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Celebrating 50 Years at SUNY Empire State College

In 1971, SUNY Empire State College began as a bold reimagining of the higher education experience. A “non-campus institution,” as former SUNY Chancellor Ernest Boyer described it, “that would not depend on the rigidity of the calendar or class schedule but on the creativity of the students.”

That college is SUNY Empire.

For the past five decades, SUNY Empire has transformed the face of student-centered, accessible, equitable education, ushering in a world of possibilities for busy adult learners.

From mail-in correspondence and satellite feeds, to internet-based and blended coursework, SUNY Empire has been – and remains – at the forefront of distance and online education. Since its inception, SUNY Empire has awarded more than 89,000 degrees to students of all ages and backgrounds around the state, the country, and the globe.

SUNY Empire continues its tradition of Leading the Way, offering the ability to pursue advanced degrees to those who otherwise might not have the access, means, or opportunity.

And with ever-expanding degree programs, technologies, and course terms, we’re looking forward to the next 50 years.

Message from Nathan Gonyea, Officer in Charge

Over the six years I’ve been with SUNY Empire State College, I’ve witnessed remarkable growth – from new programs and academic centers to state-of-the-art technological advancements and bold expansions in international and partnership programs.

Events Calendar

Join us for these events! Check this website often for updates, and follow us @SUNYEmpire on social media as we celebrate our golden anniversary throughout 2021.

All year long!

Stay tuned for details!

Join the Microsoft Teams Meeting (link coming soon).

International Women’s Day

Monday, March 8, 2021, all day

On International Women's Day, we celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women here in the United States and around the world. Yes, it’s a day for women to celebrate women, but the day does not belong to women alone. International Women’s Day is a day for all of us — regardless of gender or gender identity — to reflect on the accomplishments of courageous, determined, everyday women who have made this world a better place.

Linebacker Leading the Way: Arthur Moats ’17 Goes Beyond the Gridiron

March 25, 6 to 7 p.m. (EDT)

As we continue our yearlong 50th anniversary celebration, join us for a conversation with distinguished alumni and former NFL linebacker Arthur Moats ’17. How is his SUNY Empire master’s degree helping him continue his personal and professional goals? What advice does he have for students? Be sure to check here for updates on how to register for this exciting event!


Stay tuned for details!

Join the Microsoft Teams Meeting (link coming soon).

50 Years. 50 Stories.
Celebrating SUNY Empire’s Golden Anniversary

In 50 short years, SUNY Empire State College helped pioneer and shape distance and online education, not just in New York state, but across the country and around the world. But it’s the people behind that half-century-long effort who deserve the spotlight – the administrators, faculty, staff, alumni, friends, and political figures who built the college from the ground up.

Throughout our 50th anniversary, SUNY Empire will tell the stories of 50 people who have made extraordinary contributions to the college – shaping our past, present, and future.

And we invite you to be part of the process! Submit your nomination for an individual who made significant contributions to SUNY Empire, represents a particular era in our history, or graduated and went on to change the world in important ways.

Our 50th anniversary committee will review all submissions and round out our list with those that best reflect the spirit and mission of our college.

Thank you, in advance, for your support.

All Fields Are Required*

50th Anniversary Trivia

How well do you know the history of SUNY Empire State College?

Take our 10-question quiz and test your knowledge…

  • 1. Where was the first presidential inauguration for SUNY Empire held?
  • 2. On which two bold New York state infrastructure projects did Ernest Boyer base the college’s name?
  • 3. In its first year, how many students were awarded with Latin honors between August 2019 and August 2020?
  • 4. SUNY Empire was founded in what year?
  • 5. Who was SUNY Empire’s founding president?
  • 6. Empire State College was founded under the leadership of which chancellor of the State University of New York?
  • 7. What were Empire State College’s original colors?
  • 8. In what year did SUNY Empire host its first ever winter commencement?
  • 9. What program has the honor of hosting the first ever SUNY Empire reunion?
  • 10. Which foundation board member was one of three graduates at our first commencement ceremony?

Mask Up for Student Success

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way we’re celebrating our 50th anniversary, but it's also affecting some of our students and their dreams of pursuing a degree. When you purchase a Blue the Bluebird or SUNY Empire logo mask, all proceeds directly benefit our students impacted by the pandemic.

Support our students while showing your school spirit!