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Brockport / President's Office / Presidential Speeches and Public Statements / Convocation 2011

Faculty/Staff Opening of School Convocation

Tuesday, August 23, 2011
President John R. Halstead
The College at Brockport, State University of New York

"Thinking and Acting Strategically"

Good morning. Welcome to our annual Faculty/Staff Convocation commencing the beginning of another academic year.

As a slight deviation from past practice—with deep appreciation to our Senate President John Daly who will follow me in a moment—let me begin our proceedings.

These are unusual times marked by rapid change—witness the international economic crisis. And we are getting accustomed to change in our world.

But NOTHING would have prepared us for the shock of losing two valued colleagues so suddenly—under different circumstances—this past summer.

The sudden passing of Dean Stu Appelle on June 27 and the passing of Dr. Jim Fatula just two weeks later in July rattled our worlds and saddened our community.

As Dean of the School of Math and Science and Associate Professor of Public Administration, respectively, they both served this College and their disciplines with distinction in their own way—also as department chairs, teachers, scholars and public servants—and so much more.

They touched all of our lives and their families have been most grateful for the outpouring of support from so many of their friends as well as the collective condolences of the College.

So let us all take a moment of silence to reflect upon our departed colleagues as we begin the academic year without them, knowing we'll never be the same without their presence at this College—their college—but remembering their influence.

Thank you.

As I walked the campus this summer (and what changes we're all seeing driven by our Facilities Master Plan), it's been great to see Brockport Student Government President Kevin Perry and his BSG team planning the year ahead.

And it should be a good year actively using our student leaders in our clubs and organizations as we increasingly focus on building an inclusive, engaged community.

This will include—and this applies to all of us—the development of a Campus Climate Survey; something this campus has apparently not seen since 1995. It's time!

Last year, we celebrated the start of our 175th year as a College. I do not know the nomenclature for our 176th year, but we're tightening things up today-yet, we're also being even more inclusive, so I'd simply ask that ALL new hires from January through August 2011—both our faculty and staff—stand to be recognized.

Now that you are "recognized"…please take time to get to know these good folks. They represent an extraordinary addition to our faculty and staff here at Brockport.

But we also have great continuity in those of you directly involved in teaching, learning and living on campus—both in and out of the classroom. I applaud you all.

We're also most fortunate to have great continuity and strength in leadership at the College. So I'd like to take a moment to recognize the President's Cabinet, all of whom have been here a number of years and help me to shape this College:

• Provost Anne Huot

• Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Katy Wilson

• Vice President for Advancement Roxanne Johnston

• Executive Director of Public and Government Relations Dave Mihalyov

…Oh, did I forget someone?

Vice President for Administration and Finance Lou Spiro, who will have served this College in a variety of capacities for 33 years, but announced his retirement effective next June.

Lou has demonstrated day-in, day-out his leadership and integrity as our Vice President for Administration and Finance. The quintessential CFO, we've all benefited immeasurably by his fiscal expertise and budget forecasting, particularly in a time of uncertainty in our state; yet, even more from his principled thinking, his enduring commitment to transparent budget processes, and sense of priorities always for what is best for our campus.

Lou: Please stand and be recognized!

I guess Lou figured since he got us back a couple million bucks in the new SUNY tuition plan that he could now retire...

More on that in a few minutes.

Be assured that since his announcement in June that Lou has not missed a beat; we'll get every last ounce of his wisdom in the year ahead.

In his typical humble way, Lou will be the first to say that no one is irreplaceable.

So let me also assure you that we've already launched a national search. I've appointed Provost Anne Huot to Chair the Search Committee. We've confirmed 15 members from campus; currently we're interviewing national search firms to assist us.

I'd also be remiss if I did not thank Sheila Strong for her role in today's Convocation …and the many other things she's done to advance the College and serve three different presidents over the past 15 years.

Please join me in wishing Sheila Strong well as she departs this Friday to become Executive Assistant to the President at MCC. Sheila: Please stand.

In the past, I've used this occasion to hit on a theme such as "Transitions" or "Hope and Optimism." Or more recently, last year, in fact: "Looking Back, Moving Forward: A Call to Action"…today, too!

Today's theme is: "Thinking and Acting Strategically." Successful campus leadership is characterized by being strategic and investing in priorities.

Remember, there's been a great deal of action over the past year—even over the summer months—as we've held a series of Cross-Divisional Retreats.

During these Retreats on Oct. 1, Feb. 25, and most recently on July 21—a critical mass of 50 key decision-makers from across all Divisions of the College came together for a common purpose.

Namely, we were all intimately engaged in developing the latest iteration of our College's Strategic Plan.

As I've said in countless public venues, this is simply the evolution of the College's planning efforts following the Matrix which has served us well.

This past year's been—as I've often said—a year of transition between our Matrix and our latest plan featuring four Constructs prominently rolled out at my Town Hall Meetings and at our many Cross-Divisional Retreats.

So this summer's Space Shuttle Launch of Atlantis was not the only launch. Ours was officially July 1, 2011, as we began a new fiscal year.

The 50+ leaders at our July 21 Retreat are serving as "Champions"—if you will—armed with their hands-on involvement in developing our Strategic Plan, refining it, and adding to its value for our campus.

I trust they've been "talking it up" with all of you to keep you informed! That's the model complemented by each Division of the College having their own Retreats as well as my ongoing College-wide Town Hall Meetings that will continue this year.

The Plan—the Four Constructs—should not be unfamiliar to you all. You've been a big part of building our plan as we approach our Middle States visits this November and April 2012. Having a strategic plan that focuses on the total educational experiences of our students will help us immensely.

And measuring the quality of the student experience through outputs rather than inputs will help us to focus and improve both instructional and service areas.

Since many of you have been away this summer—and just as a reminder if you had memory loss during the May to August cycles of extreme drought and heavy rain.

We have a freshly "minted" brochure summarizing our Strategic Plan for 2011-2016 as we aspire to be: A Nationally Recognized Comprehensive Master's Institution Focused on Student Success.

Our publication includes the key elements of our Strategic Plan, the College's Goal and Benchmarks, College Priorities Related to Our Goal; and we highlight Programs of Distinction, Unique Programs, and Programs featuring Student Engagement.

Further—and do not underestimate the importance—our strategic goals mesh very nicely with "The Power of SUNY."

Recently, we took a "deep dive" into some of the "6 Big Ideas" of SUNY, especially focusing on a couple such as the Seamless Education Pipeline and Energy-Smart New York to demonstrate what Chancellor Nancy Zimpher calls "the crosswalk" of SUNY's plan and campus plans. Our "culture of evidence" builds a very compelling case of which we can all be proud—I'm pleased to say.

Of course, I cannot mention SUNY without touching on a few important things. First, SUNY is in Year 3 and rolling out "Phase 4: Implementation" of "The Power of SUNY"—SUNY's strategic planning efforts. This phase will entail some Regional Showcases. We hope to host one in April 2012 around some important topics such as STEM programs, SBDC's, Capital Projects, and Sustainability at our Downtown Rochester METROCENTER.

Next, moving quickly are the Regional Economic Development Councils. I was at Governor Cuomo/Lt. Governor Duffy's launch in Rochester on July 26.

Since then, I've had input and will continue to have input as your President and as Chair of the Rochester Area Presidents again this year, but the train's moving rapidly for our Finger Lakes REDC.

Another fast-moving initiative is the SUNY Campus Alliance Networks announced in a news release on August 4 and predicated upon the concept of "Shared Services" which was part of the Chancellor's first-ever State of the University Address back on January 19 with a Board resolution passed by SUNY's Trustees on June 15.

Its stated intent is to share or combine some administrative functions and shift resources to improve students' academic and student support services.

I'm very proud to say that here at The College at Brockport we've worked diligently to protect the academic core as reported at each of our last two Convocations and budget updates.

Witness the painful freezing of 65 staff positions as part of our budget reduction plan; yet, the hiring of faculty (the exception in SUNY) during the past few years:

2008-09: 15 tenure-track

2009-10: 13 tenure-track;1 FT non-tenure-track

2010-11: 10 tenure-track; 9 FT non-tenure-track

2011-12: 13 tenure-track; 11 FT non-tenure-track

Listen. It gets better! Here's some good news—no, some GREAT news! After careful review of our faculty salary pool by Anne and Lou, I have approved that in the year ahead, we conduct 21 tenure-track searches and 4 multi-year QAR searches for a total of 25 faculty positions to be filled for Fall 2012. Just think: Next August, we can spend our entire Convocation welcoming them!

And speaking of faculty, let me pause to applaud your outstanding contributions to the College—and how much you continue to contribute to our efforts to achieve even greater instructional efficiency.

In does not go unnoticed that you're doing some of the "heavy lifting" also with regard to Gen Ed Reform, Course Scheduling, and our Middle States Re-Accreditation.

Returning to our recently launched update of our Strategic Plan…this, too, will help us to show how we are making strategic investments based on our stated goals. My Cabinet will continue to monitor our progress and financial situation closely to assure that we invest precious resources wisely in the highest priorities of our plan.

Oh yes, resources…the budget situation which I promised to get back to. Here's a snapshot with our commitment to keep you advised—as always—with timely updates throughout the coming year:

First, thank goodness for the success of what was called NYSUNY2020 including the Rational Tuition Plan approved by SUNY's Trustees and the Legislature and just signed by Governor Cuomo on August 9.

Hopefully we have "bottomed out" and are on the way to some level of economic recovery as it relates to the State of New York and SUNY.

We can be forthright about the tuition increase of up to $300 per year over five years to help our College as well as students and parents to plan for the future. I've done that in my welcome letter to students in the first Stylus and reminded our students that there's relief through the TAP program and to "think quality" academics and student life.

With the recent tuition increase we have about a $1 million net reduction for 2011-12.

We've increased College Reserves by over $3.2 million from College and Divisional contributions.

We have sufficient flexibility to manage the current budget reduction and our decreased structural deficit.

And listen to this, we did this without taking any extraordinary personnel actions.

But here's an interesting fact: our State operating budget is now: less than 30% state support; about 70% from tuition (and small amount from fees).

Further, as AASCU's state rep for NY, I learned that 90 percent of our states cut public higher ed budgets; 60 percent had tuition hikes and increased fees.

Let's now turn to the tremendous Fundraising success stories we've had. We should all be elated even though we are still in the "Silent or Leadership Phase" of our Comprehensive Campaign!

Our Campaign is moving along nicely exceeding its first year goal of $5 million. Instead, almost $7 million which we've now topped as of this month.

Total voluntary support for FY2010-11 was up 10% over the previous year, surpassing CASE's prediction of 4.7%. Total donors increased by 17% to 4,863. Our College Foundation's endowment was up 28% over last year.

What's this all mean for us? For you? Let me provide concrete examples:

A generous corporate gift from our friends at MandT Bank now supports our summer reading program of the first-year experience. This was previously funded through priority needs. This gift allows us to redirect that money to other College priorities.

The Morris Challenge Gift—Thanks again to our "Million Dollar Man" Emory's gifts create a capacity to support student research which, in turn, directly and positively impacts the research programs of our chemistry faculty.

The Vlogianitis Gift: This six-figure gift did more than give us a new gym floor! It creates an endowment in the Athletic Department providing much needed resources to support our top-notch athletic programs and facilities.

Student Scholarships—Perhaps the area in which we have been most successful to date. I can provide numerous examples, including recent scholarships from the Chair of our College Council, Scott Turner, and his wife, Mary, who is a member of our Foundation Board. Plus during the coming year, we'll undertake (under the leadership of our new chief enrollment management office, Jimmy Jung) an effort to better leverage scholarships. In turn, we'll reduce the amount of money coming from priority needs to support scholarships. As with my first example, this will allow us to redirect those resources into other priorities at the College.

In short, we're ratcheting up our work with donors to assure gifts that directly impact our academic departments and schools. This is a high priority for our Deans as well, including our new Dean of the School of Business Administration and Economics, Dan Petree.

All of this adds up to a promising year, yet with some uncertainties in our state, our nation, and the world economy.

We can't do much about that…except invest wisely! And we are; in our College, in our future, but most of all, in our STUDENTS and their total educational experience at The College at Brockport.

I'm proud of that. I hope you are, too.

Let's have a great year ahead…and oh yes don't forget to think and act strategically!

Last Updated 2/28/12