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Brockport / President's Office / Presidential Speeches and Public Statements / Convocation 2007

Faculty/Staff Opening of School Convocation

Tuesday, August 21, 2007
President John R. Halstead
The College at Brockport, State University of New York

Good morning! Thanks, Darnell. You are already making a difference as BSG President. Welcome back to campus and the start of another great year!

Let me begin with what our consultants from Cognitive Marketing call "The Brand Promise." "The College at Brockport promises to reveal to each student each day his or her capacity for intellectual, physical and creative accomplishment." Can we all do that together for this great College? More on that later.

Last August—in addition to talking about the Yankees (now 4 ½ games out—about the closest since April 24) vs. Red Sox pennant race—I focused on a year to be marked by themes of continuity, planning and transitions. We’ve effectively managed those transitions, approved a new planning Matrix and have now moved on to a period marked by stability in leadership, yet with uncertainty of what the Commission on Higher Education will mean for SUNY and public education.

Photo: President Halstead gives remarks at the 2007 Faculty and Staff ConvocationBut what we can do best is to continue to manage our own destiny and draw on our core values of shared governance and student success—with a strong sense of ourselves.

And speaking of success—enduring success—Porras, Emery and Thompson in Success Built to Last just published (2007) by the Wharton School (in a book we used last Friday for our annual President’s Cabinet planning retreat) posit: "…people who seek to build long-term success insist that success may never come without a compelling personal commitment to something you care about…"
Let me assure you that our College leadership has that compelling personal commitment, caring deeply about helping our students to achieve academic success; as many of you do with our new Quality Service initiative. As Aristotle said, "Quality is not an act, it is a habit."

To digress a moment dealing with our leadership team, when I welcomed Dr. Katy Wilson at her July 11 reception, I indicated that my charge to Rich Fenton and the search committee was to find the best qualified fit for our new VP.  Katy will tell you how her jaw dropped when I said "alas we had failed"…instead both Rich and later Janie Hinds’ search committees brought me the two very best VP’s we could find—superb credentials and great "fits" for SUNY Brockport.

Both VP Wilson and Provost Anne Huot have joined our team to complement the existing leadership and continuity of Roxanne Johnston, Lou Spiro, Kathy Groves and Sheila Strong.

That same day, I stated my goal to surround myself with bright, engaging people—"smarter than me for the greater good of the College." To which Gary Owens whispered to me afterwards, "That wasn’t too difficult, was it, John?"

Let me give a concrete example of how we are already working well together, making sound decisions that will impact all of you directly. Last February, following Governor Spitzer’s budget address, I noted in a special edition of Statements an open letter to the community  and to the President’s Advisory Council, that we would for the first time since 1999-2000 get money back out to departments for non-personnel matters. That was seen as very good news! Let’s cut to the chase with the numbers.

As a result of inflationary support requested by SUNY, Brockport received $481,900 (almost half a million dollars!), which Cabinet allocated to each division of the College for supplies, expenses, student temp services, miscellaneous. For example: $248,200 for Academic Affairs; $88,200 for Administration and Finance; $36,700 for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs; and $35,500 for Advancement—equating to a 7.2 percent increase.

Returning to my premise of stability in leadership, yet new beginnings let me note some other noteworthy decisions.

Based on deliberations and recommendations of the Task Force on Enrollment Management I appointed last year, we have taken steps to better manage and control costs of our tremendously successful student scholarship program (Have you seen Adam Standish’s classy new literature?) and without impacting the quality of our student profile which we will have to monitor carefully. We also approved a pilot initiative for the Department of Business Administration and Economics to be even more selective in the admission of transfer students to that program. And we are revisiting some enrollment assumptions in our Memorandum of Understanding .
In terms of enrollment—with a particular eye on the quality and diversity of incoming students—the freshman high school average for confirmed regular admits is 90.6 percent; mean class rank is 24 percent; mean SAT 1116 and ACT 23.7; Tier I and II students now stand at 79 percent. And we had a record number of Tier I students accepted, comprising 28 percent of regular admits!

Confirmed deposits for minority students stand at 9.5 percent for freshmen and 11.4 percent for transfers. Total deposits overall are up 2.4 percent over last year. Congratulations to Bernie Valento and his Undergraduate Admissions team plus all of you who help to recruit, retain and educate our students! Only 42 percent of applicants were admitted.

New students and families had a tremendous summer orientation program thanks to Andrea Newman and Marcy Esler with a 90 percent participation rate. The summer book, Miracle in the Andes by Nando Parado, is most provocative and his appearance on campus September 10 should draw strong interest from students.

It’s gratifying to welcome today—and last night at our home as Kathy and I hosted—46 new tenure-track faculty to address our aspirational goal of reducing our adjunct/full-time ratio. Overall, our searches have been successful and demonstrate greater diversity—another one of my primary goals, including our latest Presidential Fellow Carl Almer, who is joining our Department of History (specializing in Latin American history) and completing his PhD at UC-Irvine.

The Diversity Committee was under the able leadership of Adrienne Collier and Sheila Strong who also co-chaired with Joel Frater to make our annual Cultural Diversity Conference another success story with registrations up 32 percent and attendance up 23 percent.

Now to a few more select highlights across the College as I did last year. These are only illustrations of considerable accomplishments—the result of many dedicated faculty and staff working together with our volunteer boards/leadership.

Let me first turn to our external relations and advancements made in that division under VP Roxanne Johnston and her team, where "record setting" is the buzz word. It’s good news, indeed. Our total gifts and grants last year was $1,821,633—a 30 percent increase over the past two years and second highest total in the history of the College. And we launched our first President’s Donor Dinner this past spring.

And give yourselves a hand as well as faculty/staff contributions totaled $153,559—up $53,000 and 53 percent over the past two years while participation levels climbed to 42 percent for full-time faculty and staff. Thanks to Davida Bloom, Dona Hazen and Ken O’Brien.  Stay tuned as we fill important positions and conduct a feasibility study preparing for our comprehensive campaign.

Let me also note some important "acting" colleagues as Ginny Campbell directs Marketing Communications and Ralph Trecartin International Programs/Study Abroad on an interim basis as we conduct important national searches.

Other accomplishments: Our faculty continued your high level of productivity in scholarship as evidenced by an impressive array of refereed articles, books and other publications, as well as creative activities, performances and exhibits in the arts, and Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence. Sustained productivity in faculty scholarship is central to our academic climate on campus and enriches both the College’s reputation and recruitment of new faculty. And we’ll launch two new academic programs—an MS in Mental Health Counseling and RN/BSN in Nursing this fall.

Our sports teams ranked 37 out of 430 nationally among NCAA Division III; SUNYAC scholar-athlete numbers tripled.

In a combined effort of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, and Administration and Finance (especially our Facilities personnel) on August 15, we had a ribbon-cutting celebration for our $18 million, 208-bed TownhomesPhase I.

Substantial progress was made on the design for our $44 million Special Events/Recreation Center ($39 million from the State of New York in the past two years), as well as advocacy for the Lake Ontario Natural Resource Center.

Don’t forget ongoing renovations totaling $24.5 million this summer with $30.7 million under construction—from Drake and Tuttle to Harrison.

You should also know that we have early thoughts of a new academic building as we revisit our Memorandum of Understanding and capital plan.

Parking, the "penultimate issue" on any college campus, has been expanded. On Holley Street, you will see the newlot accommodating 186 spaces, plus there are an additional 191 spaces at our townhomes.

I leave you with these thoughts.

  • Great universities are declared such by each of us because we’ve developed a strong sense about them.
  • We all feel we know something about them, whether or not we’ve ever set foot on their campuses.  And great colleges have certain things in common:
    • Histories in which everyone who is a part of the institution takes pride;
    • Honored traditions that draw the community of the College together and which bind earlier generations to future generations;
    • Alumni who are engaged for life; and
    • The institutional courage and determination to be themselves—to not follow the path of others.
  • The College at Brockport has all these characteristics—a proud and colorful history that mirrors the forward progress of our nation itself; traditions of teaching and learning that extend back to its earliest days and which have produced countless examples of student success.
  • A strong and successful alumni that has every reason to be proud of its Alma Mater; and the institutional courage to raise our collective voice and be counted as the important influence on higher education in the State of New York that, in fact, we have been for generations. 
  • What we sometimes fail to recognize, however, is how important it is to be intentional—as an institution, and as individual members of the College community—to tell our story.
  • Taking opportunities to tell the great stories that reveal the true character of an institution can change forever the way your audience, be they students, faculty, alumni, or the community at large, relate to it. It’s these compelling stories that move people to take action—to apply, to donate, to forge lasting relationships.

Let’s all do some "Good Thinking" and go out and tell some compelling stories about The College at Brockport. There are some wonderful stories as we celebrate the year ahead!

Last Updated 2/28/12