January 29, 2023
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Binghamton University Council hears from facilities, advancement and foundation

Reports on construction projects and what it takes to run a successful campaign

The Binghamton University Council heard reports from the Division of Advancement, Binghamton University Foundation and Physical Facilities at its March 8 meeting, following reports from President Harvey Stenger and student representative Harry Bittker.

Noting that Commencement is only nine weeks away, Stenger highlighted recent accolades including the University’s rise in the Carnegie Classifications to very high research – the highest rank possible – and updated the council on the status of demolition and construction at the Health Sciences Campus in Johnson City, N.Y. “We’re working with the community and want to partner with UHS in as many ways as we can to make it the health and cultural district we know it can be.”

Bittker said he had received a wide variety of questions from students after posting on Facebook, “If you could ask President Stenger any question, what would it be?” He will pass the questions along to the administration and also meet with some members of the administration to gather additional information to provide to students. In addition, Bittker said he will work with the new student representative to council, who will be elected Tuesday, March 12, to provide a smooth transition.

Lawrence Roma, associate vice president for facilities management, presented on the scope of work that Physical Facilities is responsible for, highlighting a number of major construction projects.

In the past decade, the University has added 1.7 million square-feet of buildings totaling 24 percent of the building space on University property. The decade prior added 1.4 million square-feet. “Between the two decades, we’ve added 44 percent of the building space on campus,” he said.

With 6.3 miles of roads and 23 miles of walkways and 115 buildings, “Our largest percentage of staff is devoted to maintenance of campus,” he explained before updating the council on construction.

• Design is 60 percent complete for the Pharmacy R&D building to be built adjacent and connected to the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, with occupancy expected in 2020.

  • A contractor is on site and construction has begun at 48 Corliss Ave., Johnson City, the future home to an expanded Decker School of Nursing. The renovation will include a large addition on the front of the building with an entrance lobby, elevator and stair access, as well as a tribute to recognize the history of Endicott Johnson.
  • A building at 42-46 Corliss Ave. will be demolished and the concrete will be pulverized and used for backfill to save money. The land will be used for parking and stormwater remediation. Demolition is expected to begin in April.
  • 27 Jennison Ave., Johnson City, will be demolished and a pre-engineered structure will be erected to house the Ford Family Wellness Center.
  • A renovation of the physics wing in Science 2 will include new restrooms, labs, classrooms and a re-clad exterior to bring the building up to energy codes. The contracted in on site and the work will be completed in 2020.
  • Phase 2 of the Science 4 renovation is in the design stage and will include surge space in preparation for a renovation to Science 3.
  • Phases 4 and 5 of the Engineering Building renovation will bring the building up to code and will include re-cladding the building so it “doesn’t look like a parking structure anymore,” Roma said. The project is extensive and will be completed in 2021.
  • Renovation of Onondaga Hall in College-in-the-Woods will be complete this summer, and Cleveland and Hughes halls in Hinman College will begin and will include air conditioning.

Roma also noted that paving of the west side of campus is planned for the upcoming summer, but will be less disruptive than last summer’s paving of Bartle Drive.

John Koch, interim vice president for advancement, and Sheila Doyle, executive director of the Binghamton University Foundation, presented together. “We’re technically two separate organizations, but we can’t function without each other,” said Koch, as they gave council an overview of how they operate in support of the University.

The mission of the Foundation is to raise funds in support of the University and hold funds in trust for the University, Doyle said. “It’s a true partnerships and we support advancement to the tune of about $2.4 million a year.”

The University is in the quiet phase of a seven-year comprehensive gifts campaign, Koch said. “We’re about 20 months into this campaign. We start from the inside out and talk about our priorities to raise funds and will go to the public phase three to three and a half years into the campaign. We’re currently at about $44 million of what will be our largest campaign ever. (The goal is not yet set.)

“Everybody plays a part, like in the batting order of a baseball team,” Koch added. “It starts with engagement, both in person and virtually. We need to do this because people who feel connected to the University will be much more likely to pick up the phone or say yes when we ask.”

Doyle noted that the infrastructure required to support the University’s fundraising efforts is critically important. “Student records become alumni records,” she said, “including where they go, where they live, what they were involved with on campus. It’s all helpful in keeping in touch with our alumni and engaging them. They are our alumni for a lifetime. Our database is powerful and robust, but it takes a lot to make sure we have the most accurate information.”

The Binghamton Fund is the pulse of advancement, Koch said. “They are those unrestricted dollars that we can use for scholarship support, travel, equipment purchases and emergencies that come up during the year. About 75 percent of our donors give through the Binghamton Fund and it’s a great feeder for major gifts.”

With about 10 constituencies to track, the Foundation processes more than 24,000 gift transactions per year, Doyle said. “It’s very complicated in terms of data pulls. We use wealth screening for major gift donors and all of this information is vital to our work. It is kept confidential and we also issue tax receipts.”

Koch explained the donor engagement process: A major gift is a commitment of $50,000 or more; a principal gift is one of $250,000 or more. “These donors need very individualized attention and we rely heavily on all we talked about to this point,” he said. “We identify, qualify, cultivate, negotiate. We have 12 donors who have stepped up to make $1 million gifts to this campaign. In our last campaign, it was three.”

Doyle said the Foundation has an investment committee that works with a consultant to manage Binghamton’s portfoilo, and that about 85 percent of donations have some kind of restrictions. “We need to make sure that if we’ve accepted a gift under those terms that the terms are carried out,” she said.

The final action is stewardship, when donors are thanked and recognized, Koch said. “You’ll notice more and more frequently that we have named spaces on campus. Our presents these fantastic recognition ceremonies to show how much we appreciate these gifts. The Foundation sends donor impact reports to donors each year and for those who support scholarships, they include thank you notes from the recipients.

“When everything comes together, everyone in our organization chart has had a hand in a gift,” Koch added. “For our current quiet phase, we’re just under $44 million in gifts and are projected to be at $47 million by end of this fiscal year, so we’re well ahead. The goal when it gets announced will be significantly higher than our previous, successful campaigns.”

Koch said the University expects to be working with a consultant on branding and messaging for the campaign by July 1.

To end the presentation, Doyle reviewed the Foundation’s six affiliates, highlighting the following:

  • Koffman Southern Tier Incubator: 20 months in, 20 companies have graduated from the incubator, adding more than 120 jobs to the community. There are currently 24 companies in the facility, including five from out of state and one from Ireland. There are also 26 co-workers who access resources. The facility is about 80 percent occupied and its second annual startup summit will be held May 1.
  • Bing Tech Ventures, Inc.: An equity investment entity to directly support the incubator.
  • BFSS, LLC: Has no assets and is available to assist the campus with strategic projects. It is used to negotiate contracts for the campus when state procedures cannot be met (i.e., for down payments, etc.)
  • Binghamton United Nurse Practitioner (BUNP) Services, P.C.: To purchase the 27 Jennison Ave. building with donor funding.

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