Many people have played an important part in the development of public higher education in NY, including some figures from Brockport, like Malcolm MacVicar, who was active in the campaign to establish the state "Normal" or teacher training schools in the 1860s.
But when it comes to SUNY, which was established in 1948 when Thomas Dewey was governor, Nelson Rockefeller was truly a pivotal figure. Governor from 1959-1973, he invested enormous sums of money and political capitol into the building of a substantial system of public higher education for New York. For example, in 1959 Brockport, although expanded from earlier years, was still a fairly small school of perhaps a 1,000 or so students, mainly centered on Hartwell Hall, although a few new buildings, like Morgan, had been erected in the '50s. When Rockefeller's time as governor ended in 1973 Brockport had a student body of 10,000 or more, the curriculum had expanded from that of a teacher's college to that of a comprehensive liberal arts school and the campus that we know today was largely finished.