As promised, I’m writing to you to give updates on initiatives and projects over the last month.
Updates on Task Forces
I reported earlier that two task forces were set up this semester. The first was focused on reviewing our yearbooks and historical issues of The Stylus. Charlie Cowling led a team of faculty, staff and students in this important work. As a result of their research, the team recommended that the best way to respond to any offensive material was not censorship, but contextualization, and I concur with their recommendation. They have created the following link to explain the College’s stance on historical materials: http://library.brockport.edu/archives/context. I particularly want to draw your attention to this statement: “Preserving and making more accessible in digital form materials such as these is the business of history, and does not imply that the College at Brockport endorses or finds acceptable expressions and images such as those mentioned above. It means that we intend a transparency about our history, neither denying nor endorsing it, rather leaving it to you the reader to use it for research and study in its original, uncensored form.” I am grateful to Charlie and the team for the work that they have started. Additional work will continue to take place in semesters to come: class projects, individual research, surveys, and more. If you have an interest in these records or wish to get more information, do please reach out to Charlie.
A second task force reviewed changes to the academic calendar in order to accommodate the moving of commencement from the current Friday/Saturday scheduled to a Thursday/Friday schedule from May 2020. Our community was asked to review two options: regularly starting our fall semester one week early, or slightly reducing the timeframe of Winter Session 1. Overwhelming, our community supported shortening winter session: just over 77% felt this way. Another 11.6% noted that either option would be acceptable, while 11% wanted to start earlier in the fall. As you are aware, our 2019 fall semester is scheduled to start on Monday, August 19, with instruction beginning a week later. This date will not change. The 2019-20 academic calendar originally incorporated an extra week of break for students in January, with instruction not beginning until January 27. I’m happy to report, therefore, that we can commence the spring semester on Thursday, January 24, without affecting the length of the upcoming winter session. This means that colleagues who teach Winter Session 1 will have over a year to make changes to their courses, since the first time it will impact the delivery of their courses will be in the 2020-21 academic year. This schedule will put us more in line with other local colleges, many of which begin the spring semester on Martin Luther King Jr Day or before. Thank you to everyone who took part in the survey. Going forward, we will continue with the same pattern of instruction. A review of the changes will take place in five years, so that we can do a clear assessment of the impact.
Goal 3 of our strategic plan focuses on being a sustainable institution for the 21st century, and we have made a lot of progress on this goal over the last year. For example, we received our Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) report earlier this month, and we have achieved Silver standard, scoring 48.6 points, slightly higher than we did the last time we took part in the survey back in 2012. Our rating is valid for three years, after which we will resubmit with the goal of achieving an even higher rating. I want to thank Craig Ross for spearheading this initiative and all of the faculty, staff and students who helped to gather the material that allowed us to achieve this result.
We also recently qualified for a $96,000 rebate from the National Grid due to an energy initiative project on LED lighting that will reduce our carbon footprint by 800,000 pounds.
In addition, we have begun a pilot project on managed print services to see if we can make further progress on our sustainability goals. All of the VPs and I agreed to unplug our desktop printers and use only one printer on our floor. The 30-day pilot has been successful; while it took a little time to get used to the new routine, we know even small changes can make a big difference. We will be taking part in a larger SUNY managed print services project from next year.
These are just a few of the examples of the work that the College is undertaking. To get a sense of other projects on our sustainability initiatives, please see this article from City Newspaper, which was published this week: https://www.rochestercitynewspaper.com/rochester/getting-schooled-in-clean-energy/Content?oid=10284454
Yesterday, Cabinet also reviewed the current enrollment figures and projections for next year. We all have a role to play in recruiting qualified students who are likely to be successful here, and I know that many of you have already worked hard at open days and accepted student days to try to achieve our enrollment goals. It is impossible to predict fully the size of our Class of 2023, but sadly, all indications suggest it will be significantly lower than in previous years, and that our overall student numbers, taking into account first years, transfers and returning students, is likely to be lower than previously predicted. As a general rule, we estimate that for every 100 students below target, we will see a million dollar reduction in our overall budget.
I am aware that our Admissions team is working valiantly and hard to secure deposits from students who have met our entry requirements and who have not yet committed to the College, and I thank them for their ongoing work. We know that Western New York demographics will continue to work against us, with the fall in the number of 18 year olds in our area continuing for the next few years.
These factors give us additional impetus to continue to develop graduate programs, degree completion programs and online programs, to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our region and our college. We will not know our final numbers until the three week census date, but if they are as we are currently predicting, the College will likely need to review expenses again. As you may be aware from town halls and other presentations, our VP for Administration and Finance is spearheading a number of productivity initiatives which we may need to implement going forward.
But I don’t want to end on a somber note. There are still amazing things happening on our campus, and our students are showing us again and again what a difference we make to their lives, especially at this time of year. Just this week we began a social media campaign entitled “#EagleEmployed” that showcases students who have secured jobs prior to graduation. Next year, we intend to expand this campaign even further. The College at Brockport transforms lives, and I’m glad we have the opportunity to showcase our Brockport success stories.
As the 2018-19 academic year winds down, I want to thank you all for the efforts that you go to every day to build a better Brockport. You give your time and energy to supporting our students, and they flourish under your care and guidance. As you know, our Commencement ceremonies take place on Friday and Saturday, and I hope many of you will be there to help our students and their families celebrate. I particularly hope that faculty can attend the after-ceremony receptions in Tuttle; as in previous years, there are flags with departmental names on them that will act as gathering points for meeting up with students individually.
We should also celebrate our colleagues: the College Recognition Dinner will be held on May 23; again I hope to see many of you in attendance.
I will recommence monthly newsletters to campus in August.