Hudson Valley Colleges: 14 of Our Greater Institutions of Learning

A profile of our region’s top educational institutions.

Bard College. Photos by Bryan Haeffele

From Albany to Westchester, Hudson Valley colleges and universities lead the way when it comes to higher education in the region.

As we went to press with this year’s Ultimate Guide, local colleges and universities were preparing for a semester unlike any other, as they balanced health and safety considerations with curriculum. The one thing we do know will remain a constant is their commitment to delivering a quality education. Here are some examples of why our institutions of higher learning are considered some of the top schools in the region and the nation.

– Bard College –

Bard received $100 million in funding from Open Society Foundations (launched by business mogul George Soros) to expand its commitment to innovative higher education in the U.S. and globally. The decade-long, $10-million-yearly grant supports Bard’s Center for Civic Engagement programs and assists Bard in its leadership role in the Open Society University Network. Bard and Central European University in Budapest co-head the OSUN, which aims to reach students in neglected groups such as refugees, the incarcerated and the displaced.

Bard also will introduce a pioneering Master of Arts program in Human Rights and the Arts, planned for Fall 2021. The program will unite scholars, artists, and activists from around the world to explore the link between artistic endeavors and the struggle for truth and justice.

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– Iona College –

The NYS Department of Education has given Iona the nod to offer a new Bachelor of Science degree program in nursing. It will offer a traditional four-year undergrad program for freshman and transfer students, featuring a core liberal arts curriculum; and an accelerated, 15-month second-degree program for students who’ve already earned a bachelor’s in another field. Also, the college’s Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation is launching its first two majors: a Bachelor of Arts in Entrepreneurial Leadership and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship.

Earlier this year, Princeton Review named Iona among the “Best Business Schools” for 2020, and a Georgetown University report ranked Iona in the top six percent nationally among 4,500 schools, based on their long-term return on investment.

– Marist College –

Prior to the pandemic, Marist unveiled its expanded McCann Center student athletic hub that includes a gym, indoor track, and fitness equipment. The much-anticipated Marist Nuvance School of Medicine, a pioneering collaboration between Marist College and Nuvance Health, is slated for 2022.

In June, the college announced that Marist’s Department of Archives and Special Collections had received two federal grants totaling more than $230,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. The funds will help enhance digital academic offerings — especially useful as the pandemic is forcing more and more schools to offer higher-education programs through digital and online resources.

U.S. News & World Report ranked the Poughkeepsie-based school in its 2020 top 10 of “Regional Universities, North.” It was also named No. 4 in “Best Colleges for Veterans,” and No. 8 for “Best Undergraduate Teaching.”

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Photo by Lee Ferris

– Mount Saint Mary College –

The NYS Education Department recently awarded Mount Saint Mary a $750,000 grant to launch an on-campus Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (C-STEP). C-STEP will recruit minority and underrepresented student populations for the school’s Nursing, Natural Sciences, and Mathematics and Information Technology programs. The grant will be dispersed over five years, each year providing 75 students with academic, financial and other support.

In early 2020, Tiffany Gagliano, a 2002 grad of the college, became the inaugural dean of the School of Business.

– Purchase College –

Hailed by The Fiske Guide to Colleges 2021 edition as having strong academics, arts and culture, financial aid and more, Purchase is described as “a perfect place to study the arts and still be able to indulge in academics of all kinds, or vice versa.”

Purchase College received other recent kudos: The Princeton Review ranked it as a “Best Northeastern College” and “Best Value College” for 2020. And, U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 “Best Colleges” list included Purchase among the “Best National Liberal Arts Colleges,” with high scores for social mobility, a measure of how well various schools serve lower-income students.

Photo courtesy of Rensselear Polytechnic Institute

– Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute –

Thanks to a $2.3 million grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering of the National Institutes of Health, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is part of a larger team of experts researching ways to create virtual operating rooms for med students. Replacing the old-fashioned method of teaching with mannequin “patients,” the new VORTeX system allows participants to join simulated medical procedures. A group from the American College of Surgeons will advise the team developing the VORTeX process, which also includes members of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Albany Medical Center, and the University of Central Arkansas.

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RPI is also home to IBM-built AiMOS, the most powerful supercomputer housed at a private university, and one-of-a-kind in New York State. With AiMOS, the school’s researchers have developed a groundbreaking method to 3D-print living skin, complete with blood vessels. Medical applications will include helping create artificial skin grafts that can speed wound healing.

– Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville –

The Princeton Review’s annual Best 385 Colleges guide for 2020 named Sarah Lawrence No. 1 for “Professors Get High Marks” and No. 4 in the “Best Classroom Experience” category. And Variety ranked Sarah Lawrence among the world’s top film schools. The liberal arts college, which counts noted movie directors J.J. Abrams and Brian De Palma among its alumni, was touted for its unique semester-long intensive filmmaking course.

– SUNY Dutchess Community College –

The college is transitioning to new leadership as Pamela R. Edington, its president since 2014, stepped down mid-year; she will assist in the transition through January 2021. During her tenure as head of DCC, Dr. Edington was instrumental in projects such as plans for a 32,000-sq-ft lab and classroom hangar at Hudson Valley Regional Airport. DCC @ Fishkill, the highly anticipated, state-of-the-art satellite site, is now open, with 18 classrooms; biology, physical sciences, and computer laboratories; a library; and more.

– SUNY New Paltz –

U.S. News & World Report’s ranked SUNY New Paltz as the No. 6 public university in the North Region for 2020. Military marketing organization Viqtory named the university among the 100 best U. S. schools for veterans and service members in its “Military Friendly Schools” list for the 2019-20 academic year. It’s the college’s fifth year on the list, and third consecutive Gold distinction.

– SUNY Rockland Community College –

Rockland Community College is among 20 academic institutions chosen to take part in the Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge, co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. The competition connects 3,000 students in the U.S., Jordan, and Iraq to collaborate virtually on creating a sustainable business solution to a challenge identified by participants in a variety of business sectors.

In fall 2019, RCC was one of only 40 sites in the nation to receive a Title V Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The $3 million grant — the largest in the school’s 60-year history — will help boost participation and retention of Hispanic students.

– SUNY Ulster Community College –

Best Colleges ranked SUNY Ulster as No. 1 in their “Top Ten Best Community Colleges in New York State” rankings for 2020, saluting its academics, affordability and cultural opportunities. Earlier in 2020, UCC received a nearly $250,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research Development Authority. The money goes to the school’s Green Careers Academy, which will offer free or reduced tuition to eligible local young people, active volunteer firefighters, veterans, and low-income and long-term-unemployed people in entry-level, clean-technology courses.

– SUNY Westchester Community College –

The college’s new, non-credit Historic Preservation Certificate Program is the state’s only such program at a community college. Held at the school’s Peekskill Extension Center, it offers unique training for students and working pros interested in historic-site topics such as management, fundraising and research. A recently signed transfer agreement with Pace University allows students who graduate in 12 majors with an A.A. or A.S. degree at WCC to enter Pace with junior status.

– The College of Saint Rose –

The college has launched a B.S. in Nursing, its first nursing program since the 1950s. The new degree program will eventually include clinical training in partnership with St. Peter’s Hospital College of Nursing and Samaritan Hospital School of Nursing, both in Albany. A new “2-in-4” program allows Saint Rose students to earn two diplomas — an undergrad degree in a variety of majors, and a master’s in business administration or business analytics — in four years. The Women’s Leadership Institute opened in fall 2019.

Photo courtesy of the Culinary Institute of America

– The Culinary Institute of America –

The renowned cooking school in Hyde Park has announced its first totally online bachelor’s degree. The Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Food Business Leadership is designed for CIA associate-degree grads who have been working in the industry for at least four years since graduating.

The CIA ranked No. 1 in return on investment for U.S. culinary schools, according to a Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce study based on federal data.

– University at Albany –

The University at Albany School of Public Health has created a new Center for Collaborative HIV Research in Practice and Policy (CCHRPP). The program addresses public health and social justice challenges of persons at risk for, or living with, HIV and related diseases.

The school’s new $180 million Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurship Complex is taking shape at the Harriman State Office Campus. Due to open in 2021, it will house the nation’s first College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity. The university’s School of Education garnered the “Top Public School” rating in New York and No. 2 in the Northeast, according to the U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 “Best Graduate Schools” rankings.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point

– United States Military Academy at West Point –

The academy’s Center for the Study of Civil-Military Operations has launched a partnership with Stellenbosch University in South Africa and the South African Military Academy. The CMO educates West Point cadets on working with civilian groups around the world during military operations. West Point teams claimed the top two spots in the most recent Sandhurst Military Skills Competition. (Held annually at the academy, this year’s event was cancelled due to COVID-19.)

– Vassar College –

Prospective Vassar students are no longer required to submit SAT or ACT test scores, starting with 2020–21 admissions. The Office of Admission’s decision to go test-optional was made along with the Committee on Admission and Financial Aid, and the Board of Trustees. Vassar will later evaluate the plan and determine whether to continue the policy; the school had been considering a test-optional policy before the onset of the pandemic.

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