Welcome from the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost - Summer 2016
Eight commencement ceremonies marked the conclusion of Binghamton University’s 2015-16 academic year, as more than 3,400 students—some 2,600 bachelors candidates and 800 masters and doctoral students—received degrees.
Commencement is a time to celebrate the accomplishments of our students and anticipate the many ways they will enrich their communities and the world in the years to come. It’s also a time to reflect on the year past.
Enrollment continued to grow during the 2015-16 academic year, reaching almost 17,000 and exceeding the ambitious goal we set in 2011. Our plan was to grow with quality, and we did. In Fall 2015, our freshman class boasted an average SAT score of 1304 and a 95 high school average, transfer students brought with them an average GPA of 3.4, and we recruited outstanding graduate students from across the country and around the world.
Binghamton’s academic quality continued to attract media attention. U.S. News & World Report ranked Binghamton 37th among public universities, while the New York Times placed us 35th among “top universities that do the most for low income students,” Business First ranked us 20th among public universities, and Forbes India named us the 15th best value among all American universities.
Not surprisingly, interest in Binghamton among prospective students remained strong. Freshman applications for Fall 2016 reached an all-time high, topping 32,000, and transfer and graduate applications also climbed. As we move ahead, we will focus on quality, keep undergraduate enrollment steady, and continue to increase graduate enrollment.
The reputation of our existing programs and the new programs we have developed will enable us to continue to increase graduate enrollment. New programs include a Ph.D. in Community and Public Affairs as well as masters in applied statistics, health systems, public archaeology, sustainable communities, and TESOL, with others on the way. We are planning to welcome the first class of Pharm.D. students to our new School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (http://www.binghamton.edu/pharmacy-and-pharmaceutical-sciences/) in August 2017, and masters degrees in applied liberal studies, cybersecurity, data analytics, and public health are in development.
Growth in health sciences programs will be facilitated by plans we announced earlier this year to open a Health Sciences Technology Innovation Park in Johnson City (http://www.binghamton.edu/magazine/index.php/magazine/story/a-perfect-fit). Located only 2.5 miles from the Vestal campus and adjacent to the region’s largest hospital, it will be the home of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Decker School of Nursing, a nurse-run elder clinic, new health sciences programs, and start-up companies in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.
Growth has enabled us to hire more than 200 new faculty in the past four years. As envisioned in our Road Map strategic plan (http://www.binghamton.edu/president/road-map/index.html), additional faculty have strengthened research. Much of our recruitment has been linked to our Transdisciplinary Areas of Excellence (TAEs)—five themes that address important scientific, social, technological, cultural, and policy questions that can best be answered by teams of faculty from multiple disciplines (http://www.binghamton.edu/tae/). With almost 150 Binghamton faculty associated with one of the TAEs, we have created intellectual communities that offer rich possibilities for collaboration, established a bold new approach to inquiry, and strengthened research on our campus.
Binghamton faculty continued to make important contributions to knowledge and practice in fields ranging from the arts, humanities, and social sciences to the sciences, management, nursing, social work, and engineering. One measure of that success was external funding. Committed funds and research expenditures increased by almost 20 percent in 2015-16, on the heels of significant growth in 2014-15. Especially notable was a $20 million grant from the Department of Defense, which is being matched by New York State, to create the Institute for Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing. The new institute, led by Professor Mark Poliks of the Department of Systems Science and Industrial Engineering, joins three other federal centers (http://www.binghamton.edu/research/osri/centers.html) on campus.
Our growing research portfolio helped Binghamton remain a driving force in the Southern Tier’s Regional Economic Development Council, which President Harvey Stenger co-chairs. In December 2015, the Council was awarded $500 million by Governor Andrew Cuomo to seed a wide range projects that will fuel the region’s economic revitalization (http://www.binghamton.edu/inside/index.php/inside/story/13573/st-regionaleconomic-development-council-a-best-plan-awardee-in-upstate-rev/.) The University is taking the lead on critical aspects of the plan, reinforcing its position as a driving force in the region’s economy.
Expanding research and contributing to economic development has not come at the expense of undergraduate education. The additional faculty we have hired have enabled us to reduce the student-faculty ratio and increase research opportunities for undergraduates. We continued to expand our unique Freshman Research Immersion Program (http://www.binghamton.edu/freshman-research-immersion/), which enables 250 freshman to become involved in authentic research the moment they step on campus. We also unveiled a bold new approach to calculus instruction that contributed significantly to student success, enhanced tutoring services, and completed work on a new classroom building designed to facilitate student-centered learning.
Binghamton University has changed a lot since our humble beginnings after World War II, becoming one of the best public research universities in the U.S. and a force for innovation in the regional, national, and international arenas. One thing, however, has not changed: our commitment to excellence. We remain a place where world-class faculty conduct path-breaking research and help remarkable students realize their enormous potential.