Spring Calendar, Faculty Scholarship Accounts, National Survey of Student Engagement, Academic Affairs Strategic Planning, Student Accessibility Services, Career Services Joins the Academic Division, Final Thoughts

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Newsletter — Office of the Provost

Friday, March 31, 2023
Volume 1, Issue 10

Faculty and Staff:

It’s been almost 10 months since I joined SUNY Brockport. The time has gone quickly and I’ve learned a lot by listening to you over the course of these two semesters. I managed to get out to visit each department mostly in the fall semester, and I continue to have a busy schedule with many meetings each week. There are many pressing challenges and many other issues that I’m learning about, some of which will take a longer time to resolve. Regardless, I welcome these excellent discussions, both formal and informal, as I slowly learn to navigate my way around the University.

I am pleased to be able to use this newsletter to report on several items. Some have been recent short-term actions, while others have been longer in developing. Nonetheless, each represents an accomplishment for the academic division. And no, none of these are April Fool’s jokes!!

Spring Calendar

A number of people expressed concerns about the Thursday start for the beginning of the spring semester. This came about in order to accommodate the Friday commencement and the need to have sufficient numbers of class sessions within the semester. However, the early start proved to be difficult for students and faculty, and impacted our ability to hold a robust winter session. I asked Dr. Eileen Daniel and Peter Dowe to work to identify an alternate arrangement, and I’m pleased to report that they developed a solution. We will now begin on either the Monday following the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, or the Monday thereafter, such that we will have a five-week winter session. The semester will end 16 weeks later. Finals will begin on Saturday (for Saturday classes only) and then continue on the following Monday and go through Thursday, such that we can still have our Friday Commencement. For 2024, we will begin on Monday, January 29, with finals beginning on Saturday, May 11 and Commencement on Friday, May 17. The full academic calendar through spring 2029 is posted online.

Faculty Scholarship Accounts

We once again looked into the allocation of faculty scholarship awards and have developed a new procedure for the 2023 – 2024 academic year. I have heard repeatedly that the current system in which each faculty receives $750 that must be spent in the year awarded provided insufficient support to effectively promote conference attendance. During our chairs meeting in February, I asked chairs to develop an alternate solution, keeping in mind that the total budget could not increase. They recommended developing a competitive process to enable larger award amounts. Working with the Deans, we have decided to implement a procedure that I have now discovered is a variant of a recommendation that was made two years ago. We will issue a call for proposals three times per year (September, January, and May) for awards up to $2,000. Committees within each school will review the proposals using a rubric that awards points based on rank, time since last award, and activity at the meeting. This process will begin in the fall with the first review in September. We’re still updating the information on our web page and expect to have it available before the end of the academic year, as each school finalizes their process for fall.

National Survey of Student Engagement

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) is currently being administered to first-year and senior students. NSSE results provide an estimate of how undergraduates spend their time and what they gain from attending college. Knowing how our students’ perceptions about topics such as academic learning, diversity, co-curricular experiences, and life outside of the classroom has evolved over the past three years will give us vital information to drive decision making across campus. As one of the most widely utilized surveys in the nation, our continuing participation allows us to compare our progress relative to our 2020 administration and to benchmark against our peers. Students should have received a personal invitation via email which contains individualized survey links. Please encourage your students to consider participating in the survey so that we may obtain statistically significant information on these important success metrics.

Academic Affairs Strategic Planning

Throughout this past academic year, the Academic Affairs Strategic Planning committee has been working from documents produced last year to develop a comprehensive Academic Affairs strategic plan. The plan draft is now available for comments.

The Strategic Plan committee has designated the period from April 3 – April 16 for you to provide input on the draft plan. Be on the lookout for emails with a link to a feedback form. There will also be opportunities to attend open forums. The open forums are:

  • Tuesday, April 4 — 3:30-4:30 pm in McCue Auditorium
  • Wednesday, April 5 — 9-10 am in McCue Auditorium
  • Friday, April 7 — 11 am-Noon Online. Please contact Sarah Bensley, to request the link.

My thanks to the committee for the work that they have done in completing this draft and the thoughtful discussion that I am confident it will produce as we gain input from a broader constituency.

Student Accessibility Services

Many of you have no doubt heard that Nikki Hall resigned her position as Assistant Director of Student Accessibility Services (SAS) in mid-March and taken another job. We are currently fulfilling students’ accessibility needs with Human Resources staff, who are knowledgeable of the requirements and rapidly coming up to speed on the accommodations software that is used for student intakes. We have also assembled an outstanding search committee that is already interviewing some outstanding candidates to fill the Assistant Director role and hope to have an individual identified in April. Once we complete the current round of virtual interviews, we will determine the next steps for the process. We have been moving quickly on this search since we know how important it is to fill this role. If you or your students have any questions, please direct them to Tammy Gouger in Human Resources or Teri Burke in SAS, as they are working together to ensure that all our students’ needs are being met. My thanks to Dr. Lauren Lieberman, Dr. Jennifer Ashton, Dr. Jessica Sniatecki, Teri Burke, and student Megan Hale for their outstanding service on this selection committee. I am also pleased to report that we have appointed an additional graduate assistant to support the office and hired an Administrative Assistant for SAS, and welcome Rebecca Jackson who will be moving over from Parking and Transportation Services. Further staff additions will be forthcoming following conclusion of the search for the new Assistant Director.

Career Services Joins the Academic Division

Career Services has enjoyed a strong partnership with Academic Affairs over the past several years, through collaborative job fair and employer events, classroom presentations, and student employment support. As we expand our experiential learning and internship opportunities, and increase our focus on career awareness, we are consolidating resources to provide a more integrated approach for the benefit of our students. As such, Career Services will report to the Academic Affairs division beginning April 1, but will remain within the Academic Success Center. We welcome Stephanie Learn and the rest of the career services team to the Division and look forward to working with them directly as we advance this important initiative.

Final Thoughts

Please make plans to attend our First Friday on April 7, now back in the Alumni House. I have attended many of these events and especially appreciate the opportunity to speak with faculty, staff, and alumni in an informal setting. This has been a great opportunity for me to get to know a little about you beyond your academic activities, which I have greatly enjoyed. Please stop by, beginning at 4 pm, to say hello and have a snack and a drink.

As we approach the end of the year, I wanted to announce that we are arranging to make the IAS available to students from April 17 at 6 am through May 3 at 11 pm. Students will receive daily reminders for each course in which they are registered until they complete the survey for that class. Your personal reminder to them will help you to obtain statistically significant data based on the students’ assessment.
I am looking forward to our Honors and Awards Ceremony on April 21 and Commencement on May 12. These are very important dates for our students, and the support of their faculty would be greatly appreciated.

Please register to attend the Honors and Awards celebration and indicate whether you prefer academic regalia or business attire. Please make plans to attend these two very important events, and the many other celebrations of student success that are scheduled throughout the next six weeks.
As always, thank you for all that you do for SUNY Brockport. We greatly appreciate your efforts on behalf of our students, current and future. Thank you.

Dr. Martin Abraham, Provost and Vice President
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SUNY Brockport
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