Welcome to the beginning of the spring semester. We’re glad to have you back on campus, hopefully refreshed and ready to engage for another semester. There’s been a lot of activity through my first semester, thanks to the hard work of many faculty and staff. I highlighted a few of our accomplishments during my welcome back remarks last week and in my responses to your questions. These open forums provide me a great opportunity to learn the challenges that you are facing (and I’ve already started some conversations to address a few of those) and hear more about the great work in which you are all engaged. I’m going to reiterate a few of the items that we discussed last week, expanding as needed with additional information.
One of our enrollment management goals is to increase the number of graduate students at SUNY Brockport. As of the first day of the semester, we had 1306 graduate students enrolled. That compares with 1275 graduate students at the census date last fall, and 1204 at the census date last spring. Since graduate students are traditionally late in enrolling, it is likely that our graduate enrollment will still increase slightly this semester. This increase is a critical part of our overall enrollment strategy. I want to take a minute to recognize Mike Harrison and his team in graduate admissions that continues to work extremely hard delivering robust graduate classes. I also know that there is a lot of work that goes on in each department to help every potential graduate student make the transition to registration, so I also want to thank all of the faculty that have been engaged in this very important hard work. Together, we will continue to succeed.
New Academic Programs
Another important strategy to increase enrollment is the development of new academic programs that meet the needs of our prospective students. This is an essential activity in which many faculty have engaged over the past several years. We have new programs in Early Childhood Education and Economics beginning in the fall of 2023, our B.S. in Cybersecurity under review at SUNY, and new proposals for an M.S. in Computing Sciences, an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, and inter- or multidisciplinary B.S. programs in Forensic Sciences, Media Studies, and Engineering Technology, among others, on their way to the Senate for review this semester. Some of these programs will require new resources, and I am working with other members of Cabinet to ensure these will be available when new programs are eventually approved. I am excited about these new offerings and looking forward to the time when we can provide these new opportunities for our community.
While increasing new student enrollment is essential to meet our enrollment objectives, retaining the students that we already have is also critical to achieving our objectives. One action that we are taking toward improving retention is to reimagine our advising processes. Working with Erin Rickman in the Academic Success Center, we will be hosting a series of brainstorming sessions in which we will ask you to imagine the ideal advising process for our students. This is a tabula rasa exercise, in that we ask you to come without consideration for our current processes or preconceived notions. We want a fresh perspective to imagine an advising future that best meets the needs of our students. Then, we can sit together to determine how we move from our current state to the envisioned ideal state, including the investments needed to achieve the desired outcome. We are hosting three sessions, to start. If you want to participate in this activity, please sign up by completing the brief RSVP form.
Last spring, Interim Provost Delene announced that we were developing a process by which our long-term lecturers could transition into academic rank positions (instructors or assistant professors). Over the last semester, I have worked with our Deans to develop this process, with careful consideration for SUNY guidelines and requirements. I am pleased to provide the process that we have developed. This two-step process begins this spring, with lecturers wishing to be considered for an academic rank appointment meeting with their chairs to indicate their intent. Departmental faculty will also need to review their APT documents this spring to ensure that they have processes to consider these requests.
General Education, IAS, and Other Matters
As you all know, Senate approved new general education requirements last semester. Since that time, there has been a small group of people, including representatives from Senate, the Registrar, and academic division leadership, identifying a plan through which we can transition students to the new general education requirements. This plan requires some compromise in the short term so that we can facilitate this transition without harming any of our students. At the same time, our assessment team is evaluating the student learning outcomes that are expected within each of the general education requirements and developing rubrics to ensure that all of our courses meet the expected SLO’s. Further details will be forthcoming.
The new IAS process appeared to go fairly smoothly last semester, with over 50% of our students completing their surveys. We are now finalizing the process through which faculty will be able to upload their IAS outcomes into Faculty Success. Please note that some departments may need to update their APT documents to accommodate the new IAS form. In addition, new departmental, University, and SUNY expectations around DEISJ and scholarship can be addressed in these revised APT documents.
Our Academic Affairs strategic planning committee, under the leadership of SAS Associate Dean Dr. Monica Brasted, continues to look at opportunities for the academic division, building on the work that was completed last year. They are working to better identify unique characteristics that describe us as a University and the mechanisms through which these defining activities become embedded within our curriculum. In addition, the committee is developing strategies to achieve our goals and metrics through which we can evaluate our success. Much work has already been completed, with additional work still to come. I look forward to receiving their preliminary report at the end of next month and circulating these ideas among constituencies for further input, prior to the committee finalizing their recommendations before the end of the spring semester.
As I reflect on my first semester, I am grateful for the dedication that you have displayed for the long-term success of SUNY Brockport. We have already come a long way in the short time I have been here, and I am truly thankful for all the hard work so many of you have put into these discussions. There is still much to be done, but we are clearly on a path to greatness. My goal is to help make SUNY Brockport an outstanding comprehensive institution, recognizing the importance of professional programs and grounded in the liberal arts. I appreciate all that you are doing to help us achieve that goal. Thank you, and have a great spring semester.