Chancellor Nancy Zimpher doubled down on SUNY’s commitment to online learning in her annual “State of the University” address Tuesday, Record Online reports.

While acknowledging online learning is the “hottest” trend in higher education these days, she insisted what’s being called “Open SUNY” isn’t merely “trendy.”

Open SUNY, she said, will “completely redefine access to a college degree … allowing us to reach (every child and adult) in their homes, schools and communities.”

The initiative is aimed at making it more possible for the state’s seven million high school graduates who don’t have — but will eventually need — a college diploma in order to join the work force.

Preliminarily, eight online degrees will be offered at six SUNY colleges in 2014, including degrees in nursing, business management and mathematics. SUNY New Paltz was not among those colleges participating in the initiative.

Frederick Kowal, the president of United University Professions, which represents SUNY’s teachers, was critical of the initiative, saying in a statement SUNY has not provided a clear plan for how to implement and develop courses.

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eCampus News staff and wire reports