The Changing Environment- Higher education is facing some significant financial and demographic issues. Although
these vary across the country, it’s clear that in the Northeast, the competition for
students and the need to add programs that will attract students is especially acute.
The trend is now spreading to regional public colleges across the country. As a Chronicle of Higher Education article recently noted “Overwhelmingly, regional public colleges saw drops in full-time
enrollment—nearly three out of four institutions experienced declines from the fall
of 2019 to the fall of 2020.” Farmingdale is not immune from that trend. After multiple
successive years of enrollment growth, we established a more conservative target for
Fall 2021 and we fell just short of that goal. Our Fall ’21 headcount total of 9,348
was 99.4% of target and 670 fewer students than a year ago. (That coverts to well
more than $5 million less in revenue.) The composition of our student body is also
shifting. As projected, we have now become a majority minority college with 50.6%
of students identifying with a racial or ethnic minority. At the same time, we attained
that status, in part, due to a decline in the number of white non-Hispanic students,
the number of those students fell by 13% in a single year. Hispanic students now make
up over one-quarter of our student population (25.6%). The percentage of male students
increased from 58% in 2020 to 59% in 2021. While we continue to be an increasingly
diverse campus—and our diversity exceeds that of the areas in which we most recruit—the
gender imbalance is concerning and quite uncommon in higher ed today. It may offer
a recruitment opportunity.
I write at length about enrollment because our past performance does not assure future
success. Strong enrollment will ultimately have a substantial impact on our selectivity
and ability to fund initiatives that improve the student, faculty, and staff experiences.
All but the most selective and well-endowed will face the prospect of declining enrollment.
One president of a large, selective, public college recently indicated an intent to
accept at least 300 more first-time students. CUNY is working to keep students within
their system. Other colleges have stepped up their Long Island recruiting.
To be clear, we are not standing still. We are expanding our relationships with community
colleges, increasing our investment in recruitment strategies, delivering more hybrid
and remote classes, offering additional scholarship support and more. Our success
in adding new programs, launching an honor’s program, as well as adding microcredentials
and certificates are vital to keeping students and recruiting new ones. Ultimately,
our students consistently tell us that the three Ps: programs, place (location), and
price are most important in their decision to attend FSC. We continue to add programs
in areas of strength, upgrade campus facilities, and offer additional scholarship
Women in STEM- Thanks to Dean Barbara Christe for providing us this encouraging update: The American
Society for Engineering Education recently released the rankings of engineering technology
programs. In 2020 Farmingdale ranks number 4 in degrees awarded; number 2 in degrees
awarded to underrepresented minorities; and number 4 in the nation in degrees awarded
to women. As Dean Christe wrote, “Our new places in the statistics are fantastic and
a source of pride!”
First Gen Proud- Thanks to Janice Rivera, Bryan Garcia, Erwin Cabrera, Amanda Cataldo, LaShonda Boggan,
Kevin Jordan, Andrea Tew, and GianCarlos Solano, who organized this week’s First Gen
Proud Celebration. Five different programs were delivered including a Block Party
and a faculty/staff workshop on best practices to support first generation college
students. This is another step in more fully engaging our students. We hope this four-day
celebration can become a Farmingdale tradition.
Food Pantry- Thanks to the work of a number of people including Hyejin Cho, Dylan Gafarian, Karen
Gelles, Kathy Machin, Carly Tribull and Susan Vogell, we are planning to launch a
food pantry. We are still in the initial stages, but we hope to begin operation in
the spring term with the pantry located in the periodicals area of Greenley Library.
The proposal to establish the pantry is well thought out and we are in the process
of seeking appropriate storage cabinets and modest funding to open the pantry in the
Safety Concern Reporting Form- Based on feedback received last year, the College is establishing a place on the
web site through which members of the campus community and others may submit safety
concerns. This is not intended to replace a call to University Police in the event
of a threatening situation. The form is intended to allow anyone to notify UP and
Environmental Health and Safety of issues such as dangerous walkways or roads, faulty
doors, HVAC issues or environmental hazards. The form will be posted on the University
Police Safety webpage and the Environmental Health and Safety webpage.
Vaccination/Testing- SUNY’s vaccination policy will continue in the spring semester. All students having
an on-campus presence or using campus facilities must be fully vaccinated. Students
must be fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to the start of classes on Monday,
January 31, 2022. Additionally, SUNY expects to mandate vaccination for all managerial
confidential employees. Testing for unvaccinated employees and students who received
exemptions will continue. Farmingdale’s rate of positive tests (.24%) is well below
the SUNY-wide average and far below the rates for Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Building Projects- We are well underway with $130 million in campus projects. Seven buildings will
be renovated between this month and May 2024. This includes Roosevelt, Knapp, Dewey,
Sinclair, Thompson, Laffin and the Campus Commons. Extensive work in and on Lupton
Hall is ongoing. These projects will require some relocations. Ultimately, parts of
the campus will be functionally and aesthetically transformed.