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SUNY Oneonta Goes to Albany

On Jan. 17, I took a campus team to Albany to meet with SUNY Provost Alex Cartwright, Chief Financial Officer Eileen McLaughlin, and other SUNY system staff. This meeting was one of a series that Provost Cartwright is holding to review campus strengths, challenges, innovations, and needs. The Oneonta team included Provost Jim Mackin, Vice President for Finance and Administration Todd Foreman, Chief Diversity Officer Terrence Mitchell, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management Kevin Jensen, Faculty Chair Michael Koch, and University Faculty Senator Achim Koeddermann.

Provost Cartwright asked us to identify the singular advantage a student would get from attending SUNY Oneonta instead of another college. I told him that our most important asset is the strong one-on-one relationships that our faculty members develop with students and how those relationships empower active learning. Professors Koch and Koeddermann gave examples such as the student-run conferences (Philosophy, Political Science, and New Critics), field trips, mentored research and creative activity, and service-learning projects. Provost Cartwright gave us extremely positive feedback and shared that this trait was distinctive among the 32 institutions that he had interviewed to date.

We also discussed threats to our campus, including the growing competition among state-operated campuses for the declining pool of New York state high school graduates. We agreed that if SUNY can help differentiate campuses while raising the reputation of the system as a whole, then we can reduce competition within the system and attract prospects who might be shopping among private schools or out-of-state institutions.

The final topic was the upcoming Performance Improvement Fund and how our campus might access funding to support innovation here or across the system. We submitted a number of general ideas—“elevator speeches” of one or two sentences—and will select a few for submission later this semester.

I would love to get your feedback on any of these ideas at The documents we prepared for the meeting can be accessed here.

Harvet Buddies

Highlight: Harvest Share Buddies

This month, I am pleased to share a story about an innovative service-learning partnership between SUNY Oneonta and Riverside Elementary School, led by Drs. Greg Fulkerson and Sean Robinson from the departments of Sociology & Biology, respectively.

With funding from a $3,976 NobleCause grant acquired through our Center for Social Responsibility and Community, Robinson built 12 vegetable grow boxes and installed them in each of Riverside’s K-5 classrooms in September. More than 70 biology and sociology students teamed up in small groups as “box buddies” for each of the classrooms, visiting several times throughout the fall semester to present lessons on plant biology, food, society and the environment.

This hands-on approach is an excellent example of faculty creatively collaborating across disciplines to expand community engagement and service in the curriculum, a key aspiration within our Strategic Plan 2015.
Watch this interactive story about the Harvest Share Buddies service-learning partnership.

- In this Edition -

New Faculty Development Center Will Foster Culture of Collaboration

Physical Science Building: Green Building Features

Physical Science Building: State-of-the art Teaching and Research Space

Physical Science Building: Science Discovery Center to Get New Home


New Faculty Development Center Will Foster Collaboration

Kjersti Vanslyke-Briggs

Kjersti VanSlyke-Briggs
Director, Faculty Development Center

I look forward to the opening of the new Faculty Development Center and my work as its director.

The center will provide an opportunity to foster best practices in teaching and learning, craft a culture of collaboration, and support faculty members across the arc of their careers. We will welcome new faculty to campus through a year-long orientation, establish mentoring for new faculty, host Professional Learning Communities for all faculty, share best pedagogy practices, and assist one-on-one with teaching concerns.

We will also partner with other offices on campus to bring the best in professional development to our faculty. I hope to work with academic departments throughout the spring semester to learn more about faculty needs and how the new center can support them.

Of note right away is an opportunity to engage in “problem-based learning.” Through grant funding, I am able to support faculty members in creating problem-based learning experiences, where faculty collaborate across disciplines to help students answer a community problem. Funding and mentors will be available to support faculty interested in developing such an experience for the next academic year. Two interest meetings will be offered in the Hunt Union Glimmerglass Room

  • Monday, Jan. 23, from 12 to 12:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 24, from 11 to 11:30 p.m.

You do not need to have a plan in mind prior to attending an interest meeting. Please RSVP via email to

I’ll also be looking for tenured faculty to serve as mentors for new faculty joining us in the fall. More details will be coming soon. Mentors can really make a difference in creating a positive experience for new faculty, so please keep this opportunity in mind.

Later this semester, the Faculty Development Center will be located in B258 Milne, but in the meantime, I will still have my faculty office at 323 Fitzelle. I look forward to this new endeavor, and I hope that the center is able to energize your teaching practice and support your academic needs.

Physical Science Building Opens

State-of-the-art Teaching and Research Space

Bill Vining
Chair, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry

Teaching and Research Space Lab

The reopening of the Physical Science Building brings advances and opportunities to its three resident departments and the campus as a whole. New, state-of-the-art teaching and research spaces will allow us to explore new ways of interacting with our students and for students to interact with one another.
For example, Anthropology’s new Teaching Gallery will allow students to work in a museum space as part of their everyday coursework. The campus’s first Technology Enabled Active Learning (TEAL) classroom –a space specially designed to promote hands-on, collaborative learning activities--will build on our long tradition of leadership in using technology to maximize classroom learning.

Chemistry and Biochemistry and Physics have new teaching laboratories, and Anthropology has a curation room with high-density storage, as well as two new teaching laboratories. In addition, new research spaces have been added to support studies ranging from the theoretical underpinnings of chemistry and physics to preservation of cultural artifacts. Faculty members, facilities staff and architects specializing in science education spaces have collaborated to design these new spaces, which come with a new suite of instrumentation. Building on strong growth in student-faculty research over the last decade, this instrumentation allows us to offer students the ability to perform research at the level of sophistication expected of those pursuing advanced degrees.

The renovated building also supports learning by encouraging informal interactions between faculty of different departments, between faculty and students, and between students. This has already been realized. Although no classes were held there last semester, the building was regularly filled with students making use of casual spaces for group and individual study sessions.

Green Building Features

Green Building Features

Hannah Morgan
Sustainability Coordinator

SUNY Oneonta is committed to integrating green building systems in all capital improvement projects. The Physical Science renovation project is on target to become the college’s first to meet the sustainability standards for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. LEED certification provides independent verification of a building’s “green” features.

Some sustainability highlights of the building include:

  • Energy: The overall energy use intensity of the building was improved by 43 percent. The energy efficiency of the building was improved through the installation of chilled beamed systems, energy-recovery systems, daylight sensors, LED fixtures, new insulation and new windows.
  • Water: Low-flow water fixtures reduce the building’s water consumption by 37.5 percent.
  • Waste: During the construction project, approximately 50 percent of the construction waste was recycled or salvaged.
  • Sustainable Grounds: The building roof drainage is transported to a bioswale, which slows and filters the stormwater runoff onsite.
  • Education: The building showcases an energy dashboard, which is an interactive tool that displays contextualized real-time energy and water consumption building data and will be used to promote conservation efforts.

The college will continue to integrate green building systems throughout facilities projects to promote an environment where students, faculty and staff will flourish in healthy, bright, safe and sustainable surroundings.

Science Discovery Center to Get New Home

A.J. Read Science Discovery Center

Doug Reilly
Outreach Coordinator, A.J. Read Science Discovery Center

For almost 30 years, the A.J. Read Science Discovery Center has fostered a love of science in people of all ages through self-discovery and play. Formerly in the basement of Physical Science, the center has been given a central location in the recent building renovation, a bright first-floor space in the building’s southeast corner. Every aspect of the center is being renewed and rethought, including its mission, which will now include all of the natural sciences and mathematics. New exhibits will join renovated classics that many in the community will remember, like the acoustic tubes that allow one to “hear” the speed of sound.

The Science Discovery Center will serve as one of the School of Natural and Mathematical Sciences’ primary outreach efforts to the community. Student involvement will be a key part of the center’s mission. Volunteers, interns and Federal Work-Study students will welcome and orient visitors, run mini-demonstrations and even help us to design new interactive exhibits. Faculty from all fields of study are encouraged to create projects that can bridge the center’s outreach mission, student class work and faculty research. The center’s focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) will begin with a proposed project to involve students in the creation of wall graphics that will feature the seldom-told stories of women and people of color in the sciences, underscoring the ideal that science is for, and needs the participation of, people from diverse backgrounds. 

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