Academic Faculty and Professional Faculty Meeting
November 9, 2007
Unfortunately, I won't be able to join you for tomorrow's Academic and Professional Faculty meeting because I will be in New Jersey trying to raise funds for the Dorsky Museum endowment. We are working to endow the museum director's position-which will clearly help us recruit a talented new director-if we can meet our goal of $500,000. In my absence, here are several key updates for this month.
Student Recruitment: David Eaton reports that we are anticipating a record turnout for Open House this Saturday-a minimum of 7,000 prospective students and their families! I know that many of you will be participating in the event, and I thank you for devoting part of your Saturday to help us recruit a strong, selective, and diverse cohort of students for fall 2008.
Dean Search: Our advertisement for Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences has appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education. We now have a very strong and widely representative search committee, thanks to the work of the LA&S Senate. The members are Hamid Azari-Rad, Kathleen Dowley, Laurel Garrick Duhaney, Douglas Maynard, Tom Olsen, Annee Rochelle, Mercedes Rooney, Lynn Spangler and Frank Trezza.
Vice President Search: The search consultant from Witt/Kiefer will be on campus tomorrow to meet with the search committee, me, the vice presidents and the managers of units within the Finance/Administration division. This is a key first step in building a strong pool of applicants.
SUNY Presidents Meeting: The SUNY Presidents met last month and, not surprisingly, the Governor's Commission on Higher Education and the state budget were the main topics. We were warned of the likelihood of a tighter budget next year because of turmoil on Wall Street. Hopefully SUNY will not be a target for cuts-especially if the Commission (which I reported on last month), as expected, recommends increased funding for the University. But I wonder if a tuition increase may be in the offing, if only to fill the gap created by negotiated salary increases and inflation. As you know, CSEA has a tentative contract and this usually means that the UUP contract will follow shortly.
The State Senate has approved two new SUNY Trustees: Carl Hayden and Carl McCall. Hayden, a lawyer from Elmira and former Chancellor of the Board of Regents, is the new chair of the Board.
Make a Difference Day: Our campus's participation in this yearly service event, spearheaded by our Student Activities staff, continued to swell. We had 638 volunteers at numerous local charities this October, bolstering New Paltz's reputation as a campus that gives back to its community. And this was on a day with pouring rain! We should all be proud.
Banner Update: While we have met most of our deadlines with the Banner conversion during the last 20 months and most of it has gone extremely well, I'm sure you also know that we've encountered some difficulty in having student progress reports available. While actual spring 2008 registration begins next week, these reports contain information both advisors and students need in advance of registration-and we were not able to get complete reports to everyone on time.
The IT staff is working feverishly to fill in the gaps with the reports and to eliminate delays when students and faculty try to access the data. Some of these problems have arisen because our data is currently hosted on a server in Buffalo-which will change as a result of a decision we made (even before these problems occurred) to house and staff our own server here to house this information. But there is no disguising the fact that this part of our conversion has been rockier than we'd hoped.
Some good news-just yesterday the writing intensive and liberal arts requirements are appearing on progress reports. As of this writing, total credits are still not included in the reports, but our IT folks hope to have this resolved today or tomorrow and the long waits have already been shortened. Despite these legitimate frustrations, I hope we can all keep the end result in mind. When these glitches are fixed, we should have a vastly improved resource for advising students. For example, all transfer courses will be listed as well as all major courses, and major courses will parallel the course catalog. On another bright note, this week Banner successfully registered 600 graduate students for the spring semester and the system is able to automatically apply our academic standing and matriculation policies.
Construction: A brief update on five big construction projects. As many of you know, we have found temporary homes for the occupants of Old Main and we are beginning to prepare those spaces for the necessary relocations. We are on track for units to move out in summer 2008 so that construction can begin. The Provost will give a summary of the Old Main project and the relocation "dominoes" at an upcoming meeting.
The first phase of our High-Temperature Hot-Water line project (the Hasbrouck Complex) is essentially complete. The contract for Phase II (the main academic concourse) has been awarded and Phase III (Old Main Quadrangle and the East Side of Smiley Arts Building) is currently out to bid. Construction on both Phases II and III is scheduled to begin in summer 2008. Phase II should be complete by fall 2008, and Phase III by fall 2009.
The Student Union Building addition is on track for construction to begin in fall 2008. The project's technical review was completed this week. The design for the new addition has already won an American Institute of Architects design award. Don't ask me how that happens before a structure gets built!
The Humanities/JFT Air Conditioning Project is on schedule, with chiller installation to take place this winter. New HVAC equipment will be installed in JFT next summer, and the entire project is slated for completion by fall 2008. Last, we have gone out to bid on a sprinkler project for the Shango/College, Bouton and Gage residence halls that will also commence next summer.
As you can see, summer 2008 will be the beginning of one of our busiest periods of campus construction (and alas physical disruption!) in recent memory. But the progress we shall make in terms of the reliability of our campuswide heating system and better working, learning and living spaces for our faculty, staff and students will be well worth the inconvenience.
Ending on the happiest of notes, I'm told by Human Resources that the effective pay date for discretionary salary increases will be November 28. Individual letters announcing the increases will go to your home addresses before the approaching holiday.
So have a Happy Thanksgiving!