As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I often take a few minutes to reflect on things for which I’m thankful. In that spirit, I want to express how thankful I am to have found SUNY Brockport, which has given me the opportunity to get to know some great faculty and staff. I know I’ve said it before, but in my departmental visits, I have met many people who are completely committed to the success of our students. Perhaps more importantly, many of you recognize that our retention is not where we would like it to be and that we will need to reimagine some of the things that we do as we work together to get better. To that end, departmental staff have been open to ideas as to how we can be more effective in supporting our students. For that, and for your willingness to listen to new ideas, I am the most thankful.
I am also thankful to our College Senate for approving our new general education model. This action will allow us to move forward with implementation, allowing us to roll out the new model for our students beginning in Fall 2023. There is a lot of work still to be done, and our implementation team, led by our Registrar Peter Dowe, with support from Senate leadership and Academic Affairs, is moving diligently to complete the needed tasks. I am also pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Donna Wilkerson-Barker as our new Director of General Education. Donna will begin working with the Senate General Education committee and our implementation team as we begin the transition to our new general education model. This was a very significant undertaking, and I am thankful for the successful completion of this important step and the hard work of everyone involved in getting us to this important milestone.
The academic division is working diligently to provide new options for a wide range of students, and I am thankful for all of the people who have been engaged in developing these new initiatives. Dr. Eileen Daniel has worked with several departments to develop a series of online degree completion programs that provide a pathway for adult learners who have some college but no Bachelor’s degree. These provide an alternative to our face-to-face options that may be more effective for our traditional students, and while there may be some overlap in content, we see these options as complementary, rather than being competitive. Mike Harrison and his team in graduate studies are also working on the development of new graduate programs that can provide opportunities to additional students, as well as looking at transition programs such as our 4 +1 which would allow students to complete some graduate credits as part of their senior year, decreasing the time needed to earn the Master’s. Keith Davis and his team in the Center for Global Education and Engagement have initiated new marketing and financial aid opportunities that should be attractive to incoming international students across all our programs. We are optimistic these new programs will bring increased enrollment, and I am thankful to all of the faculty and staff who have engaged in the development of these new opportunities to expand our brand.
Some of you may know that I have initiated a series of regular conversations with our department chairs. I meet with a representative small group of chairs roughly monthly, and also have hosted meetings for all of the chairs twice this semester. This regular communication helps to ensure that our chairs are in the loop on issues as they arise, providing a direct conduit through which chairs can engage with administrators on a wide range of topics. Recognizing the important work that chairs do, we were also able to increase the compensation for all chairs and increase the course release for many. It is my view that chairs have one of the hardest jobs on campus, providing an interface between our students (and their parents) and the administrative structure of our institution. I am thankful for the hard work of the chairs, who keep the academic mission on track.
Counseling Walk-In Clinic
I am thankful for the Department of Counselor Education and the Hazen Counseling Center, who have joined together to develop a new Peer to Peer Counseling Walk-in Clinic. Students struggling with social-emotional and career development issues (e.g., homesickness, career questioning, academic stress, roommate conflict, relationship issues, anxiety) can meet with peer counselors in the evenings. Our peer counselors are graduate students enrolled in Mental Health Counseling, School Counseling, or a College Student Affairs and Development program. The peer counselors are provided live supervision by experienced professional counselors. Students are encouraged to seek support at the Peer-to-Peer Counseling Clinic in Hartwell Hall, Room 3, Mondays- Thursdays 4:30-9:30 pm. If you are a faculty or staff member, who suspects you know a student in need, please inform them of the walk-in clinic.
I am thankful for the information technology staff who are working diligently to smooth the transition to Brightspace, working towards a seamless transition when Blackboard goes away at 5 pm on December 21. I am thankful for the members of our Academic Affairs Strategic Planning committee who are expanding the work completed last year and developing a holistic view of our academic mission and vision, as well as working to develop pathways through which augmentation and reconfiguration can be completed be departmental faculty.
We have several temporary vacancies on our administrative team announced online, and I am thankful to those who have considered the opportunity to serve in these roles, or are still considering whether a position might be an appropriate career opportunity for them.
Over the course of the year, we tend to think in terms of the challenges we face. This is natural and expected. It is for this reason that now is a good time to stop and reflect on the good that we have achieved and the opportunities to do even more in the future. I have been at this for over 35 years, and the greatest joy that I have is when I hear from a former student who is doing well. Just this week, I received a note from a former student seeking a reference. Through his actions, I know that I had some small influence on this student’s life, which is my main purpose for being in higher education.
Each of you, in your own way, are making a difference in our students’ lives. Thank you!!