Dear Students, Faculty, Staff, Parents, Alumni, Colleagues and Friends:
As 2012 draws to a close, I thought I would send a message to thank each of you for making this a very successful year. Consider this a sort of "holiday letter" similar to the ones that you might receive in your mailbox from a friend, detailing personal or family achievements and adventures since the previous December.
In that spirit, let me begin by saying that January started on a very positive note for me, landing a new job as president of Binghamton University. I love the work, community and the campus environment. My family has felt welcomed and embraced by our new, adopted family of Bearcats. Cathy is helping teachers at a local elementary school, volunteering at a local urban farm and getting to know her way around the area.
My first weeks at Binghamton were exhilarating; I spent hours and hours trying to learn everything I could about the campus while meeting hundreds - perhaps thousands - of faculty, staff and students. I discovered that Binghamton is a place where people take their jobs very seriously and work hard to make the campus shine. Much of my days are spent meeting with alumni and members of the community, and I am struck by how much they value our University.
I have tried to spend as much time as possible getting to know our students. This has been among the most rewarding aspects of being president. I've met them on a formal level - celebrating the achievements of the Class of 2012 at Commencement, welcoming the Class of 2016 at Convocation, and, at the invitation of students and faculty, attending classes. But I have also tried to meet students "in their house" as much as possible - enjoying meals with them in the dining halls, stretching with them during a yoga session and even trying to keep up with them during my daily run through the campus. I am always amazed by their talents, ambitions and (of course) energy.
I've also been working to help build a strong team of current and emerging leaders who will move the University in new directions while remaining true to our history of academic excellence. Former Harpur College dean Donald Nieman assumed the role of provost and vice president for academic affairs in July, with chemistry professor Wayne Jones taking his place as interim dean. April Thompson became dean of students, and Tommy Dempsey and Matt Dernlan joined our athletics department as men's basketball and wrestling coaches, respectively.
The entire campus has been busy helping develop our Road Map - the strategic plan that will guide us in the years ahead. Hundreds of people signed on as members of the Road Map teams to look closely at the challenges and opportunities ahead of us. Like any good road trip, we've gotten lost, argued and then found our way back. There is no GPS for this type of work and no road trip worth its salt is without bumps. Nevertheless, these teams have completed their work, developing tons of suggestions - which I categorize as "ideas, initiatives and innovations." Over the winter break, the Road Map Steering Committee, Provost Nieman and I will be prioritizing these and putting together a report for the campus to review. Our goal is to have a plan that will make Binghamton the premier public university of the 21st century.
Our campus has added many new members. This year's student enrollment is larger (by nearly 500) and we have increased the number of tenured and tenure-track faculty by 46 this year (34 net new). This growth was made possible through funding provided by Binghamton's NYSUNY 2020 plan, which was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in June. In 2012, I've met with the governor three times, and I can definitely say that he's interested in Binghamton University. Our 2020 plan will not only enable the University to grow by 2,000 students by 2017, it will allow us to hire 150 new faculty in all areas of the University.
From NYSUNY 2020 came the funding for a new Smart Energy Research and Development Facility at our Innovative Technologies Complex. This facility will help support the University's growth in size and research, (which are critical for our national reputation), but also will have a significant impact on the economic vitality of the region. In fact, I learned recently that the University's total annual economic impact passed the $1 billion mark for the first time. The design plans for this facility are underway and we should see something shortly.
And recently, Gov. Cuomo asked me to serve as co-chair of the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council, replacing Cornell University President David Skorton. The governor is highly invested in the REDC concept and process, and it will be an important role for the University to play.
This summer also saw the conclusion of Bold.Brilliant.Binghamton - The Campaign for Binghamton University. In the end, we raised more than $101 million for student excellence, faculty and academic excellence, and flexible support for the campus. More than 38,000 people like you contributed to the campaign - and for more than half of these donors, it was the first time they had given to the University.
I apologize for the length of this letter but, as you can see, it has been a very busy year, and we have a lot of momentum going into the next.
Harvey G. Stenger