Faculty and Professional Staff Meeting President's Report 12/12/06
I know that all of you are deeply immersed in final exams and grading at this point in the semester, and thus may have more pressing matters on your plate than wading through another presidential report. Accordingly, I'll try to focus in this update on matters that are of real interest and importance but not of immediate (i.e., next two weeks) impact.
You'll recall that at our last faculty meeting two weeks ago, I promised to provide more detailed information about the impact of construction projects planned for next summer. The good news, of course, is that we are making significant improvements to our campus: installing a new chiller and duct work systems that will air-condition Humanities, Faculty Tower and the Lecture Center; and installing sprinkler systems in Shango and College Halls. But we'll all benefit from as much advance notice as possible to help us plan for the inevitable inconveniences we'll encounter on our way to these good outcomes.
Because Humanities is one of our largest classroom buildings, we don't want it to be offline during the spring and fall semesters. This means our timing must be precise, and we're planning to have all faculty and support staff out of Humanities and JFT for the entire summer, beginning right after Commencement and throughout the summer. We have, however, stressed emphatically with the contractors that we need a week or so of lead-time before the fall semester to get back into these buildings. Dean Benjamin, Facilities Management staff and Mary Beth Collier from the Provost's Office met with Liberal Arts and Sciences department chairs in November to discuss the move and their needs. The following steps are being taken:
- Departmental secretaries and summer chairs will have space in the South Classroom Building, as will the Dean's staff. These will be shared spaces.
- The Late Night Study Area in the Library will be fitted as a “faculty work area” for the summer, primarily to accommodate those who don't need a full office and part-time faculty. There will be computers, printers, a copier and access to commonly needed forms and supplies.
- For the majority of faculty who are unlikely to need separate space during the summer, we have arranged two options. You can bring your office computer home for the summer or receive a free “jump drive,” courtesy of the Provost's Office, that will let you transfer documents to a home computer.
- We're also trying to meet requests from those faculty who truly need separately dedicated space (a list is being compiled by Dean Benjamin's Office). The Student Affairs staff (in particular Vice President Dave Rooney and Residence Life Director Corinna Caracci) has been extremely helpful by designating temporary faculty offices in Bliss Hall. These won't be luxurious (i.e., no AC), but computer and Internet access will be available.
The one unit that is not expected to move from Humanities is the Speech and Hearing Center run by Communication Disorders (Their space was fitted with ductwork during earlier renovations.). While folks in this unit will work in sub optimal conditions this summer and will have to scale back some of their activities, they will be able to stay where they are.
Some areas in the Lecture Center will be affected by periodic noise, electric work and ductwork, but we anticipate this will only intermittently affect operations.
Installing sprinkler systems throughout College/Shango will affect some Residence Life staff, the Music Department, the Honors Center and the Teaching Learning Center next summer. The biggest impact will be on the Music Department. To minimize disruptions, Department Chair Carole Cowan, Christine DeLape and Dean Daw have been meeting with representatives of the Dormitory Authority, Facilities Management and the Provost's Office since early October. Linda Smith—who manages online courses in the summer—will be relocated to the South Classroom Building, as will the Music Department chair and secretary. Piano Summer (and the many pianos it requires!) will be moved to Bliss Hall and will have a larger presence in McKenna Theater. We will seek space off campus to accommodate music therapy programs.
We are grateful to everyone for their good spirits and cooperation—remembering this is all for a good cause with a good outcome. I'd also like to offer praise to the Facilities Management team, which has the Herculean task of coordinating all these moves and ensuring the work gets done in time for fall.
Let me share one other big piece of news from the academic front. Dr. John Harrington, Dean of the School of Science and Engineering, has announced his plans to retire effective August 2007. John has been with us since 2001, successfully launching the School. His academic career spans 36 years, including stints at the University of Alaska and the University of South Alabama before coming to New Paltz. Being the inaugural dean of a new school is a daunting task. John brought to it a special set of personal qualities and intellectual skills that include deep integrity; a kind and thoughtful touch in dealing with colleagues; serious engagement as a scientist that continued even throughout his deanship (this is a truly remarkable achievement!); forward-looking vision; and high standards as evidenced in the school's successful accreditation efforts. He has positioned the school very well for the future, and all of us are in his debt. True to John's personality, he has lots of plans for his “retirement,” including continued research in the field of blood substitutes, a salmon restoration project in Maine and helping his son build a new home. We'll be planning a proper celebration of John's retirement next year.I hope all of you have a successful end to the semester, wonderful holidays and a productive winter break!