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Governor Hochul Announces SUNY, University of Puerto Rico Agree to Five-Year Collaboration

During the 2023 SOMOS Puerto Rico Conference, Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that the State University of New York Chancellor John B. King, Jr. joined University of Puerto Rico Vice President of Academic Affairs and Research Dr. Oreste Quesada, who represented President Luis A. Ferrao Delgado, to sign a five-year collaboration between the systems on shared priorities including student success, research, sustainability and social mobility.  

“This historic partnership between SUNY and the University of Puerto Rico is a testament to our shared vision for student success and civic engagement,” Governor Hochul said. “The inextricable link between New York and Puerto Rico is grounded in the stories of young people, and today’s announcement affirms our commitment to the next generation of leaders.”   

This long-term collaboration extends and expands an agreement established between SUNY and UPR in 2018, and will encourage SUNY campuses to work directly with UPR schools on issues facing New York, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean region, including:  

  • Student success and supports; 
  • Collaborative scientific research; 
  • Disaster management, mitigation and resilience studies, including disaster mental health; 
  • Collaboration on sustainability initiatives, including, but not limited to renewable energy; 
  • Visits by faculty members and researchers for conferences, seminars, lectures and discussions; 
  • Creating opportunities for faculty and student mobility; 
  • Development of dual diploma programs; 
  • Enhanced applied and service-learning opportunities; and 
  • Advanced manufacturing.   

University at Albany President Havidán Rodríguez and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) President Joanie Mahoney joined the signing. Their campuses, along with SUNY New Paltz, are expected to explore environmental, weather and mental health research collaboration opportunities. ESF students Eva Sideris and Isabel Valentín also participated in the signing along with UPR students Angel Rodriguez and Daniel Fernández.

SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. said, "As SUNY's first Puerto Rican and African American Chancellor, I am honored to reaffirm our commitment to student success and research in Puerto Rico and New York State by announcing an extended partnership with the University of Puerto Rico during the SOMOS conference. In addition to my family ties, I was a high school teacher in Puerto Rico early in my career. It is a pleasure to return, particularly now, to work with UPR to advance educational opportunities for the benefit of SUNY and UPR students."  

University of Puerto Rico President Luis A. Ferrao Delgado said, "The University of the State of New York, SUNY, has been an ally of the University of Puerto Rico for years, and we have developed many student exchanges that have provided unique experiences to our young university students. Large-scale investigations have also been carried out. With this new agreement we feel extremely confident that we will continue to offer our students and our academics the best academic and research experiences, in order to generate positive changes and transformations for all." 

University at Albany President Havidán Rodríguez said, “I would not be where I am today without the educational opportunities that I received as a child and young man in Puerto Rico and New York, and I am humbled to now be in a position to strengthen the partnership between UPR and SUNY. My first faculty appointment was at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, and I was proud to partner with UPR colleagues during the RISE 2019 Conference to analyze the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and higher education’s role in increasing preparedness and resiliency to climate change. I look forward to building on this work with President Ferrao and exploring ways our institutions can innovatively deliver on the life-changing promise of a college degree for our students.”   

ESF President Joanie Mahoney said, “ESF has a longstanding commitment to and engagement in Puerto Rico, and we have seen firsthand the effects of climate change and environmental injustice on the territory. Through SUNY's partnership with UPR, we are encouraged about the opportunities to further develop practices that are locally needed but globally significant."  

ESF Student Isabel Valentín said, “As a 2020 graduate of the UPR system and a current senior at SUNY ESF, I am filled with excitement about the Memorandum of Understanding signed yesterday. Public access to quality education is essential for empowering student voices and shaping a brighter future together. The reciprocal support between SUNY and the UPR system has boundless potential to create concrete opportunities for student development and growth. I eagerly anticipate the start of what promises to be a productive and enduring partnership.”  

ESF and UPR will collaborate on joint academic and research programs and services that focus on environmental justice, sustainability and climate change. This partnership is intended to create expanded opportunities for faculty, students, staff and researchers. Together, the two institutions are exploring building programs that: promote student success and support; focus on disaster management and mitigation studies; and offer enhanced applied and service-learning opportunities.   

About the University of Puerto Rico  

The University of Puerto Rico is the main public university system of Puerto Rico. The largely Spanish-language institution consists of 11 campuses throughout the island and has approximately 45,000 students and 4,500 faculty members.  

About the State University of New York  

The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2022, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit suny.edu.  

About SUNY ESF

The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) is dedicated to the study of the environment, developing renewable technologies, and building a sustainable and resilient future through design, policy, and management of the environment and natural resources. Members of the College community share a passion for protecting the health of the planet and a deep commitment to the rigorous application of science to improve the way humans interact with the world. The College offers academic programs ranging from the associate of applied science to the Doctor of Philosophy. ESF students live, study and do research on the main campus in Syracuse, N.Y., and on 25,000 acres of field stations in a variety of ecosystems across the state.