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SUNY Oneonta to Offer a Winter Session

President Nancy Kleniewski

Snowflake
Let it snow: having winter session courses online means weather won’t be a challenge for students.

Last month Michelle Thibault, director of continuing education/summer session, announced to faculty that her office will offer two undergraduate courses during the upcoming winter break as a pilot to assess the feasibility of a winter session. The college will offer COMM 270: Persuasion and PSYC 240: Child Development as online courses from Dec. 26-Jan. 13. Collaboration among Michelle, the Registrar’s Office, and Katherine Lau and Dawn Sohns, who will teach the courses, made this pilot possible.

This project deserves campus-wide attention because it reflects our mission—to create a student centered learning community—while contributing to enrollment growth. Winter session is an example of the innovation that will drive SUNY Oneonta forward. I hope we discover that it fills a niche and that eventually we can build a robust schedule of classes between fall and spring.

Another area that has our attention is the unexpected and uncharacteristic dip in retention that Todd Foreman noted in his recent budget memo. In looking at how to address this, we must consider investing in new ways to identify and remove barriers to student progress.

The college has invited a discussion with Civitas, a company that mines institutional data to gain insights that inform initiatives to improve student outcomes. Of particular interest to us is how Civitas might help SUNY Oneonta identify and engage at-risk students, understand factors that contribute to student persistence, and allocate retention-related resources to do the most good.

While this discussion is preliminary, Civitas offers expertise and a framework for understanding student behavior that the college does not possess and could not easily develop. I look forward to sharing our findings after meeting with Civitas representatives in the next week or so.

UPD Officers Win Life Saving Award
From left: Lt. Jonathan Nichols and Officer Richard Sass 

Highlight: UPD Officers Win Life Saving Award

This month I am pleased to share that the SUNY Police Chiefs Association has recognize two members of our University Police Department with the 2016 Life Saving Award. Last winter Lt. Jonathan Nichols and Officer Richard Sass discovered a woman who was incapacitated and suffering from hypothermia alongside Ravine Parkway. They took quick action, moving the woman to safety and seeking immediate medical attention, which prevented her from serious injury or perhaps death due to exposure. Lt. Nichols and Officer Sass will received their awards at a ceremony in Albany earlier week. Please join me in congratulating them.


- In this Edition -

Budget Update: Reducing Costs

Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Plan Complete

Welcome Center Construction to Begin in December

 


Budget Update: Reducing Costs

Vice President for Finance and Administration Todd Foreman

Earlier this month, I circulated a memo describing budget challenges the college faces. In response, several members of the campus community have shared ideas and made suggestions through our online discussion forum for increasing revenue or reducing spending. While that conversation continues, the college has taken—and is in the process of taking—action in several areas. 

First, we are finding salary savings. Salaries account for 72% of college spending, $55.7 million last year. In Academic Affairs, the provost already has eliminated a vacant associate provost position. Going forward, backfilling vacancies will need strong justifications. New positions will be extremely limited.

Next, we are trimming departmental expenditures, which totaled $13.5 million last year or 17% of spending. In 2015-2016, we reduced temporary service budgets by 5%. This year we cut an additional $500,000 from departmental budgets. We also reduced or renegotiated service contracts, such as those for IT and garbage pick-up, and consolidated printing and copying.

Third, 7%—$5.7 million—of our spending goes toward institutional scholarships. While reducing this could negatively impact enrollment, the growth of our endowment eventually will replace some institutionally funded scholarships.

Finally, our campus paid utility bills totaling $2.8 million last year. That’s 4% of the college’s expenses. To lower this cost, we are prioritizing energy and water conservation projects. Since 2011, we have reduced our energy use intensity (EUI) by approximately 5% and we leveled off water consumption despite increasing the campus footprint. In addition, we have completed over 15 LED projects across campus and have renegotiated electric and gas rates. Moving forward, we plan to replace all exterior lighting with LED fixtures and construct all new buildings to LEED Silver standards. For example, the Physical Science rehab project improved the EUI of the building by 43% as compared to the building’s original design.

This list is not exhaustive, and I am confident that with your help we will identify other ways to generate savings. Of course, savings occupy just one side of the ledger. I'll discuss plans for the other side of the ledger—revenue—in the next Notes from Netzer.


Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Plan Complete

Chief Diversity Officer Terrence Mitchell

I forwarded the college’s strategic diversity and inclusion plan to SUNY in time to meet the Nov. 1 submission deadline, further reinforcing that SUNY Oneonta is a diversity leader among state campuses. Our plan meets all of the requirements that SUNY set forth last March in its Campus Guide for Strategic Diversity & Inclusion Plan Development. In fact, SUNY Oneonta’s 2004 adoption of a diversity statement, inclusion of diversity within successive institutional strategic plans, and recent assessment of campus climate translated into a head start in the process.

Our plan, which will soon be available on the Office of Equity and Inclusion website includes four goals:

  1. Increase the recruitment and success of students who represent the diversity of New York state residents.
  2. Increase the diversity of faculty, staff, and administrators to optimize conditions for all employees and provide students access to a plurality of diverse perspectives.
  3. Foster an understanding of power and privilege, and the complexities of individual and social identities to create a safe and inclusive climate.
  4. Make quality learning experiences equally accessible to all students.

These goals are consistent with work already underway vis a vis Strategic Plan 2015. They also are the product of extensive consultation with faculty and staff who have expertise in and/or responsibility for diversity and inclusion, substantial input from Administrators, and recommendations from community members at large. College Senate vetted the plan, and the president has forwarded it to members of our College Council for their review.

Collectively we have created a document that reflects the challenges before us and demonstrates our continued commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. I am grateful to all who contributed to SUNY Oneonta’s strategic diversity and inclusion plan. We all can be proud of this effort.


Welcome Center Construction to Begin in December

Associate Vice President for Facilities and Safety Tom Rathbone

State officials, our Student Association president, project managers and campus administrators broke ground on the college’s Welcome Center

State officials, our Student Association president, project managers and campus administrators broke ground on the college’s Welcome Center this morning.

Today’s groundbreaking will officially kick off the building phase of the college’s Welcome Center on the south side of Bugbee Road, across from the Hunt College Union main parking lot. Actual construction will begin in early December.

Identified as one of the highest priorities within the Facilities Master Plan process, the new facility will provide a space that visitors, alumni, and prospective students can easily recognize and access. As home to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, it also will create a strong, iconic presence at the north end of the mall running through the heart of the campus.

The Welcome Center will occupy the footprint of the small parking lot north of Fine Arts. To compensate for the loss of the 37 parking spaces there, additional faculty/staff parking has been made available in the lots across Ravine Parkway from Fine Arts. Once the project gets underway, selected sections of the sidewalk areas near the construction zone will not be accessible. However, next summer the college will install additional stairs and sidewalks to enhance access between the Fine Arts lots and the academic quad.

Funding for the Welcome Center comes from a special allocation of the 2014-2015 New York state budget. After two years of planning and design, it’s exciting to see this project get underway.


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