SUNY Old Westbury, soon to be designated a university, inaugurated Timothy Sams as president

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Officials at SUNY Old Westbury officially inaugurated their president for the past two years on Friday, announcing the college’s plans to raise its status as a university in July.

Timothy Sams has directed the College since January 2021, but his inauguration has been delayed due to COVID-19 lockdowns and social gathering restrictions. He was appointed the sixth president of the college, succeeding the Rev. Calvin O. Potts III, who resigned in August 2020.

Sams was honored at a ceremony Friday with SUNY and CUNY officials from across the state, led by Chancellor John B. King Jr., dressed in colorful academic robes. The ceremony included a procession by the Afrikaans Circle of Healing to celebrate the college’s heritage and diversity.

The college is being upgraded to a university following a state board of governors’ decision passed last year aimed at attracting more students to the SUNY system.

Sams made the announcement during his inaugural address Friday, noting that the appointment, beginning July 1, as SUNY Old Westbury, “befits the quality and depth of the academic and student development programs we offer.”

Old SUNY at Westbury officials said the university’s name more accurately describes the school’s offerings.

Sams prioritized the college, which he said he chose based on its history of diversity and commitment to social justice. Most recently, he was Vice President of Student Affairs at Prairie View A&M University in Houston.

Old Westbury’s new Institute of Social Environmental Justice, he said, will develop an ethics-based liberal arts curriculum “to prepare students to be scholarly activists, the hallmark of Old Westbury’s SUNY education.”

Sams said his goal is to make SUNY Old Westbury better recognized for the diversity of students it serves, and to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice. It has over 51% of enrollees who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.

He cited parallels with the college’s establishment in 1965 through social upheaval, and confronting issues of systemic racism and hate, economic disparity, inadequate health care, and bodily autonomy.

Sams said, “The looming challenges facing higher education also provide context for our vision. Among them are financial development needs and attacks against black studies, critical race theory, and books…”. “If you know students in one of these states, who cherish their right to choose, or who chafe at the idea of ​​studying in the dark ages, please send them to the old SUNY Westbury.”

The state’s board of governors has removed a requirement for universities to offer doctoral programs and instead include a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs in at least three of the state’s 10 major academic programs: agriculture, biological sciences, business, education, engineering, fine arts, health professions and humanities. physical sciences and social sciences.

State officials said New York is the only state that requires doctoral programs to qualify as a university.

PhD programs can cause financial strains on designated universities and colleges, Regents said, and can cause confusion for students, especially on an international level. Regent also said that separate designations for college and university could present a marketing challenge for SUNY schools seeking to attract students.