March 21, 2018

Tanweer Ali Recognized with Altes Prize for Exemplary Community Service

Tanweer Ali is flanked by Officer in Charge Mitch Nesler and Executive Director of International Education Francesca Cichello

(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – March 22, 2018) Tanweer Ali, a mentor and instructor in Business, Management and Economics at Empire State College’s International Programs in Prague, has been selected as the recipient of Altes Prize for Exemplary Community Service. He was recognized for his work with human, women’s and immigrant rights; for his contribution to emerging financial communities and his engagement in community projects involving finance-based learning.

“I am happy that one of our International Programs mentors, Tanweer Ali, has been recognized for this honor,” said Walter Williams, vice president for Advancement. “The work that our mentors do outside our borders often can be overlooked, so this prize shines a light on all the ways our mentors carry out the college’s mission wherever they may be located.”

“I am honored and thrilled to receive the Altes Prize," said Ali, “I also feel incredibly grateful to have had the good fortune to work for an institution that has such a strong culture of valuing service to the community. I owe a huge amount to all the colleagues and friends who have supported me in so many ways over the years. I also feel inspired to continue with all the projects I am working on.”

Specifically, among the many activities Ali has contributed to, from 2001 – 2005, Ali was a member of the board of Orgnisation for Aid to Refugees, a Prague-based refugee-assisting nongovernmental organization  (NGO). He was chairman of the board from 2002 – 2005. Fluent in Czech, Ali also initiated the founding of FORUM 50%, an NGO devoted to increasing the participation of women in politics in the Czech Republic. From 2011 to 2016, Ali was chairman of the board for Insaan, a small nonprofit aimed at improving the understanding of Middle Eastern culture in Czech society. Insaan was founded by a SUNY Empire alumnus.

Between 2011 and 2015, Ali assisted two small Czech NGOs in creating a project to educate social workers and teachers on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. He also has created two courses, along with local faculty partners, which examine the way in which prejudice spreads in society. Ali is also a research associate with the London-based think tank The Foreign Policy Center, which was founded by former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

In 2015, Ali began advising Occasio, the first Prague-based nonprofit dedicated to creating a microfinance lending scheme, providing small loans for social enterprises. He later was able to place a student in Occasio as part of a credit-bearing independent study, which demonstrates one small way that Ali intertwines community with his work at the college.

Ali also has been involved in a number of initiatives to drive economic expertise and professionalism. He has involved community members – including current SUNY Empire students – in projects that provide financial expertise to be connected to basic social problems such as income and debt consciousness with social entrepreneurial pathways for developing stronger, more self-reliant and resilient personal and community growth, wrote David Starr-Glass, who nominated Ali.

About the Altes Prize for Exemplary Community Service

The Altes Prize for Exemplary Community Service is presented annually to a faculty member whose outstanding community service uses research and insights from his or her academic discipline to address pressing social problems. The award was established by Jane and Wally Altes. Jane served as the college’s long-time vice president for academic affairs and also as interim president. The award will be presented at the Faculty Academic Conference in the fall.

About SUNY Empire State College

Empire State College, the nontraditional, open college of the SUNY system, educates nearly 18,000 students worldwide at eight international sites, more than 30 locations in the state of New York, online, as well as face to face and through a blend of both, at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree levels.

The average age of an undergraduate student at the college is 35, and graduate students’ average age is 40.

Most Empire State College students are working adults. Many are raising families and meeting civic commitments in the communities where they live, while studying part time.

In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each undergraduate student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career.

Working with their mentors, students design an individual degree program and engage in guided independent study and course work onsite, online or through a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to choose where, when and how to learn.

The college’s 78,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more.

The college was first established in 1971 by the SUNY Board of Trustees with the encouragement of the late Ernest L. Boyer, chancellor of the SUNY system from 1970 to 1977.

Boyer also served as United States commissioner of education during the administration of President Jimmy Carter, and then as president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

More information about the college is available at