institutions have a distinct opportunity and obligation to build human capital and engage in wealth-creation efforts in their communities,” concludes Terenzio. “If we embrace our rural-serving roots, rural may lose its second-class standing and emerge as a vital part of a winning social order.”


This release was initially issued by SUNY Cobleskill, 11/21/19