Erik J. Bitterbaum, Ph.D., president of SUNY Cortland since 2003, has overseen a physical and cultural transformation of campus and expanded the university's relevance in the community, the region and the world.
As president, he has guided nearly $300 million in new construction and renovation on campus, including a state-of-the-art science complex, the creation of New York’s “greenest” residence hall and the most unique and comprehensive student recreational facility in the 64-campus SUNY system. President Bitterbaum’s commitment to diversity is reflected by the growth of students from underrepresented groups from roughly 4% of the student population when he arrived to nearly 25% in 2017. He has deepened SUNY Cortland's role in the region through the creation of the Downtown Business Partnership, the Institute for Civic Engagement and the Innovation Center; initiatives that resulted in the rehabilitation and use of two vacant downtown Cortland buildings. With his guidance, service learning and volunteerism became a core component of the SUNY Cortland educational experience, with students providing more than 200,000 hours of unpaid service to the community each year.
Leader of the largest teacher education program in SUNY and one of the most respected programs in the nation, President Bitterbaum is a commissioner of the national Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Preparation (CAEP), and he guided the university to achieve reaccreditation from CAEP and Middle States. A charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment, he has overseen changes to SUNY Cortland’s infrastructure, practices, curriculum and culture that have helped make it one of the most environmentally sustainable colleges in the United States, according to annual ratings by The Sierra Club and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
During President Bitterbaum’s tenure, SUNY Cortland's Division III athletic program has consistently ranked among the top 25 in the nation. He served on the NCAA Division III President's Council. Under his leadership, the university entered a partnership with the New York Jets, which held five summer training camp on campus. Those camps provided valuable internships for hundreds of students and boosted the regional economy by an estimated $23.84 million.
President Bitterbaum presided over the largest capital campaign in SUNY Cortland history, the $27 million Educating Champions, the Campaign for Cortland, and his guidance has helped the university remain strong financially and maintain high-quality enrollment.
A biologist who specializes in ornithology, President Bitterbaum previously served as president of West Virginia University at Parkersburg.