President gives first report to full faculty
March 22, 2012Tweet
It took seven slides for President Harvey Stenger to list of all of the meetings he’s had in his first 75 days in office as he spoke to the full faculty on March 20. It was the first bi-annual report to the full faculty for Stenger.
“I want to summarize the things I’ve been working on since I’ve been here,” he said. “And then talk about what I’ll be doing for the next 60 days. I went through my calendar and just made a tabulation.”
Stenger has made it a priority to meet with all divisions, departments and schools. He has yet to meet with several Harpur College and Watson School departments, but they’re on his schedule.
“For all of you, I hope I’ve had time to at least have a conversation with you and answer a question,” he said. “I’ve also met with students and found conversations with students have given me a sense of their passion and intensity.
“The next 60 days is really learning about Binghamton,” Stenger said. “I’ll continue meetings and start discussing the need for a road map and to gain NYSUNY 2020 approval.”
Stenger explained how the University’s NYSUNY 2020 proposal has changed from one focusing on healthcare initiatives to one that is now focused on smart energy.
“Why? Because we’re good at this and it’s a big need for the state of New York and it’s part of the strategic plan,” he said. “A lot of this has to do with some of what Bahgat Sammakia has done in engineering, but also with faculty in chemistry and physics, and local partners.
“It’s a niche not being filled by Stony Brook and Buffalo,” he said. “On top of this expansion of this area of research, we will have a road map in parallel with that for entire university. It will have a strong impact across the campus.”
With approval of Binghamton’s NYSUNY 2020 proposal comes money for another building at the Innovative Technologies Complex, which would open in fall 2017. The current plan, Stenger said, would be to move faculty offices and research laboratories for chemistry and physics into the new facility, and perhaps include teaching space as well. Final decisions aren’t made and discussions will continue through the summer. “But we’ll have two wins here – a new facility and a new home for two departments.”
Stenger also spoke of the plans for enrollment growth, but is unsure whether the undergraduate to graduate student ratio will remain the same as the University moves beyond the first year of a five-year growth plan. “The growth plan has probably been on the books for years,” he said. “I certainly know we have a great undergraduate population. We have 1,100 new resident hall beds underway by 2013 and renovations to the classroom wing and student wing will increase seats by over 500. What I’m not sure that I totally understand or agree with is the growth of 1,600 undergraduates and 400 graduate students. We do have our admission plan for fall, but at this point it’s for one year.”
Whatever happens with enrollment will be thoughtful, Stenger said. “I’ve thought a lot about this. I’ve been talking to students and trying to determine what is our role in our students’ lives,” he asked. “I want to take a look at how we are preparing our students for their lives, and not look at the finances of it yet. Should we become a larger undergraduate university or stay the same? Should we grow our PhD programs? Can we find a way to help our students as well as help our financial stability?”
Stenger added that the plan includes striving to increase the University’s 64 percent graduation rate by 5 percent. “When I sent this information to SUNY, they wrote back that there must be a mistake in the slide,” he joked, because Binghamton’s graduation rate is already so high.
In wrapping up his comments about the University’s plan for growth, Stenger listed four reasons why the time is right for Binghamton University to grow:
1. Our facilities master plan accommodates it
2. There would be more things Binghamton in the world—students, faculty, alumni, parents
3. We’re good, and we should share it. We shouldn’t be selfish.
4. It will impact the region positively and the region needs it
“I’ve been hearing that we’re now the most pessimistic city in the country – they didn’t call me,” he said.
Stenger also discussed the tuition rates for next four years under NYSUNY 2020 and reviewed the timeline for the provost search before turning to the few months.
“The next 60 days is for conversations with people about two defining topics,” he said. “How do we enhance academic excellence? And then let’s define what it means to be premier in the 21st century and all the metrics that go along with that.”
He asked leaders and others on campus to nominate themselves or others to serve on small groups as the University develops its road map to achieve the goal of becoming a premier university of the 21st century. “Over the summer, we will form some teams but not have them start their work until the fall semester after we’ve gathered some data and developed some charges,” he said. “We’ll work through the fall semester with a goal for sometime in January 2013 to put it all together in a road map.”
Following the president’s remarks, the Faculty Senate held its second meeting of the academic year, hearing a report from Peter Knuepfer, associate professor and director of the Environmental Studies Program and University Faculty Senator.
Knuepfer reported on mobility of transfer issues, shifts in funding to create efficiencies in shared services and the latest effort to establish a process to allocate funds based on performance. He also spoke of Chancellor Nancy Zimpher’s focus on a system-wide online environment. Finally, he reported that the SUNY Board of Trustees at its January meeting approved a new set of guidelines for presidential searches that provides for more people to meet with finalists – moving the process closer to what the Binghamton Faculty Senate had pushed for.
In other business, the Faculty Senate unanimously approved resolutions to revise the foreign language requirements for 2012, to change the by-laws relative to the Department of Health and Wellness and to change the by-laws relative to SUNY Faculty Senate representation.