Zimpher touts SUNY to the White House press corps

Nancy Zimpher at the White House. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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ALBANY—SUNY chancellor Nancy Zimpher took on the Washington press corps Thursday during an event at the White House to promote college access.

The Obama Administration asked Zimpher to represent college and university leaders at a press briefing Thursday following a summit on the obstacles students face in completing a college degree. Joining White House press secretary Jay Carney, Zimpher used the podium to tout SUNY's recently announced plans to expand online course offerings and grow enrollment by adding 100,000 virtual learners.

“Happily, this August, the president came to New York — to Buffalo and Binghamton — to announce this agenda of more affordability,” she said. “He has really pounded us on the cost of college and accountability—that we have outcomes that can prove we are making progress and innovations.

“So I was told I could say a little bit about SUNY,” she said. “Two days ago, we announced a thing called 'Open SUNY.' We already have 465,000 students whom we serve, and we will get another 100,000 over the next three years, because we want to increase our access for traditional college-aged students and, importantly, adults who have no education beyond high school and are simply not going to make the grade if they can't get jobs that are going to require a college degree.”

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After taking several questions from reporters, Carney came back to the podium to relieve Zimpher.

“Thank you. I'm glad to move on,” she said, laughing.

Carney retorted: “I think you'd make a great White House press secretary.”