Nicholas A. Lyons, SUNY Oswego’s vice president for administration and finance, has received the Robert J. Wagner Business Officer of the Year Award from the State University Business Officers Association. With the honor, his peers recognized his contributions to SUNY as well as innovations he has helped bring to Oswego.
“For more than three decades, Nick has served the State University system with distinction, including the last nine years as SUNY Oswego’s top financial officer,” President Deborah F. Stanley said. “He has been and remains our steady, resourceful guide in growing our college even in these very challenging times for public higher education.”
Lyons has found ways to get buildings built and to fund technological and educational innovations despite fiscal constraints. He played integral roles in the development of the SUNY Oswego Metro Center, the Campus Center and the rising Sciences and Engineering Innovation Corridor.
At the system level, Lyons is one of only three business officers serving on SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher’s budget task force, helping implement the ambitious “Power of SUNY” plan despite a billion dollars in state budget cuts for the 64-campus system over four years. And he has served two terms as president of the business officers group.
Lyons is one of the few business officers who has both system administration experience and the experience of running a particular college’s finances.
He started in 1978 as a budget analyst with the Research Foundation of SUNY. In 1982, he moved to SUNY’s system administration and held several positions in finance and business and as university internal control officer. He was assistant vice president for finance at SUNY New Paltz before joining Oswego in 2002.
Lyons points with pride to Oswego’s inclusive model for integrating construction planning with academic needs and innovations—a model that has become a “best practice” for other SUNY campuses.
“We are recognized as a campus that’s as successful as any in renovations and the type of planning that we are doing for the campus for the future,” Lyons said. “We’ve really transformed the Oswego campus. In the next five years, it’s going to be, again, a much different place once the science buildings are done and the new School of Education is completed. That’s really been the most rewarding aspect—seeing the results of all our planning.”
He gives much of the credit to others, especially managers and other employees in the divisions and departments he oversees: Facilities, Accounting and Finance, University Police and Human Resources.
“The whole secret to this is recruiting good people, providing them with proper training, then getting out of their way and letting them do their thing,” Lyons said. “I do have a lot of different areas that report to me. I’m not an expert in most of them. We’ve got very, very good people, and they make me look good.”
Lyons lauded the governor’s plan to put SUNY at the heart of the state’s economic revitalization efforts. “I think it’s very important that the governor’s administration realizes that SUNY is better suited to be a part of the solution here, that education has to have a critical role in developing the direction that the state is going to go in,” Lyons said.
Meanwhile, he said, the 29 SUNY colleges and the other institutions in the system have to keep developing new revenue streams and maintaining current ones to deal with declining state funding.
Lyons, who lives in Baldwinsville with his family, said SUNY has been his life’s work. “I honestly believe it’s a wonderful occupation, very rewarding,” he said.
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(Posted: Jun 22, 2011)