Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, Eagle Care - Support for Students, Religious Observances, Final thoughts

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Newsletter — Office of the Provost

Thursday, March 2, 2023
Volume 1, Issue 9

Dear Colleagues,

It’s been a little while since I last wrote to you. While there is a lot going on and we’re in the middle of a typically busy spring semester, there’s also not a lot that has come to conclusion yet. A great many people are involved in a great many conversations, and I greatly appreciate all the hard work in which faculty and staff are engaged. Among the many things that are underway is further development of the Academic Affairs strategic plan, a re-evaluation of the assessment process, conversations about ways to update our academic curriculum to ensure that it retains relevance for our current and future students, budgeting, implementation of our new general education requirements, and strategic enrollment management, graduate and transfer enrollment, and international recruiting.

In addition to the numerous strategic items, there are several operational issues currently under discussion. We are considering changes to the Faculty Scholarship Awards to try to identify how we can use this limited resource to effectively fund faculty professional development. I have had multiple conversations about the impact of managed print on the departmental budgets. I am working with several departments/programs that are trying to identify resources for new facilities or equipment that can enhance opportunities for students. And I continue to be engaged with academic units that are hiring faculty for the fall 2023 semester, taking the time to meet with all candidates to share with them how SUNY Brockport is a great university in which to work.

That last item is particularly important to me, as one of the reasons I joined nine months ago was because I thought Brockport was a great place to continue my career. As I have come to find out, we are doing many things right, but there are many things that are not well-known. I thought it worthwhile to share a little about some of these ongoing activities.

Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching

Faculty professional development is critical to our success. In support of professional development, we offer a multitude of faculty development programs through the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching. Among the many workshops that we offer (check out the list of upcoming events), we offered a few weeks ago a program on “ungrading”. The concept focuses on qualitative assessment, rather than a focus on graded exams and letter grades. This was an excellent session and will be followed up by a faculty learning group.

Our commitment to success is reflected in our efforts to ensure a successful transition for our new faculty. We are working to supplement the onboarding process that human resources has put in place for all new employees to ensure that new faculty have a robust introduction to our University and are able to adapt to both the University environment and the Brockport community. To that end, we recently hosted a session on mentoring so that we have many supportive faculty across the University prepared to reach out to our new faculty, providing wisdom and counsel, or just someone in the community to whom they can talk. It is my expectation that each new faculty will have several mentors to provide a diversity of viewpoints and a breadth of information. Faculty success is an important part of SUNY Brockport’s success, and I am committed to helping all our faculty make a successful transition.

SUNY Brockport also participates in the PRODiG (Promoting Recruitment, Opportunity, Diversity, Inclusion and Growth) program, organized through the SUNY comprehensive campuses. The Fellowship program is designed to introduce diverse faculty that might not otherwise have considered our type of institution to the advantages of a SUNY comprehensive university. We are fortunate to have two current PRODiG faculty and are currently recruiting for a 2023-24 candidate. Doctoral candidates will spend two years on our campus while completing their dissertation, teaching a reduced load and engaging with students and faculty. Less well-known is the PRODiG faculty program and we are fortunate to have six participants in this aspect of the program. Earlier this week, I met with our PRODiG Fellows and Faculty to learn more about their needs. They presented some excellent ideas that we will try to implement to support their success. SUNY provides funding through PRODiG to develop campus-wide diversity programming. We are working with OEDI to develop specific programming to meet that objective.

Eagle Care, support for students

I continue to hear from faculty and staff looking for ways to support our students. One great tool is our Eagle Cares program, a central web site that provides direct links to support services, not just those on campus but also many throughout the community. In my own time as faculty and as an administrator, I have often wondered where to direct a student who came to me looking for help. I believe that I know many of the resources, but this website goes beyond even what I was aware. It’s designed for students seeking help, but I’ve also found it to be an extremely valuable resource for me to guide students to the support that they need. Please take a look at the information included on the site so that you can help guide students who come seeking your advice. Although designed for students, there is important information that you might potentially find beneficial as you are looking for answers for your own challenges.

Religious Observances

Damita Davis, our Chief Diversity Officer, sent an announcement earlier this week reminding campus about spring religious observances (view the calendar of religious holidays). These observances have the potential to impact your student’s attendance and performance in class. Friday April 7 is Good Friday, a regular class meeting day. Please note that some students observe Good Friday in ways that will impact their attendance in class, or may choose to be with family for the weekend. In addition, the Holy month of Ramadan begins on March 22nd. Muslims fast each day of Ramadan from dawn until dusk, for the duration of the month. Ramadan ends with the Eid-al-Fitr on April 21st, one of the holiest days on the Muslim calendar. And finally, our Jewish students will be celebrating Passover, beginning in the evening of April 5, and concluding on April 13. During the first night of Passover, Jews gather for a special meal known as a Seder. During the week, they are prohibited from eating bread. Because we have a great diverse population of students here at SUNY Brockport, we also have a great many students in need of consideration, even beyond those specifically identified in this paragraph. Please be supportive of our students’ needs.

Final thoughts

Education is a journey. As students, staff, and faculty, we are on this journey together, working to make SUNY Brockport a great place, striving to achieve our own goals while also trying to support the goals of others. Through our various activities, whether it be professional development offered through CELT, or guiding a student through Eagle Cares, or just recognizing the religious observances of those from a different culture than our own, we can make our community just a little bit better.

Finally, I want to encourage you to stop by our First Friday reception this week at 4 pm in the New York Room of Cooper Hall to help build a more friendly environment, enjoying the social interaction that can lift us up as we strive to build a better Brockport.

Dr. Martin Abraham, Provost and Vice President
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