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The Office of the President

Updates 03/14/2008

President’s Report Faculty and Professional Faculty Meeting
March 14, 2008

By the time I read this report at Friday afternoon’s meeting, I will be in the unenviable
position of being just about the only thing that stands between you and Spring Break!  
But even as some of us dream of sleeping in later each morning and perhaps visits to
warmer climes, I have a few items I’d like to share.

Searches:  Two candidates for the position of Liberal Arts & Sciences Dean are scheduled for campus visits this month, and the search committee, chaired by Hamid Azari of Economics, is in the process of arranging visits for two more candidates.  Additional telephone interviews are also under way, so there may be as many as six candidates visiting in this round.  I want to assure you that we’ll be thorough and thoughtful in seeking the best leadership for this important school, hunting until we find the right person.

Speaking of a different search where unfortunately it has taken longer than we’d have liked to find the right person for a key job, I’m glad to report positive developments in
our recruitment of a new VP for Finance and Administration.  Our search firm, Witt-Keiffer, worked hard to generate a deep pool and received nearly 90 applications.  After looking carefully at the applicants and conducting introductory screening phone conversations, 15 dossiers were shared with the search committee on March 3.  The committee pared down the list to eight candidates (with three alternates), who are scheduled for a first round of in-person interviews on March 24 - 25.  From those meetings, it is hoped that three or four finalists will emerge who will be invited to campus for a longer set of interviews in April.

Faculty Hires:  At this time of year, these totals are a moving target.  But as of today, of the 33 searches launched last fall, 15 have successfully concluded; there are two pending offers to candidates; and in four other searches we have completed campus interviews and the dean and provost await faculty recommendations.  I want to compliment all the search committees and others involved in faculty recruitment on the high quality of the applicants and the new hires.  I look forward to seeing our faculty ranks grow again next fall!

Admissions:   To complete our discussion of recruitment, let me offer a quick update on the student admissions front.  After receiving a record 13,565 freshman applications for fall 2008, we actually closed freshman admissions (but not EOP admissions) on February 21.  Because the applicant pool is so deep we’ve already made enough offers of admission to top applicants to meet our targets.  Applications are up by 16 percent from the same time last year and up 20 percent from 2006.  But here’s the really important number:  so far, 458 students have submitted deposits for the fall.  At this time last year, only 179 students had sent in their checks.

This is proving to be an unusual year, given the volume and quality of the applicant pool, the early closing of offers of admission, and apparently robust yield rates.  We are in somewhat uncharted territory, but it may lead to a lovely promised land.  However, it’s too early to be cocky.  Which brings me to my last recruitment topic. 

The students we have accepted are high achievers and thus have many college choices.
Those that come to Accepted Students Day (April 5) are taking one last look at New Paltz, and we know from past research that a campus visit is a crucial part of an applicant’s decision-making process.  So, with your help, we want to make an all-out press to convince students who are on the fence to choose New Paltz.  I’m asking faculty, staff and students to help us showcase to prospective students just how intellectually and socially vibrant our college is.
SUNY Day:  You’re reading the same newspaper stories I am about the political events in Albany, so I’ll start by pointing out the obvious:  the State budget (which is supposed to be done by March 31) is taking a back seat at the moment.  But you should know that I spent February 26 in Albany lobbying our state legislators.  Specifically, I asked them for money for our top two strategic construction initiatives—a new science building and the library renovation project.  We understand that both of these items were included in assembling the Governor’s proposed $1.6 billion budget for new construction, but now we must make sure they stay in the budget and are not supplanted by requests from campuses seeking more projects—or more expensive projects!—than New Paltz.

I also asked that the Legislature restore the $34.2 million to SUNY’s base operating budget.  Our preliminary numbers from System suggest that this cut would reduce New Paltz’s operating budget by about $300,000.  We’ll absorb this if we have to, but doing so would compel us to scale back faculty hiring, needed professional lines and enhancements to programs.  

Construction:  Several large projects are moving apace.  The Old Main renovation will be out to bid in April, with the Student Union Building addition to follow in May.  Two chillers were installed in the Lecture Center basement this past winter as planned, allowing us to proceed with the JFT air-conditioning project this summer—also as planned.

Phase I of our High-Temperature, Hot-Water (HTHW) line replacement project (the Hasbrouck Complex) is complete except for landscaping work to be done this summer.  Phase II (the main academic concourse) will also take place this summer; Phase III (Old Main Quadrangle and the East Side of Smiley Arts Building) will begin this summer and be completed in summer 2009.  HTHW projects are disruptive, and I do not want to sugarcoat:  with trenches dug and pipes being laid, our campus will look like a mess.  So we are meeting with facilities, admissions and student affairs staff about how to minimize the negative impact.  While we are under construction, we’ll make the campus look as good as we can and we’ll make it work as well as possible.  Perhaps most important we’ll need to remind ourselves frequently how wonderful it’ll be when these projects are completed!

Before closing for the month, I’d like to tip my cap to our women’s basketball team, which went 19 - 8 and made it all the way to the SUNYAC semi-finals, and to our women’s swimming team, which is sending four members to the NCAA Division III championship in Ohio.  Well done, Lady Hawks!

Have a great break and we’ll see you in a couple of weeks.