I hope that everyone had a refreshing break, and is ready for what will surely be a busy spring semester. For those of you who came out to hear my comments last week, some of these updates will be familiar. But I also have a few new wrinkles, so please keep reading.
Our institutional research team reports 6,567 students enrolled as of the first day of classes, an increase of 591 students compared to last year. Included in this count are over 30 new international students and 221 new graduate students. The graduate student enrollment is at 1,549, an increase of 243 compared to last spring, and the highest graduate enrollment we have ever achieved at SUNY Brockport (yes, this is an increase even compared to the record we set in Fall 2023). 1,049 of the 1,267 full-time first-year freshmen enrolled in the Fall returned for the Spring, putting our one-semester retention rate at 82.8%.
We continue to develop new and interesting programs that meet the needs of current and prospective students and support economic growth within our community. Proposals to offer a BS in Sustainability and DNP Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner online option were recently approved by SUNY and are now awaiting final approval through NYSED. The EdD in Educational Leadership continues to move forward, as does the Master’s in Healthcare Administration and the MS in Computing Science. There are also several proposals for new minors that have been submitted to Senate for consideration, including Tourism Management, Sustainability, and Business that will further add to the options available for our students.
We are searching for two Director positions this semester, a Director of Institutional Research and Analysis and Director of the Career Design Center (renamed to better describe its expanded mission in support of internships and career awareness within the curriculum). Those searches are just getting underway with the expectation that candidates will be brought to campus to meet faculty and staff before the end of the semester.
We received SUNY funding to provide increased support for students completing an internship. We have been in contact with other SUNY institutions who have received similar funding to determine how the two types of support can be distributed. One is to provide support for unpaid undergraduate internships (as opposed to student teaching or clinical placement). The second opportunity provides support for all undergraduate placements based on student financial need to cover expenses such as transportation, childcare, or similar financial challenges. Please have any students you believe might benefit from these new funds contact our Career Services office to get full eligibility information and application documents.
In addition, we received word last week that we were awarded funds to support a PRODiG+ Fellow in our Computing Sciences department. This newly created program is focused on enhancing our research portfolio, with the fellowship designed much like a traditional post-doc. Funding is for two years, after which time we will be able to consider retaining the Fellow into a regular faculty appointment. Brockport received one of the 40 that were distributed throughout the SUNY system.
Our Organizational Effectiveness Task Force continues to make progress and has put together a first draft plan. They started from our current organizational structure, compared us with 50 peer institutions, and received feedback from chairs and directors in the fall. After a brief review of the initial draft, we have asked them to provide additional context before sharing their thoughts later this month. A townhall event is scheduled for mid-February to solicit further feedback, then additional meetings with Chairs, followed by refinement of the proposal and submission back to me in early April. We will continue to seek your input as part of this process.
We are continuing with our shift to continuous improvement. Interestingly, this is something we already do on a regular basis, but we don’t do it in a structured way, nor do we document our activities. To better support our move to continuous improvement, we are modifying reporting requirements. The new faculty and departmental annual report forms will soon be loaded into faculty success. This is still a work in progress, but my goal is to create a reflective process that aligns well with the improvement cycle, asking you to establish goals and reflect on whether you are achieving the goals that you previously set, and eliminating requests for data that can be obtained elsewhere.
Finally, I want to recognize Catie LaLonde, who joined as our new CELT Director in October. Throughout the Fall semester, she was busy developing many professional development activities. Upcoming programs include EagleSUCCESS training, key aspects of Brightspace, successful grant writing, tips for preparing Chancellor’s Awards nominations including insights from past Chancellor’s Awards winners, tips for preparing renewal and promotion portfolios, support for the preparation of sabbatical applications, additional programs on AI and its implications, and ongoing free, remote SUNY opportunities. Each of these will be announced in the Daily Eagle and we encourage you to participate in as many of these programs as you can.
We also have several faculty learning communities this semester: Continuous Improvement, Online High-Impact Practices (HIPs), and Peer Support Group (mental health among HeD colleagues). We are also at the early stages of preparing a statistics support group (the StatPack?) to work with faculty and students in the design and analysis of research activities. To better align CELT offerings with faculty needs, we are preparing a survey that will be distributed in February seeking your input on professional development activities you would like to see us offer. Please respond to that request for input.
There is much underway in academic affairs. I try to do the best I can to include faculty, staff, and students in my decision-making, but it is challenging to get out and visit with everyone on all issues. If there is something you want to share with me, please send me a note, either through email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or through the “Ping the Provost” link on the Provost’s webpage. I try to respond to everything in a timely manner. I’m also still working to get out to all departments to meet with each of you. If you didn’t see me in a department meeting during the Fall, expect to see me in the Spring.
I look forward to hearing from you, and appreciate the opportunity to continue to work with you as we make SUNY Brockport the best we can for our students. Thank you for all you do.