Faculty and Professional Staff Meeting President's Report 3/12/10
Women’s Basketball: I’d like to start my monthly report with a salute to our women’s basketball team and Coach Jamie Seward, who made it all the way to the SUNYAC Championship game this season. But—in keeping with the theme of “March Madness!”—before they could play, first they had to conquer snowstorms to physically make it to the arena in Cortland! After the original bus company called to say they were snowed in, Athletic Director Stuart Robinson scrambled furiously to find another means of transport. The start of the semi-final game against Oneonta was delayed and the actual contest went into four overtimes before the Hawks emerged victorious by a score of 82-79! 1
1 It’s painful to acknowledge—which is why it’s tucked into this footnote—but the next night we lost to Cortland, 51-45. I’m very proud of the Lady Hawks.
Faculty Hiring: Switching to the academic front, the College has 14 searches under way for full-time faculty positions that start in fall 2010. I hope you’re as pleased as I am that we are continuing to hire and are proceeding with these searches despite SUNY’s budget woes. While these are all replacement lines rather than additions to our overall ranks, most of our peers are losing lines and using part-time faculty to fill the gaps. New Paltz has been able to avoid that strategy so far.
I’d like to thank the faculty members, chairs, and deans, who are helping us choose and recruit the best candidates. To date, four hires have been made, several more offers are in negotiation, committees are finalizing recommendations in several searches and in four searches interviews are still under way. We are doing very well in attracting our top-choice candidates. Our new hires are coming from institutions as diverse as Columbia, Purdue, and the University of South Carolina. All have considerable teaching experience and growing publication records. One is the recipient of a national award—one of only 10—recognizing a combination of excellence in teaching and a commitment to civic engagement. These new hires will be a big part of the College’s future. They will keep us strong and vibrant.
State Budget: Let me simply say that New York’s political and budget situation is “fluid;” anything new I might report would be beyond speculative!
Construction: It’s been awhile since I’ve provided a detailed construction update. Let me start with the “Aerie” (formerly known as the addition to the Student Union). Workers are almost done installing the glass panels that sheath this structure. If you look closely, the frets in the glass mimic the striations in Mohonk Mountain, which is the inspiration for this building. The copper roofing and siding exterior will be installed this spring. Interior mechanical, electrical, and plumbing work continues, including installation of the equipment for the four food venues—a Seattle's Best coffee shop, a sushi station, a Mexican eatery and a sandwich counter. Work is scheduled to be completed in June, and we intend to showcase the new facility during summer orientations.
Work on the Old Main Building continues with the installation of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing material. The roof is almost done. Although the project is approximately six months behind schedule, we still anticipate full occupancy for the fall 2011 semester, as planned.
A design kick-off meeting for the Sojourner Truth Library renovation was held this week. The work will follow the framework established by the 2006 feasibility study developed with the library committee. The exact schedule for the phased renovation has yet to be finalized, but I can promise it will be carried out in a manner that allows the library to remain open to serve student and faculty needs. Space programming for the new Science Building is approaching its final stages, with plenty of input from faculty representatives, Dean Jelski, and Provost Christian. Formal design of the approximately 88,000-square foot facility, to be located along South Manheim Drive between Plattekill Avenue and the future Mohonk Walk, will continue through the summer 2011 with construction scheduled to start in early 2012. Consultants for the Wooster renovation have prepared a series of design concepts based on the College’s programming needs, which will shortly be reviewed by the planning committee for this project. The committee currently includes Vice President DiStefano (chair), Provost Christian, Niza Cardona (Student Accounts), Mary Beth Collier (Provost’s Office/Academic Advising), Steven Deutsch (Campus Auxiliary Services), Joe Diamond (Anthropology), Julio Gonzalez (Science and Engineering), Heather Hewett (Women’s Studies/English), Jon Lewit (Computer Services), John McEnrue (Facilities Design and Construction), Stephanie Samuel (Student Association), John Shupe (Facilities Management), and Lynn Spangler (Liberal Arts & Sciences). The actual renovation schedule will depend on when we can relocate the current occupants of Wooster into the South Classroom Building. Of course, this relocation can only occur after we move the School of Education faculty back into Old Main and have made the necessary alterations to accommodate new occupants. So the infamous Old Main dominoes get replaced by a set of Wooster dominoes!
The College is also currently in the design phase for the renovation of Crispell Hall, scheduled to begin in December 2010 and to be completed by early August 2011. Work will include upgrades of heating, electrical, plumbing and telecommunications systems, a new elevator, larger bathrooms, removal of asbestos and full ADA compliance. Crispell and other residence halls have not been overhauled in decades; fortunately, our residence hall funding stream now allows us to take on these long-deferred projects.
Finally, work on Phase I of the Landscape Master Plan is scheduled to begin this summer, starting with the Concourse that runs south from Old Main to the Library. We shall remove much of the concrete and add trees, shrubs, and ground cover to create a greener, more natural and welcoming environment. Work is expected to continue into the fall with completion during summer 2011. This work will accommodate the academic calendar to avoid disruption.
Sustainability Grants: Congratulations to Facilities Operations, which, in collaboration with The Solar Energy Consortium, garnered $291,000 in federal stimulus funding to install a 50,000-watt solar array atop the Athletic and Wellness Center. Brian Pine and his team also secured $31,000 in grant funds for other sustainability projects, including a greenhouse gas study of the College’s carbon footprint (conducted as part of the Presidents Climate Commitment), a study of potential solar thermal energy technologies on campus, and replacing light fixtures in the Central Heating Plant.
Last, the College recently received a rebate for meeting our target in the State’s energy load shedding program. So, thanks to all of you for doing your part to help us achieve that result!