Notes from Netzer

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Fostering Greater Dialog, Focusing on Students

President Nancy Kleniewski

Dr K Welcome Back Breakfast
It was wonderful to see so many new and returning faculty and staff at our opening breakfast.

I am pleased to introduce the first issue of my monthly newsletter to the campus community. Its purpose is two-fold: to share timely updates from the administration with the campus community and to receive your feedback. My intent is that this forum will encourage two-way communication and help the college leadership be more responsive to campus needs.

Each issue will contain brief articles about aspects of campus life, written by members of my administrative team and others who have expert knowledge of important issues. If you have specific questions, you can address them to Periodically, I will also ask a question that you can answer at the same mailbox. I welcome your comments and suggestions!

This month’s question comes from student Sabrina Conticello, one of many members of our campus community who would like to know: Why did the college add fees to some science courses? Doesn’t this discriminate against students in the sciences?

The answer is that science programs are among the most expensive to provide because of the expense of laboratories and materials. For several years, the science departments had requested course fees, but the administration instead used funds from tuition increases to absorb the rising costs of stocking and running labs. Unfortunately, without the cushion of a tuition increase this year, course fees were judged as the only way to support the sciences. In a handful of other disciplines, including art and music, fees are attached to specific high-cost courses.

As Provost Mackin acknowledged in a May email to all students, faculty and staff, we could have and should have done a better job communicating about the fees, especially with students affected by them and faculty members teaching courses to which fees were attached. Consideration of any new fee proposals will begin earlier in the school year to ensure broader awareness of and discussion about them among members of the campus community.

Now here is my question to you for this month. We want to be sure we are focusing our collective energies on the most important areas. What is one thing that we could stop doing without hurting student success? Send your reply to

Next, if you attended the Opening Breakfast, then you heard the college’s theme for the year: moving from good to great by focusing on students. We have many reasons to be proud of the institution, and we can achieve greatness by working together on this theme.

SUNY Oneonta is a good institution, and we are on the way to being a great institution. All of the indicators are pointing in the right direction: academic reputation, diversity, hands-on learning, alumni success, and private giving are all increasing.

The vision for our future is a simple one: we are educating the next generation of leaders for New York state and beyond. The college exists to foster student growth: intellectual, emotional, social, and civic. As our students change, it is ever more important to focus on what helps them succeed in college and in life. Working together, we can help our students soar.

Read my entire Opening Breakfast address here.

- In this Edition -

Changes in Academic Affairs Administration, Steps to Improve Shared Governance

Rising Enrollment, New Roles in Financial Aid

Campus Diversity Plan Under Development

New Buildings Will Free Up Space for Students and Visitors

College Recognizes Three Greek Groups


Changes in Academic Affairs Administration, Steps to Improve Shared Governance

Provost James Mackin

Two members of the Academic Affairs administration departed their roles as deans in August. Dr. David Yen resigned from his position in the School of Economics and Business and Dr. João Sedycias resigned from the School of Arts and Humanities.

I appointed Dr. Wade Thomas, formerly the associate provost for institutional effectiveness, to serve as dean of the School of Economics and Business. Dr. Yen will maintain his faculty position in the Department of Management, Marketing and Information Systems. He is on leave for the fall 2016 semester.

Dr. Susan Turell, dean of the School of Social Science, has taken on the role of interim dean of the School of Arts and Humanities. At this point, I do not plan to begin a search immediately for a permanent dean for the School of Arts and Humanities. Instead, this semester Academic Affairs will engage the campus community in a discussion regarding organizational options for the division. 

Also this past summer, another academic leader—Presiding Officer of the Faculty Michael Koch—and I presented a paper at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Academic Affairs Meeting. Our session, titled “The Creation of a Faculty Center at SUNY Oneonta,” showed how the college administration and the College Senate can work effectively together to create positive change.

As a follow-up, in August I hosted a day-long retreat at the Hunt Union focused on shared governance. Participants in this event included members of the President’s Cabinet, Deans Council, the Senate Executive Committee and several faculty committee chairs. Our discussions led to several strategies to improve communication among the various shared governance entities as well as transparency in decision-making.

Rising Enrollment, New Roles in Financial Aid

Chief Enrollment Officer Kevin Jensen

Year-to-Year Enrollment Comparison
  2015 2016
Freshmen 1,130 1,132
Transfer 577 588
Graduate 269 307

As of Friday, Aug. 26, the college had welcomed 1,132 freshmen and 588 undergraduate transfers for the fall semester, for a combined total of 1,720 new students in baccalaureate programs. By comparison, 1,707 incoming undergraduates (1,130 freshmen and 577 transfers) enrolled at SUNY Oneonta for the fall 2015 semester.

While our undergraduate total sits just shy of our target of 1,740, graduate enrollment has been especially strong. The college has 307 degree-seeking graduate students (76 new and 231 continuing) this fall, well above our target of 250. There have not been this many students pursuing master’s degrees on our campus since 1994. 

Summer was a busy time for recruitment and equally eventful within the Office of Financial Aid, where staff transitions this semester will bring to a close several months of change. Bill Goodhue remains on special assignment, supporting Enrollment Management and Financial Aid with research and local expertise unique to SUNY Oneonta’s implementation of the institution’s enterprise-level database, Ellucian Banner.

Barbara Pledger, who was temporarily promoted from assistant director of financial aid to associate director back in January, has accepted a promotion to a re-envisioned associate director of financial aid position. In this role, she will provide administrative and operational leadership to our team of financial aid advisors.

The college will fill the newly created position of executive director of financial aid and senior enrollment management officer on Sept. 12. Serving in this role will be Christina Roarke, who comes to SUNY Oneonta from Excelsior College in Albany, where she most recently served as the executive director of the Council of Experts and prior to that, the executive director of financial aid.

Christina will integrate the college’s student financial aid programs and services with our broader strategic enrollment management plan and champion the college’s overall efforts to recruit, retain, and graduate a talented and diverse student body. She also will work with Barbara to ensure the effective management of the college’s financial aid programs and services, which included more than 18,500 grant, scholarship, student loan, and work-study awards totaling $66.1 million in 2015-16.

Campus Diversity Plan Under Development

Chief Diversity Officer Terrence Mitchell

This summer a planning group co-chaired by Associate Provost Eileen Morgan Zayachek and I drafted the SUNY Oneonta 2020 Strategic Diversity and Inclusion plan as directed by SUNY’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy. Copies of the working draft are available in Netzer 135 and will be vetted with the campus community this month and next.

The draft is due to SUNY Nov. 1. Please share your input on this important document and help ensure that SUNY Oneonta is a leader in diversity within SUNY. Send your observations and questions to

Mary Bonderoff and Faith Tiemann recently assumed new roles in the Office of Equity and Inclusion. Mary now is the director of diversity education and community outreach and Faith’s title is director of multicultural student initiatives. We also welcomed to our Office Dr. Marita Gilbert, who’s joined us as interim director of gender and sexuality resources and Lisa Ryther, interim program coordinator of the Center for Multicultural Experience. 

New Buildings Will Free Up Space for Students and Visitors

Vice President for Finance and Administration Todd Foreman

Artist’s rendering of OAS Offices
This artist's rendering depicts the future OAS building, under construction now.

The college maintains a Facilities Master Plan (PDF 4.56MB) to provide benchmarks and guidelines for construction and renovation that support our mission and strategic vision. Consistent with this plan, we are in the process of adding two buildings to campus. 

One of those buildings is already under construction adjacent to the Hunt Student Union. The new home of “Red Dragon Outfitters” will house our bookstore, retail operations, and related administrative offices. Presently, these activities’ footprints are in the Hunt Student Union. Moving them will free up space to support additional student activities there.  We anticipate that this $7 million-project will be complete by next August.

We plan to break ground on a second building in October. A $5 million project, the Welcome Center will overlook the most iconic view of our campus at the top of the hill above the Fine Arts Center and Fitzelle Hall. It will house the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and serve as a place to entertain guests and friends of the college. Work on the Welcome Center is scheduled to wrap up by December 2017, in time for a spring semester, 2018 opening.

College Recognizes Three Greek Groups

Vice President for Student Development Frank Chambers

Three New Greek Groups
Sorority Alpha Kappa Phi, and fraternities Kappa Sigma and Beta Chi have earned recognition from the college.

Thanks to a new outreach approach, the college recently welcomed three formerly unrecognized Greek letter organizations to campus. Alpha Kappa Phi sorority, Kappa Sigma fraternity and Beta Chi fraternity earned interim recognition from SUNY Oneonta by participating in an amnesty program the Office of Campus Life initiated to strengthen Greek life.

A college-recognized fraternity or sorority is one that is in good standing with the institution. The college monitors recognized fraternities and sororities for performance related to institutional expectations and standards, including the anti-hazing policy and the alcohol policy. The college’s Greek life advisor guides these chapters, helping them continue to improve and excel.

The Office of Campus Life and the Oneonta Inter-Greek Council felt it was important to proactively provide an opportunity for unrecognized groups to return to or join the Greek community on campus. The amnesty program paved the way for such groups to petition for full recognition by meeting a number of requirements such as completing anti-hazing training, providing proof of insurance and submitting a justification for the chapter that describes how it would support the college’s mission.

Recognized fraternities and sororities may use college facilities and equipment, hold meetings and programs on campus, and participate in college-sponsored leadership retreats and workshops, Greek Week, and other events. Students who join recognized chapters become part of a community of nearly 400 members of eight recognized Greek organizations at SUNY Oneonta. They also can represent their chapters at meetings of several national organizations, among them the National Panhellenic Conference, National Multicultural Greek Council, National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations and Inter Greek Council.