Introducing my Quarterly Report
When I came to Binghamton last January, I stressed that I wanted my leadership to be open, inclusive and results oriented. This Quarterly Report is designed to help us communicate Binghamton University’s achievements and strategic directions and be a place for documenting the many changes taking place on campus.
With 15,000 students, nearly 900 faculty and 1,600 non-teaching employees, Binghamton University is a large and complex institution, and this Report captures the range of our activities in a way that is accessible and informative. It highlights the activities of the President’s Office and brings together information about significant projects under way in each of the administrative divisions — academic affairs, administration, external affairs, student affairs, and research, as well as intercollegiate athletics. As you navigate around this report, I expect you will be as proud of our accomplishments as I am.
Let me now update you on the activities of the President’s Office over the last six months, focusing on four key areas:
- Building a Team
- University Growth
- Research and Economic Development
My highest priorities during my first six months at Binghamton have been to learn all I can about our great University and to begin developing a strategic plan — or Road Map — that will move us in the direction of being the Premier Public University of the 21st Century. Since arriving at Binghamton, I have met with every division, department and unit on campus, as well as with numerous student, alumni and community groups. These conversations have helped me identify the strategic areas that will be the focus of the Road Map:
- academic excellence
- advancing learning
- community engagement
- creative activities
We are now forming teams to develop strategic initiatives based on these topics. More than 300 people have agreed to serve as Road Map volunteers and my staff is conducting research to help guide the process. The teams will formally begin their duties following a kickoff event in September.
Building a Team
A second priority has been to fill senior leadership and faculty positions that will be crucial to achieving the Road Map objectives. In May, I was pleased to announce that Donald Nieman, previously the widely respected dean of Harpur College, accepted the position of provost and assumed his new duties on July 1, 2012. Wayne Jones, professor and chair of the Chemistry Department, has been named interim dean of Harpur College while the University undertakes a national search for a permanent dean. In addition, we have hired a new dean of students, April Thompson from Dartmouth College, who will fill a critical role in our Division of Student Affairs. (Read more about Thompson under Student Affairs.)
The University has also hired Tommy Dempsey, formerly head coach at Rider University, to become the Binghamton Bearcats men’s basketball coach, and Matt Dernlan from Clarion University as our new wrestling coach. (Read more about Dempsey and Dernlan under Athletics.)
And as part of our NYSUNY 2020 plan, we hired more than 40 new faculty members, with a net growth in our faculty body of 35.
One of the keys to Binghamton University’s future will be sustained growth of enrollment and research activities. During the past year, Binghamton University has developed its NYSUNY 2020 proposal that addresses both of these concerns. Our plan focuses on increasing enrollment by 2,000 students over the next five years, as well as hiring faculty and support staff to develop new and strengthen existing academic programs. In addition, the University will be constructing a new $70 million Smart Energy Research and Development Facility, which will focus on four areas of discovery: solar and thermoelectric energy harvesting, energy storage technologies, energy efficient electronic systems, and energy management sensor development.
In April, I led a team from Binghamton in presenting our proposal to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, and we are cautiously optimistic that our proposal will be accepted and the University will benefit from the joint challenge grant offered by the governor’s office and the State University of New York.
NYSUNY 2020 will allow us to enroll about 400 additional students for fall 2012, and we are confident that we can increase enrollment without affecting student quality. We have already begun additional faculty hiring to prepare for this increase and my office has also established a President’s Scholars Program to encourage the nation’s best students to choose Binghamton. Response to this program so far has been very positive.
We also have created a Graduate Growth Initiative that will build graduate enrollment to the point where at least 20 percent of Binghamton University students are master’s or doctoral candidates. This is important for scholarly, reputational and fiscal reasons, as graduate students support growing research labs, gain experience and become innovators in their fields. We are encouraging departments to develop new professional tracks within degrees, offer advanced certification and create new research and scholarly programs to attract more graduate students, particularly in career-directed programs that respond to the needs of students and employers.
Research and Economic Development
Both Gov. Cuomo and Chancellor Zimpher have stressed the role that research universities can play as economic drivers for their communities, and our NYSUNY 2020 proposal is designed to address the economic needs of our communities and state.
Building the Smart Energy facility will have an immediate economic impact, beginning with 252 jobs for each year of construction. But more important are the long-term consequences: we estimate that a total of 840 new jobs will result from this initiative, sending Binghamton’s annual regional impact to over $1 billion by 2017. The Smart Energy plan also includes funding for pre-incubator space to help as many as 10 start-up firms move University research into the initial stages of commercial production.
My office has also been working to establish and gain state support for a new Southern Tier Technology Incubator to be located in downtown Binghamton. This 40,000 square-foot, $21 million facility will serve as a regional center for growing new businesses in the fields of alternative energy, electronic systems integration, and healthcare and the life sciences.
Significantly, technology incubators are among the most cost-effective strategies for increasing the number of jobs in a community. Our projections are that the incubator will initially create 150 new jobs, with potential for future job growth as successful businesses graduate from the facility. The incubator has strong support from business leaders throughout the area, and the Southern Tier Regional Economic Council established by Gov. Cuomo has identified the incubator as a priority project.
We are all looking forward to the fall 2012 semester. It will be an exceptionally busy time for the campus as we celebrate the successful conclusion of Bold.Brilliant.Binghamton — The Campaign for Binghamton University, which raised over $100 million to support academic excellence and faculty research and creative activities. We will also be moving ahead with the Road Map process and economic development activities. I look forward to updating you with regard to these and other initiatives in the fall.
Harvey G. Stenger