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Could N.Y.'s new homeland security college land in Syracuse?

Durrie Bouscaren

New York state plans to create the nation’s first college dedicated to homeland security and emergency preparedness, which backers say is a necessary measure given the major storms and terrorist threats the state has dealt with.

And there are efforts to headquarter that new college in Syracuse.

State Sen. John DeFrancisco, a Republican from Syracuse, says the idea to create a homeland security and emergency preparedness college came from him and the state Senate, which he pitched to the governor.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo floated the idea in his State of the State address in January, saying, "believe it or not, there is no such college. There are colleges that offer courses in the area, but we’re going to establish the nation’s first college dedicated solely to emergency preparedness."

There are some SUNY schools that offer courses the governor mentioned, but so does Syracuse University’s law school, which already has a counter-terrorism center. That could be a good place to create a partnership with SUNY, DeFrancisco said. 

He says he’s brought the idea up with Syracuse University. And he says it’d be very disappointing if Syracuse doesn’t land the initiative, given it came from him.

"I can’t tell you where it’s going to go because I’m not ultimately making the decision, but I can tell you I’m going to do everything I can to make it happen because I think Syracuse and SUNY can do the best job right in Syracuse."

There’s $15 million in the Cuomo budget for the program, but what exactly for is undetermined. SUNY’s spokesman David Doyle says he doesn’t know if the state would create a 65th SUNY campus. He also says DeFrancisco isn’t the only lawmaker that wants to bring that money to their district.

"There’s been immense interest from many different parts of the state, from many different groups, amongst SUNY campuses, amongst elected leaders," Doyle said.

A Syracuse University official says they’re aware of the proposal, but are only monitoring the plan’s developments right now.

Syracuse Assemblyman Al Stirpe agrees with DeFrancisco about Syracuse being a good location, despite the blanks left to be filled in.

"We do have a lot of different parts of this puzzle that I think we can use to make one great campus, if that’s what we’re going to do," Stirpe said.

The college could end up being housed with an existing SUNY campus, a partnership between several, or based online. How quickly the new college would start accepting students, depends on how it’ll be configured.

WRVO/Central New York reporter for the Innovation Trail