Report to the Faculty from President Karen Hitchcock
First and foremost, I
know you all join me in thanking Ed Mayer for agreeing to serve as Chair
of the Faculty. Professor Mayer, an accomplished scholar and sculptor,
has been with us here at Albany for some 16 years. Throughout his tenure
as Sculpture Area Chair in the Department of Art, he has been a powerful
and effective advocate for the arts; indeed, for the entire University.
He has devoted countless hours to assisting in the design of our exciting
new sculpture studio, and has been a committed member of our campus-wide
Master Planning Committee. Ed, for all your contributions, we thank you.
And, I know you will
all join me in thanking Mark Durand for his three years of service as Chair
of the Faculty. Mark has been up here with me from the beginning of my
tenure as President.......and, for that, I am deeply grateful. Mark continues
his service to us all as Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
— yet one more way that he continually contributes to the vitality of our
University. Mark, thank you!
And to all of you, thank
you for taking the time from your extremely busy, beginning-of-the-year
schedules to come together to celebrate the opening of the 1999-2000 academic
On a beautiful evening
just two and a half weeks ago, I had the pleasure of participating in a
wonderful candle lighting ceremony to welcome our new students. As I looked
out on some 2300 young people holding high their lit candles, and as I
listened to our student leaders and alumni speak eloquently of the opportunities
which lay ahead for each of these new members of the University at Albany
community, I was filled with a tremendous sense of pride.....pride in the
environment for learning which all of you have helped to create here at
Albany...an environment which has fostered the intellectual development
and personal growth of thousands upon thousands of students over the years.....which
has expanded the horizons of all who study here in ways impossible to imagine.
But those feelings of
pride were tempered by a deep sense of responsibility.... an ongoing responsibility
we all share for each and every one of our students. They have, after all,
put their dreams for the future in our hands.
The spectacular fireworks
at the end of the ceremony reflected well our shared optimism for the future
of these bright, new students......and for our University's continuing
vitality as a highly respected center of learning. I wish you all could
have shared the evening. It was a thought-provoking ....and rejuvenating...
My remarks to you today
will touch on a number of important developments since last we met, as
well as on some major institutional goals for the coming year.
However, it occurred
to me as I was preparing these remarks that this will be the final President's
Report to the Faculty in the 20th century — or, at least, during the 1900's,
depending on your "millennial" point of view.....a perfect time, I would
submit, to reflect more broadly on the current "State of our University,"
and what I feel will be required of all of us as stewards of this exceptional
institution of higher learning.
The University at Albany,
since its founding some 155 years ago, has undergone tremendous transformation.....from
an innovative, world-renowned Normal School, to a highly selective four-year
College for Teachers, to the nationally-ranked research university we have
become. A proud heritage, to be sure....and one which grew out of our predecessors'
boldness of vision and willingness to embrace change on behalf of their
students. We can do no less....and what an exceptional context you have
created for moving our University forward.
Major advances were
achieved during the 1998-99 academic year. These included new degree programs
and curricular innovations; the tremendous success of the Irish Semester
sponsored by the Center for Arts and Humanities which involved some 4,000
scholars, artists, writers, and students; the substantive progress being
made to fulfill our Master Plan — guided facilities expansion and rehabilitation;
the unqualified success of our largest faculty recruitment in over a decade;
increased national and international recognition of your scholarship; major
increases in peer-reviewed sponsored grants and contracts; the establishment
of major new research centers; a greatly enhanced undergraduate applicant
pool enriched by substantive increases in out-of-state and international
students; a 44% increase in the number of our students studying abroad;
and numerous initiatives designed to improve the quality of life of our
students here at Albany...from the food service, to residence hall renovations,
to safety, to recreational and intramural athletics, to advising and career
Simply put, through
the energy and talents of the faculty, staff and students, the goals we
established for the past academic year were more than met. Indeed, your
accomplishments led to substantially increased investment in our University
by the Governor, Legislature, external research sponsors, alumni and friends.
This is the rich and
vibrant context you have made possible as we look to the coming year.....as
we establish our goals for the months ahead.
Of course, any goals
we establish must also include an analysis of our financial resources....obviously
a critical component of our context for planning. Unfortunately the SUNY
campuses have yet to receive word of their specific allocations for the
1999-2000 academic year. Indeed, it appears that such allocations will
not be finalized till the end of next month.
But..... this is what
we do know at this point in time regarding the SUNY-wide budget:
The $32.2 million requirement
to annualize negotiated salary increases will be funded.....good news to
The Tuition Assistance Program.... or TAP...
has been funded; indeed, $2.6 million additional dollars have been allocated
to the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), and some $800,000 in child
And, for the first time
since the Graduate Research Initiative, additional funds were allocated
for new faculty lines. The major legislative intent behind this new appropriation
of $2.2 million was to reduce the needs for adjunct faculty on SUNY campuses.
Allocations to specific campuses were made recently by SUNY based on each
campus' full time to adjunct faculty ratios; Albany will receive funds
for two new junior faculty based on this formula. While this allocation
only scratches the surface of our need, I am extremely heartened by this
legislative recognition of the critical requirement to replenish SUNY's
full-time faculty ranks. The UUP, as well as our own governmental relations
staff here at Albany, are to be commended for their successful advocacy.
Indeed, I have asked David Gilbert, Director of our Office of Governmental
Relations, to make increased funding for faculty lines his top campus-wide
priority in the coming year. We must continue the net increase in the ranks
of our tenure-track faculty which we enjoyed during this past year.
And what better time
to ask you all to join me in extending a warm welcome to the 49......yes,
49 new members of the teaching faculty, many of whom are here today, and
all of whom are listed in the handouts you received at the door.
I ask our new colleagues
to rise and receive the welcome of the University at Albany community.
The continuing recruitment
of such exceptional new colleagues is my top priority for the coming year.
While the ultimate level of recruitment possible clearly must await clarification
on our overall state appropriation, delaying faculty searches until the
end of next month could impact negatively on their success. Therefore,
I have asked Provost Genshaft to work with the Deans to commence the recruitment
process immediately...subject, as always, to the availability of funds.
Clearly, we are facing
a number of budgetary unknowns, including shortfalls in the budget allocated
to SUNY to meet inflation, revenue challenges at the SUNY hospitals and,
perhaps most important, the degree to which SUNY System Administration
will implement their new budget process, an allocation methodology which
is extremely positive for our University.
But, it is also clear
that if we continue to be both aggressive and inventive as we strive, together,
to achieve our institutional goals, we can be successful in expanding our
fiscal resources. Indeed, in keeping with Goal 6 of our Strategic Plan,
considerable additional sources of revenue have been tapped over the past
year to enable us to move forward in ways commensurate with our mission
as a major research university.
The list is both impressive
and extensive and has been prepared as a handout. The support and advocacy
of the Governor and Legislature, Senate Majority Leader Bruno, Assembly
Speaker Silver, as well as our Capital Region Delegation...in particular,
our own Senator Farley...have been pivotal, and we are deeply grateful.
But, clearly, the support
of the State for these special initiatives derives from one simple fact...the
quality of your programs of teaching, research, and service.
For instance, major
advances in our programs in the sciences such as advanced materials, genomics,
andenvironmental studies have positioned us well to compete successfully
for additional capital and operating funds — including faculty lines —
from the newly-enacted Jobs 2000 for New York State Act. Spearheaded by
Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, and emphasizing the support of university-based,
high technology research, this new state-wide program will be administered
by a new New York Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research —
I am also delighted
to announce that with the leadership of the Governor and Senator Bruno,
and the support of Speaker Silver, the Legislature has committed funding
for our $5 million initiative to develop further the facilities on our
East Campus — particularly the expansion of our highly successful business
incubator and support for our new Center for Functional Genomics — a Center
which has recently been named a finalist for a $5 million NIH regional
And, while details are
still being worked out, we have just learned that we most likely will be
receiving major additional state support for our planned addition to CESTM,
an expansion of our infrastructure which will increase the research opportunities
for our scientists and students in inestimable ways by creating a facility
unique in this country...indeed, in the world.
Each of these special
initiatives reflects our success in conveying to New York's governmental
leaders the importance of our faculty's research and scholarship to the
economic vitality and the quality of life in our State. And, though many
are science and technology-based reflecting the priorities of the Legislature
and Governor, the funding derived will enable us to utilize our base state
operating monies in more flexible ways across our entire university.
Another important announcement:
We have met — in fact, exceeded — our Annual Fund Goal of $2M; indeed,
overall private and corporate giving has increased in a major way, exceeding
last year's record by some 40%.
Whether in the professions
or the humanities and arts, social sciences and natural sciences, whether
in research-based programs such as Sharon Dawes' major NSF Grant to the
Center for Technology in Government, or education-based programs such as
Dr. Carson Carr's recent Ronald E. McNair grant to cultivate and encourage
undergraduate students from under-represented groups in the sciences to
pursue the Ph.D. degree, you have been both inventive and aggressive in
obtaining additional support from federal, state, corporate and private
During the coming year,
we need to build on that success...through reflective planning and aggressive
action, all in the context of our Strategic Goals.
While Strategic Plans
are, of necessity, living documents which will be changed and modified
over time, a critical task for the coming year will be to complete the
review of the strategic initiatives submitted by the various Colleges,
Schools and Divisions of the University. These unit-specific plans will
form the basis for resource allocation decisions in this and the coming
years in order that we can achieve our institutional Goals; the input and
counsel of the University's Resources and Priorities Advisory Committee
will be crucial to the process.
Further, we will, along
with the other campuses in the SUNY System, complete the Mission Review
process begun last year at the direction of the SUNY Trustees. This process
provides the opportunity to communicate our collective vision for this
institution's future to System Administration. It will be one of my top
priorities for the coming year.
In like vein, a successful
Middle State's Accreditation Review is essential. As you know, the Self-Study
required for this process has been underway for a year under the leadership
of Professor Sue Faerman. I ask you to give her your fullest cooperation
as we engage in this time of self-examination and analysis.
As I mentioned this
past Spring, the Middle States' Review team will be on campus March 26-29,
2000. Let's, together, make this the best accreditation review we've ever
Our institutional goals
for this next year must also include a continuing emphasis on recruitment
and retention of students, and we must focus our recruitment...and resources...on
students of great promise and excellence. We have, together, committed
ourselves to the goal of increased selectivity in our student admissions,
both undergraduate and graduate. I urge the faculty to consider this as
you develop your strategies for graduate student recruitment...these strategies
must involve every member of your departments and be proactive, innovative
and nationally-based in keeping with the national stature of your academic
Stipend levels, of course,
are key...and even as we continue our advocacy with SUNY and the Legislature
for competitive graduate student stipend levels, we need your assistance
in identifying and working with potential donors of endowed fellowships
and aggressively seeking additional federal funding for student support.
The current, relatively low percentage of out-of-state U.S. citizens in
our graduate programs is simply not reflective of the quality of these
programs. We must, together, find ways to attract a larger percentage of
the national pool of graduate applicants.
In terms of undergraduates,
the staff of our Admissions Office will need the full involvement of each
and every one of us...in academic and non-academic units alike...as they
seek to attract a cohort of students which is not only increasingly talented,
but also more geographically diverse, in keeping with our Strategic Plan.
While the current incoming
class has 20% more out-of-state students, and 12% more international students
than last year, we have much more to do if we are to achieve our goal of
a truly diverse student body. Currently, our percentage of out-of-state
undergraduates is only 5.0%, including our international students.
Provost Genshaft, and
Vice Presidents Doellefeld, D'Elia, Stec and Ashton have all developed
plans for the coming year which will move us toward these goals. From enhanced
student services and facilities, to an enriched residential life, to increased
instructional technologies, to greatly improved campus safety, to our first
year of Division I sports...our various units have developed a number of
strategic initiatives to enhance the attractiveness and competitiveness
of our University.
But, without the involvement
of each of you...the faculty...we can not hope to succeed. Every survey
I have seen, at both national and state levels, indicates that the key
reason for student selection of a particular university, and their subsequent
satisfaction with that university, is the quality of interaction with the
faculty...both within and outside the classroom.
We will do everything
we can to make the environment for that interaction a positive one...to
increase your ranks in order to decrease class size, to continue to modernize,
refurbish and expand our classrooms, laboratories, studios and study spaces,
to develop creative living/learning environments, to simplify our procedures
and enhance student services, to seek additional funding to support innovative
curricula, to identify additional resources to provide the scholarships
and fellowships necessary to attract the best students.
But, in the end, it
will be the rigor of your courses, your mentoring, your involvement with
freshmen in lower division courses, your independent study and Honors courses,
your presence at the many ceremonies which celebrate our students' achievements
here at Albany...indeed, your personal engagement with each and every one
of your students, that will be the measure of us. We must communicate your
commitment to our applicants, and make manifest that commitment throughout
each student's tenure here at Albany.
These, and all the various
initiatives we must develop and implement to achieve the Goals set forth
in our Strategic Plan will, indeed, involve every member of our University
family — we each have a responsibility and a role to play.
As I said at the outset,
a rich and vibrant context has been created for the challenges we have
before us. Simply put, the current "State of the University" is one in
which we should all take great pride:
Courses, degree programs
and pedagogical approaches are constantly being refined and developed to
help prepare a quality student body for a complex global society.
programs of research and scholarship exist across many areas of inquiry
which enrich our environment for learning and advance knowledge in fundamental
are present throughout the University of our institution's commitment to
its core value of societal responsibility...from the reflective application
of new discoveries to practice in the professions; to programs of instruction
aimed at the non-traditional, adult learner; to interdisciplinary approaches
to the seemingly intractable social and economic problems facing our society;
to mutually beneficial public-private partnerships which advance the reach
of our research and enrich the economic vitality of our region and State;
to programs in the creative and expressive arts which enable us to reach
beyond our boundaries to nourish our culture, deepen our insight and elevate
And, finally, there
is a greatly enhanced financial investment in our institution...from new
state and federal sources to expand our infrastructure for teaching and
research, to constantly increasing financial support from our alumni and
This is the current
“State of our University” and, yes, we should take pride in these accomplishments.
However, when I accepted
the Strategic Plan for the University a year ago, I, along with each of
you, made a commitment to a vision for the future of this University which,
once realized, will represent the next stage of transformation of this
exceptional institution of higher learning. If we are to be successful,
we each must be as personally involved and as bold as were our predecessors
as they transformed our institution from Normal School to College for Teachers
to Research University. As I said in my Inaugural Address, “This is not...the
time for incremental change...for marginal tinkering. We must be bold as
we, together, envision the future of higher education and, in particular,
the future of the University at Albany.”
Let me emphasize the
word “together” The over-arching goal we have set to move the University
into the top ranks of our nation's universities will be impossible to achieve
without the commitment and full participation of each and every member
of the University community.
When I assumed the Presidency
of this great university, I stressed that we needed to go beyond an institutional
culture which emphasizes only individual and disciplinary excellence. In
and of itself, this focus on the individual and the discipline is admirable;
it has enabled institutions of higher education in this country to move
forward as centers of educational and research excellence. However, I would
submit, that it is only when each of us also makes a larger commitment
to the institution as a whole that true transformation is possible. As
each of us takes responsibility for the University at Albany in its entirety,
as each of us takes ownership of our shared institution-wide goals, we
will create a University in which we can all take pride. Indeed, such individual
engagement with the whole of the enterprise will create a synergy which
will support both individual goals as well as our shared institutional
While it is certainly
true that the professionalization of the academy and the reward structures
we have established have often led to deeper ties to one's guild... or
discipline...than to one's institution and its teaching function, I would
submit that these loyalties need not be mutually exclusive. In fact, as
a number of our departments have learned, national recognition of disciplinary
excellence is often tightly coupled to the perceptions of a university
as an organic whole across all of its missions.
Here at Albany there
are many faculty and staff who are deeply engaged in the whole of our institution,
who reflect the deep commitment to our students I spoke of earlier, and
who epitomize the societal responsibility at the core of our mission. We
not only can learn from them, but we must also create additional opportunities
for all to feel just as committed to our University.
Provost Genshaft and
Vice Presidents Stec and D'Elia are developing new orientation opportunities
to introduce our new faculty and staff to the University at Albany, its
excellent and varied programs, and the rich institutional legacy of which
we are all stewards, and in which we should all take pride.
Further, I will soon
be meeting with the Deans and Vice Presidents to discuss ways in which
we can reshape our allocation process and reward structures to make more
explicit the necessity for each College, School and Division to address
and to meet institution-wide goals. And, in partnership with the University
Senate, we will begin a campus-wide dialogue on the role departments can
play in engaging all of their members in meeting not just individual but
also institution-wide goals. Departmental...as well as individual...accountability
may well represent the paradigm for change that will allow us to move beyond
simply incremental improvement to true institutional transformation.
In addition, our professional
staff will continue a critical analysis of the various service units here
at Albany. We will establish quality circles involving both staff and users
of these services toward the end of decreased bureaucracy and an enhanced...and
simplified...environment for learning.
And, as we strive to
engage each and every member of our community in moving our University
forward, you should expect no less of the administrative and academic leadership...your
President, Vice Presidents, Deans and Department Chairs.
We will support each
faculty member who devises innovative ways to attract exceptional graduate
students, or to engage their students, or to increase their unit's research
productivity; we will support each professional staff member who creates
innovative approaches to enhance campus safety, or increase the recruitment
of exceptional undergraduates, or improve the quality of student services;
we will support each member of the staff who commits to helping to create
an environment in which we all can flourish....who beautifies our grounds,
or maintains and improves our facilities, or prepares our classrooms.
All who are charged
with administrative responsibility here at Albany are dedicated to providing
such support...dedicated to fostering innovation, creativity and institutional
As you know, this fall
we are welcoming a number of excellent new academic leaders.
Richard A. Highfield
joins us from Cornell to take the helm of our School of Business. Welcome,
And, Dennis P. Rosenbaum joins
us from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and assumes the leadership
of our School of Criminal Justice. Welcome, Dennis.
And, while she will not assume
her post as the new Dean of Social Welfare till January, 2000, we also
welcome Katharine H. Briar-Lawson, from the University of Utah.
And, of course, our
own Sue Faerman, our wonderful new Dean of Undergraduate Studies. Congratulations,
Each of these new Deans
brings extraordinary talent to the role, as well as a commitment to serve
our entire community as we move forward.
Please join me in welcoming
I would also like to acknowledge with deep thanks
our department chairs, both those who completed their terms during the
past academic year and those who will be serving during the 1999–2000 academic
year. Service as a Chair is a demanding responsibility and I am deeply
grateful to all our colleagues who have assumed this critical position
The names of all these
academic chairs have been provided on a handout, and I ask you all to rise
to accept our thanks.
All of our academic
and administrative leaders have accepted the responsibility to support
the initiatives of the faculty and staff. And, even as they pledge such
support, each and every member of the University community must individually
renew their commitment to the University at Albany. Just as the initial
formulation of the concept of tenure by the American Association of University
Professors described a mutuality of obligation between institution and
faculty member, so must we all recognize...faculty, staff, administrators
and students...that the future of the University at Albany will depend
on the degree of connectedness we all feel...the willingness of each of
us to accept responsibility for the totality of the environment in which
we work and learn.
A recognition of this
mutuality of obligation across all the many parts of our University will,
I am convinced, be necessary if we are to move from incremental change
to true transformation.
And don't we, after
all, owe an allegiance to this fine institution which has been the environment
for so much of our own personal growth and accomplishment? And should we
not take overt pride in all we have contributed to enriching the legacy
of this, our University? As we look forward, together, to the next chapter
in the evolution of this remarkable community of scholars, let such loyalty
and pride motivate us to even greater levels of achievement.
Thank you very much.