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SUNY Combines Services to Save Money

PURCHASE, N.Y. - Saving money and bolstering academic programs were top priorities when State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher delivered her State of the University address on Jan. 9.

According to Purchase College's Director of Purchasing and Accounts Payable Nikolaus D. Lentner, the state system might be doing just that.

"The potential savings are enormous among our 64 institutions, which make up the largest state college system in the nation," Lentner said. "The savings can be redirected by each individual institution to fulfill its academic mission of hiring more faculty and developing needed courses."

Purchase was host to a system-wide conference last week on Jan. 18 and 19 in which purchasing executives from over two dozen schools came together to brainstorm money-saving ideas. Their shared strategy could potentially save the colleges as much as $100 million, Lentner said.

"The conference ended with a great sense of achievement," Lentner said. Nearly 70 executives from various schools discussed the combination of services to save money including multi-campus elevator maintenance contracts, a centralized print shop operation and electronic travel reimbursement operations on a single campus.

Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Operations Judy Nolan said the conference will go a long way to saving SUNY money.

"An economic downturn inspires out-of-the-box thinking, some risk taking, and maybe even a leap of faith," Nolan said. "SUNY's collaboration on shared services is a perfect example of challenging the familiar, and perhaps more costly, in exchange for an unfamiliar but cost-efficient result."

Executives at the conference collaborated over several different agenda items including inter-campus contracts and purchase agreements, school-wide contract databases, and a compilation of vendor information.

"The entire SUNY system is identifying collaborative opportunities for efficiencies, service improvements and cost saving measures," Lentner said. "What better place to begin that conversation than in the area of procurement?"

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