As the semester winds down and I pass my first six months on campus, I thought this would be an appropriate time to pause and reflect on all that we’ve been able to accomplish so far. None of this would have been possible without the incredible efforts of the many faculty and staff within the Division, my administrative team, and others from outside the Division who have participated in numerous ways. I’ll highlight some of the progress we’ve made on many initiatives while acknowledging that this list is by no means comprehensive. So here goes …
I’m pleased to announce that Dr. Priya Banerjee has agreed to step in as Interim Director for Institutional Research, beginning January 10. Priya brings a great deal of knowledge in the use of statistics and data analysis, as well as past administrative experience. One of our goals is to refocus our use of data to answer specific questions leading to actionable outcomes as we guide investigators in the development of appropriate research questions that provide insight into solutions to identified challenges. I want to thank Associate Director Tyler Moesle for his outstanding leadership over the past several months.
Faculty Participation in Recruitment
At the beginning of the semester, I suggested that faculty needed to be more engaged in the process of recruiting prospective students. I couldn’t be more pleased with how much faculty have stepped up and participated. We had outstanding participation in our undergraduate open houses, which were very well attended. Feedback from prospective students and parents indicated how important it was to have the opportunity to meet with the faculty. We have also engaged faculty in the student visit process, and once again, student engagement with faculty is listed as one of the highlights of their visit. I have long said that the basis of student choice is the connection that is made during their time on campus. Your participation has been invaluable in creating these connections and is greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Our ability to meet our enrollment objectives is not just about bringing in more undergraduate students; it is also highly dependent on our ability to increase our graduate enrollment. Michael Harrison, director of the Center for Graduate Studies, and his team have shared that our admits and deposits for new graduate students in spring 2023 have already exceeded the final numbers from spring 2022. Overall registration for spring also appears to be on track to exceed last year. Likewise, initial indications on fall 2023 graduate enrollment are trending upwards, suggesting continued increases. Graduate admissions are dependent on departmental action, so this good news is a testament to the hard work of many people across campus.
Looking To the Future
Beyond the work with an immediate return, there are many more things underway that should set us on a course for long-term success. Faculty are working through the development of new academic programs, with forthcoming proposals for an MS in Computer Information Systems, a BS in Engineering Technology, new majors in Economics, Sustainability, and Social Media, ongoing efforts to add online degree completion programs, and other majors and minors across all of our Schools. Our programmatic growth reflects the changing landscape of student expectations, demonstrating how faculty are working hard to meet the many needs of our students.
We have many faculty searches underway. A small number have already produced accepted offers, several more are nearing completion, and many are still in the selection and interview stages. I requested the opportunity to meet with faculty candidates during their campus visit, which has provided me the opportunity to have excellent conversations with these prospective faculty. I thoroughly enjoy meeting with these candidates and talking with them about their goals and expectations, while also working to sell them on the opportunities that we can offer them. I am excited to be able to bring new faculty to the University, but am even more excited about our conversations to modify our onboarding processes and faculty mentoring activities to help our new hires with the transition. I look forward to welcoming these new faculty and helping them to be successful as they join us this fall.
You may have also read elsewhere that we have committed funds to support upgrades of classroom furniture and technology. Modern teaching methods involving active and project-based learning require classroom infrastructure that we have not previously been able to provide. This is more than just smart boards and integrated computer technology. This is also about tables and movable chairs that are more appropriate for all students across all disciplines. It is my goal to engage faculty in the process of deciding where these investments can best be made.
I almost succeeded in my goal to meet with all departments this semester. I was on track to complete the meetings with two departments at Brockport Downtown this week, but those were moved to January when the initial schedule for the VPAF searches was developed. I have greatly enjoyed these meetings, as they have given me the opportunity to hear about the work that you do every day, to gain insight into your goals and plans, and to better understand the challenges of steering our students on a successful path. You do amazing things. Thank you.
As a small recognition for all you do, we will be hosting the Holiday Open House in the New York Room at Cooper Hall from 3 to 5 pm this afternoon. This will be a great opportunity to take a short break from grading finals and share some camaraderie with your faculty and staff colleagues. An ugly sweater is not required.
Please put on your calendar the academic affairs welcome back meeting and reception, at Tower Theatre Mainstage and Lobby, beginning at 1:30 pm on January 18. I will provide some brief comments and then take questions, followed by an informal reception with refreshments. I look forward to seeing many of you at that event.
This has been an amazing semester and a fantastic first six months for me here at SUNY Brockport. You’ve welcomed me into your community and allowed me to share my ideas while working with you on immediate opportunities. I am regularly asked what has surprised me about Brockport so far. Usually, I respond that while it’s not really a surprise, I am overwhelmed by the level of commitment of our faculty and staff to the success of our students. We have extremely dedicated people, and that’s the great strength of our University!
Have a great break and enjoy your holiday.