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SUNY Organization and Roles Policy

Outlines the State University of New York's governance. 

Policy Information

Policy Number Policy Owner
7000.2 Management Services

1.0 Purpose


2.0 Revision History

Date Version Number Change Description Referenced Section
Pre-1998 1.0 New Document Entire Document
12/30/16 1.1 Minor Revisions  
12/3/18 1.2 Minor Revisions  
9/18/20 1.3 Minor Revisions 2.0
10/8/20 2.0 Major Revisions Entire Document

 Review Process / Approval

Action: Units Date
Policy Review
  • Management Services
Policy Approval
  • Executive Council

3.0 Units and Persons Affected


4.0 Policy


The State University of New York (SUNY) is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States. SUNY is comprised of 64 college and university campuses (29 state operated campuses, 30 community colleges, and five statutory colleges with a SUNY campus located within 30 miles of every home, school, and business in the state. These campuses include research universities, four-year colleges, specialized and technical colleges, health science centers including hospitals, and land-grant colleges.

The State University of New York was created by statute, Ch. 695 L. 1948, the provisions of which, as amended from time to time, are codified and set forth in the Education Law, Art. 8.


The State University is a corporation within the State Education Department, and all of the powers of the State University, derived from the statute, are vested in and exercised by the Board of Trustees, acting as a whole. All powers and duties of the Board are set forth in statute.

The Board is comprised of 18 members, 15 of whom are appointed by the Governor with the consent of the Senate for 7-year terms, the President of the Student Assembly who serves as student Trustee ex officio, the President of the University Faculty Senate who serves as faculty Trustee ex officio but without the right to vote, and the President of the Faculty Council of Community Colleges, who serves as community college faculty Trustee ex officio but without the right to vote. The Governor designates the Chair and Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees. The Board is authorized by statute to elect an executive committee of not fewer than five SUNY Trustees, one of whom shall be the student Trustee, to transact business between meetings of the Board of Trustees (Ed. L. §353).

The Board sets its own meeting schedule, and in recent years, the Board has convened eight or more times annually. As required by statute, the Board holds two public hearings annually to receive testimony and statements from concerned individuals about State University issues (Ed.L. §353(2)).

The Board of Trustees has adopted, and from time to time amends, By-Laws. Pursuant to the By-Laws, the Board has authority to establish standing and special committees of the Board comprised of Trustees (By-Laws, Art. III). As of 2011, the standing committees of the Board are the Executive Committee; Academic Affairs Committee; Academic Medical Centers and Hospitals Committee; Audit Committee; Communications and External Affairs Committee; Education, College Readiness and Success Committee; Finance and Administration Committee; and Research and Economic Development Committee. While the primary role of each committee other than the Executive Committee, and to a limited extent, the Audit Committee, is advisory, much of the preliminary substantive work of the Board occurs in committee as members review, with assistance of staff, matters, including proposed resolutions, which will come before the Board. Generally, all committees convene prior to each Board meeting.

Through the adoption of By-Laws, Policies of the Board and other resolutions, the Board of Trustees has delegated, and allowed for sub-delegation of, various of its statutory powers related to the administration of the State University to officers of the Board, System Administration staff and campus Presidents and staff.


As set forth by the Policies of the Board, the chief executive officer of the State University is the Chancellor, who is appointed by the Board and performs such duties as the Board assigns.

Among the powers of the Chancellor delegated by the Board through the Policies are the powers to recommend Vice Chancellors for appointment by the Board and to appoint all executive and administrative officers below the level of Vice Chancellor, who constitute the senior staff of the University’s System Administration.

The Chancellor is authorized to sub-delegate to such officers and staff powers, duties and responsibilities (Policies, Art. IV). Both the By-Laws and the Policies provide for the office of the Secretary, a Board appointee (By-Laws, Art. II, §2; Policies, Art. IV, Title B).


In addition to administrative staffs at each campus, System Administration, located in Albany, provides services and support system-wide under the direction of the Chancellor and the Board. System Administration provides centralized financial, legal, academic, external relations, audit, student life and human resources services and support.


Through the Policies, the Board has delegated responsibility for the administration of each State-operated campus to its President, a Board appointee. The President determines what college administrative officers are needed, assigns the powers, duties and responsibilities of each, and supervises the professional and non-academic staff. The President prepares and recommends the annual budget request of the campus and makes recommendations concerning the operation, plans and development of the college (Policies, Art. IX)..

Learn more about SUNY Plattsburgh’s Roles and Responsibilities.



The Board of Trustees has established the University Faculty Senate as the official body through which the faculty participates in governance, particularly with respect to educational policies and other professional matters. Each State-operated campus and statutory college is represented in the Faculty Senate (Policies, Art. VII). As a non-voting ex officio member of the State University Board of Trustees, the President of the Faculty Senate participates in the deliberations of the Board and its committees.

Learn more about SUNY Plattsburgh’s Faculty Senate.


The official organization by which the student body participates in the governance of the SUNY System is the Student Assembly, established by the Board through its Policies.

The Student Assembly serves as a forum for consultation and the exchange of information among students, the Chancellor and the Board on matters of system-wide student concerns.

Each State-operated campus, statutory college and community college is represented in the Student Assembly (Policies, Art. XVII). By statute, the President of the Student Assembly serves on the Board of Trustees as a voting ex officio member. The student Trustee is a required member of the Board’s Executive committee (Ed.L. §353(4);By-Laws, Art.II, §1)

Learn more about the Student Association at SUNY Plattsburgh.


By statute, there has been created for each State-operated campus (other than the College of Environmental Science and Forestry) a college council, comprised of ten members (nine appointed by the Governor and an elected student member). Each college council is required to meet at least four times annually.

By statute, each council is authorized to recommend presidential candidates for appointment by the State University Board; to make regulations concerning the management of campus capital facilities; to make regulations concerning student conduct; and to name buildings and grounds. The college councils are authorized to review major plans (as determined by the State University Board) of the campus President and to review the campus President’s annual budget request and recommend to the State University Board the campus budget. The exercise of all such powers of the college councils is subject to the general management, supervision, control and approval of the State University Board of Trustees (Ed.L. §356).
Learn more about the College Council at SUNY Plattsburgh.

5.0 Definitions


6.0 Responsibilities


7.0 Procedures


8.0 Forms


9.0 Appendix


10.0 Distribution and Training

Method Date                      
Campus Handbook N/A
Faculty / Staff Digest N/A
Student Digest N/A
Other N/A

There are no specific trainings identified with this policy.

For additional information about this policy, please contact the Policy Owner listed above.

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