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August 16, 2006

Selective Investment Awards Announced

Includes Hiring of 20 New Faculty

William Rainbolt

William Rainbolt, program director for the new major in journalism, which received a Selective Investment award.

With the completion of the first year of "Compact Planning" at UAlbany, Provost Susan Herbst on Aug. 16 announced 27 initiatives that will receive Selective Investment funding support for 2006-07.

"The awards we announce today are a tribute to our late President Kermit Hall, who championed compact planning at both North Carolina State and Utah State universities, and then instituted the concept at UAlbany," said Herbst.

"Because of his vision and the efforts of all those who did an awful lot in this process in a very short time, a first successful step has been accomplished in reinvigorating and homing in on the University's priorities," she said. "These worthy projects have been judged in a way that brings far greater accountability, transparency and budgetary acumen to internal funding decisions than anything that has previously existed here.

"All those participating in Compact Planning will be rewarded in the long run, and so too will the students of the University at Albany, our most important constituency."

The Compact Planning process began last September, as faculty and staff from all academic and administrative units went to work re-examining their missions and devising initiatives to advance their objectives. This work was completed by late November. Then, from winter break into the spring semester, deans, vice presidents, directors and faculty governance reviewed and weighed in on the initiatives' merits and how well they aligned with school, college or divisional goals.

"I was very pleased with the involvement of governance in Compact Planning," said Steven Messner, chair of the University Senate. "We were given access to relevant materials in a timely fashion and offered the opportunity to provide formal input at key stages of the decision-making process."

Added Herbst: "President Hall saw Compact Planning as our big 'mirror moment,' allowing us to re-engineer our approach to guiding the University's future. And the hard work put in last fall will give all units a major step-up for Compact Planning's next round, beginning in October."

Included in the appropriations are funds to hire 20 new faculty members. Two of these will go to the College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering. Said Alain Kaloyeros, the college's Vice President: "Compact planning was a vital process for the instructional and research competitiveness of the University and for providing a systematic path for sound investments in its future. For CNSE, the investment in new faculty is critical to ensuring that two exciting programs get off the ground in 2007 — a bachelor's in nanoengineering, and a new constellation in nanobioscience."

This spring, two special groups — a 15-member Selective Investment Committee, made up of UAlbany faculty, staff and students, and a Board of Visitors, comprising 23 U.S. and international leaders in business and higher education — made additional recommendations about which initiatives held greatest potential for advancing the University.

"Members of the Committee evaluated the proposals from a number of different perspectives," said Teresa Harrison, committee chair. "We reflected to a considerable degree on the potential for each proposed initiative to achieve its own goals, and we also considered the ways in which initiatives addressed one or more of UAlbany's goals and priorities."

The Board of Visitors, having had previous discussions with all University vice presidents, then viewed the proposals from an institutional standpoint. With only a few exceptions, they viewed the Committee's recommendations very favorably. "The Board was extremely impressed with the Compact Planning process at UAlbany," said Stephen R. Portch, chairman emeritus of the University System of Georgia and board chair.

"Although we had suggestions for modifications in future years, we concluded that this year's process resulted in many proposals and a highly conscientious review process that will serve the institution well as it prioritizes and aims for selective excellence."

The Board of Visitors echoed the Selective Investment Committee's belief that Compact Planning is not the appropriate vehicle to address basic technology issues, such as those now confronting the Division of University Development and Information Technology Services. "President Hall and I acknowledged this conclusion," said Herbst, "so the University will address these issues through the basic budgeting process."


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