Empire State College was founded in 1971 as a comprehensive, public college within the State University of New York. A recognized leader in offering innovative degree programs for highly motivated adults, the college enrolls more than 17,000 students annually in associate, bachelor's and master's programs at 35 locations across New York State and through the Center for Distance Learning. Faculty work with students in one-on-one, small group, residency-based and on-line learning modes at the graduate and undergraduate levels, and the mix varies by setting. Central to the faculty role is helping adults design and carry out individualized degrees. The college is a pioneer in mentoring adult learners, prior learning assessment and on-line learning.