President Thomas J. Schwarz – Commencement Address, 2011
Welcome to the new Academic Year. For those –new faculty and staff who are joining us this year, this is my tenth (10th) convocation. Each year I try to look back and look forward to remind us how far we have come over those years and how far we have to go. [Welcome Barbara Dixon ]
This year I want to set three overriding goals that come out of our strategic plan. The Middle States Draft, which you should all read and comment on, has done a lot of that for us. I want to thank Ronnie Halpern, Judy Nolan, Barbara Moore, Bill Baskin, the Steering Committee and the entire MS working group members for all their time and effort. I commend you for the work and the process, and I am sure that when the drafts are done, we will have a self-study that will point out—as it should—our strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvements. I invite all to the town hall meetings that will take place next Wednesday. These meetings will be an opportunity to discuss the self-study on a community wide basis. The evaluation process begins in November and the site visit by the Evaluation Team is scheduled for March.
I believe this institution has turned the corner toward the goal that I set forth in 2003 of being the best public arts and liberal arts institution in the country. We all should be aware of the rise in retention and graduate achievements. We are all responsible and each individual student is our charge—what I believe to be a trust—entrusted to us to assist in his or her success.
With the changes we have made and renewed focus on their success, I believe it is both reasonable and attainable to work together to insure that at least 60% of those students who just entered in our class of 2015 will graduate on time within four years.
So that is the first goal. And all sector unit plans should be calibrated so we are all pulling in that direction. As the Middle States draft points out, the alignment of student affairs and enrollment under the Provost has made a significant difference in our student success. But that alignment is not perfect and we still have work to do. I am sure Provost Dixon with her expertise, insight and my support will continue that re-alignment.
Our 26 new faculty, which include 18 replacements for retirements and 8 additions to our ranks, will play a key role in the goal of 60%.
Our new faculty have adopted this sense of responsibility towards student success and as we continue to hire, we assume that focus will continue. But I want to make it clear—we are not talking about reducing the quality or difficulty of our curricula, but must insure that the 8 semester plans are not just paper plans and we can not provide Master programs in the guise of BFAs or BAs.
I am advised that if only 77 more students hadgraduated within four years last Commencement, our number would have gone from approximately 52% to 60%. And don't forget, just a few years ago our numbers were in the 30s and 40s. And, when I stated here in 2002, apparently 27% of the class that started in 1998 graduated. So this, what I will call "UBER GOAL No. 1" of 60%, is double if we all appreciate that each individual student is a candidate to be one of those 77.
Let me just briefly tell you who this class of 2015 is:• 35 states• 12 foreign countries• Average SAT: 1110• High School GPA: 3.3
29 of our students have a parent who graduated from Purchase. They were accepted under the same standards. We are also enrolling children and grandchildren of faculty.
We remain in the Princeton Review of Best Colleges; in the Sierra Club's top 100 "coolest schools" in their ranking of green colleges/universities; and we continue to climb in that hated US News ranking system. We are housing a record number of these students on campus. Our focus on high impact activities like internships continues to expand. We are increasing our number of faculty-led student programs, including by Jan Factor to Honduras; Rachelle Hallotte to Israel; Susan Ironbiter and Majorie Miller to Tibet; and Veronica Perera to Argentina. I commend these faculty and encourage all faculty to develop such programs with the Provost. These are "high impact" programs that will show clear impacts on learning and graduation We are increasing our exchange programs and have new programs in Spain, Denmark, London, Beijing, and Hong Kong—mostly in the arts—but I encourage similar efforts in the LAS.
The Student Learning and Success Committee with support from PSGA and PCA awarded over 20 student engagement grants to faculty and staff. The Learning Center meets the needs of an ever increasing number of students. And we are continuing to emphasize health and wellness activities including at Culture Shock which I never thought would happen.
Purchase is now a member of National Society ofLeadership and Success, thanks to the efforts of RebeccaSnyder-Halligan and Mitchell Resk. National Society ofLeadership and Success (NSLS) serves as a powerful force ofmotivation which encourages and develops students intoleaders who create lasting positive change.Our students' use of the gym facilities and creditcourses there have outgrown our facilities. Intramural useand athletics have continued to be more popular and ourmen's and women's swim teams and men's basketball teamswon their conferences.
Our Career Counseling Office—so important in thesetimes—continues to serve even more students and alumniand received acknowledgement for best practices ininternships, another high impact activity.
I would like to see even more attention paid toincreasing internships in the next few years. Not only areinternships a cause of increased grad rates but more and moreemployment opportunities after college flow directly frominternship experiences during college. We owe it to ourstudents to prove that opportunities are available.
The Career Counseling office should be recognized asproviding a significant benefit to our students and playing itsrole in our increasing grad rates. All of our high impactactivities have added to our students success.In addition to our new Provost and new faculty, wealso are pleased to welcome our first two Doctoral DiversityFellows who will spend their first semester in residence andteach in the spring semester.
We have new programs:• BA in theatre and performance• BA in Latin American studies• BA program in playwriting and screenwriting
And a revised undergraduate core curriculum whichconforms with the best practices in assessment andaccreditation. I commend the faculty for their hard work overthe last few years in bringing this program forward.We have received many awards and grants over theyear but I want to mention a few:
The College's Baccalaureate and Beyond CommunityCollege Mentoring Program, founded and directed byProfessor Joseph Skrivanek, was one of the four organizationshonored at a White House ceremony last January. Awardeesreceive $10,000 awards from the National Science Foundation,which administers the awards on behalf of the White House,to advance their mentoring efforts.
The National Science Foundation awarded theCollege a five-year Science, Technology, Engineering andMathematics Scholarship grant of almost $600,000. Acrossthe five-year period, the S-Stem Program will provide 159Scholarships to academically talented and financially needystudents in biochemistry, biology, chemistry, andmathematics/computer science.
The National Science Foundation also awarded a$378,489 grant to the College to upgrade its molecular and cellular biology lab. This will be the first upgrade of the labsince 1976, when the Natural Sciences Building opened.In addition to a $6,765 award for student internships,the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded$5,000 to the School of Film and Media Studies to mount aseries of screenings, seminars, and workshops between nowand next April. This series will bring rising independentfilmmakers to Purchase to present their work and to speak toour students about contemporary issues in the industry.
And finally I want to point out our new PassageGallery: The Passage Gallery – an exhibition venue locatedacross from the Performing Arts Center main entrance,debuted in May with an inaugural exhibition of work by newmedia students. The gallery provides a professional-quality,high-visibility showcase for interdisciplinary student work; aworking laboratory for our arts management students; and aninviting new space for pre-or post-show activities for PACpatrons. The working team that made this possible includedfaculty and students in arts management and graphic design,and staff in Campus Technology Services, the PAC and theNeuberger Museum.
Next, I want to focus on our advancement efforts.We lead all SUNY colleges and often at least one of theUniversity Centers in raising money. For the first time thecontinued endowment of the college, museum and PAC isover $50 million. But we need to do more. We need torefocus our efforts. So the second UBER GOAL is to raiseannual fundraising to $6 million – about a 20% increase. Witha new team, I believe this number is also attainable.On that subject, I want to welcome Jeannine Starras Associate VP for Institutional Advancement. Jeanninebrings over 20 years of experience in raising funds andmanaging non-profit organizations, most recently at theUniversity of Central Florida where she led a $65 millioncampaign to build a new performing arts center. Jeannine hasalready made a very positive and welcoming impression onfaculty and staff. I want to thank Lisbeth Wesley Furke foroverseeing development during the interim. Sponsoredresearch will now be housed in its more traditional home—The Provost's Office.
In addition to raising money directly, I believe apublic institution has to be entrepreneurial. As you know, wealready lease space to NYU's business school and LIU and Ihave every understanding that these relationships willcontinue into the future.
The Governor's approval of the Senior LearningCommunity will also generate significant support forscholarships and faculty. It took 8 years to get it passed. But Ibelieve it will ultimately benefit our community in multipleways, at the very least through lease income andphilanthropy from the members of the new community. Inthat connection, I want to thank Professor Nancy Zook forwork she did as well as former Dean Laura Kaminsky and DeanSuzanne Kessler. All of their work demonstrated theacademic potential and was important in convincing thelegislature.
The PCA Park 2 Fly venture is another great exampleof entrepreneurial activity. Although it is a little early to startcounting our profits, I think it is fair to say it is already asuccess and will lead to another source of income. And, wehave also received a federal grant for two charging stationsfor electric cars which will be completed shortly. Thanks go toBill Guerrero and his students and Joe Tripodi for developingand implementing these plans.
All this is important because we must accept the factthat state support will likely continue to decline as apercentage of overall support. The legislation passed lastspring that authorized up to a $300/year increase in tuition isa welcome and intelligent planning opportunity but, eventhough there is a "maintenance of effort" provision intendedto cover inflationary increases, the legislation proves beyondany doubt that the percentage of our support coming fromstudents will continue to increase, thereby making fundraisingand other efforts for scholarships even more important.So again, the second UBER GOAL is to raise annualgiving to $6 million per year.
Now, let's turn to Finances. I think we are in goodshape, even though we still need to cut more than $1millionfrom this year's budget. But we had projected the need to cut$2.5million before the tuition increase. Our reserves, as youknow, brought us through the economic crises andwe arebeginning to see some light.
On August 5th 2011, CSEA ratified their new 5 yearcontract. According to the Governor, "…a win for the unionand a win for the people of the State." The contract includes,but is not limited to, a "no increase" agreement from 2011through 2013 and then a 2% increase for each of the followingtwo years. We know that UUP negotiations have begun. Nomatter what the outcome, we have and will continue tosupport and protect the livelihood of all of our faculty andstaff.
Evergreen Solutions came to campus on June 14th, tomeet with the Officers. He presented his findings form theStaff Position Description Review and Compensation Analysiswhich the campus commenced in Fall 2008. Dr. Ling willreturn this Fall to present his findingsto campus. I have also asked Judy Nolan and Kathleen Farrellto work with John Delate and Eric Wildrick to discuss and planfor the presentation.
In the presentation to Cabinet it was clear that allthings considered we are in a fair and cooperative place withcompensation. In the last 2 years there were increases of 3and 4% respectively. This was at a time when manyorganizations were laying people off, not giving any, or givingvery small increases. A question was raised as to whetherthere were mismatched positions and grade levels on anindividualized basis. Evergreen Solutions agreed to reviewfurther and we will review and correct these situations on anindividualized basis.
We will soon undertake a new Sirota like survey. Sirotarecommended that we do such surveys every few years and Ithink the time is now ripe.
Purchase College continues to be a leader in the NYS'sMinority and Women owned Business Enterprise Program.The States' program establishes employment andparticipation goals for minorities and women in statecontracts. In Fiscal Year 2010-2011, 18% of Purchase'scontract payments were made in accordance with thisprogram- exceeding the statewide average of 6% as well asSUNY's annual goal of 14%. Nik Lentner is to be commendedfor his efforts in leading our commitment there.Capital Planning and Facilities
Chris Gavlick, Director of Capital Planning, has agreed to weara dual hat and to serve as Interim Director of Facilities andOperations. Chris has been hard at work on many initiativesand is doing a fantastic job.
1. Mall Reconstruction:Phase3 of the planned 4 Phases of the Plaza Rehab is inconstruction. The contractor began this phase in early Marchand is scheduled to complete this phase in October 2011. Thecontractor completed the installation of new waterproofing,drainage, and planter walls this summer. The ongoing workincludes the installation of the new pavement, curbs,landscape and lighting for the area between the Neubergerand Performing Arts Center. The work under the arcade fromthe Museum to Visual Arts will be done in the next few weeks.
Beginning in October the contractor will shift to the North sideof the Performing Arts Center to complete the final phase ofthe project. Final completion is scheduled by August 2012.I think it has made a huge difference to the campus andalthough I am sure some miss the brick, the comments I havereceived from students, faculty, and staff are overwhelminglypositive. We are also working on the plans for the accessbetween the buildings – what I call the fingers- and that toowill be renovated.
2.The work of installing the new HVAC ice making chillers wascompleted this summer and has been up and running sinceAugust 18th. This is one of our first major energy conservationprojects. By running the chillers at night to produce the iceneeded for chilled water during the day we can significantlyreduce our energy consumption and reduce our output ofgreenhouse gases. Our projected annual savings isapproximately $300,000.00 - The upgrade to CampusElectrical System is ongoing and we anticipate that work to becompleted by the Spring of 2012. We estimate an additional$100,000 in annual energy savings. This summer the Collegecompleted the installation of electrical demand sub meters inall buildings. For the first time, these new meters will enableus to track the actual electrical usage by building. Thisinformation will be used to manage the energy use in ourfacilities. Meters will be linked with campus energymanagement systems and campus electrical demand will beremotely monitored and controlled by facilities personneldepending on the needs of each building.
3.Humanities RenovationsThe project is currently in the final stages of design. Theconsultant is continuing with the detail design which is nowfocusing on furnishes and technology equipment for the newspaces. When the project is completed it will be our firstLEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)Certified Building. The College is pursuing with theconsultants a Silver rating from the US Green Building Counsel.
The Center for Integrated Technology Learning will be anew location for the Schools of Theatre Arts, Film and Media,and the Arts Management program. It will also includeexhibition, performance and instructional needs of theNeuberger Museum and the Performing Arts Center as well asother interdisciplinary campus programs.It will be located in the center of the campus, between thePerforming Arts Center and the Library, and will have a newentry off W-1, which creates a central arrival location to thecampus, including PAC and the Neuberger Museum. Muchmore will be publicly discussed as we move forward.
5.Residence FacilitiesThere are a total of 92 apartments in the Olde. Afterdetermining that the buildings were structurally sound, wedetermined to renew them over a long term rather than buildnew facilities. This allowed us to shift resources elsewhere.In Summer 2010 we renovated 8 apartments, in Summer 2011we renovated 13 apartments, 71 apartments remain and willbe renovated as part of the overall long-term renovation plan.We are also continuing to do maintenance work, includingnew windows in al l the original dorm buildings. All of thesephysical improvements have an enormous impact on studentsatisfaction and graduation.
Finally, I want to come back to the Middle Statesdraft. The draft points out, properly, in my view that we needto do more in the area of Institutional Effectiveness andAssessment. We do a lot in Academic Affairs and StudentAffairs to assess student learning and outcomes. In theindividual other sectors we also do a lot through the use ofoutside consultants.
But, as the Middle States draft makes clear, we needto have one person or group responsible to the Campuscoordinate all of our efforts and see to it that in this area aswell we are at the top in institutional effectiveness. I willappoint such a person or group in the fall semester after athorough investigation of best practices, and afterconsultation with Cabinet and the Steering Committee andthe MS working committees.
In that connection, last year at this time I asked thatwe revise our governance. Although at first there wasenormous—and fairly surprising—resistance from the faculty,at the end of the year the Senate passed a resolution toreview our governance and I hope that work will proceedpromptly, including analyzing the best practices in this area.The issue of governance should not be about faculty power oradministrative power. It should be about institutionaleffectiveness, including cutting down the waste of time onmultiple committees that detract from our ability to focus onour primary responsibilities. I hope we can proceed toanalyze the issue in that spirit.
So the third UBER GOAL is to focus on institutionaleffectiveness and assessment including the appointment ofthe appropriate person or persons in this area and to insurethat as we move forward, all of our constituent parts areoperating in accordance with the highest standards ofeffectiveness.
So, consistent with the Strategic Plan these are the3 major goals:1. 60% grad rate for the class of 20152. $6 million a year in fundraising3. Place institutional effectiveness and assessmentat the top of our agenda
And as I mentioned last year at Convocation, we will do all ofthis in a Culture of Collaboration, where we all help eachother to accomplish our goals and purposes.Now – let me turn to our awards, tenure andpromotions, after which I invite you to lunch and thank you tothe Purchase College Association and the Purchase CollegeAffiliates for sponsoring it.