August 20, 2020

SUNY Empire State College Center for Autism Inclusivity Kicks Off Statewide Town Hall Series August 25 to Engage Stakeholders, Gather Community Input

Regional Town Halls Connect Educators, Advocates, and Families to Explore Opportunities to Better Support the Autism Community

First Virtual Town Hall Focuses on Capital Region and North Country

Groundbreaking Center for Autism Inclusivity to Expand College Access by Making SUNY Empire a Fully Autism-Supportive College, Meet Growing Demand for Professionals to Serve Individuals with Autism

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(SARATOGA SPRINGS, NEW YORK – August 20, 2020) SUNY Empire State College today announced the first in a series of virtual, interactive town halls hosted by the college’s new Center for Autism Inclusivity in collaboration with Anderson Center for Autism to engage educators and autism experts with community stakeholders, advocates, and families to gather input and explore opportunities to better support the autism community.

Earlier this month, SUNY Empire launched the statewide center, which provides educational support and conducts research to better serve individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in the classroom, the workplace, and beyond. To promote autism inclusivity more broadly, the center will collaborate with partners across the state to provide parents, teachers, employers, and service providers the most up-to-date information. The Capital Region and North Country town halls will both be held on Tuesday, August 25, and include panelists from SUNY Empire and Anderson Center for Autism, as well as Senator Roy McDonald.

The regional town halls have been scheduled in collaboration with SUNY Empire and Anderson Center to highlight the importance of academic and service communities working together to provide support to individuals on the autism spectrum. The town halls will provide a forum to explore how the center can help meet the needs of individuals with autism, their families, and organizations that serve or employ them in our region. Additional town halls will be announced in each region of the state over the coming months.

“SUNY Empire’s Center for Autism Inclusivity will enact real change, and to do that, we need to connect with other advocates and families to ensure we’re addressing the right problems and asking the right questions,” said SUNY Empire State College President Jim Malatras. “These town halls will create a space for critical, open dialogue and inform future research, programs, and efforts by the Center for Autism Inclusivity to make the classroom, workplace, and society more supportive of individuals with autism.”

“One of the founding principles of the Center for Autism Inclusivity is to meet the needs of the community, as the community defines those needs,” said Nathan Gonyea, SUNY Empire State College Dean of the School for Graduate Studies. “The town halls are the embodiment of this principle. Before we build out the services of the center, we are asking the community to tell us their needs and how those needs can be best met.”

“The voices of our community are critical in creating a center that promotes compassionate care, cultural humility, and sustainability in research, educational opportunities, and services," said Noor Syed, director of SUNY Empire State College's Center for Autism Inclusivity. "While we are looking forward to sharing our broad goals and visions for the future, we are extremely excited to receive stakeholder input which will be integral in shaping clearer goals and objectives.”

The center is currently working with high schools throughout New York state to identify qualified students with ASD to enroll at SUNY Empire, as the college is expanding its offerings and services to meet the needs of these students. In addition to providing personalized, one-on-one in-person instruction under the new program, there is currently no college that offers additional support for students with autism in fully online programs.

Please click here to register for the Capital Region or North Country town hall. Both are scheduled for Tuesday, August 25.

About SUNY Empire State College

SUNY Empire State College educates 16,000 students per year in person, online, and through a blend of both, at campuses and learning hubs located in every region of New York state, and at eight international sites worldwide. Together with one of SUNY Empire’s 800 faculty mentors, each student designs their own individualized pathway to a college degree that accommodates their schedule and awards credit for prior college-level learning. SUNY Empire awards more than 3,000 degrees annually and 94 percent of graduates stay in New York state. Today, more than 89,000 SUNY Empire alumni are entrepreneurs, veterans, and active members of the military, professional athletes, teachers, medical professionals, and leaders in their field, as well as in their communities. To learn more, visit