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Terror in Charlottesville

Our campus and the country are stronger because of the contributions of people of all races, ethnic groups, religions, genders, and sexual orientations. While our college continues to make strides toward ensuring that the Oneonta community is welcoming to all, recent events at the University of Virginia and in Charlottesville, Virginia, are tragic reminders that bias and bigotry are pressing issues.

We grieve for the victims in Charlottesville, particularly the families of Heather Heyer, and the families of Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke M.M. Bates of the Virginia State Police.

We reject racism, and condemn those who brought bloodshed to Charlottesville this past weekend.

“What can I do?” is the question that so many have asked since Saturday.

The long fight for equality, inclusivity and diversity in America carries on in ways great and small. Chief Diversity Officer Terrence Mitchell is organizing conversations around these issues for the fall semester. I encourage everyone at SUNY Oneonta to take part in these discussions and think about how we, as individuals and collectively, can bring more peace, understanding and justice to our world.

Excelsior Scholarship Contributes to Solid Fall Enrollment

Excelsior Scholarship

As the incoming class takes shape, I have plenty of good news to share. First, undergraduate applications topped 13,000 this year. By the end of July, we had received 11,139 freshmen applications and 2,030 transfer applications for fall admission. By comparison, we received a total of 12,560 applications for fall 2016.

We are beginning to see how the Excelsior Scholarship will affect enrollment. Based on figures developed yesterday, we expect 346 students to receive the Excelsior Scholarship for the coming academic year. This is just under 6% of all our undergraduates.

Beside Excelsior recipients, 578 more students have been awarded grant aid and/or scholarships covering the full cost of tuition. This brings to 924 the number of students who will attend SUNY Oneonta tuition-free in 2017-2018, pending final verification by the Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC).

While these figures probably will shift slightly because HESC delivers new data daily, most financial aid processing for our students is complete. This has been a great team effort among the offices of Financial Aid, Academic Advisement and Student Accounts, led by Executive Director & Senior Enrollment Management Officer Christina Roarke and Scholarship Coordinator Karen Conrad.

SUNY Oneonta is growing. Last fall we enrolled 5,729 undergraduates. When classes begin at the end of this month, we will welcome approximately 5,950. We also project an increase in graduate student enrollment. At the beginning of this month, graduate enrollment stood at 368, up from 326 in the fall 2016 semester.

Associate Vice President for Facilities Tom Rathbone

Tom Rathbone to Retire

Associate Vice President for Facilities Tom Rathbone has been a member of the campus community since 1988. Over the course of almost three decades, Tom has presided over millions of thousands of dollars in renovation, new construction, maintenance and grounds keeping.

To gain an appreciation of Tom’s docket, see the story below about Facilities and Maintenance, which is just further down the page. As you read about all of the work mentioned there, keep in mind that this article focuses on project highlights from this summer.

Those who’ve attended a Facilities meeting during his tenure have heard Tom’s opening catch phrase: “Let’s light this candle.” This fall Tom’s going to light a new candle of his own. He plans to retire in mid-October, trading his daily golf cart tour of campus for more time with family.

More about Tom’s exceptional career at SUNY Oneonta is in this feature.

Highlight: 2017 Grad Wins Prestigious SUNY Scholarship


I am delighted to share that Rachel Silsdorf, a member of the SUNY Oneonta Class of 2017, is the first recipient of the Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher Scholarship for Teacher Education. Rachel earned a degree in family and consumer sciences education this past May. She will begin her teaching career at Smithtown High School in the fall.

The university system’s Association of Council Members and College Trustees (ACT) created the Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher Scholarship for Teacher Education earlier this year. It recognizes Chancellor Zimpher’s dedication and commitment to improving teacher preparation with SUNY and in service to all of New York state.

This scholarship is extremely competitive. Each SUNY campus with teacher preparation programs may nominate only one student for it annually. Candidates must personify the vision and mission of SUNY Chancellor Zimpher’s commitment to excellence in the elementary and secondary teacher education profession.

Rachel’s selection is a tremendous personal accomplishment. I offer my congratulations to her and the best of luck as she enters the teaching profession.

- In this Edition -

New Police Chief Settling in and Looking Ahead

Presidential Search Moves Forward

A Busy Summer for Facilities and Maintenance


New Police Chief Settling in and Looking Ahead

Jennifer Fila
Chief, University Police Department

Jennifer Fila

President Kleniewski swore me in as chief of the University Police Department on July 10, so my first month here just wrapped up. I came to SUNY Oneonta from the University at Albany, where I spent 18 years in law enforcement, the last three as deputy chief. My transition to this campus is going smoothly. SUNY Oneonta’s UPD has an excellent reputation among SUNY law enforcement professionals, and I’m proud to join such a talented, dedicated group. 

I’m a strong believer in community policing, and I also understand the uniqueness of college campuses within the context of community policing. At the University at Albany, I helped steer Operation Safe Corridor, a collaborative safety endeavor with the City of Albany Police Department and the College of Saint Rose, in 2009. I also spearheaded the department’s Community Education video series, and led the agency through state accreditation in 2011.

UPD here at SUNY Oneonta already is well established within the community. We will continue to strengthen our relationships both on campus and within the City of Oneonta. I look to the “Final Report of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing” as a guidance document to focus our efforts. The report outlines six pillars:

  1. Building trust and legitimacy
  2. Policy and oversight
  3. Technology and social media
  4. Community policing and crime reduction
  5. Training and education; and
  6. Officer wellness and safety.

These pillars form the foundation for effective, just and constitutional-based policing.

As you might imagine, my first month here at SUNY Oneonta has been busy. I appreciate the warm welcome I’ve received, and I’m looking forward to meeting more members of the campus community with the opening of the fall semester.

Presidential Search Moves Forward

Kathy Webster
Assistant to the President

Presidential Search Position Prospectus  Cover

The search for the next president of SUNY Oneonta has reached an important milepost. Last week the Chancellor’s Office approved an advertisement and prospectus for the position. The Presidential Search Committee and RPA Inc., the firm guiding the search, began developing both documents in July. RPA has announced the position nationally and posted the ad and prospectus online.

The Committee also has adopted a schedule for its work. The majority of the process will take place during the fall semester with the goal of positioning the SUNY Oneonta College Council to recommend candidates to the Board of Trustees before the end of the year.

The next step in the search will be for the search firm to conduct a position assessment, public listening sessions and stakeholder meetings here on campus. RPA plans to visit this month to complete those tasks.

Initial review of candidates is slated for September before neutral-site interviews in October. In November, the Committee will select candidates for interviews on campus and then host those visits.

To keep the campus community abreast of search activities, the college is creating a presidential search website. Updates will be added as progress continues and new information becomes available.

A Busy Summer for Facilities and Maintenance

Deb Wolfanger
Logistics Coordinator, Facilities and Safety Office

Admissions Welcome Center
The new Welcome Center is on track to open this winter.

Although summer provides many opportunities for travel, study and vacation, Facilities and Maintenance shifts gears, seizing on the 100 days between May graduation and August move-in to get big things done on our campus. This summer saw a typically ambitious slate of projects and renovations.

Since its groundbreaking late last year, our most conspicuous undertaking has been construction of a building to house the Office of Admissions and to give prospective students, their families and other visitors a “million-dollar view,” looking down through the academic quad and across the valley. I am pleased to report that the Welcome Center is on schedule to open this winter.

Just down the hill from the Welcome Center, pedestrians will find new sidewalks and a set of stairs in the Fine Arts parking lot. Both will improve access to the center of campus.

An enormous amount of residence hall work began after students moved out in May. Huntington Hall got a new roof. Hulbert gained additional laundry rooms. Wilber’s Wi-Fi was upgraded. And we installed new wall treatments in Hays.

Utility infrastructure also received needed attention. Key projects included:

List ItemA new generator at Wilsbach Hall to provide electricity in the event of a power failure;

List ItemUpgrades to fire alarm control system hardware;

List ItemInstallation of air conditioning in parts of Science 1; and

List ItemInitiation of a two-year project to upgrade heating and cooling systems in Hunt Union.

Another two-year project launched this summer is a redesign of the parts of the Milne Library that will house student academic support services. This project includes rebranding and renovation of the space that was Jazzman’s Café, while the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies has left the library for a new office suite on the second floor of Schumacher Hall.

The South Campus Runoff Project was really a collection of jobs. It encompasses the construction of stormwater management, bio retention basins and an accessible walkway connecting the first-year residence halls with the East Campus dining facilities.

When you are walking around campus this fall, take a look at all that’s new. We are really proud of all the work accomplished by our maintenance and custodial staff, legions of independent contractors, our site representatives and everyone who had a hand in coordinating each project. Many thanks also to everyone who graciously put up with noise, dust, equipment, moves and detours.

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