President's Report to the Faculty
May 10, 2000
Thank you so much, Ed... and, good afternoon everyone.
It is wonderful to see you all here today... and I want to thank you for taking a few moments from your hectic, end-of-semester schedules to come together as a faculty to reflect on the past year... its successes and challenges... and to extend special congratulations to those who epitomize the values and aspirations of our University.
As you all know, we recently completed a period of intensive self-examination and external evaluation. Indeed, the Middle States Association's Commission on Higher Education will soon issue its decision on our accreditation status, a decision that will be based on our own self-study entitled, "A Decade of Progress," as well as a site visit by an outstanding Evaluation team led by President Freeman Hrabowski of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Let me begin my report to you today by quoting from that Evaluation Team's final Report: "The University is fortunate to have attracted a superb and deeply committed faculty and an outstanding staff, both dedicated to the University's vision."
What a powerful statement... and, in my view, what an accurate one! This year, as in years past, there are countless examples of this excellence and commitment... countless examples of disciplinary advancement and institutional stewardship... countless examples of national recognition and quiet dedication to the values we all share.
So as has become our custom let us now recognize those among us who have been selected by their colleagues as epitomizing the highest values of the academy and the particular aspirations of the University at Albany.
Let me introduce two faculty members who have been recognized for their extraordinary devotion to our University ... this year's Collins Fellows. First Allen Ballard, Professor of History, Political Science, and Africana Studies... Allen. The second, Roberta Bernstein, Professor and Chair of the Department of Art... Roberta. Both Allen and Roberta, through their selfless service and devotion to their students, have immeasurably enriched our University. Please join me in acknowledging and thanking them on behalf of the entire University at Albany community.
Now I am honored to introduce our colleagues who have been selected for the 2000 President's Awards for Excellence. I know you will agree that this year's award recipients are truly outstanding... not only in the performance of their particular professional responsibilities, but also in their deep commitment to our University.
Our first award honors those who excel in teaching at all levels of our educational program. Would this year's recipients of the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching please rise to receive our congratulations:
* Jeanette Altarriba Department of Psychology
* Sue R. Faerman Department of Public Administration and Dean of Undergraduate Studies
* Marjorie Pryse Department of Women's Studies;
The next category is the President's Award for Excellence in Support Service, which honors excellence among the members of the classified service staff, those who mean so much to the quality of life of our University. I invite the recipients to rise, and please join me in acknowledging them:
* Ida R. Canty Office of Academic Affairs
* Robert J. Morawski Plant Department
* Addie Napolitano Graduate School of Public Affairs
Next is the President's Award for Excellence in Professional Service. This award recognizes the contributions of members of the professional staff who contribute so much to the lives of our students, our faculty and the entire campus community. Would the recipients please rise to receive our congratulations.
* Lisa-Anne B. Donohue, Facilities and Physical Plant
* Wendell G. Lorang Institutional Research
* Carol Stenger University Counseling Center.
Next is the President's Award for Excellence in Librarianship for outstanding contributions by a member of the library faculty. This year's recipient is:
* Catherine M. Dwyer Government Documents librarian
The President's Award for Excellence in Academic Service recognizes the extensive contributions of faculty members to a variety of University-wide initiatives and their leadership in assuring the quality of the University's academic programs. Please join me in acknowledging this year's recipients:
* Timothy Lance Department of Mathematics and Statistics
* Louis W. Roberts Department of Classics.
Our final award celebrates the scholarly achievements of our faculty and their invaluable contributions to their disciplines. Would the recipients of the President's Awards for Excellence in Research please rise and receive our congratulations:
* Marlene Belfort Department of Biomedical Sciences (unable to attend)
* Jerram L. Brown Department of Biological Sciences
* Myrna (Micki) Friedlander Educational and Counseling Psychology
I know all members of the University community join me in congratulating these exceptional colleagues... and, deep thanks to you all.
It is also a tremendous pleasure for me to acknowledge five of our colleagues whom the Board of Trustees has promoted to the highest academic rank within the State University of New York. The faculty members so honored clearly represent the highest ideals of our profession. Please join me in congratulating Vince Aceto, School of Information Science and Policy, who has been appointed to the rank of Distinguished Service Professor... John Delano, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, who has been appointed to the rank of Distinguished Teaching Professor... Helmut Hirsch, Department of Biological Sciences, who has been appointed to the rank of Distinguished Teaching Professor... Daniel Levy, Department of Educational Administration and Policy, who has been appointed to the rank of Distinguished Professor... and, Susan Sherman, School of Social Welfare, who has been appointed to the rank of Distinguished Service Professor.
Congratulations to you all!
Also, please join me in congratulating Dr. Shirley Jones of the School of Social Welfare on being named this year's Academic Citizen Laureate by the University at Albany Foundation. Her contributions to our University have enriched us all.
And, finally, please join me in congratulating Professor Richard Alba on receiving a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship. Dr. Alba is one of only two sociologists in the entire country to be so honored. Congratulations, Richard, as well, on being elected Vice President of the American Sociological Association!
Please join me, in once again, saluting these exceptional colleagues.
And, there are so many others... literally scores of faculty who have been elected to major offices in their professional societies, assumed editorships of major journals in their field, been appointed to participate in or lead national peer review panels, secured extremely competitive grants, contracts and major national research centers, and received major national awards and fellowships such as the Fulbright for their research and scholarship.
No wonder that the Middle States Evaluation Team used words like "superb" and "outstanding" and "deeply committed" to describe our faculty and staff. No wonder that more and more of our programs, departments and schools are receiving high national rankings in keeping with the quality of their members and the excellence of their programs of teaching and research.
This past Fall... or was it yesterday... when we last gathered together as a faculty I took the occasion to reflect on the State of the University as the century if not the millennium came to a close. Today, as we meet at the start of a new century, we have another opportunity to reflect not only on a year filled with the kind of individual accomplishments represented by these wonderful colleagues, but also to reflect more broadly on what will be necessary if we are to move the whole of this exceptional institution forward... if we are to enrich our legacy.
A few weeks ago I received a letter from one of our alumni... the kind of letter any President relishes. His message was a simple one... he said he wanted to let me know that his experience here at Albany had profoundly impacted his life. And, he wanted me to know that with every passing year he grew increasingly proud of his alma mater.
In a few words he captured the essence of our collective charge for the future... that day by day, individual by individual, we seek to assure that all who are associated with our University are enriched... that each of our students experiences a challenging, yet caring environment for learning; that each of our faculty and staff has the opportunity for intellectual and professional growth; that each person who comes into contact with this fine institution is affected in positive and, yes, profound ways. If we do that... if we make a difference in the lives of each person we touch, surely we will have fulfilled our shared responsibility to enrich the exceptional legacy of this very special University. We will nourish the ever-increasing pride of those who have been a part of the learning environment you have created.
First... consider our students. Goal 1 of our Strategic Plan reads as follows: "The University will provide a distinctive, student-centered undergraduate learning experience which will be highly competitive as the result of its intellectual coherence, rigor and engagement of students with faculty in the process of inquiry and discovery."
"... Student-centered;... engagement of students with faculty... " these were the hallmarks of the experience described by the alumnus so deeply touched by his experience here at Albany.
In the Middle States Report, the Team wondered whether we could move toward our goal of Carnegie Research I and membership in the Association of American Universities without, as they put it, "... trading off [our] commitment to teaching and learning." They concluded the following: "Several indicators suggest that the University is indeed maintaining, even enhancing, its commitment to teaching."... they cited the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, curricular innovations such as Project Renaissance, and a re-organized and re-vitalized process of student advising and career counseling as excellent examples of such continued commitment. And there are so many more:
Just this past year, you have re-examined the entire General Education program, developed new programs of study in areas such as international studies and forensic analysis... received accreditation for the Master's Program in Planning and approval by the State Education Department for a new joint degree program in Social Work and Law and a fully revised curriculum for the Master of Science degree in Information Science, and developed innovative programs of extended learning for entirely new student populations in such areas as in-service teacher preparation, pharmaceuticals, software and victim's services. Furthermore, the implementation of the new Degree Audit Reporting System will do so much to support our orientation and academic advising initiatives.
And, do please join me in congratulating Associate Vice President Carson Carr, Ms. Maritza Martinez, and all the staff involved in our Educational Opportunities Program... we have just learned that our EOP program will receive one of only six Noel-Levitz Retention Excellence Awards in the country. What wonderful recognition for this exceptional program!
The quality-of-life of our students also has been enhanced through new initiatives and policies in the areas of community policing, safety, AIDS prevention, residence hall renovations and programming, as well as a very successful inaugural year of Division I athletics.
We all owe a great deal to the deft and sensitive leadership of Vice President for Student Affairs, Jim Doellefeld. He and his staff are exemplars of the dedication to the well-being and personal growth of our students which must characterize the University at Albany.
We also owe great thanks to Sheila Mahan, our creative and dedicated Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs, and her entire staff. As a result of their efforts, coupled with the excellent academic programs developed by all of you, our incoming freshmen class is stronger than ever. The average GPA is up a full point, the average SAT will be at least 1215 points higher, and the incoming class includes a record 261 Presidential Scholars. The 380 slots in Project Renaissance are full and there are 120 students on the waiting list! Indeed, the University at Albany has 16,180 freshmen applications, compared to 15,100 last year, almost a 7.2% increase. In fact, SUNY-wide, Albany is first in the number of freshmen applications, eclipsing Binghamton for the first time in many years.
Given the increasing quality of our student body, I am particularly pleased to report that the Honors Task Force, convened by Provost Genshaft, and chaired by Associate Dean Mark Durand, has just submitted its final report on ways in which we can expand our commitment to a distinctive academic experience for our most accomplished students. Indeed, many of the approaches and themes of this Report resonate for all our students... small group interaction with faculty, intimate community atmosphere, connectedness.
The alumnus who wrote to me reflected on all these elements as forming the basis for his loyalty and gratitude to this institution. He spoke of faculty and staff deeply committed to his intellectual and personal growth. He was, in short, profoundly affected by his experience here at Albany. He felt valued and challenged by the environment for learning.
Our challenge is to assure that all our students leave here touched in mind and heart by their experience. We must examine critically our academic programs for currency and rigor; we must evaluate the opportunities we create for faculty involvement with individual students, both in and outside the classroom; we must examine the efficacy and clarity of our policies and procedures so that they do not become ends in themselves; and, most important, we need to ensure that all of our students leave here with the knowledge that their intellectual and personal growth was at the heart of our institutional purpose and mission.
In the fall, I will be convening a campus-wide Task Force to examine undergraduate education here at Albany... to ask hard questions about institutional and faculty priorities, to examine the ways that every academic and non-academic unit can contribute to our shared goal of student-centeredness... to our shared goal of touching the minds and hearts of every individual who commits to learning with us here at Albany. This Task Force will help us to build on the tremendous advances we have already made, and chart a course for the future in the context of our mission statement and Strategic Plan. We owe our students no less.
This University, of course, must equally be a place where faculty and staff can continue to grow and find fulfillment in their chosen areas of academic and professional specialization. We must strive to create an environment which attracts and retains colleagues who share our institutional vision and who will contribute to the advancement of their disciplines through research and scholarship of the highest caliber.
I have already shared with you the assessment of the Middle States Evaluation Team. In short, they view you, our faculty and staff, as exceptional. Your accomplishments just over the past year have been extraordinary and have been recognized nationally and internationally. We must continue to work together to obtain the resources necessary to support and expand our programs of research and teaching... to create an environment where both personal and institutional advancement are possible.
We have all witnessed the exciting advances occurring within the research community here at the University of Albany. Every week brings more recognition of the exceptional research programs of our faculty. Under the strong leadership of Vice President Chris D'Elia, the University continues to improve its status as a major research university. Grant submissions this year are up almost 25% in numbers of proposals and over 30% in funds requested. Funding received has increased 10% over the past year.
However, this tremendous growth in research cannot be sustained without the continued development of our facilities infrastructure and administrative support systems. I am particularly grateful to Interim Vice President Paul Stec for spearheading this effort. He and his dedicated and talented staff are managing , simultaneously, the development of numerous complex building projects as well as a number of major facility renovations. As if that weren't enough, they are leading the campus' major administrative systems upgrade, an upgrade which will affect every division and unit on the campus. Indeed, the enhancements they have implemented in our budget management systems are especially timely given the complexity of managing revenues from multiple sources.
And this, of course, brings me to the State budget. In fact, given the timing of the budget process, I have not one, but two state budgets to discuss... the 19992000 as well as the just approved budget for 20002001. While much of the almost 6% increase we received for this academic year was devoted to critically-important negotiated salary increases, there was a net increase to the campus of some $2.5 million. Coupled with modest increases in other funding sources, the campus was able to fund a number of initiatives reflective of our Strategic Plan. These investment decisions emerged from a consultative budget process involving our Schools, Colleges and Divisions and the University Resources and Priorities Advisory Committee (URPAC). Priority items that were funded as a result of this process included increased graduate student stipends, the beginning of annual infrastructure funding for Academic Computing, investment in the beginning phases of our next capital campaign... more on that in a moment, an increase in research seed and venture funding and, perhaps most important of all, some 38 new faculty searches a number sufficient to assure another year of a net increase in faculty lines.
I am delighted to report that the just-passed New York State budget for 20002001 academic year also includes significant additional funding for SUNY, funding which will positively impact many of our campus programs. Tuition Assistance Programs have been increased, as has the support for EOP and child care; further, academic achievement scholarships have been instituted for high-achieving juniors and seniors. The Legislature has also mandated that some $4.4M of the monies SUNY has allocated for mission review and performance funding be used for new faculty lines... good news, indeed, for our campus. While we do not yet know the specific increase for our campus, we expect that the combination of additional tuition revenues and state tax support will result in a net increase to the campus, after negotiated salary increases, similar to the amount we received for the 19992000 fiscal year.
Clearly, replenishing our faculty ranks must remain a top institutional priority, and as the actual budget allocations are determined, we will move aggressively on our recruitment plans for the fall. I commit to you that achieving a third annual net increase in faculty will be my top priority.
I am also very pleased to report that, once again, the University received tremendous support from the Governor and the Legislature, Senate Majority Leader Bruno, Assembly Speaker Silver, as well as our Capital Region Delegation... they have been our advocates for a number of special initiatives to support the further growth of our campus. David Gilbert, Director of Governmental Relations, deserves a special tribute for developing a number of our most successful strategic partnerships, and advancing the University's cause so effectively in the halls of government.
In February, Governor Pataki, Senate Majority Leader Bruno and Assembly Speaker Silver joined the University Community at CESTM to make yet another wonderful announcement $15 million in state economic development funds to support the construction of an exciting addition to this very special facility. When combined with the federal grant we received last fall and other state commitments, we now have some $28 million for the facility enough to actually break ground!
Under the leadership of Professor Alain Kaloyeros, the vision for this new facility has been to create a state-of-the-art semiconductor research and development infrastructure which would attract the very finest scientists and graduate students to our University. The facility will also support our shared commitment to our core value of societal responsibility another goal in our Strategic Plan by meeting the short- and long-term needs of the semiconductor industry for workforce training, and by enhancing the economic vitality of the State through small business incubation, job creation, and the attraction and retention of major high-tech industries. I look forward to inviting you all to attend yet another groundbreaking this coming fall. This, and many other special allocations to our campus, reflect the clear belief of our State leaders in the quality of what you do, as well as in the tremendous potential of strategic partnerships.
When we gathered here last fall, I had the pleasure of announcing that Professors Paulette McCormick and Al Millis were finalists for a major NIH grant designation as one of three mutant mouse resource centers in the nation. I am delighted to report that they were successful; they received the $4.2 million grant in partnership with one of our East Campus incubator companies Taconic Biotechnology. In addition, the University has received $5 million from the State to support the activities of the Campus' newest research center the Center for the Study of Comparative Functional Genomics which they co-direct. With this funding, we have been able to purchase $2.5 million worth of state-of-the-art research equipment and create a fund to help new biotech companies grow on our campus, thereby making more such wonderful collaborative efforts possible.
And, just last spring, the University held a ribbon cutting for the relocation of four Department of Environmental Conservation labs to our East Campus. We felt strongly that locating these environmental labs at our University would facilitate interactions of our scientists with those from the Department, and lead to new opportunities for collaborative research. Already, our hopes have been realized. Through the efforts of Professor Ken Demerjian, the Director of our Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, the University has been designated one of four EPA Supersites in the nation for air quality research. This $3.5 million grant is based, in part, on a commitment of the Department of Environmental Conservation to provide $1 million for a jointly operated aerosol laboratory with the University on the East Campus. This initiative will allow University and Department scientists to lead the nation in air quality research and allow New York to frame the debate over sensible clean air regulations.
Indeed, the possibilities for new partnerships which will expand our resources and our research and educational capabilities are limited only by our imagination. In a few weeks, the Superintendent of State Police and I will sign a memorandum of understanding which we expect will lead to other ventures, similar to those with DEC, in the area of public protection. We have agreed to pursue external funding opportunities from federal, state, and private sources to advance our research and development goals, promote joint training, distance learning, and continuing education initiatives, and create internships which will afford students practicum experiences and training in a real-life setting.
Academic Affairs has already begun discussions regarding the creation of new degree programs in forensics. As one of the first degree programs of its kind in the nation, this program will build on the great strength of our Department of Biological Sciences and fulfill a tremendous need for forensic scientists nationally. On the research side, our Center for Technology in Government has begun working with the Forensic Science Center at the State Police to apply for National Institute of Justice funding to study some crucial information management issues at the agency.
We also have an emerging partnership with an industry group, the Capital Region Software Alliance. Spearheaded by Peter Bloniarz, an innovative joint initiative with the Software Alliance has been developed to meet a critical shortage of software professionals in the Region. The Empire State Development Corporation is considering funding this partnership through the newly enacted Jobs 2000 program, and the State Department of Labor has assisted us in drafting a federal grant application for funding through the Federal Labor Department.
And the list goes on: the possibility of additional state investment in our East Campus; a major new allocation for our prestigious New York State Writer's Institute; continued investment in our Center for Advanced Technology and its Focus Center and Fuel Cell Institute, the Minority Health Education Research Center and the Institute for Advancement of Health Care Management; and, possibly expanded investment in our study abroad programs. Many of these special allocations reflect broad-based strategic partnerships; all of them reflect the excellence and consummate professionalism of you, our faculty and administrative staff.
Congratulations to you all.
It is through your efforts that an environment is being created which will, indeed, foster the intellectual and professional growth of each member of our faculty and staff... those here, and those yet to be recruited.
Yes, resources are important... and, with your help, we will continue to devote our energies to assuring that our fiscal base is as strong as our intellectual base.
And, as you know, one of our major areas of opportunity is in private giving.
Perhaps the most salient example of our success in fostering such investment by our alumni and friends is the Victory Celebration that took place just last Wednesday at our spectacular new library. Thousands of people were invited to help us celebrate achieving our ambitious fundraising goal and meeting the Kresge Challenge. Those thousands who received invitations were the people who made it happen the donors.
I was especially pleased that so many of the people who helped push us way past the $3-million goal were faculty and staff of the University. Without your gifts, we would have fallen far short of our goal, and the fact that so many pledges were made early on helped us obtain the Kresge Challenge in the first place. The tremendous support from within the University family has been very gratifying. Thank you so very much!
I'd also like to thank Meredith Butler and acknowledge before this group her leadership role in wrestling this enormous project to such a wonderful conclusion. Thanks go, too, to Vice President Ashton and the talented and dedicated staff in the Development Office, especially Carole Bullard and Sorrell Chesin, but including many others, for the hard and careful work they did to bring this campaign to a successful conclusion.
As you know, we've set yet another record-breaking goal for the Annual Fund... $2.1 million... and it's been especially challenging because so many people were also contributing to the Libraries Campaign. Bob Ashton tells me, however, that it looks as if we have a good chance of meeting that goal, making this the ninth consecutive year of record-breaking Annual Funds.
Bob has also asked me to remind everyone that he has pledge cards available in the back of the room, in case you want to help make sure the Annual Fund comes in on target! [He has no shame!]
I am also delighted to report that we have commenced our planning for a major comprehensive fund-raising campaign. The Middle States Evaluation Team was both impressed and pleased that we have brought in one of the top fund-raising consulting firms in the country to help us prepare for this major undertaking.
We are analyzing our readiness to take on such a major campaign reviewing the size of our development staff, assessing our technical infrastructure and our communications capabilities, and determining prospect readiness. This analysis, to be completed by the end of the summer, will give us the roadmap for completing our campaign preparations and launching the initial so-called "quiet phase" of fund-raising for the campaign.
If the Library campaign and the ever-increasing size of our Annual Fund are any indication, we will be able to set... and reach... a goal for giving which will help us develop the kinds of academic programs and infrastructure so critical to the education of our students and the professional fulfillment of our faculty.
Indeed, one of the reasons I feel we will be successful in such a campaign is the frequency with which I hear our donors alumni, faculty and staff and friends alike say that their gift represents a way of giving back... a thank you to an institution they feel has positively impacted, indeed transformed, their lives. What testimony to the fact that we, and all those before us, did make a difference. And that impact has extended beyond our students, beyond our faculty and staff colleagues to the members of the many communities we serve.
Just in the past year, new programs have been developed which contribute to our shared goal of addressing societal need, even as they provide new opportunities for creative programs of scholarship and teaching.
The School of Social Welfare's initiatives in Aging and inner city community development all in partnership with local community leaders, and relevant state and not-for-profit agencies; the continuing richness of the varied programs of the New York State Writer's Institute; the Mellon Foundation supported Urban China Research Network involving studies on migration and its policy implications for urbanization within contemporary China by scholars in the Center for Social and Demographic Analysis and the Mumford Center; U.S. Agency for International Development supported projects providing assistance to the Government of Lebanon in the strengthening of democratic processes; planning for the major conference Book/Ends, co-sponsored by the Departments of English and Languages, Literatures and Cultures, as well as the Center for Arts and Humanities; the America Reads Program led by our School of Education... and on and on. The number of lives touched by such collaborative scholarly initiatives is inestimable.
I believe strongly that it is through such individual impact on the lives of our students, our faculty and staff colleagues and the members of our many external communities that our shared vision will be realized.
Let me quote the last sentence of what was truly an exceptional Middle States Evaluation Report: "In the Team's judgment, the progress made in advancing the University's reputation regionally and nationally reflects a number of substantive developments and achievements on the campus. The University at Albany has made extraordinary progress in becoming a nationally recognized research university and is well positioned to achieve its ambitious goals."
"... well-positioned to achieve its ambitious goals"... such testimony to what, together, we can accomplish.
In closing, let me express my sincere thanks to all the members of our University community who have given so much to all of us during the past year:
Our Deans and Chairs who provide such dedicated and insightful leadership.
Our governance leaders and, most particularly Professor Lou Roberts, Chair of the University Senate; members of our major university-wide committees; the heads of our employee unions; and the officers of our student organizations. Your many contributions have greatly enhanced our University.
And, a very special welcome to two new academic leaders who joined us this past January. Dr. Ralph Harbison, our new Dean of the School of Education, comes to us from the Education Division of the World Bank, and Dr. Katharine Briar-Lawson, our new Dean of Social Welfare, from the University of Utah. Both have already made a major impact on their Schools, indeed on our University.
And, now a very special "thank you". Dr. Judy Genshaft has, during her eight years with us here at Albany, contributed so very much. She was a dynamic Dean of our School of Education and has provided tireless and creative leadership for our academic programs. Her energy, her enthusiasm, her supportiveness of Deans, Department Chairs, and faculty across the University have indeed been a hallmark of her leadership. And, on a personal note, I can never thank her enough for her friendship, her support, her warmth and the countless hours we have shared confronting our University's challenges and celebrating its many triumphs. I, like everyone here at Albany, will miss you, Judy! Much more to follow at the reception for you which will convene directly after this meeting in the new Library Atrium. I hope you all will come to the reception in Judy's honor... we can't thank her enough... we can't celebrate her enough. The University of South Florida, just as the Univeristy at Albany, will be enriched by her presence.
Join me as well in welcoming Professor Carlos Santiago as our Interim Provost. Carlos has worked tirelessly on behalf of our University... as a faculty member, a Department Chair and as Associate Provost. His creative and dedicated leadership has already had a major impact here at Albany and I know he will continue to move us forward in this new role. We are so fortunate that he has agreed to assume these new responsibilities. Carlos, on behalf of all of us, thank you!
And, again, to all of you, thank you for a wonderful year.