Laura Bronstein, new dean of the College of Community and Public Affairs, arrived at Binghamton University in 1999, thrilled at the opportunity to develop its social-work program. Fast forward 15 years, through the growth of the Department of Social Work, the establishment of CCPA and successful collaborations with numerous community partners, and her excitement for starting new things has not diminished.
“There’s a lot we’ve done in our early states, and there’s much more we can do, and I am honored to be in a position to lead the college through that,” she says.
Bronstein served as chair of the Department of Social Work from 2006 until June 2013, was then appointed interim dean of CCPA when Dean Patricia Ingraham retired, and was appointed dean on Jan. 2, 2014.
A collaborative spirit enabled her to achieve objectives in the past, and she plans on reaching out to her peers to meet CCPA’s goals in her new position as well.
“Running this college is not about my ideas,” says Bronstein. “It’s about leading and supporting the faculty, staff, students and community partners around their ideas and the directions they want to go.”
Whether it’s new international programs or fundraising opportunities — initiatives in which Bronstein is especially interested — she wants to pursue projects that make sense for CCPA and that are in line with the needs of its students, faculty, staff and community partners.
“What are our priorities?” asks Bronstein. “What are our goals? What do we want to do with and for our students, and how does that shape where we go next and what projects we pursue? That’s sort of my take for developing new things in general — to get a lot of input from all of our constituents and then figure out what makes sense in order for us to move forward.”
There are so many great ideas being proposed that Bronstein worries some of the great ones will be buried without a strategic approach in place.
“A major thing I want to do is look at the balance of priorities,” she says. “There are a lot of ideas with a lot of energy and a lot of things going on, but we don’t want to burn out and we also don’t want, for some haphazard reason, one idea to get out in front when another idea is better.”
Ideas that pertain to the community will certainly have a shot; aligning with community interests is crucial to the success of CCPA and the greater community, says Bronstein.
“We want people in the community to see us as a resource and a partner,” she says. “We can figure out what interests us in the community, but that won’t do us any good if the city, the county and people in the community are going in other directions.”
Part of meeting the needs of the community will come about through vigorous research, says Bronstein, whose focus is on applied research. She notes CCPA’s ability to use research to address one of the area’s biggest challenges: economic development.
“We have faculty who are doing cutting-edge scholarship and developing new models in a range of areas and programs,” she says. “The more we can take the knowledge that faculty are generating and bring that to bear in this community, the more this community will be a place that people are attracted to for work, because innovative things are going on.”
Whatever projects CCPA chooses to pursue, Bronstein encourages everyone – students, faculty, staff and community partners – to approach the school from a new perspective.
“People should take a fresh and serious look at CCPA, not what our image might be or what they might have felt we contributed in the past, but who we are today.”
Read more about Bronstein and her plans for CCPA at bit.ly/1lzgBnv