SUNY Oneonta
A
CLEAR VISION

Strategic Plan 2015

Scholarship Service Strength

 

Dr. KA CLEAR VISION

DR. NANCY KLENIEWSKI

With the start of the fall 2015 semester, SUNY Oneonta began implementing Strategic Plan 2015: Scholarship, Service, Strength. Rooted in the same values that inspired the college’s first strategic plan in 2010, this new plan presents our vision with greater clarity than ever before:

SUNY ONEONTA WILL BE RECOGNIZED AS A LEADER IN CHALLENGING AND EMPOWERING STUDENTS TO IDENTIFY AND ACHIEVE AMBITIOUS GOALS.

WE WILL ENSURE A QUALITY AND AFFORDABLE EDUCATION EMPHASIZING ETHICAL, CRITICAL, AND CREATIVE THINKING FOR OUR GRADUATES TO SUCCEED IN A DIVERSE AND CHANGING WORLD.

Scholarship, Service, Strength builds upon the accomplishments of the last five years, many of which led the college to become more collaborative, to innovate solutions to complex problems, and to expand our thinking about student success.

SUNY ONEONTA WILL REDOUBLE EFFORTS TO IMPROVE ACADEMIC ENGAGEMENT AMONG FIRST-YEAR STUDENTS.

We also have sharpened our focus, choosing to concentrate on just four goals over the next three years. The most critical of these is to increase students’ engagement throughout their collegiate experience.

Two of the objectives under this goal are carryovers from our 2010 strategic plan. The first is to develop a Degree of Distinction, recognizing and rewarding students for leadership, engagement, and independent learning. The second is to formalize a Center for Teaching Excellence that will be the nexus of activity that further advances the teaching, learning, and scholarship that have become synonymous with SUNY Oneonta.

The college made strides toward both of these objectives under the last strategic plan, discovering along the way the nuances that made each such a substantial challenge. Now we must see them through. This is our most important work, and our mission, to create a student-centered learning community, demands it.

To complement our Degree of Distinction and Center for Teaching Excellence, SUNY Oneonta will redouble efforts to improve academic engagement among first-year students. We know from the data our campus collects about classroom experiences that there is room for growth in this area. Meeting students’ expectations for learning is a mandate we embrace.

Several action items under this objective began taking shape over the summer. Among the most urgent is rethinking advisement. By taking a more holistic approach in guiding first-year students, we will ensure that every class on their schedules aligns with their interests and academic plans. Relevant coursework not only sustains students’ attention, it keeps them moving toward a timely graduation, which, in turn, lowers their overall costs and reduces their education loan debt.

My Cabinet and other administrative staff have identified some initial steps that will steer students down pathways of engagement and on-time completion. These include:

  • New software for advising and student academic planning
  • Better course scheduling to provide the needed seats for first-year students
  • Recasting orientation as an academic event, and holding it immediately before classes to improve students’ transition into their program and their first semester of college
  • Establishing two living/learning communities that integrate in- and out-of-class learning.

To further shine a light on engagement, I hosted a town hall-style meeting during the second week of the fall semester, inviting all members of the campus community to share their ideas for improving the freshman experience. Later this year, our annual Strategic Allocation of Resources program will award funding to members of the campus community whose proposed projects would best advance the new strategic plan.

Kimmy Cushman is a sophomore at SUNY Oneonta and a physics major from Syracuse, NY. She talks about wanting to be quantum physics researcher during a portrait session in Morris Hall.

Our second goal under Scholarship, Service, Strength is to promote inquiry, service and scholarship. We know that today’s students trust us to deliver meaningful curricula and opportunities beyond the classroom.Our first-to-second-year retention rate, which rose to an all-time high—88%—in 2014, provides evidence of this and places SUNY Oneonta well above the national average.

Nevertheless, persistence is only a proxy measure for effectiveness. Student accomplishment is the true proof of quality. Being intentional in our efforts to stay relevant with regard to what we teach and how we teach it will allow us to keep students’ confidence in the years to come.

Following a paleoanthropology class, student Erin Malson discusses her paper with Anthropology professor John Relethford.

We will start by developing college-wide essential learning outcomes for creative, critical and ethical thinking. Despite a growing national emphasis on development of specific job skills, we hold fast to the conviction that students who are able to make reasoned decisions based on thoughtful analysis, who understand and consider differing points of view, and who care about the impact of their actions on others will find not only success in their careers, but fulfillment throughout their lives.


Learning outcomes feed directly into two other key objectives in this area: growing research and creative activity, and expanding community engagement and service in the curriculum. Greater institutional acknowledgement of service-learning will add breadth to our overall academic program. Creative, critical, and ethical thinking are applied skills, and students deserve plenty of opportunities to use them.

IN SHORT, SUNY ONEONTA WILL DO MORE THAN REMAIN A LIBERAL ARTS COLLEGE. WE PLAN TO SHAPE WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A LIBERAL ARTS COLLEGE IN THE 21ST CENTURY.

Fashion major Zubaida Azam works on an assignment to create an avant-garde outfit in an Innovations in Wearable Art class taught by Dr. Annacleta Chiweshe.

Consistent with that aspiration, broadening access to a SUNY Oneonta education is the third goal of our strategic plan. In support of this goal, we are zeroing in on financial literacy and implementing a strategic enrollment plan. This fall, SUNY Oneonta was one of 15 colleges nationwide to receive a grant from the financial services and data analytics firm Higher One to support programming that will prepare students to make sound money management decisions.

Many freshmen and their families first encounter the college financial aid system through our undergraduate application process. Helping them understand education loans and the exacting regulations governing federal and state grant funding will empower them to be responsible borrowers.


We were selected based on the quality and creativity of our approach, and the large number of students we educate about financial literacy.

To complement our Degree of Distinction and Center for Teaching Excellence, SUNY Oneonta will redouble efforts to improve academic engagement among first-year students. We know from the data our campus collects about classroom experiences that there is room for growth in this area. Meeting students’ expectations for learning is a mandate we embrace.

Several action items under this objective began taking shape over the summer. Among the most urgent is rethinking advisement. By taking a more holistic approach in guiding first-year students, we will ensure that every class on their schedules aligns with their interests and academic plans. Relevant coursework not only sustains students’ attention, it keeps them moving toward a timely graduation, which, in turn, lowers their overall costs and reduces their education loan debt.

Sustainable growth is the overarching goal of our strategic enrollment plan. Feeding into it are activities specific to five areas:

  • Academic programs;
  • Admissions;
  • International recruitment;
  • Retention; and
  • Scholarships.

Director of Graduate Studies Patrick Mente discusses expenses with a student attending the financial literacy event Making Cents of Life After College.

This past summer we turned attention on the international market, partnering with Big Choice to improve our global outreach by intensifying our efforts on countries with the most mobile student populations. Now, we are working to strengthen our summer orientation program, give faculty a greater role in student advisement and increase support for mentoring. These are among the efforts that will improve first-to-second-year retention to 90% and raise the number of degrees awarded annually from 1,550 now to 1,650 in 2020.

WE ARE ZEROING IN ON FINANCIAL LITERACY AND IMPLEMENTING A STRATEGIC ENROLLMENT PLAN.

Dr. Neville Choonoo, professor and chair of Africana and Latino Studies, discusses a novel by Doris Lessing called The Grass is Singing during his class Post-Colonial Literature in Africa.

The final goal of Strategic Plan 2015, strengthening the college’s financial sustainability, acknowledges both the changing economic landscape and our determination to navigate it.
Academic and student services spending accounted for 68% of all operational expenses in 2014–2015. Compare this with 2008–2009, when just 56% of the college’s operational budget went to academics and student services.
Our inaugural strategic plan affirmed that teaching, research and creativity are at our institutional core. This drove us to invest significantly in our academic program throughout the last few years, creating five schools and adjusting our general education curriculum to ensure that students who transfer to our campus keep a steady pace toward graduation.

Meeting targets for additional undergraduate and graduate students this year was the first step toward an overall 3.6% gain in student headcount by 2020.This fall, we have begun developing a model to evaluate ongoing programs’ return on investment. At the same time, we are turning outward to better understand SUNY Oneonta’s performance. Mining data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and participating in the Delaware Cost Study—the leading national research on instructional costs and productivity—will enable us to benchmark our campus against sister SUNYs and similar colleges like never before. These efforts will inform resource allocation and guide discussion about how to further enhance our academic program.

To complement wise spending, the college will increase revenue by continuing to grow enrollment.

Finally, research conducted this past spring suggested strong demand for several academic majors that would be good fits for our campus. In response, we have committed to developing at least one new undergraduate and one new graduate program by 2018.


Data-informed budgeting, higher enrollment, and careful addition of new curricula are essential to move the college forward. Fiscal policy that restores operating reserves will position the college to meet other goals of Strategic Plan 2015: Scholarship, Service, Strength.


OUR INAUGURAL STRATEGIC PLAN AFFIRMED THAT TEACHING, RESEARCH AND CREATIVITY ARE AT OUR INSTITUTIONAL CORE.

“I can’t think of a better way to be spending my time,” said SUNY Oneonta Relay for Life Chair Maegan Crawford, an early childhood/childhood education major from Stormville, NY. “It’s such a worthy cause, and to know that so many people are going to be helped by what we’re doing here tonight is just incredible.”

SUNY Oneonta greets the challenges ahead with a clear sense of purpose, as expressed by my four wishes for our students; that they:

  • study something they love and gain competency in their field;
  • grow as people to be thoughtful, creative, confident and ethical;
  • graduate in four years with the least debt possible;
  • launch a fulfilling career or go on to further their education.

Our optimistic outlook is rooted in five years of progress. The enthusiasm we share comes from a collective passion for teaching, learning and scholarship, not just at the core of our mission, but in the hearts of our faculty and staff.

WE ARE READY FOR WHAT’S NEXT, AND SUNY ONEONTA IS GOING TO SHINE.

SUNY Oneonta

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Oneonta, NY 13820
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