Sandor Schuman

2001 Highlights

 

Projects

Batchellerville Bridge

Roster of Transportation Mediators and Facilitators

New York State e-Grants Project

State Aid Work Group

Extreme Event Decision Making

Friends of the NYS Library

Board of Rabbis

Workplace Conflict Management

Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Transportation Research

Center for Domestic Preparedness

Information Science

Korean Executive Program

New York State Office for the Aging

Professional Activities

Ethics and Values Think Tank

Electronic Discussion on Group Facilitation (Grp-Facl)

Group Facilitation: A Research and Applications Journal

Colleagues

Projects

Batchellerville Bridge

The Batchellerville Bridge over Great Sacandaga Lake is one of the longest bridges in New York State.  Built in 1930, the bridge has deteriorated and must be replaced within the next few years.  Closure of the bridge would require a detour around the lake of more than 25 miles.  Six alternatives were considered; four were dismissed based on engineering and cost criteria.  In considering the remaining two, a number of issues became controversial, such as the effects on nearby property owners, wetlands, town park, and beach access; traffic safety; noise and light pollution; water quality impacts of construction and winter ice control; and visual impact of the bridge on the views of the lake and the surrounding Adirondacks.

A citizen Advisory Group was convened by DOT of 13 members with the following perspectives:  residential property owners that would be affected by a southern location for the replacement bridge; residential property owners that would be affected by a northern location for the replacement bridge; retail business in proximity of the bridge; commercial business that uses the bridge; users of the town park adjacent to the bridge; pedestrians and bicyclists; marinas; sailboat owners; seasonal residents; year-round residents. The Advisory Group held a series of six meetings focusing on the two most controversial issues:  location and height.  They established 15 criteria pertaining to location and 36 pertaining to height and systematically collected information -- with the help of the governmental resource agencies -- and evaluated it.  The group reached consensus on location, but not on height.

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Roster of Transportation Mediators and Facilitators

The US Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution (IECR), in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration, created the Roster of Transportation Mediators and Facilitators to support coordinated environmental review of Federal highway and transit projects.  Sandy Schuman was qualified and placed on the roster.  He continues to be listed in IECRs National Roster of Environmental Conflict Resolution and Consensus Building Professionals. 

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New York State e-Grants Project

New York State relies heavily on not-for-profit organizations and local governments to provide many critical services to its citizens and communities.  Current grant making processes for these services are decentralized; application procedures vary from one sponsoring agency to the next and there is no single source for Grant Seekers to learn of grant opportunities.  Grant solicitation, application and award processes are labor intensive and paper-based, usually requiring numerous and sometimes complex forms containing redundant information. 

It is the mission of the New York State e-Grants Project, a project sponsored jointly between the Office of the State Comptroller and the Office for Technology, to automate some of these key grant making processes.  The Business Process Analysis phase of the e-Grants Project relied on the participation of many end-users and stakeholders from not-for-profit organizations, municipalities, and state agencies in a series of facilitated work sessions.  These sessions were held to analyze current grant making processes and develop recommendations for improving those processes.  The recommendations developed comprise the Future State Vision for the New York State e-Grants System.

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State Aid Work Group

$15.5 billion in state aid is distributed annually to local school districts using formulas that are complex and controversial.  To move towards creating a simpler and more equitable system this State Aid Work Group Retreat was convened.  The group brainstormed 50 goals of an ideal system and explored the relationships among the goals and how they might be accomplished. 

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Extreme Event Decision Making

Extreme events -- earthquakes, storms, terrorist attacks, etc. -- have received a great deal of attention by scholars in the relevant domains of expertise, e.g., seismologists, meteorologists, terrorism experts.  However, these experts have identified decision making as an activity that is central to coping with extreme events.  The Extreme Event Decision Making workshop was convened at the National Science Foundation Headquarters to develop recommendations for research topics in extreme event decision making and to develop a research strategy for extreme events decision research. 

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Friends of the NYS Library

In a series of strategic planning meetings, the Governing Board of the Friends of the NYS Library explored its relationship with other "Friends of the Library" organizations throughout the state.  They explored the unique aspects of the New York State Library, and the unique characteristics of the "Friends" organization.  They developed new statements of purpose for their membership literature, agreed to create a new exhibit, and developed a strategy for building partnerships with other Friends organizations to strengthen advocacy for libraries.

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Board of Rabbis

Welcoming the new director of the regional Jewish Federation, the Capital District Board of Rabbis joined with Federation leadership to explore and examine their interests and concerns regarding the future of the Jewish community.  They organized issues into seven major themes: Strengthening Jewish education community wide; Outreach and inreach: reaching those not easily involved; Shalom Bait (Peace in the House); Process; Community Life; Out of Town or K'lal Yisrael; and Financial.

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Workplace Conflict Management

Workplace conflict management is a growing area of activity.  We developed and delivered a new course on workplace conflict management systems and mediated workplace disputes.  For example, the resolution of one workplace dispute hinged on a shared understanding of the distinctions between (a) an approved/ scheduled absence, (b) an approved/unscheduled absence, and (c) excessive use of unscheduled absences.  Another workplace dispute involved an employee who felt his supervisor was treating him disrespectfully.  Both individuals were conscientious and sincere and left the mediation amicably. 

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Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Growth in staff and resources at the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning created the need to establish a shared understanding of its mission and priorities.  While different staff had different interests and priorities, they held a full-day meeting to agree on priorities and tradeoffs.

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Transportation Research

Researchers from various departments at the University at Albany joined together with researchers from the University's Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research to identify issues and opportunities for collaborative research.

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Center for Domestic Preparedness

Representatives of state and county health departments and research laboratories came together at the University at Albany to assess New York State's capabilities and gaps regarding the ability to respond to public health threats that might be brought on by terrorist attacks. 

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Information Science

What is the intellectual core of information science?  The faculty of the Information Science PhD Program at the University at Albany met to create an intellectual map of this multidisciplinary field.  Faculty members wrote key topics and issues on 5x8 cards and placed them on a  "sticky wall," then rearranged them into clusters and named the clusters.

This intellectual map was one of several sources that were brought to bear at a subsequent daylong retreat to build recommendations for what the Provost's Advisory Committee had come to refer to as the university's information science enterprise.  The committee developed recommendations for combining academic departments, fostering multidisciplinary work, and creating an entrepreneurial academic and research environment.

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Korean Executive Program

This summer saw two groups of Korean government executives spending a total of four weeks with us to learn about government and information policy issues and practices in New York State.  Topics ranged from systems thinking and strategic planning to the application of information technology to support executive decision making.

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New York State Office for the Aging

The NY State Office for the Aging implemented a variety of strategic information efforts such as:

IT Strategic Planning -Initiating an agency-wide IT strategic planning process to examine the infrastructure needs and overall support for agency priorities;

Electronic Communications - Exploring the use of various information technologies -- such as email discussion groups, teleconferencing, web casting -- to enhance communications between the state and local agencies;

Technical Support Systems - Enhancing technical support to enable local governments to comply with new federal reporting requirements;

IT Innovations - Investigating options for a web-integrated Call Center, network performance monitoring, web content management, help desk staffing, software testing, and e‑Government applications.

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Professional Activities

Ethics and Values Think Tank

The International Association of Facilitators (IAF) Ethics and Values Think Tank produced a draft Statement of Values and Code of Ethics for Group Facilitators which will be finalized at the upcoming IAF Conference.  For current discussion on this topic visit the ongoing electronic discussion.

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Electronic Discussion on Group Facilitation (Grp-Facl)

The Electronic Discussion on Group Facilitation continues to provide stimulating discussion on diverse topics such as Stereotypes, Silence, Sacrilege and Talking-Sticks, and Consensus vs. Voting.  During 2001 the group averaged 895 subscribers in 30 countries with six posts per day.  To subscribe or search the archives visit the Grp-Facl website.

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Group Facilitation:
A Research and Applications Journal

This annual journal published by the International Association of Facilitators will shift to web publication in 2002 with the publication of Issue Number 4.  Abstracts of articles, submission guidelines, and additional information is available at the Group Facilitation Journal website.

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Colleagues

Special thanks to our colleagues who worked on the above projects: 

Tom Birkland, Peter Bloniarz, Ellen Brown, Bob Bush, Ik Jae Chung, Deborah Cunningham, Sharon Dawes, Chris D'Elia, Dino DeSorbo, Brian Doubleday, Philip Eppard, Marcus Harazin, George Hodges, Audrey Hoffman, Dale Hunter, Jeryl Mumpower, Tony Nash, Dan Ornstein, Zeb Robbins, John Rohrbaugh, Nancy Schultz, Roger Schwarz, Geri Stewart, Tom Stewart, Diane Taylor, Steve Walter, and Jo Ann Weatherwax.

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