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Academic Spending Up, Administrative Spending Down

In 2008-2009, the college began breaking down costs into three categories —academic, administrative and student services—to better understand how our operational budget was being spent. What we found that year was that we were spending as much on administration, 44% of the budget that fiscal year, as we were on academics. Student service spending accounted for the remaining 12%.

Between then and now we have implemented successive strategic plans that refocused SUNY Oneonta on teaching, learning and scholarship, and also included goals and objectives aimed at ensuring our financial sustainability. Both plans set in motion initiatives that have redirected college funds. Today I am pleased to report that academics accounted for 52% of spending in fiscal year 2015-2016, while administration and student services accounted for 34% and 14%, respectively.

IPEDS Spending by Major FuncCon

This shift has been gradual and steady, not the result of any single decision, but the result of countless small and deliberate changes across campus. While the college budget has increased since 2008-2009, we have held annual administrative spending virtually flat in absolute dollars over the last eight years while adding roughly $17 million more to academics over that time.

This is progress toward our objective to "prioritize academic and student services spending to strengthen enrollment and promote student success," which is item 4.A. in Strategic Plan 2015. More importantly, it is a substantial investment in our students and their futures.

College to Honor Rosalind Hewsenian at Commencement

Rosalind Hewsenian
Rosalind "Roz" M. Hewsenian
Chief Investment Officer

I'm pleased to share that our honorary degree recipient at the 128th commencement this spring will be one of America's top investment officers, Rosalind "Roz" M. Hewsenian. A member of the Class of 1975, Roz came to SUNY Oneonta as a first-generation college student pursuing a degree in elementary education. She attended Pace University, receiving an MBA in finance in 1979, and then began her professional career at Kraft General Foods.

Since 2011, Roz has been chief investment officer at The Helmsley Trust, transitioning its high-net-worth capital into a grant-making charitable foundation supporting medical research, conservation and education initiatives. Roz also has used her deep knowledge and money management skills to help improve the human condition with organizations such as the More Than Shelter Fund and PLAN of California Special Needs.

On our campus, Roz has shared her expertise with education and business students as a participant in the college’s Distinguished Alumni Lecture Series and affirmed her bond to our campus by endowing three scholarships. In 2014, the SUNY Oneonta Alumni Association named Roz to its Alumni of Distinction roster.

Roz's uncommon insights and generosity with our students, enduring commitment to education, and eminence as a financier made her an outstanding candidate for Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. I look forward to presenting her with this honor in May.

Biology Faculty Receive $193,000 NSF Grant

Highlight: Biology Faculty Receive $193,000 NSF Grant

Under the direction of principal investigator Daniel Stich and co-PIs Kiyoko Yokota, Florian Reyda and Willard Harman, all from the Department of Biology, the college will enhance its capacity to study the health of freshwater fish across our region. Daniel and his co-PIs will conduct a project named “RUI: Acquisition of Tools for an Ecosystem-Based Approach to Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Research Education, and Management,” funded by a $193,459 National Science Foundation grant. The grant will allow the research team to acquire an electrofishing vessel and related gear to monitor fish and plankton communities, collect physical, chemical and biological data from water bodies, and analyze plankton. Please join me in congratulating Daniel, Kiyoko, Florian and Bill, and wishing them well with this important fieldwork.

- In this Edition -

Revamped Commencement Taking Shape

Common Read Broadens Reach

Getting Data from Banner Faster: Announcing the Report Writer

Recognition Everlasting: Named Scholarships Honor Faculty


Revamped Commencement Taking Shape

Colleen Brannan
Executive Assistant to the President

Revamped Commencement Taking Shape

Plans are well underway for SUNY Oneonta’s 127th commencement, scheduled for Saturday, May 13. The new structure will include three 90-minute ceremonies in the Alumni Field House (AFH) with students seated by school. The School of Social Science Commencement ceremony will begin at 9 a.m., with Natural & Mathematical Science and Arts & Humanities at 1 p.m., and Education & Human Ecology and Economics & Business at 4 p.m.

The order of exercises for each ceremony is as follows:

1. Procession of the faculty and stage party
2. Singing of the national anthem
3. Welcoming remarks by the president
4. Recognition of faculty and staff Chancellor’s Award recipients
5. Conferral of master’s degrees, with students being hooded by their academic dean
6. Recognition of undergraduate honors students
7. Conferral of bachelor’s degrees, with students crossing the stage in two lines
8. Remarks from the senior class president
9. Remarks from the honorary degree candidate
10. Singing of the alma mater
11. Recession of the students, faculty, and stage party

A reception in the academic quad will follow each ceremony, offering an opportunity for students, their guests, and faculty to enjoy light refreshments and time together. Signs will be provided to support gathering by department. In case of inclement weather, receptions will be held in the Mills and Wilsbach dining halls.

I encourage all faculty and staff planning to participate in commencement to attend their rehearsal on Friday, May 12, in the AFH. Student marshals and reader rehearsals will be held in the AFH on Thursday, May 11.

Interested in volunteering? Reach out to Volunteer Coordinator Graig Eichler at ext. 2077. Commencement questions are welcome at ext. 2748. 

Common Read Broadens Reach

Bill Wilkerson
Common Read Committee Co-chair

Margot Lee Shetterly, and her book Hidden Figures, a number 1 New York Times best seller.
Margot Lee Shetterly, and her book Hidden Figures, a New York Times best seller.

After four successful years, the Common Read Committee has decided to expand the focus of the Common Read from the entering first-year class to encompass the entire college community. This is a natural progression as programming around the Common Read has grown to include students and faculty throughout the campus.

Faculty members have used the Common Read in classes for students at all levels. In the past, the college has purchased copies of the book for all new incoming students. Beginning with fall 2017, we will make a number of discounted copies of the book available to the entire student body. Free copies will still be available to faculty and staff on a first-come, first-served basis.

We have selected books for both fall 2017 and fall 2018. For fall 2017, we have selected the 2016 book Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly. The book tracks the careers of three African American female mathematicians who worked behind the scenes at NASA and its predecessor the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics doing complex mathematical calculations. As computers improved, these women became computer programmers and engineers while the space program moved forward toward human flight in the early 1960s.

Shetterly, a Sloan Foundation fellow, will give the 2017 Mills Distinguished Lecture in September. Hidden Figures was the basis for the Oscar-nominated film of the same name.

The 2018 Common Read book will be Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy. Stevenson is a social justice advocate and the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, which provides legal representation to prisoners who have not had effective legal representation.

Getting Data from Banner Faster: Announcing the Report Writer

Karlis Kaugars
Chief Information Officer

Karlis Kaugars

Increasingly, higher education is engaging with institutional data sources for assessment of past efforts and decisions about future direction. SUNY Oneonta is no exception, and the President’s Cabinet is supportive of wider adoption of data-informed decision making. To foster continued development of this area, the college will be developing a new data access role termed “report writer.”

Many ongoing campus operations rely on custom reports based on Banner data. At present, because of the institutional controls that govern data access, IT Services generates these reports, then passes them on to designated staff members within the departments and offices that need them. The goal of the report writer role is to allow data users to create their reports, themselves. Users will be able to get the information they need when they need it. This will also free up IT Services staff members, who currently spend a significant amount of their time producing routine reports, to work on other projects.

The report writer concept, though common on college campuses, is in its infancy at SUNY Oneonta. The development of this new role will be the joint responsibility of IT Services and the Data Governance Committee. The initial cohort will be small, probably 10 or fewer “superusers” already well versed in relational databases and their associated technology. Each will gain broader access to institutional data along with enhanced technical, security and compliance training. They will use Argos and other tools to retrieve information from Banner’s Operational Data Store.

The report writer role signals the intent to better understand and use data at the institutional level. We are excited to take this step. As always, IT Services looks forward to helping offices do their work more efficiently.

Recognition Everlasting: Named Scholarships Honor Faculty

Paul Adamo
Vice President for College Advancement

“It is one of the greatest honors of my life,” is how Emeritus Professor of Political Science Ernest Goodman described the experience of having his former students contribute over $25,000 to establish a scholarship in his honor. Dr. Goodman’s ultimate wish was for his students to have great careers, gain an international perspective, and to seek knowledge beyond their undergraduate studies. His dedication to their education impacted former students, and when Ellen Teller, Class of 1978, began an appeal to endow a scholarship in Dr. Goodman’s honor, others joined her with their gifts. Today, the scholarship principal is over $45,000.

The Dr. Ernest J. Goodman Endowed Scholarship for Political Science is one of 68 scholarships in the SUNY Oneonta College Foundation established by, or in honor of, a former faculty or staff member.  Nearly 100 students now receive an award from these scholarships each year. This helps to meet their financial needs, recognizes their academic successes, or both. Over the past 20 years, we have raised $1.7 million in gifts to create these scholarships.

Our students are immersed in an educational environment that is one of SUNY Oneonta’s hallmarks. Dedicated faculty and campus colleagues guide students through majors and programs that, as the college’s vision states, “ensure a quality and affordable education emphasizing ethical, critical, and creative thinking for our graduates to succeed in a diverse and changing world.” Graduates often express their gratitude through charitable giving, illustrating their desire to see our students have equally valuable experiences.

Alumni, faculty, staff, friends, and corporations or foundations giving at least $25,000 create endowed scholarships. The Division of College Advancement partners with these supporters to create opportunities such as the Goodman Scholarship to reward and inspire students for years to come.

Each October, scholarship donors engage with student recipients at the annual President’s Scholarship Dinner. Beyond affirming investment in SUNY Oneonta, this event offers scholarship recipients the chance to share their stories among their peers and those whose gifts have helped pave their paths to success. Like no other gathering, this event illustrates the power of philanthropy and celebrates the tradition of giving that sets our college apart from so many others.

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