Our fall semester is drawing to a close, and traditionally, this is the time of year that we gather in the New York Room in Cooper Hall to celebrate the holidays and the conclusion of another semester. I am sorry that this tradition has had to be put on hold this year, but I look forward to the resumption of activities when it is safe to do so. In the meantime, we must find creative ways to celebrate. College Communications has developed a new opportunity for us to share what is special to us and our families: a virtual Brockport Holiday Cookbook. We are looking to collect our community’s favorite holiday recipes with an initial focus on Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa, but the effort will continue throughout 2021. In fact, if there is sufficient interest, we will even consider a printed book next year. If you have a recipe to share, please submit it by December 12. I thought about including my family recipes for Lefse and Kringla, but my grandmother’s recipe has lines like “Use enough flour so that it is hard to stir,” directions which are not necessarily guaranteed to provide consistent success! If your family recipes are a little more precise, we would definitely welcome them.
There will be new features on the college website in late January. The first is a comprehensive events calendar. This new feature will allow for the creation of numerous events calendars across the website: a college-wide events calendar, departmental calendars, student events (many of which will be pulled from MyBrockport), an EDI calendar, athletic events, fine arts events, and much more. The good news is, you can submit an item to one calendar and easily share it with other calendars across the website. A rich calendar system will contribute to our efforts to be a great place to learn and work, ensuring that many more individuals are aware of the array of activities happening on campus, or virtually.
The second feature is a news portal, which will help recognize and celebrate the many accomplishments of our students, faculty, and staff. College Communications will be sharing more about this addition in the coming weeks, so please look for more information in The Daily Eagle.
Another change you’ll see is that we have retired our campus-specific COVID-19 dashboard, and we are now linking directly to the SUNY COVID-19 Case Tracker from our Bringing Brockport Back website. Various reporting deadlines have made it challenging for many SUNY campuses, including SUNY Brockport, to sync campus-based dashboards with SUNY’s dashboard. Therefore, SUNY has requested that we retire our dashboard and utilize theirs instead. The SUNY COVID-19 Case Tracker allows individuals to view not only SUNY Brockport’s metrics, but each college or university in the SUNY system.
Finally, we have updated the metrics for our COVID levels, due to feedback from our community. The new levels are available here: Campus Risk Levels.
I will provide a more comprehensive update regarding our EDI plans and processes in the New Year, but I am pleased to be able to share with you the 2019-20 EDI strategic plan update here. I want to thank Dr. Lorraine Acker for her hard work on ensuring that we were able to capture the highlights of the year’s work and to disseminate them to our community.
385 individuals from SUNY Brockport took part in the 21 Day Racial Equity Challenge, and we had 80-100 taking part in four virtual brown bag sessions led by campus colleagues. We are now looking at opportunities to continue to meet regularly to talk about equity issues. If you haven’t already done so, please fill out the survey about the challenge, which also offers an opportunity for individuals to volunteer to lead sessions in the future.
The CDO search committee continues to meet and review applications, and there will be an opportunity to interact with finalists this spring.
Finally on this topic, I want to thank Dr. Rodmon King for his exceptional support this past year. As he concludes his time with us, he has updated the EDI Student Advisory Board as well as College Council (you can find his remarks at around the 36 minute mark on this link: College Council Meeting December 2020). He also has plans to attend an upcoming College Senate meeting and an alumni meeting. His support and guidance have been crucial during this transitional period, and I am grateful to him for sharing his expertise.
North Campus Infrastructure Project
If you’ve driven around campus lately, you may have noticed that our $10M multi-year North Campus infrastructure project has started. The planned improvements include the following:
- Replacement of water and sewer lines
- Upgrading of storm sewers
- Installation of new electrical and communication duct banks
- Universal accessibility to all buildings
- Improved and widened walkways
- New outdoor social gathering spaces with seating
- LED lighting for safety
- Increased plantings and trees
Please bear with us as we begin these important improvements. You may need to alter your walking routes for a while in order to accommodate the changes.
SUNY Brockport is a now an eduroam-enabled institution which allows faculty, students, and staff from participating institutions to access the Internet securely from almost anywhere around the world, including SUNY Brockport. When a user tries to log on to the wireless network of a visited eduroam-enabled institution, the user’s authentication request is sent to the user’s home institution. The user’s home institution verifies the user’s credentials and sends the result of such a verification to the visited institution. If valid, the user is connected to eduroam at the remote site without having to download any additional software. This TeamDynamix article illustrates how a Brockport user can connect to eduroam.
The Community Justice major (an interdisciplinary initiative involving Criminal Justice and Anthropology) received final approval from NY State Education Department on December 2, 2020, and will be launched Fall 21. Majors will be instructed in cultural competency, anthropological research methodologies (including forensics), the principles of the criminal justice system, and the ethical complexities of promoting justice. Courses draw heavily from both Anthropology and Criminal Justice majors.
Neuroscience, another interdisciplinary major, also received final approval last week. Neuroscience draws on the knowledge base and methodologies of natural and behavioral sciences including Biology, Chemistry, and Psychology for the advancement and understanding of the brain and nervous system.
I am excited about the interdisciplinary nature of the new offerings we will shortly launch, and I am grateful to the faculty for their hard work in developing these new programs.
We are still operating under state-directed budget restrictions, and we began the year with only a six-month budget allocation. We were recently told we would need to submit a budget for only the next three months, which coincides with the end of the state’s fiscal year. These are unusual times to be sure, and we are actively working on a number of projects that will help us with our budget shortfall. Each VP has been asked to review their division to see where it makes the most sense to reduce expenditure, and we are also actively working with the JPBC task force on across-the-board solutions.
We are tracking the costs of COVID at our weekly budget meetings. The latest figures we have indicate we have spent just under $800K in COVID related expenses, as well as around $200K in testing expenses. Our testing process will continue for the foreseeable future.
In better news, we did recently get reimbursed for the almost $300K that we spent on the spring quarantining of SUNY study abroad students, and I want to thank Senator Ortt, Assemblyman Hawley, and Chancellor Malatras for working so diligently to be sure we were recompensed for our expenses. While at the time it may not have felt like an opportunity, we learned a tremendous amount from being a quarantine site, and that put us in a good place to be successful this fall—so successful, in fact, that colleagues at Brockport have acted as consultants to other SUNY campuses regarding our plans. Thank you to everyone who helped us finish the face-to-face part of the semester safely and successfully.
Support for Students
As you have heard multiple times, the Golden Eagle Opportunity Fund (GEOF) was established in the spring to help students with emergency needs when COVID struck. As you are considering your charitable contributions at year-end, consider adding to this fund, or any other that supports our students, with a gift through the Brockport Foundation. If you have questions, please contact Advancement at email@example.com or (585) 295-2451.
This week, we found out that SUNY Brockport has been awarded an additional $75,000 in student emergency use funding through a partnership between the SUNY Impact Foundation and the Hecksher Foundation. We are one of just five SUNY institutions to receive these dollars.
In addition, the Brockport Foundation Scholarship portal opened last month for students interested in applying for scholarships and awards for the 2021-22 academic year. Please spread the word and encourage your students to research opportunities and apply.
We are also continuing to communicate to students about how to get their mental health needs served, and I wanted to share this information with you, too, for when students reach out to you. Amongst the resources for students are the following:
You may be interested in the results of the Fall 2020 SUNY Student Satisfaction Survey.
SUNY Brockport has been ranked 26th in the Regional Universities in the North for Social Mobility in the US News and World Report Best Colleges Guide, above all other local colleges, and above our sister SUNY schools, Empire State, Fredonia, Potsdam, Oswego and Plattsburgh. This continues our long tradition of serving students who have financial constraints well, and it is something we should be rightfully proud of in relation to our vision of building meaningful lives and vibrant communities.
Governor Cuomo just signed a bill that will codify the status and program goals of Educational Opportunity Centers (EOC) within the State University of New York. By signing this bill, the Governor has strengthened the EOCs’ position in New York State. EOCs can continue to provide learners the workforce training and education opportunities in a nontraditional setting, and will help them to successfully pursue higher education and find employment. This is a significant milestone in EOC history, and our very own REOC will be working closely with SUNY on opportunities to engage in online support of students.
Did You Know?
A First Gen student refers to someone who is the first generation in their household who will earn a bachelor’s degree. We know being first at something can be challenging, so the Academic Success Center has found several ways to support and celebrate our trailblazing students and their families. It all starts at Golden Eagle Orientation, where we have specific information sessions for first generation students and their families. We encourage them to join the First Gen Network, a mentoring initiative for First Gen students by faculty and staff advocates, many of whom were First Gen themselves. Through consistent outreach and programming, including the national First Gen Celebration around November 8, we celebrate our students’ unique experiences and support them through their Brockport journey.
The Academic Success Center is always looking for faculty and staff mentors, allies, and advocates to support our students. If you are interested in being a part of these programs or would like to learn more about our First Gen students or programming, visit our webpage or contact Terrian Garvis, Brockport’s Transition and Success Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, as we head into the holiday season, I want to acknowledge what a tough year 2020 has been. It has been hard on our individual and collective mental health to confront a world-wide pandemic, and to witness continued evidence of racism and brutality across our nation and even close to home in Rochester. Please take time over the winter shut down to take care of your mental health, to find ways to switch off from your work, and to focus on yourself. It is not selfish to do so—it is probably the most self-less thing you can do for your family and your friends, by ensuring that they see you taking a break and finding time to rejuvenate.
Here’s to 2021 and all it will bring.