Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week announced SUNY Cortland had earned a $368,289 state grant to help it prepare students for the New York workforce in two critically important, high-need fields.
The grant, part of $12 million in SUNY High Needs Program awards that will go to 36 SUNY campuses over the next three years, will help strengthen the College’s programs in sustainable energy technology and in kinesiology.
SUNY Cortland’s three-year award is the largest granted to any of SUNY’s comprehensive colleges this year. It underscores the institution’s key role in revitalizing the upstate New York economy and transforming its workforce to meet future needs.
“Both of these areas of study prepare SUNY Cortland students for careers that are projected to be in great demand not only in New York, but the United States,” College President Erik J. Bitterbaum said. “They reflect two of our core institutional values: using resources with as much efficiency and environmental responsibility as possible and promoting health and well being.”
Student interest in SUNY Cortland’s highly regarded kinesiology and exercise science programs, which provide a foundation for careers in physical and occupational therapy, has grown by more than 200 percent over the last three years. More than half of its graduates go on to advanced degree programs in physical or occupational therapy.
The need for physical therapists is projected to grow significantly in both New York state and in the nation as a whole as the population continues to age and grow, reforms related to the Affordable Health Care Act take effect and the health care system focuses more on preventing and managing chronic conditions than treating symptoms and acute conditions.
The grant will allow SUNY Cortland to hire an associate professor in kinesiology to develop and teach clinical coursework and outfit its Professional Studies Building with additional state-of-the art equipment. The College’s goal is to double the number of SUNY Cortland graduates applying to physical or occupational therapy licensure programs by 2016 and to triple the number of applicants by 2020.
The award also will allow the College to hire an assistant professor of experimental physics in renewable energy and otherwise strengthen SUNY Cortland’s new professional master’s program in sustainable energy systems.
The College received authorization to run the two-year master’s of science program this spring and has applied for the distinctive professional master’s designation, which combines studies and research in science with a core of business- and professional-related courses.
Career opportunities in renewable energy technologies like solar, wind and geothermal power are growing in New York and across the country, as are jobs related to energy efficiency.
The creation of “green jobs” is an economic development priority of the federal and state governments and sustainable energy is a key goal for both Gov. Cuomo and the SUNY system. A 2009 survey of regional companies and organizations in the sustainable energy field by two SUNY Cortland economics professors found that 85 percent projected stable or expanded job growth.
By adding a fifth faculty member to the Physics Department and acquiring state-of-the-art laboratory equipment for studying renewable energy and building systems for SUNY Cortland’s expanded and renovated science complex, College officials estimate it will increase the number of students in the new program by 33 percent.
Healthcare and renewable-clean energy are two of the six high-need areas in which the New York State Department of Labor projects a high-growth rate or a large number of job openings in coming years. The other areas are engineering, biomedicine, agricultural business and information technology.