Academic Faculty and Professional Faculty Meeting
April 10, 2007
Senior-Level Searches: I’ve spoken frequently in these reports about faculty searches, so this month let me give you a quick update on our efforts to fill some administrative vacancies. Last week we interviewed the first of four finalists for the position of Vice President for Finance and Administration. This is a critical hire because the new VPFA will help us develop budget models and generate resources that are necessary to accomplish the college’s goals. A school search committee is conducting preliminary interviews with candidates for the post of Dean of the School of Science and Engineering. Finally, we are interviewing candidates for a new Budget Analyst position.
State Budget: As you may know, we now have a state budget for FY 08. I would say that on the whole the news for SUNY in general and for New Paltz in particular (my real interest!) is good. The budget fully funds all contractual salary increases for 2007. For UUP members, this includes 1) a $500 increase effective April 1 for employees with permanent or continuing appointments; 2) an $800 across-the-board increase, effective July 1 for professional faculty and September 1 for academic faculty; and 3) a 1 percent pool for Discretionary Salary Increases. The budget has some additional money that System believes will cover inflationary increases for utilities and other supplies/expenses. Intriguingly, the budget also includes $10 million across SUNY in additional operating support for “enrollment growth, full-time faculty, expansion of opportunity and high need programs.” That rubric can cover a lot of territory. Candidly, the provost and I are not optimistic that New Paltz will see much of this money because it is likely to be depleted first by those campuses that are growing their enrollments – which we are not. But we shall seize any opportunities to advocate for full-time faculty lines – and we’ve already been in touch with our local union leadership to make common cause here.
On the capital side, we did well, especially in comparison to the rest of SUNY. Only 13 SUNY campuses got capital money specific for projects and only those projects initially included in the Executive Budget were approved by the Legislature. Fortunately we are one of the lucky 13. The final state budget included the remaining $10.7 million needed to complete the renovation of Old Main. With this money in hand, the renovation project is now an unequivocal “go.” In addition, New Paltz will receive $3 million for critical maintenance projects, which we intend to use toward the high-temperature, hot-water line replacement efforts. I had begun pushing System and our legislators for money to renovate the library, and I will continue to do so; however, the Legislature did not add capital money for any SUNY campus.
Campus Facilities Planning: Last month, I shared with you plans to create a Campus Facilities Planning Task Force. I am happy to report that Stella Deen, Associate Professor and Chair of the English Department, and John Shupe, Assistant Vice President for Facilities Management, have agreed to co-chair the Committee. We are in the process of assembling the rest of the task force. A broadly representative group will work with an external architectural/planning consultant(s) to offer recommendations to me and the vice presidents on the elements of a new campus facilities master plan, including overall campus appearance, campus circulation, accessibility, sustainability and the desired future location of building projects we would like to undertake in the next decade.
Humanities/JFT Air Conditioning: Now for a less happy development. John Shupe recently informed the campus about complications that have arisen with this summer’s planned installation of air-conditioning in the Humanities Building and the replacement of the HVAC system in Jacobson Faculty Tower. Unfortunately, this project is facing serious cost overruns, which will impact scheduling and completion. I suppose it is a relief to many of you that no one will have to move out of JFT this summer, but we really need and want to get these renovations done. The project will most likely be completed in phases over the next two years. Phase I would involve removal and installation of the new heating/cooling coils in Humanities during Summer 2007. Phase II (Winter 2008) would involve replacing the Lecture Center/Library chiller and installing the new Humanities/JFT chiller (allowing for air-conditioning in Humanities to be operable by Summer 2008). Phase III (Summer 2009) would entail replacing the HVAC units in JFT, make the new cooling system there operable by Fall 2009.
I want to reiterate John’s message that we will continue to move this project forward. He’ll update you on our effort to find a more reasonable price when bids are opened in a few weeks.
Commencement Speaker: Finally, I’m pleased to tell you that former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean, who is also President Emeritus of Drew University and chaired the 9/11 Commission, has agreed to accept an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from SUNY and give a Commencement Address during our Undergraduate Ceremony. Commencement will be upon us in no time! I hope that many of you will participate in the Graduate and Undergraduate Ceremonies (May 18 and May 20, respectively).