President's Quarterly Report

Summer 2019

Having graduated the Class of 2019, the University seems to be taking a well-deserved rest as we move into the summer months. Yet, already, the first students of next year’s incoming class are tentatively making their way around campus as they participate in our annual Orientation sessions. Faculty and graduate students are busy in their labs, and of course, our staff are busy preparing for next year. So, the campus only appears quieter – if you look closely, there is a steady buzz of activity that keeps us at the top of our game.

The past three months have been filled with successes by individual faculty, staff and students and by the University as a whole. Several faculty and students have received national recognition for their work, and the University’s international reputation continues to grow, putting us in a good position as we seek our decennial reaccreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Our regional impact is growing, too, with ongoing construction and economic development activities that are transforming our community. A busy time, for sure.

Faculty and student recognition

A number of our faculty have recently been recognized for their innovative research and scholarship, highlighted by the promotion of two of our faculty to the ranks of distinguished professors by the State University of New York Board of Trustees.

Africana Studies Professor Nkiru Nzegwu was promoted to distinguished professor for having achieved national or international prominence and a distinguished reputation within her chosen field. Nzegwu’s accomplishments include authoring and editing a number of books, curating 11 art exhibits and producing seven art catalogs. She also is an artist and poet, and has received a number of prestigious fellowships, including from the Smithsonian Institution and the Getty Foundation. Her most significant academic endeavors are the Africa Resource Project that provides African-focused content to users in more than 90 countries and served as a resource site for UNICEF; and the Africa Knowledge Project that offers an online platform for peer-reviewed journals and academic databases.

Also achieving a distinguished rank is School of Management Professor Subimal Chatterjee, who received a Distinguished Teaching Professorship. Chatterjee teaches marketing and is the first professor in the school to be so recognized for his teaching.

In addition, two of our faculty have received prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Awards, given to those whose have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education even as they lead advances in the mission of their departments and universities. Awardees receive up to $100,000 per year for five years. Scott Schiffres, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, received a CAREER Award for his work in developing new alloys that dissipate heat more quickly, something that is crucial in many electronics applications. Similarly, electrical and computer engineering professor Ning Zhou, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, received a CAREER Award for his work in exploring how to make alternative energy transmission and distribution more predictable and consistent. This is a project that involves both very complex analytical work led by Zhou and his graduate students, as well as practical and applied work conducted by his master’s students.

But the accolades don’t stop with our faculty. One of our students, junior geology major Jasper Bauer, was named a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship winner for developing a means of detecting buried plastic landmines. Bauer is one of fewer than 500 students to be so recognized by the federally endowed Goldwater Foundation. The award is given to sophomores and juniors pursuing research in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering.

And four of our graduate students have been selected as 2019−2020 Fulbright Scholars: Alex Velez, MA ’17, a doctoral student in anthropology, will scan and virtually landmark fossils associated with the Pit of Bones in the Atapuerca Mountains of northern Spain; Maria Dubin ’19, will travel to Belarus where she will serve as an English teaching assistant; Michael Stephens, a doctoral student in sociology, will study workers in the LGBT tourist section of Cartagena, Colombia; and Brian Campbell, a master’s student in student affairs administration, will teach English at Arabian Gulf University in Manama, Bahrain.

Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention (I-GMAP) conference

One of the goals of the University’s Road Map has been to enhance the quality of intellectual interchange on campus by encouraging world-class conferences and symposia involving our faculty and graduate students. This has the effect of increasing the University’s reputation and visibility among the larger community of scholars.

We can see the effectiveness of this approach in the wide range of participants that attended the second Frontiers of Prevention Conference, organized by our Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention (I-GMAP), held in early April. The conference attracted representatives from academia, active non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and governmental agencies from 14 different nations.

In many ways, this gathering was different than most academic conferences, in that it was organized with real-world practitioners in mind, with workshops designed to develop preventative measures and new methods for addressing mass atrocities. Significantly, a number of the participants came from the Global South, and their attendance was facilitated through the support of various private donors to the University.

Kenyatta MOU

We saw another example of Binghamton’s expanding global impact in March when we hosted three officials from Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya, who were on campus to formalize a new research and educational partnership between our campuses.

Kenyatta University is widely respected by its peer institutions, ranking among the top colleges and Universities on the African continent. Like Binghamton, it is a young university, founded less than 40 years ago. But in that short time, it has earned a reputation for academic excellence in the arts, sciences, engineering, humanities, nursing, medicine and social sciences — programs that correspond to Binghamton’s own stellar offerings.

We are hopeful that this agreement will quickly lead to exchanges of faculty and students, offering opportunities for new research and educational initiatives while increasing the international diversity of our undergraduate and graduate classes.

Middle States reaccreditation

These examples of student success, faculty excellence and groundbreaking programming are precisely the types of academic activities that the Middle States Commission looks at as it studies the University as part of the reaccreditation process.

Binghamton University must seek reaccreditation every 10 years, with our last accreditation taking place in 2010. As part of the reaccreditation process, we completed a periodic review report in 2016 that identified 16 areas or recommendations for strengthening our educational and research missions; many of these included initiatives that were and/or are part of our Road Map. The initial response from Middle States to our report has been very complimentary, describing Binghamton as an institution making “extraordinary progress” and having a “relentless pursuit of excellence.”

As the process moves forward, the University will complete a self-study that addresses the seven standards of accreditation for Middle States. Provost Donald Nieman and I have put together a steering committee comprised of senior administrators and campus governance leaders, with working groups focusing on each of these seven standards of accreditation. The work of these groups will form the basis of our self-study, the first draft of which will be available to the campus by spring 2020, with a final site visit by Middle States accreditors in fall 2020.

Johnson City progress and renovations and upgrades on campus

Meanwhile, work continues at the Health Sciences campus in Johnson City, with existing flooring and windows being removed at the 48 Corliss Ave., Johnson City, site for our expanded Decker School of Nursing. Contractors will soon begin work on a new elevator, lobby, mechanicals and classrooms, with work slated to be complete in August 2020 — a tight timeframe, but we are on target. Nearby, at the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, the basement has been developed to serve as a campus hub for University Police, Environmental Health and Safety and Information Technology Services to support the Health Sciences Campus.

The School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences recently entered into articulation agreements with both Wells College and the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences that will allow qualifying students from the those schools to enter into Binghamton’ School of Pharmacy PharmD program after three years of prerequisites. These agreements will help ensure that the school maintains a strong pipeline of qualified students.

Design work is underway for the research and development building that will be adjacent to the pharmacy building. Again, we are expecting quick work, with this building scheduled for completion in fall 2020.

We also have been in talks with Lourdes Hospital, which has agreed to assume managerial control of the Ford Family Wellness Center that is going in at 27 Jennison St. in Johnson City. The building and house that formerly occupied the location have been demolished and we are preparing to construct a new building on the property.

And, with all the work taking place in Johnson City, it’s easy to overlook the significant upgrades and renovations taking place at the Vestal campus. These include electrical upgrades to our science buildings, as well as renovations to labs, classroom and mechanical systems, and the addition of exterior, energy-efficient sheathing to some buildings.

Similar upgrades to the mechanical and IT infrastructure, exterior and classrooms are also being made to the Engineering Building, with renovations to the third floor of Bartle Library also underway. In the residential communities, Onondaga and Cleveland halls and Hinman Dining Hall are all being upgraded.

Koffman Southern Tier Incubator events

We also have been very busy at the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator in downtown Binghamton over the past few months.

In the beginning of May, we held the second Startup Summit at the incubator, featuring Katie Doherty of the Female Founder School, an entrepreneurial support program for woman inventors and investors. The summit was an opportunity for investors to connect with the businesses housed in the incubator as well as a celebration of the successes that those businesses have achieved. The goal — which was achieved — was to bring together investors and experienced entrepreneurs to share their knowledge with fledgling business people.

Fifty-one businesses are currently working out of the incubator, covering a wide range of commercial and industrial fields including healthcare, nutrition, human resources, pharmaceuticals, information technology, hospitality and virtual reality. Last year, these incubator firms raised over $17 million in investment capital, making it clear that investors see them as companies with potential. Binghamton University’s role in this project includes providing laboratory space, graduate and undergraduate employees, faculty expertise, as well as institutional support for developing firms from our Small Business Development Center and Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (TAAC).

One of the things that impresses me most is the active support that the incubator has generated among some of our alumni. For example, at last year’s Startup Summit, Maggie Chen Jones ’96, founder and CEO of Tenshey, Inc., provided the keynote address, while a number of the firms working out of the incubator are owned by alumni and have Binghamton graduates as key hires.

More recently, alumnus David Mirsky ’76 has given financial support for the facility to assist new companies forming at the incubator. Mirsky and his wife are co-founders of Pacific Rim Capital, a highly regarded lessor of materials handling, construction and fleet services equipment. So, it was appropriate that, in recognition of his support, the incubator named one of its spaces the Cynthia and David ’76 Mirsky Collaboration area. Mirsky also been a great supporter of the University and particularly the School of Management, and currently serves on the Pacific Coast Advisory Board for that school.

April marked the one-year anniversary of the Southern Tier Clean Energy Incubator located in the Koffman building. Eighteen of the incubator’s 51 firms are participating in the Clean Energy Incubator program, which is funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). These firms are at the cutting edge of alternative energy generation and conservation technologies, and include several winners of NYSERDA’s 76West competition that awards funding to top clean-energy firms locating in the Southern Tier.

Past KSTI’s 76West winners include:

• Southern Tier Technologies, producer of energy filters, correctors, limiters and surge protectors that reduce energy usage;

• Hub Controls, an Ireland-based company that produces home automation and energy management products;

• C4V, a lithium-ion battery producer spearheading the Imperium3 consortium that will invest $130 million and create 230 jobs in Endicott, N.Y.;

• ChromaNanoTech, a producer of heat/light shielding dye for windows;

• Skyven Energy, a producer of solar heat collectors and monitors;

• Ethos Gen, producing technologies that generate electricity from waste heat; and

• SunTegra, which is developing solar roofing systems.

Admissions

In my last quarterly report, I mentioned that the University was in in the process of finalizing our admissions for next fall, and that we had received 37,000 applications.

Student deposits came in very strong and we are on track to meet and possibly exceed our enrollment goals for the Class of 2023. We expect a first-year cohort of between 2,840 and 2,875 students and a transfer cohort of 1,040 to 1,080 students. Student quality remains very good, with SAT and GPA scores that may set a new record for us.

Budget/hiring hold

The success of our student recruiting and admissions is especially good news, as it will help reduce the challenges associated with our fiscal situation. We also are pleased that the most recent New York state budget, signed on April 1, provides for a $200 tuition increase as well as a one-time offset of $109.5 million in collective bargaining support, and includes a special insertion of $550 million for critical maintenance at the SUNY campuses. Beyond this, the budget for SUNY remained essentially flat.

Even with increased tuition and collective bargaining support, we expect a $5 million shortfall in the upcoming fiscal year, largely a result of not hitting our enrollment targets in the past year. In response to this challenge, last December we announced a slowdown on some of our initiatives and a hiring hold to reduce University costs. At the same time, we established a process for exemptions to hire in areas critical to the educational mission, operations and safety of the campus.

A recent audit of the process shows that between Nov.28, 2018, and March 28, 2019, 342 exemptions were granted — these included 54 faculty, 119 staff, 122 student workers and 47 temporary tradespeople. Most of these were replacement hires where individuals had retired or left the campus. The total of 342 might sound like a lot, but it actually represents just a small portion of the normal hiring cycle at Binghamton.

I appreciate that the deans and chairs, as well as the vice presidents and directors, have been working to hold the line on hiring, and especially want to thank the faculty and staff who’ve stepped forward to temporarily fill any holes that have developed as a result of the hold.

Moving forward, we’ve established a new budgeting process that holds the schools and departments responsible for meeting their budgetary targets. This will be phased in over the next three years. Meanwhile, as I mentioned, we’re meeting our enrollment targets, and should be able to weather our fiscal challenges.

Commencement

As the semester ended in May, we recognized the achievements of our graduating seniors and advanced students over the course of eight Commencement ceremonies as well as a special Hooding Ceremony for our PhD recipients. We awarded over 3,200 bachelor’s degrees over the course of the weekend, as well as more than 750 master’s degrees and more than 120 PhD, DNP and EdD degrees.

During these ceremonies we also recognized four outstanding individuals with honorary degrees or University medals. Balakrishnan “Balki” Iyer, MS ’00, a graduate of our Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science, received an honorary Doctor of Science degree at the Watson Commencement for his work in renewable energy and his social engagement regarding children with autism and other developmental challenges. He, together with his wife Svetlana, has established Stepping Stones, a developmental school for children with autism in India. Svetlana, who graduated from Binghamton in 2001 with a degree in psychology, and in 2003 with a MSEd,, was awarded a University Medal during the College of Community and Public Affairs Commencement.

Receiving an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the morning Harpur College of Arts and Sciences Commencement was alumna Patricia Saunders’65, who is an active supporter of wellness programs for children in New York City, as well as of athletics and academic programs on our campus.

In addition, Binghamton University Foundation Board Member Howard Unger ’82, was honored at our School of Management Commencement with a Doctor of Humane Letters degree for his work as a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, as well as for his continuing support for the University.

Commencement was the culmination of a very successful, though sometimes challenging academic year. With summer now in full swing, we are deep in preparation for the next semester and I’m confident that, given the quality of our students and the commitment and dedication of our faculty and staff, it will be even more successful.

Sincerely,

Harvey G. Stenger
President


Academics

She is one of 18 state faculty members promoted to rank.

Advancement

Members of the Binghamton University community celebrated the generosity of Michael F. Lane ’89 and Lisa M. Lane ’89, MA ’92, at the April 26 dedication of the Lane Tennis Center on campus.

Athletics

There was competition in the Events Center involving many Binghamton student-athletes on Wednesday, April 10. But it was not a typical sporting event.

Diversity

The Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) received personnel reporting from PeopleFluent, an outside consultant on affirmative action planning, in April.

Foundation

Representatives of the Binghamton University Foundation, Binghamton University and Koffman Southern Tier Incubator celebrated the generosity of David Mirsky ’76 and his wife, Cynthia A. Mirsky, at a dedication/reception April 8 at the Koffman incubator.

Research

Binghamton University’s new Center for Flexible Hybrid Medical Device Manufacturing has been designated a Center for Advanced Technology and will receive nearly $8.8 million in funding during the next 10 years.

Student Affairs

Auxiliary Services took the lead to present the inaugural Grad Fest from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and again from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 3, in the UU-Mandela Room, with over 600 students in attendance and 23 campus vendors participating.