I would like to begin by taking a moment to welcome everyone back to campus for the fall semester. In my nearly three months here, I have been tremendously impressed with the dedication and hard work of the people that I have met, and their commitment to a successful SUNY – Brockport. As we begin the semester with a renewed spirit, I am looking forward to an exciting and invigorating first year. One of my goals for the year is to keep everyone informed, without overburdening your inbox, so my plan is to provide academic division updates on a regular basis.
We had great turnout of faculty and staff at our Academic Convocation on August 26th, providing our incoming students with a rousing start to their Brockport experience. We also had a good turnout and a lively discussion for our Academic Affairs kick-off on August 25th. Thank you to the many of you who came out to these important events.
I would now like to turn to some of the important discussions we will have during my first year as Provost. As you surely expect, the first key theme on which we will focus is enrollment. During the kick-off, I discussed five opportunities in which I believe academic affairs must play a critical role. Rather than pretending that I have all the answers after less than three months on campus, I posed numerous questions to generate discussion and help me learn from you how the academic division can promote improvement.
Traditional first-year students. How can we increase the engagement of the academic units into the recruitment process? How should faculty be engaged in the recruitment process? What should we be doing to make us more appealing to prospective students and their parents?
Transfer opportunities and adult learners. Are we transfer friendly? What should we do differently to attract a greater number of these students? Can we (or should we) develop a more robust means of providing credits for prior learning? Are there partnership opportunities (for example, with community college) that could create direct pathways?
Retention. How are today’s students different from those of past years? How has Covid changed the needs of our incoming students? Is the curriculum, as currently configured, effectively designed to promote their success? How will the changes in general education impact our curriculum? Do we have the best advisement models to support the needs and desires of our students? What can we do better?
Graduate programs. Where do we have opportunities for growth? What can we do to promote faculty creativity in expanding program offerings? Can we (or should we) encourage interdisciplinarity? What is the proper role for research in graduate education? How do we best serve the needs of our community?
International. Where do we have opportunities to increase recruitment of international populations? Which academic programs have capacity and interest? What types of international partnerships make sense for us?
I also asked a few additional questions. What makes Brockport unique? Responses included faculty who care deeply about their students, highly skilled instructors that maintain rigorous standards, and the use of a teacher-scholar model. Someone mentioned that we were highly accommodating to students’ needs. And another indicated that Brockport is a college that changes people’s lives. These are great answers. Our next question is how we best use this information to market our strengths to our prospective students. More to come…
We are quickly moving forward on the proposed revision for Brockport general education. Our General Education Review Committee, led by Donna Wilkerson-Barker, has developed three possible models that will be presented to and discussed at College Senate over the next several weeks. I am encouraged by the thought and care that went into developing these proposals, as they will advance our mission by providing a cohesive general education program that should effectively engage our students in creative thinking and provides connectivity between general education, the student’s major, and co-curricular activities. Also, I am pleased to report that we will be searching for a Director for General Education, per the recommendations of College Senate and the General Education Review Committee. Learn more information on the committee’s recommendations, proposed models, and get a link to the full report.
Finally, I would like to share some of my preliminary thinking on extending the academic strategic plan. The work that was completed last year allowed us to clarify programs that provide immediate opportunities for growth. Now, we need to look more deeply at the programs that were slated for reconfiguration and augmentation to determine what we must do to enhance the opportunities they provide. As we have those conversations across campus, we must also answer the question of what will make us unique and ensure that we configure our programs around these unique SUNY Brockport features. We must determine the needs of our community so that we can provide programs that are responsive to those needs. Where can we work across departments or schools to build interdisciplinary collaborations that take advantage of underlying strengths? I am working to reconfigure our Academic Strategic Plan Committee so that they can explore these recurring themes and advance some of these preliminary conversations we have had over the past several months.
I believe that Brockport is in a great position to build on the work that occurred last year as we rebuild our enrollment base and develop our unique niche within SUNY. We have a lot to be proud of, and I look forward to working with you in this very important task.