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Law school proposal tops list of 2009-10 goals

By : Eric Coker

The University hopes to submit a law school proposal to SUNY by mid-October, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Mary Ann Swain told the Binghamton University Council on Sept. 18.

Swain and the University’s other vice presidents presented their 2009-10 goals and objectives during the council’s first meeting of the academic year.

“Undertaking all of these initiatives in very tough economic times is a testament to the talent and commitment of the vice presidents, their key staff, as well as our faculty and staff,” President Lois B. DeFleur told the council. “If we did not have that talent and commitment, the University would not be the university it is recognized as.”

Two external reviewers — Stuart Deutsch, former dean at Rutgers School of Law, and Judith Welch Wegner, Burton Craige Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill — have met with faculty, students, planners and Council Chair Kathryn Grant Madigan and others from the local legal  community.

The reviewers were “blown away” by the level of commitment and support of the community, Swain said.

“They said this would be a special law school within an excellent university,” Swain said. “They believe we can create a law school that is at the forefront of legal education.”

The reviewers’ report, which is expected by the end of the month, will be incorporated into the University’s formal proposal, Swain said. The University needs to secure approval from the SUNY system, the State Education Department, the Board of Trustees, the Board of Regents and the governor to offer a J.D. in law.

Representatives from the SUNY system and the Education Department have already attended some local meetings, Swain said.

“They have a much better context to receive the report,” Swain said. “I’m hopeful it will move relatively quickly through those two organizations.”

Swain also told the council that the University is pursuing approval for a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) in nursing and a master’s in psych-mental health nursing. A master’s in Chinese language and culture for the Asian and Asian American Studies Department is also sought, she said.

“The entire Pacific Rim has gained importance in the world and this is a very fast-moving department,” she said.

Other goals and objectives from Swain included a redesign of the Center for Learning and Teaching; creation of the self-study document for the University’s 10-year reaccreditation review; and helping department chairs become “the leaders of higher education in the future” through the Leadership Program.

External Affairs: The division will publicly launch the University’s comprehensive gifts campaign in the spring, said Marcia Craner, vice president for external affairs. The campaign will be the second ever conducted by the University.

“This launch will have many high-tech aspects to it and will have a broad reach to our constituents,” she said. “I believe it will show the fabric of the University as we go forward.”

External affairs also will collaborate with Harpur College on special alumni events to celebrate the college’s 60th anniversary. One such event will be “The China Century,” a panel discussion scheduled for Oct. 15 at the Levin Institute in New York.

Other division goals include researching the creation of a young alumni council; finding ways to engage alumni over the age of 50; and launching the third phase of the University’s Web redesign.

Student Affairs: Brian Rose, vice president for student affairs, told the council that he wants to use the Discovery Centers to identify new, struggling students and help them get timely academic support.

“We’ll meet with these students and direct them toward support activities,” he said. “We hopefully can capture them early enough in the process that they have a chance to recover, perform well and get off to a good start.”

The division also hopes to establish a Center for Civic Engagement to support service learning for students and faculty and continue to develop relationships with community partners.

Other goals included enhancing the Alcohol and Other Drug Program; broadening student leadership development programs; and allowing resident directors to work a portion of their time in other Student Affairs offices.

“Living in a residential hall environment for an entire year while providing leadership to that community — you see burnout,” Rose said. “We want to give people something fresh and new and we think this helps us. I also hope it fosters more collaboration among different departments in Student Affairs.”

Research: The division’s main goal will be to continue to enhance the University’s role in technology transfer and economic development, said Gerald Sonnenfeld, vice president for research.

Research aims to increase expenditures by 3 percent this year and awards by 10 percent. Last year, expenditures rose by 12 percent, while awards were up 4 percent, Sonnenfeld said.

“Considering what’s going on nationally, that was a tremendous accomplishment,” he said. “It goes against the national trends in funding.”

Research is already off to a strong start, Sonnenfeld added, thanks to Scott Craver’s Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers; involvement in the creation of an energy frontier research center; and two program grants for regional alcoholism research from the National Institutes of Health.

Other research goals include ensuring funds for equipment for strategic research hires; accelerating the development of additional research space; and enhancing the system of electronic approval and submission of sponsored applications
(COEUS) to include human studies modules.

Administration: Monitoring the budgetary situation will be the division’s top objective, said James Van Voorst, vice president for administration.

“We are fiscally conservative, but aggressive,” he told the council. “In these times, that is exactly what we want to be.”

The division will work to update the University’s Capital Master Plan, Van Voorst said, and continue to develop energy and sustainability projects for the campus’ green commitment.

He also noted the importance of the University’s construction projects, which include phase two of East Campus Housing; the Engineering and Science Building; and Science 5.

“That’s the future,” he said. “We’ve built excellent programs. We now need to have good places for our faculty and staff to carry out these programs.

“The areas we’re building are affecting every aspect of the campus: residence halls, research, academics, administration. It’s important to cover all aspects and we will continue to do that.”


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Last Updated: 10/14/08