SARANAC LAKE - The newly appointed State University of New York chancellor was at North Country Community College's Saranac Lake campus last week to introduce herself to faculty and staff.
Nancy Zimpher took over as chancellor on June 1. Her visit last Thursday was part of a 100-day tour to all 64 of SUNY's campuses around New York.
The former Wisconsin University chancellor took time to meet with administrative staff and professors at Clermont Hall. Newly-hired college president Carol Brown and interim president Fred Smith were on hand as well.
Zimpher spoke on a variety of topics, including the increased enrollment at community colleges and the need to reform early childhood education.
"Everybody talks about fixing our high schools," Zimpher said. "When the focus should start with kindergarten. You can't fix the system from the top down."
In New York State, elementary school teachers are expected to be proficient in as many as eight academic fields. Zimpher said it's time to consider altering that approach to early childhood education.
"We expect one teacher to excel at teaching everything from math to science to reading," she said.
The new chancellor also wants area SUNY schools to explore creative partnerships instead of competing for enrollment. Zimpher notes that some colleges have programs and classes that others don't.
"If a school has a solid reputation in one field, and another college excels in a different area, it makes sense to explore sharing programs," she said.
Zimpher spoke highly of Carol Brown, who was hired by the college's board of trustees earlier this spring to replace interim president Fred Smith. Zimpher and Brown have a history that dates back to the time both individuals spent at Midwest institutions.
While serving as chancellor at Wisconsin, Zimpher got to know Brown - who worked for Waukesha County Technical College near Milwaukee.
"She's going to be such a great leader in this community because of her background in business," Zimpher said.
Last week, Zimpher also visited Clinton Community College and State University of New York at Plattsburgh.