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SUNY Cortland President Bitterbaum Named Trailblazer in Higher Education


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SUNY Cortland President, Erik J. Bitterbaum has been named in the first “Trailblazers in Higher Education” list by City & State New York, an organization that covers both local and state policy. Bitterbaum is one of 100 individuals who have been recognized.

Individuals recognized come from both colleges and universities, administrators, labor representatives, philanthropists, leaders of non-profit organizations, and those who have excelled in their work in higher education.

“This type of recognition speaks to the talents of many extraordinary colleagues,” Bitterbaum said. “I like to say that it takes a village, and I have always tried to lead with the belief that students are central to everything that we do — that our university exists to help them reach their greatest human potential. That mindset guides our most impressive work as an institution, and it’s why I am honored to serve as president of SUNY Cortland.”

Bitterbaum has been President of SUNY Cortland since 2003, and has seen the school grow, modernize, and increase the schools reputation both statewide and nationally. He is currently the longest serving president in the SUNY system’s comprehensive campuses, SUNY Cortland noted in a release. Bitterbaum is second in tenure after Joyce F. Brown who served as president of the Fashion Institute of Technology since 1998.

SUNY Cortland has experienced $450 million dollars in both new construction and renovations since the start of Bitterbaum’s tenure. Physical changes to the school are not the only thing Bitterbaum has been noted to change. Since 2003, students from underrepresented groups have increased by 21% in overall student population and have implemented the President’s Council on Inclusive Excellence.

More highlights provided by SUNY Cortland of President Bitterbaum may be seen below:

  • He is a former commissioner of the national Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Preparation (CAEP). During his decades as president, SUNY Cortland has maintained the distinction of housing the largest teacher education program among New York’s public universities and one of the most respected programs in the nation.
  • He was a charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, continuously approving changes to infrastructure and practices that have helped make SUNY Cortland one of the most environmentally sustainable campuses in the U.S., according to annual ratings by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
  • Bitterbaum has presided over the two largest capital campaigns in SUNY Cortland’s history, raising more than $57 million collectively to help support students, faculty and staff members in their educational pursuits. His tenure also has been marked by consistently strong student enrollment.
  • A former member of the NCAA Division III President’s Council, Bitterbaum is a well-known supporter of an athletics powerhouse that has produced 26 national championship teams and consistently ranks among the nation’s top 30 programs. From 2009 to 2014, SUNY Cortland also partnered with the NFL’s New York Jets to hold five summer training camps on campus, which provided valuable internships for students and boosted the regional economy by an estimated $24 million.

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