President Stenger, VPs outline goals for 2013
By Eric Coker
Binghamton University needs to get "better to get bigger," while also getting "bigger to get better" in 2013, President Harvey Stenger said during his State of the University address on Jan. 22.
"I believe that the effort many of you have put in over the past six months to develop the Road Map's 3I's – initiatives, innovations and ideas – has given us the tactics that are going to make us better, bigger and measurable," Stenger said to faculty and staff gathered in Lecture Hall 1.
The two-hour event, formerly known as the University Forum, was what Stenger called "a team presentation." The address featured talks from the University's five vice presidents – Donald Nieman, Brian Rose, Bahgat Sammakia, Marcia Craner and James Van Voorst − and Director of Athletics Patrick Elliott.
The University plans to "get bigger" by adding 400 undergraduate students, at least 100 graduate students, 33 tenure-track faculty members and 35 staff members in 2013. Expansion has numerous benefits, Stenger said, citing how the University aids the local economy, how research helps society, and the advantages of name recognition around the country and world.
"I want to see more things Binghamton in the world," he said. "Binghamton! Binghamton! Binghamton! Say it over and over again: Binghamton! It sounds great. I want to see it everywhere."
"Getting better," Stenger said, features an engaged, diverse, inclusive, global, safe and healthy campus community striving to:
• Expand academic and research programs.
• Increase in graduate-student enrollment.
• Focus resources on areas of strength.
• Increase the University's reach outside New York state.
• Enable the success of faculty and staff with better training, support, technology and facilities.
"The bottom line is that we have to ensure that our students are successful," Stenger said. "I know that is the sole purpose of the University and the sole purpose of the people who are here."
The guide to becoming better and bigger is in the form of 176 Road Map proposals. University officials and Road Map committee co-chairs will now examine and prioritize the proposals, which will serve as the Binghamton Plan for 2013, Stenger said.
"I look forward to sharing that with you by the end of February," he said. "2012 was a good year. 2013 will be even better."
Donald Nieman, provost and vice president of academic affairs, said one way to potentially make "a great University even stronger" is to study the feasibility of a pharmacy school on campus.
"I believe that pharmacy is an especially promising area for Binghamton University," he said. "We have not made the commitment to a pharmacy school. We have only made the commitment to study if it is right for Binghamton."
There are several reasons why a pharmacy school could be a good investment for Binghamton, Nieman said, adding that it would allow the University to increase its graduate enrollment with additional high-caliber students.
"By creating a doctoral-branding, research-oriented pharmacy school, it would allow us to enhance our research strengths in the life sciences and form productive collaborations with programs we have in behavioral neuroscience, biomedical engineering, biomedical anthropology, chemistry and nursing, among others," he said.
Nieman said he will soon appoint a faculty committee to study the academic merits of a pharmacy school. The Office of Institutional Research and Assessment will examine the financial feasibility.
"In the coming months, I will share information about our findings with the campus community and engage the campus in a discussion about whether pharmacy makes sense for Binghamton," he said. "This is the first step in what will be a long and arduous path."
Other initiatives and reviews from the vice presidents included:
• Rose, vice president of student affairs, discussed the importance of challenging students intellectually outside of class through learning opportunities at the Center for Civic Engagement and the Career Development Center.
One way to measure what happens beyond the classroom is the co-curricular transcript, Rose said. Student Affairs is taking the lead to enter extracurricular activities into a student transcript and the office now has almost 7,600 students with co-curricular transcripts. The next challenge is getting students to continue to add to their transcripts.
"If we are going to make that the argument the Binghamton experience includes a depth of learning opportunities that distinguishes us, not only do we have to create the very opportunities we are talking about, but we have to be able to measure our progress and demonstrate the value," Rose said. "That's why we are putting this effort into the co-curricular transcript."
• Sammakia, vice president for research, said the division strives to create an "environment of excellence" in research and creative activities across all disciplines and levels of education.
"We strongly believe that as (the University) grows and we hire faculty and staff, we will see research expenditures growing again," he said.
Sammakia also praised NYSUNY 2020, which will enable the University to construct the fourth building at the Innovative Technologies Complex – a smart-energy facility that is scheduled for completion in 2016. The third building – a Center of Excellence in Small Scale Systems Integration and Packaging – is scheduled to open in 2014.
"When completed, the ITC will be a formidable research structure that will allow us to compete in our areas of excellence with any university," Sammakia said. "It will also bring together teams of faculty, students and staff from many departments. This will be at the core of our STEM research growth."
• Craner, vice president for external affairs, said the division will work to strengthen and advance alumni relations programs, while taking the beginning steps on the next comprehensive gifts campaign.
The Bold.Brilliant.Binghamton campaign raised more than $100 million and featured $2.5 million from faculty and staff. More than half of the campaign's contributions came from first-time donors, Craner said.
"That really bodes well for the future of the University," she said.
• Elliott earned some of the loudest applause of the State of the University when he revealed that the fall 2012 grade-point average of student-athletes was 3.12. It is the 14th consecutive semester that the GPA surpassed 3.0. Sixteen student-athletes earned a 4.0, while 188 (45 percent of all student-athletes) were named to the AD Honor Roll for having a 3.3 or greater.
Elliott also emphasized the on-field successes of the young Division 1 program, including 14 All-Americans, one national champion and a volleyball team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament in the fall.
"Our student-athletes are making an impact on the national level," he said.
• Van Voorst, vice president for administration, discussed several capital construction initiatives, including East Campus Housing, University Union and Dickinson Dining Hall renovations, and new classrooms for the Student Wing.
The renovated Dickinson building will feature a new rotunda and eventually house offices such as enrollment management, the registrar, financial aid and student accounts. The Union-east renovation will bring together student-oriented offices such as the Career Development Center, TRIO, the Office for Undergraduate Research and the Educational Opportunity Program, among others. The Union-west project will create an indoor town square and combine the Union building, Van Voorst said.
"Yes, it is true," he said to laughter and applause from the audience. "You will be able to get from one side of the Union to the other side of the Union without going outside."