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Road Map Strategic Priority 5 ‘deep dive’ May 2023

Image Credit: Jonathan Cohen.

Strategic Priority 5 (SP5), Strategic Investments, is focused on optimizing the acquisition and allocation of human, technological, financial and physical resources. In its deep dive Thursday, May 25, the SP5 team updated the Road Map Steering Committee on its goals and metrics.

Goal 1: Financial resources

John Cordi, senior associate vice president and chief financial officer, reviewed Goal 1, which deals with the University having the financial resources to achieve its goals. For metric #1, the team looked at financial resources per average annual full-time equivalent enrollment (AAFTE).

“We’re trending in the right direction, but next year’s state budget should help us with Goal 1,” Cordi said. “While we won’t get a resident undergraduate tuition increase, for first time in close to 20 years we’re getting direct state support for operating aid.

“A smaller transformational innovation fund will go to the workforce of the future and student support,” he added. “And an endowment matching program will provide a $1 state match for every $2. On the capital side, we expect a 12% increase from the current year. We expect campus-specific details later in June and only have SUNY aggregates now.”

John Koch, vice president for advancement, spoke about metric #2, endowment growth and the impact of private support on the campus.

“The campaign started in 2017 and we’ve seen a steady increase in our endowment until a 9% decrease in 2022, but we’re back up to about $144 million now, so that has turned,” he said. “We’re still waiting for the final rules, but we will have the state match program to get $1 from the state for every $2 in endowed gifts. We’ll submit more from our anonymous donor once we have that match and that will help escalate our endowment growth.”

Koch also addressed metric #3, the Impact of funds available to support campus from the Binghamton University Foundation and advancement, which is the amount of donated funds that were utilized in a given year. “We should really move past our $25 million into the next fiscal year, which is another positive trend,” he said.

Finally, Koch talked about the effect of undergraduate alumni giving (metric #4), and we match the nationwide trend, he said. “We have continued to measure this due to its inclusion in the methodology used by U.S. News & World Report, but they just announced that they are taking it out of their methodology,” Koch said. “Alumni participation is out as a metric, so we will get together and discuss this moving forward and will go to something else in future years.”

Goal 2: Optimize faculty and staff resources

Switching to Goal 2, optimizing faculty and staff resources, Cordi said that metrics #5 (student/tenure track faculty ratio) and #6 (student/faculty ratio) are trending in the right direction. The student-tenure track faculty ratio is at about 28.5 and the student/faculty ratio is nearing 18 with a target of 18 by 2026.

Metric #7 addresses faculty attrition rates, excluding retirements, looking at job satisfaction and the University’s ability to retain faculty. “We’re below our target and don’t know if it’s a one-year abnormality or a trend,” Cordi said. “We will keep monitoring it and have some surveys under consideration and Alistair (Lees, vice provost for faculty affairs) is doing some exit surveys to help us gather information.”

Metric #8 addresses staff attrition, both United University Professions (UUP) and Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) staff, and is up about 9% this year, Cordi said. “The breakdown between UUP and CSEA is about the same and, like faculty attrition, we need to watch, monitor and discuss it further.”

Goal 3: Technological resources

JoAnn Navarro, vice president for operations, addressed metric #9, the faculty/staff satisfaction survey.

The results are flat from the last survey, which asks about Information Technology Services (ITS), the Center for Learning and Teaching and Educational Communications. “ITS has been doing new initiatives for low-cost storage solutions and I think this will help move the satisfaction needle,” Navarro said. “We’re at 87% satisfaction, with a target of 90% by 2026. A new survey will go out in the fall.”

Metric #10, student satisfaction, saw a drop, Navarro added. “We know there is general dissatisfaction with e-learning nationally.”

Goal 4: Infrastructure

Navarro spoke about life cycle modeling for facilities, which identified capital investment need, facilities robust planning and targeted execution, and predicts future renewal needs.

Metric #11, the Facilities Condition Index (FCI), looks is an indicator of the condition of buildings and the cost to replace if needed.

“We set a target of 10% for our FCI by 2026, but we now believe that’s not a realistic number because it takes a significant amount of money to move this metric,” Navarro said. Some of the University’s buildings with the highest FCI are being renovated now, she said. “Old Rafuse is being renovated, the Library and Fine Arts buildings have high FCIs and have construction or planning underway, and Hinman Dining Hall was fourth highest on our list and was recently completely renovated.”

Putting the University’s overall FCI scores into context, Navarro said the SUNY system average FCI is 19%, and Binghamton’s is 15%. “As a system, it shows how much money we need to improve and it does appear the state is making some additional capital investments and that’s good for us as well.”

She noted that the University currently has over $268 million in projects that are fully funded and inn design, and $17 million others in design. “We’re talking about another number of projects that are not even on the list, such as a new research building and an addition to Science 1,” she said. “We will work to have a high visibility with the New York State Construction Fund.”

Additionally, Navarro said the Charlene and Roger Kramer Welcome Center will be complete in early 2024 and is making good progress, and a steering and planning committee is soliciting input from campus for the new Lecture Hall/Classroom Building that is expected to get underway in late 2024.

“The School of the Arts master plan process for the Fine Arts Building also continues and is close to wrapping up,” she said. “We also have a fieldhouse sports facility adjacent to baseball stadium that will actually break ground in the next couple of months with a November 2024 anticipated completion, and an addition of about 75,000 square-feet to the East Gym, with construction to start this fall.”

Turning to the 2023-2025 projects funded and a proposal for recruitment and retention of staff, it was noted that the challenge is to compete for top talent in an environment where there is a great deal of competition for diverse talent, difficulty in attracting millennials and Gen Z employees, a higher employee turnover and costly attrition.

Courtney Ignarri, assistant dean for graduate affairs in Harpur College of Arts and Sciences, addressed an exit survey that was sent to professional staff who were leaving the University to pursue another position who were not retiring and who had not been non-renewed.

The survey was sent out in 2021 and in 2022 and resulted in a small sample size, she said. “The data alludes to people in early or mid-career and most with a master’s degree. The expectations about moving up and promotion are different than what they used to be. Reasons for leaving included salary, opportunities for career advancement, hybrid positions and family/personal reasons,” she said.

Key highlights from the surveys were that staff had issues with defining responsibilities and unreasonable workloads. Most respondents had positive interactions with supervisors but lacked room for career advancement. “Work-related stress was a concern and despite COVID, there was a higher sense of unity from those in the 2020-21 year,” Ignarri said. “Again, there was a small sample size and we hope to get more information from current staff that could be helpful as well.”

Navarro then reviewed the status of two funded proposals for SP5.

Funding Proposal #1, with six initiatives:

Initiative #1 – Floater positions

Two floater positions for dual career people at $50,000 each. They will work in different offices across campus to learn more about the campus. “This allows them to become more valuable candidates if we have open positions and gives them a bridge with a job as they look for something on or off campus,” Navarro said. The positions are ready to go and work experiences that will be mutually beneficial to the employee and the campus are being identified.

Initiative #2 – Referral Bonus Program

This pilot program is for employees who refer others to our entry level and trades positions. A $500 incentive is awarded to the referrer and the new employee after six months on the job. “It was budgeted at $35,000 and I’m pleased to say we’re going over budget,” Navarro said. “It has made a difference in positions that are very important to the campus.” The April job fair brought in 22 new employees who had been referred by another employee and it has moved the needle, Navarro said. “We had 75 cleaning vacancies in March, and we’re down to 45 in May. Our attrition rate is still a lot higher than we would like. Still, we’re giving it a try.”

Initiative #3 – Southern Tier Recruitment Consortium

“This is a consortium of roughly 16 different organizations, both public and private, in Ithaca and Binghamton,” Navarro said. “It kicked off in February and we have identified a point person for each organization and created a listserv to share resumes. We’re looking at whether we should create a job or resume bank to streamline job search efforts.” The budget for this is $15,000.

Initiative #4 – Chamber’s “Experience Bing” Program

Some money ($5,000) has gone to the Greater Binghamton Chamber’s Experience Bing program to serve candidates’ spouses/partners and are tailored to those particular individuals, Navarro explained. The routes cost between $250 to $50 each, depending upon the length of the tour and necessary research. Routes $250-$450 each depending on length and necessary research.

Initiative #5 – Faculty and Staff of Color Association

This program is budgeted at $10,000 per year and Diana Castellanos is taking the lead on it for programming. It’s expected to have a catered happy hour with a speaker each semester and five to six luncheons pe year, with the goal of increasing programming to better serve the University’s faculty and staff of color community.

Initiative #6 – Talent Acquisition Specialist

Hiring of a talent acquisition specialist at $80,000 to assist departments with the search process and work with committee to move searches along more expeditiously. Diana Castellanos, formerly assistant director for student transition and success, has accepted the position in the dual career office, effective May 1 and she is starting to work the Sharon O’Neill, director of employee engagement and program innovation, and some search committees.

Funding Proposal #2, deals with gift planning.

Koch said the goal of this proposal is to build a professional gift planning program to bring more funds back to campus. “Our alumni are now thinking about legacy gifts,” he said. “We’ve partnered with Stelter (a firm that assists with fundraising initiatives) to uncover gifts we didn’t know about and are providing outreach to segmented audiences. We also created the legacygiving.binghamton.edu website that is interactive, and are survey alumni and friends to understand their inclination to make a deferred gift.”

Koch said we will continue to work with Stelter on more targeted, specific appeals, not only about wills and estates. “There’s a lot we need to cover,” he said. “We’ll be sending out newsletters with student stories, donor stories and focused articles on gift planning options.”

Koch said that a recent survey received 178 responses and 106 said they wanted to learn more of have some call them, “and eight raised their hand and said ‘we’ve already included Binghamton in our plans.’” That’s an approximate value of $400,000 from the eight, Koch said. “The average bequest is between $50,000 and $75,000.”

Updates from other Strategic Priority Committees

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

Of the two approved hires, one is filled in the Office of Sponsored Programs for someone to work with faculty on proposals across the disciplines. The search for the second hire is beginning for someone to work in the Office of Strategic Initiatives to create proposal narratives to become more competitive. Also, working with Information Technology Services, an updated faculty report now allows faculty to include artistic, clinical, international and volunteerism activities and achievements is up and running. It will affect some of this SP’s metrics moving forward.

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

With its funding, it is working across three broad buckets: providing grant opportunities for undergraduate research, which is a great way to integrate research and faculty and achieve one of our metrics; identifying at-risk students and figuring out how to help them be successful and graduate on time; and looking at ways to collaborate and more the needle on high-impact practices for students.

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

With funding to hire a new UDiversity person, the search is underway. Applications are under review and it’s hoped to have someone on board by Aug. 1 to assist with workshops and UDiversity initiatives.

SP4: Engagement – Foster community engagement that benefits faculty, students and community partners.

The Community Engagement Day with a speaker from Michigan State who also moderated a panel during the Center for Civic Engagement’s Community Engagement Showcase was a fantastic day with very productive meetings. It’s helpful to get outside opinions as we work toward Carnegie classification. The speaker had an expansive view of community engagement and a graphic that we will incorporate more regularly. The showcase was a poster session, panel discussion and keynote and we had about 30 posters presented and over 200 people at the showcase. Since then we have requested membership with the Engagement Scholarship Consortium and we are now members.

Harvey. Slide 9 student to staff ratio good progress til COVID, no new allocations and coundlt raise tuions but now new traunches from the state to hire new facuty without increasing envorlment and another traunch with endowment money and hiriing faculty and staff and not hae to increase enrollment. I thik we need to focus on that as a key parameter, but runs into a space problem so will look in every corner and asking for more funding in the budget $100 mil in the budget not attached to any university and said for Albany and Binghamton, so expect a $50 mil capital in the budget to build a building. It’s a good problem to have.

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

The provost’s international internship support for undergraduate students is underway and there are sic faculty applications to take students to international summer internships. Three of them have already been funded for a total of 11 undergraduates. The next round of proposals is due in September and will be determined in October. All of the students and faculty are in Harpur College. and decide in Oct.

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