Institutional Distinctiveness--Draft: 12/11/09
Strategic Planning and Resource Council

Summary of "Institutional Distinctiveness"
(based on SPARC Workshop 8/20/09, Open Forum 9/15/09, Institutional Distinctiveness Task Force forums and meetings 9/09-12/09, Open Forum 11/16/09, Writing Committee meetings 12/10/09)

Institutional Distinctiveness: Important attributes that are currently or readily achievable; distinguishing strengths.

The following are the current attributes and strengths that distinguish the college: 

Reputation as an excellent academic institution with a strong commitment to teaching and learning, as evidenced by the following:

  • Low student-faculty ratios, especially in comparison to similar institutions

  • Significant growth in freshman applications, high selectivity in acceptance, and increasing academic credentials among applicants

  • Innovative and distinctive niche programs

  • Rigorous assessment of student learning in General Education

  • Being one of only five SUNY institutions participating in the Voluntary System of Accountability

  • Excellent scores on the national Collegiate Learning Assessment in comparison to similar institutions

  • A rapid ascent in institutional position in the national rankings of U.S. News and World Report and Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges

  • An exceptionally high rate of alumni support for the college

High levels of participation, involvement, and engagement on the part of students, as evidenced by the following:

  • Students’ extensive involvement in research with faculty mentors

  • Students’ high ratings on national surveys of their involvement in learning and co-curricular activities

High level of participation in service by faculty, students, and staff, as evidenced by the following:

  • The 15-year history of the college’s Center for Social Responsibility and Community, promoting and supporting student volunteerism and service learning

  • Three successive years of being named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll

  • Students’ high ratings of their involvement in community service through the college

  • Freshmen and seniors attesting to significantly higher levels of participation in community-based projects as part of their classes

  • The Center for Economic and Community Development enhancing the quality of life in the greater Oneonta community

An environment with distinct physical and psychological characteristics, as evidenced by the following:

  • Unique and high-quality facilities

  • A beautiful setting and convenient location, characterized by small-town safety and atmosphere

  • A robust technology environment

  • A strong social network


The following areas were identified as having potential for development into distinctive attributes and strengths of the college in the future: 

1.  Graduate programs 

2.  Diversity and inclusion 

3.  International programs 

4.  Sustainability and environmental initiatives 


The complete report of the Institutional Distinctiveness Task Force, which includes corroborating empirical evidence of the college’s distinctiveness, is available on the web at

Last Updated: December 11, 2009