I hope that you had the opportunity to have some rest and rejuvenation over the holiday break and the first few weeks of January. The time between semesters is an important one for review, for planning, and for gearing up for the next semester. In a few short months, we will send another group of graduates into the world, and I am grateful for the energy and time you put in to their success. Earlier this week, we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day and I am always reminded of one of my favorite MLK quotations: “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education.” Thank you for pursuing the goal of education for our students; the work that you do is invaluable.
Just before the break, the SUNY Board of Trustees announced that they had selected John B. King, Jr., PhD, JD as the 15th Chancellor of the SUNY System. He started his work on Monday, January 9, and has committed to visiting all 64 campuses this semester. We look forward to welcoming him to Brockport as his schedule permits. If you’d like to know more about the Chancellor, please follow this link: https://www.suny.edu/about/leadership/chancellor/
Campus Leadership Summit
Earlier this week, the Campus Leadership Summit welcomed both our affinity group leaders as well as full professors into the group. I am grateful for the presence of so many leaders on campus who are invested in student success. We focused on basic needs provisions for our students (and if you did not get a chance to attend the summit, I would recommend that you reach out to Mr. Mat Hall who can provide departmental or office presentations on the support we currently have for our students’ needs). We also had an excellent presentation from Dr. Summer Reiner and Dr. Kevin Tate, using their critical and scholarly expertise in counselling to review mental health supports for students, faculty and staff. Finally, we had an opportunity to start working on investments in institutional priorities, based upon the funding set aside by Cabinet to ensure that we can extend our support for recruitment and retention initiatives, as well as other priorities. Work continues on our budget, with Cabinet holding a retreat in early February to review progress against goals.
Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM)
Our budget work is intimately tied up with our strategic enrollment management (SEM) plan: part of what we want to do is grow our way out of the current shortfall. The best research on SEM notes that this is a shared responsibility, must be integrated into our planning, and be a focus long term. Our early investment in additional scholarships and enhanced marketing appears to be paying off.
Initial indications are positive: we have already received over 8000 undergraduate applications for fall semester, which outstrips the entire number of applications we had the year before. And our graduate numbers are looking very healthy for this spring, with over 200 students already registered as opposed to just over 100 at last year’s census date. I am grateful to all who are partnering with our undergraduate admissions team and our Center for Graduate Studies on this important work.
Improving the short- and long-term enrollment outlook is woven throughout the University’s strategic plan, and is specifically noted in the following goals and objectives:
- Enrich our learning environment through increased and sustained recruitment and retention of diverse students, faculty, and staff. (2022-2027 Strategic Plan, Goal 1, Objective 3)
- Embed strategic student recruitment and retention practices across the College (2022-2027 Strategic Plan, Goal 3, Objective A)
I have asked the Provost, the CDO and the AVP for Enrollment Management to work collaboratively on an application for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) Student Success Equity Intensive initiative, which would help us to enhance work in this area. The initiative is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and seeks to improve equitable student success for Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and low-income students. Putting together this application is important work that will help us plan for long-term success, and if we are successful in our application, this work will start in the fall, and will complement the SEM plan that is being finalized now.
Finally, I wanted to note the good news attached to a similar effort that is already underway on our campus — our Fannie Barrier Williams Scholars program. The average GPA for our cohort is 3.08. Of the 29 students, 7 had a GPA of 3.5 or above, and 2 had a 4.0! I want to thank Jianna Howard for the excellent work she is doing mentoring our students. We are hoping to secure additional external funding to grow this program further.
Mike Andriatch and I will continue to travel this semester in relation to securing additional private support for scholarships, for enhanced educational opportunities, and for our overall endowment. As I have mentioned to each divisional leadership team as I have met with them, the best way to raise money is to tell stories of our successes. We have many and we should be rightly proud of what we do. If you are aware of an amazing story of success, for a student, an alum, or a faculty or staff member, please reach out. I’d love to add that story to the growing list of things we share with donors. You never know what will make a difference.
Thank you again for all that you do to Build a Better Brockport.