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Road Map Strategic Priority 4 ’deep dive’ March 2023

The Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science hosts The Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science hosts
The Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science hosts "Creating the Future" Commmunity Day at the Innovative Technologies Complex, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023. The event was part of Engineers Week 2023. Image Credit: Jonathan Cohen.

Strategic Priority 4 (SP4), Engagement, is focused on fostering community engagement that benefits faculty, students and community partners. In its deep dive Thursday, March 30, the SP4 team updated the Road Map Steering Committee on its goals and metrics.

Kelli Smith, assistant vice president for student success, reminded those present that the University adopted the Carnegie definition of community engagement last year, and it uses language to encourage partnerships that are mutually beneficial and reciprocal.

SP4 received funding last year to pay for two years of the Collaboratory software, and will use Road Map funding this year to extend the contract and hire a student assistant for Collaboratory data entry.

Renae Barber is the community engagement outreach and assessment specialist who coordinates Collaboratory, an online database for tracking and showcasing all community-engaged University initiatives including for teaching, research, volunteerism and more.

“Collaboratory has a public facing side to it,” Barber. “It’s designed to tell stories, not just track metrics. It goes a little deeper than that by showing who is involved, how students are learning and what is the impact. It’s a complimentary tool with what we’re doing in SP4, and it’s interactive, not just a static database. It has many features that make it useful.”

Barber reviewed some of Collaboratory’s uses. “It has a search page that returns all activities related to a keyword,” they said. “When we go here we also get the community organizations, academic courses, staff and campus units involved. For community members, it’s a great way for them to put in information and find faculty they might work with or have as potential partners.”

There are unit level pages as well, so when an activity is added, it will automatically populate on every unit, department, division, etc. page that is connected to that activity, Barber explained. “They are all connected in the background and you can see academic courses and collaborators as well, whether they are in the community or other higher education institutions.”

This can be a way to showcase the variety of activities and each data point becomes something we can explore for issues we’re addressing and what are student outcomes, Barber said. “We can look at a division, school or college level and for SP4, we can look more at our metrics, who we’re partnering with, what are some gap areas. Collaboratory can help us strategize.”

Barber has been conducting outreach with faculty and populating Collaboratory in a soft launch this year, building out the activity base and planning to ramp up this summer. An official announcement and launch of the Collaboratory will be held in fall 2023.

Alison Twang, director of the Center for Civic Engagement, began the SP4 update on its goals and metrics.

Goal 1: Binghamton University faculty and staff collaborate with the community through their engaged teaching and scholarship.

“There are a number of metrics we’ve made good progress on,” she said. “The number of faculty reporting community engaged scholarship on their annual report is 91 and we set a target of 100. For learning courses, we’re at 43 with target of 45, and the number of community-engaged designated courses exceeded that target so we will talk about setting a new one.”

Funding has been key in helping us progress, Twang said, as she highlighted two examples of how grants have supported community-engaged coursework and scholarship: an anthropology course where students are doing a variety of different projects on lead exposure and antibiotic resistance; and a speech and language pathology project in partnership with the Family Enrichment Network centered on early children education interventions.

“There are a lot of opportunities for partnerships in these areas and we would like to expand to others who haven’t thought about these grants and resources that are available to expand this work,” Twang said.

Twang then highlighted the steady growth of community-engaged learning courses and said SP4 will be targeting and giving priority to some of the new hires coming on board in fall 2023 who might not be thinking about community engagement.

To support Goal 1 metrics, Twang said, “We provide ongoing professional development, course development stipends, grants for community-engaged scholarship and teaching and we support six fellows per year in our Engaged Faculty Fellows Program.”

Goal 2: Binghamton University students are engaged in their communities.

“We have exceeded our goal for students enrolled in designated courses, so we will review that target,” Twang said. “We’re also focused on percentage of students in co-curricular experiences not tied to credit. This has varied over the years, but we think we’re closer to the target than the data shows because it’s difficult to capture what is really happening. We may potentially change to focus only on undergraduate students that might be a more appropriate population and would put us at 38%. When get to how we’re planning to spend this year’s allocation, we will talk about incentives and how to capture this data. As for the student voting rate, we’ll get the data from a national study in the early fall.

“We’re also taking a look at Class of 2022 participation by race. The baseline in community-engaged learning courses of 13%, and across most race categories it’s similar except Black, which is at 5%,” Twang said. “That’s something for us to look more closely at; are there barriers? What can we do to make things more accessible?”

Voting data was broken down by demographics also shows ways we might target certain groups of students if we want to move that needle and find ways to understand how to reach some students, Twang added.

“We will continue all of our core services for the voting program and will continue more efforts to target certain populations,” Twang said. “We’ve piloted hiring students from some of these underrepresented areas on our team to help. Coming out of COVID, more of our political organizations and some student-led activities, for a coalition that we are supporting for our students.”

Pam Mischen, faculty advisor to the president, reviewed the next goals for the meeting.

Goal 3: Binghamton University staff and faculty volunteer in their communities.

The faculty annual reports provide information for this goal, which measures faculty and staff service other than campus/professional service, but the idea of community is very broad and Carnegie doesn’t require us to just focus on the local community, Mischen said. “What are our relevant communities?”

Staff data came from a partnership with the Professional Staff Senate, which sent out a survey to ask staff about service activities. “These data make it look like [volunteerism] has gone down dramatically, but the PSS sent the survey out to larger group and got a better response rate this time. The resulting 45% is more reflective of this and we need to revise our target to reflect the larger group surveyed,” Mischen said. “The main barriers to service according to the staff survey were lack of personal time, the times for service don’t align and knowledge about opportunities.”

Goal 4: Binghamton University and the local community engage in mutually beneficial relationships.

“The summary is that everything we’re doing is working,” Mischen said. “The survey we did last summer has a baseline of 61% and we’re currently at 72% of our community partners saying we greatly contribute. Our target is 75%. We had a small response rate so we need a way to get to more people and get them to return the survey to us. One way is to let the campus community know and for those working with community partners to give them a heads up.”

Carnegie Engagement Classification

Achieving this classification requires us to demonstrate a culture of engagement, Mischen said. “We still have things to work on but we’re making progress. Documentation is where we need more work and the Collaboratory will help us as we play a bit of catch up.”

Next year is our reporting year, she said, so it’s not what have done in the past, but what we do next year that counts. “We need to continue to do great things from the past, but it’s important to institutionalize them,” Mischen added. “Our application is due in 2025, and the classification will be out in 2026. It’s challenging to get it and we don’t know exactly what the application’s questions will be. The application will come out in mid-2024. We don’t do things because of the numbers or questions, but because they are the right thing to do.”

The University has established a Community Engagement Council consisting of leadership from each College, co-chaired by Brian Rose and Donald Hall. The council has done some self-assessments and identified places where we can do a better job, Mischen said. “One area is to get the updated promotion and tenure guidelines provided by the Provost into department guidelines. We have two working groups working on factors that create good partnerships with community organizations and how to assess them, and one focusing on what students are getting out of this process and how can we document that,” she said.

Road Map funding award

In addition to extending the Collaboratory contract and hiring a student assistant to help with its data entry, funding will increase community-engaged teaching and learning grants, create honoraria for community organizations that partner with the University, provide honor cords to students with more than 150 hours of community service, and support that service through additional funding for items such as transportation and student assistants.

“We’ll continue with course develop stipends,” Mischen added. “They are working and a great way of getting more faculty involved.

“Carnegie has asked how we compensate community partners for the way they help us and we haven’t but now we will, to show our gratitude for their willingness to partner,” Mischen said. “And we’re launching a new project to get students to use B-Engaged and if they volunteer for at least 150 hours, they will get an honor cord for graduation. We will continue to fund co-curricular student engagement support and we are going to reach out to all new faculty coming next year to say ‘this is something we do here and how can we help’.”

The SP4 team wrapped its presentation by asking two provocative questions of everyone in the room:

1. We are required to set collective goals with the community and track our progress. What mechanism can we use to so this?

There was a great deal of discussion about this. Suggestions/questions included: check to see what other institutions have done to achieve Carnegie classification; build on the many programs we have with K-12 schools in the area; talk to local foundations and have more dialogue with community organizations/members; focus some efforts on lack of childcare, rural transportation and poverty; focus on job creation and retention, workforce development and healthcare issues; grow our programs that invite youth to campus for exposure to research; bring together a small group of current collaborators to discuss expansion possibilities; define what community is (local, regional, state, national, international?); define what service/involvement is for faculty completing their annual reports to get better reporting results; identify and account for all of these contexts and create a broader understanding of it all for all parties; include the arts community where there are already collaborations between faculty and members of the Broome County Arts Council.

2. How do we better encourage and support staff participation in the community?

Some suggestions: Invite all the nonprofits that need volunteers and have a fair for students, faculty and staff and can go on their lunch hour. There is already a Community Showcase each fall geared toward students, and while open to all, there could be a stronger encouragement for faculty/staff to attend. Develop a staff day of service for staff similar to the Alumni Global Days of Service.

Updates from other Strategic Priority Committees

SP1: Creativity - Engage in path-breaking graduate education, research, scholarship and creative activities that shape the world.

This strategic priority received Road Map funding for two hires: a research development specialist to directly support faculty and faculty teams to develop and implement research funding strategies and develop large proposals that advance Binghamton’s strategic research initiatives and build upon the research and activities of Binghamton’s centers and institutes and other University efforts; and a grant specialist/grant and contract administrator to work with faculty after a grant has been received.

SP2: Learning Community - Provide a transformative learning community that prepares students for advanced education, careers and purposeful living.

This strategic priority is using Road Map funding in three ways: to create undergraduate research grants with priority given to academically talented low-income students or students who have not otherwise had a high-impact experience; to provide grants for high-impact pilots intended to experiment with new initiatives to create more high-impact experiences for those students without such opportunities; and to support graduate and retention rates by identifying eligible students who stopped out near graduation, by conducting outreach to them, counseling them on options for completion and offering completion grants for needy students.

SP3: Inclusivity - Unite to foster a diverse and inclusive campus culture.

This strategic priority will use Road Map funding to fill an open executive director position for its UDiversity Institute to continue to offer and also expand the workshops it offers to internal and external community members to advance their professional development in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion.

SP5: Strategic Investments - Optimize the acquisition and allocation of human, technological, financial and physical resources.

This strategic priority is focusing on using Road Map funding to support a number of initiatives in the areas of recruitment and retention and another one for planned giving. For recruitment and retention, a pilot referral program has been created to fill critical openings, such as custodial where there are about 80 current vacancies; the University is participating in a Southern Tier Recruitment Consortium of 15 local employers and higher education partners to discuss how to work together; the University is participating in the Chamber of Commerce’s “Experience Bing” program for arranging individualized tours for prospective employees; a talent acquisition specialist will be moved from an internal position as a pilot program to see if the pool of candidates can be expanded; the University will provide additional support for the Faculty and Staff of Color Association and Friends program; and two temporary floater positions will be created as a one-year pilot to allow the University to hire a partner registered in the dual career program and give them exposure/experience in different areas of the University. For planned giving, the University will continue its relationship with Stelter, a firm that helps provide clear vision and strategic guidance to maximize major gift, principal giving and gift planning opportunities.

SP6: Internationalization - Support, promote and enhance strategic internationalization efforts through high-impact learning, teaching, research and engagement.

This strategic priority is using Road Map funding to hire undergraduate research assistants to accompany and work with faculty when they are doing international research over the summer and winter non-semester timeframes. The students will receive a stipend and travel and living expenses for these internship and research experiences. Focus on supporting UG students to get internship and research experience in international setting. Funding travel, lodging, doesn’t support faculty but gets them research help for free. On dateline and out to deans. Let us know if have questions. Will send it out to deans and SOG+ as well. Starts this summer with April 14 deadline to apply.

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