Notes from Netzer

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What Can the College Accomplish With “Extra” Funding?


Last month, I circulated a list of 11 ideas for proposals to the SUNY Performance Improvement Fund. Through the Fund, campuses compete for awards supporting projects that align with objectives under the university’s Completion Agenda. SUNY intends to award $18 million in this initiative and has three priorities for the coming year: diversity programs, curriculum development/applied learning, and scaling up programs to multiple campuses. The Cabinet is recommending five projects for our initial submission, which is due by Feb. 28.

  • Support first-generation students: expand the fledgling Access to College Excellence program (for first-generation students who are not regularly admissible) with a summer bridge program, focused advising, and tutoring throughout the year.
  • Build a pipeline for faculty from underrepresented groups: fund 50% of the salaries of two pre- and two post-doctoral fellows who are members of underrepresented groups; fellows will teach a half-time load and conduct research to complete their dissertation or establish a research track record.
  • Support transfer student success in STEM: establish partnerships with SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Delhi, Mohawk Valley Community College, and Suffolk Community College for transfer students in STEM fields; institute a summer bridge program for transfer students intending to study STEM disciplines.
  • Scale up the financial literacy program: in collaboration with Cobleskill, buy out 50% of the time of two staff members who work on Oneonta’s creative financial literacy program so they can serve as trainers for other SUNY campuses.
  • Campus mapping for sustainability: use the college’s digital mapping of infrastructure (including buildings, roads, sidewalks, driveways, utilities, and features of the natural landscape) as a demonstration project for other campuses to replace outdated paper maps with complete and searchable databases.

These five projects, currently the frontrunners, connect our plans to improve student retention, diversify our faculty, develop transfer pathways from two-year schools, leverage technology to enhance sustainability, and reduce graduates’ debt. However, other projects that can benefit the campus can certainly be considered. I welcome your ideas—email a sentence or two—for projects that could potentially boost the institution’s performance and/or reputation.

National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT)

Highlight: Ebert Named to Prestigious Post

Congratulations to Jim Ebert of the Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences. Earlier this week, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) named Jim to the leadership committee that oversees its Traveling Workshop Program. This NAGT initiative brings national leaders in geoscience education to campuses and regional events nationwide to enhance learning by strengthening departments, programs and courses, reinvigorating established pedagogies, and promoting new ones. In this role, he will shape students’ experiences at institutions across the country.

- In this Edition -

ACE Students Succeeding

School of Arts and Humanities Focused on Quality Student Experience

Social Science: A School with Vision

Intergroup Dialogue Off to a Strong Start


ACE Students Succeeding

Lynda Bassette-Farone
Director, Office of Special Programs (EOP/ACE)

ACE Students Succeeding
ACE Class of 2020

The inaugural class of Access to College Excellence (ACE) students arrived at SUNY Oneonta on July 5, 2016, ready to experience the pre-freshman summer bridge program known around campus as Summer Academy. Some came in cars with several family members, others drove in with a friend or parent, and still others made the trip on a bus. All arrived with open hearts and minds, ready to take the first step in their college journey.

The 30 new ACE freshmen joined 60 Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) students to complete the rigorous four-week program designed to prepare first-generation college-goers for personal and academic excellence. ACE Counselor Ivy Colon, department professionals, faculty, administrators, and continuing student leaders worked tirelessly to provide a full slate of study, personal development, and some fun, too. Ultimately, the students developed skills and relationships that served as a foundation for their success:

  • 93% completed the fall semester;
  • 46% earned a fall semester GPA of 3.0 or above;
  • All but six of the freshmen earned good academic standing; and
  • 86% are on pace to graduate in May 2020.

Our first ACE class is off to a tremendous start. This program, launched just last summer, is making a difference in the lives of students. As President Kleniewski has mentioned in this edition of Notes from Netzer, it is an excellent candidate for a Performance Improvement Fund grant. Expanding ACE would give even more first-generation students access to the quality education that SUNY Oneonta has to offer, and the support to thrive here on our campus and beyond.

School of Arts and Humanities Focused on Quality Student Experience

Richard Lee
Professor of English and Interim Dean of Arts and Humanities

Richard Lee

It is an honor to have been asked to work as interim dean with the extraordinary people in the School of Arts and Humanities! I have been at Oneonta in several roles over several decades—student and now alumnus, adjunct and then tenure-track faculty, union delegate and department chair among them—and I consider my current position as the cap to my 40-year affiliation with the college.

Over 100 full- and part-time teaching faculty and three dozen instructional and other staff serve over 800 majors in six academic departments in our School. The mission statement for our School puts it well: our goal is “to promote the study, reflection, creation, and dissemination of knowledge related to the human condition and the human experience, in its broadest, most varied, diverse, and multi-faceted dimensions.” We are dedicated to high-quality teaching, scholarship, creative work and service, and we act on that which we preach!

Student-centered, high-impact activities this season include:

  • Two undergraduate student-research conferences—in English and Philosophy;
  • Planning for the biannual James Fenimore Cooper Conference, held on our campus since the late 1970s;
  • Several first-class theatrical productions, including Peter and the Starcatcher and a student-directed production of Eurydice;
  • The juried student art exhibition in late April, a culminating experience for our many art and computer art majors;
  • Several exciting art gallery events, including the current exhibition, Celestial/Terrestrial, to run through March 17;
  • Another extraordinary study-abroad, service-learning activity related to foreign languages and literatures—to Colombia in March to learn and serve in schools, health centers and pediatric units;
  • Over 100 student internships; and
  • The many ensemble performances and recitals of students and faculty in the Department of Music.

Space does not allow for a list of even a fraction of this School’s activities!

Faculty scholarship and service are also extraordinarily high this year: major book publications, journal articles, conference presentations and meaningful disciplinary, college-wide and departmental commitments prove the professional dedication of these marvelous faculty and staff. The academic departments of Art, Music, Theatre, English, Philosophy, and Foreign Languages and Literatures join with the art gallery in celebrating a banner year!

We are proud to contribute so substantially to the academic mission of the college. I am humbled by the infectious energy and devotion to our students that is demonstrated by those with whom I get to work!

Social Science: A School with Vision

Tracy H. Allen
Interim Dean, School of Social Science

Tracy H. Allen

I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as interim dean of the School of Social Science. The college has been good to me, and I hope in this new job, I can effectively lead, labor, and listen.

Our faculty leads the vision of the School of Social Science. We aspire to provide high-quality, engaged learning experiences, rooted in epistemological pluralism and toward the creation of social justice for all. While our vision seems lofty, we are making it happen.

The work of Africana and Latino Studies, and Women and Gender Studies illustrates this. These disciplines empower students to think critically about human rights, equality, and dignity for all. Whether through the Ralph Watkins Lecture Series, during Black History Month or developing a new major that explores gender and sexuality, they create classrooms for social justice.

Foundational to the School’s vision are high-impact teaching practices. These, according to the 2016 National Survey of Student Engagement, “require considerable time and effort, facilitate learning outside of the classroom, require meaningful interactions with faculty and students, encourage collaboration with diverse others, and provide frequent and substantive feedback.”

We take this to heart. For example, Sociology and History faculty team up to conduct research in China with students while conservation-minded majors restore wetlands in New Orleans. Whether immersed in culture or mud, students learn by doing.

The highly personal experience of our Gerontology Studies program has gained national attention. Affordable Schools ranks the program 14th in the United States. Political science students from several institutions will share questions, information, and insights at our ninth annual Undergraduate Political Science Conference on March 31. This event is the peak of high-impact practice.

Sometimes space itself inspires learning. Faculty designed Anthropology’s new home in Physical Sciences to accommodate applied learning courses. The Cooperstown Graduate Program facility is the only one in the country designed specifically for museum studies, a place where history and science mingle. Students in the project-oriented Science Museum Studies master’s program collaborate to get hands-on experience communicating science to the public.

Each department individually contributes to our vision. However, we collectively recognize that an interdisciplinary approach strengthens core subject areas by teaching students to apply knowledge more broadly and effectively.

We are a school that thinks beyond disciplines, where Health and Fitness cross-lists with Women’s and Gender Studies and Psychology. Social sciences are inherently interdisciplinary, making it natural for the School to lead the college in this direction. By weaving social justice, high-impact teaching practices, and interdisciplinarity into scholarship and learning, the School of Social Science vision is clear.

Intergroup Dialogue Off to a Strong Start

Mary Bonderoff
Director, Student Diversity and Advocacy

Mary Bonderoff

Over the past month, several members of the campus community have attended sessions in Intergroup Dialogue (IGD), which is an educational method used to explore issues of diversity and inequality. A total of 38 administrators, faculty and staff participated in a two-day IGD introduction. Twelve continued their training, becoming IGD facilitators.

Through collaborative dialogue, IGD participants learn about their intellectual and experiential differences and similarities to:

  • Develop intergroup understanding by helping participants explore their own and other’s social identities and statuses;
  • Foster positive intergroup relationships by developing students’ empathy and motivation to bridge differences of identities and statuses; and
  • Foster intergroup collaboration for personal and social responsibility toward greater social justice.

Our new facilitators are now working on a campus-wide plan to implement IGD with students in the fall. However, IGD also offers opportunities for classroom dialogues, sustained dialogues for faculty, staff and students, and dialogues around specific topics for all campus community members.

I anticipate offering additional opportunities to get involved later this year. If you are interested in learning more, please email me.

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