Bernie wants you to test
Welcome back to our third semester of COVID. Each semester seems to bring new issues
and challenges. Although I don't want to focus this Update solely on COVID-related
matters, the first topic relates directly to recent changes in SUNY and New York State
Testing - As you probably know, we are required to conduct weekly mandatory pooled surveillance
testing on all students with a regular campus presence for the spring. Members of
most collective bargaining units are also required to test. To date, the College has
had much success with very few positive tests results from thousands of tests performed.
Please comply. It's the best way to keep each other safe. Thanks to Health and Wellness,
and the multiple staff members who've offered to assist, including the Department
of Nursing, Dental Hygiene, athletic trainers, and Student Affairs staff. Frank Rampello
in the Dean of Students Office is leading a very innovative approach to assuring student
Spring Enrollment - Good news! We're at 99% of our spring 2021 enrollment target number thanks to a
lot of effort by Admissions and Academics. Keep in mind, however, that our target
was well below the 2020 spring number. It's important that the campus understand the
significance of enrollment and retention to our ability to invest in things that we
all want, such as professional development, new and replacement equipment, aesthetic
improvements, new staff and faculty, and more.
Signage and Aesthetics - The Cabinet recently adopted a new policy regarding signage on campus. Frankly, much of the signage around campus is unappealing
and does not well represent many of our offices, departments, or functional areas.
Some of the signs leave a bad impression and simply do not suitably represent the
College. The intent of the policy is to support and maintain a welcoming campus image
and improve the on-campus experience for both regular users and visitors through a
uniform and cohesive signage system. The policy indicates that all signage on campus must comply with the Americans with Disabilities
Act, New York State Fire and Building codes, and all other applicable state and federal
regulations. Signage must also adhere to the College's approved style guidelines maintained
by the Office for Institutional Advancement. The campus has the authority to remove
signage that does not follow the guidelines set forth in this policy.
SUNY Proposed Budget - Although SUNY and New York State have experienced an enormous financial strain
as a result of COVID, the proposed executive budget is actually fairly favorable.
Tuition flexibility would be extended, University-wide programs (such as EOP and EOC)
would be held harmless from cuts, SUNY would be given relief from SED approval for
new programs, and a fairly good capital budget has been proposed. SUNY, and the campuses,
like most state entities, would be expected to take a cut. However, this is far less
than the magnitude originally projected. Of course, this is the governor's proposal,
subject to change by the state legislature.
FSC Budget - Until we receive an approved state budget with actual funding from the state or
from federal stimulus funds we will need to be very prudent about expenditures. To
be clear, the College is in a very strong financial position. However, we have not
received millions in anticipated state support, do not have authorization to use funds
credited to campus accounts, and are being required to front money (or "put at risk")
funds for university sponsored programs. We have done so repeatedly. I appreciate
your patience as we work through these constraints.
Foundation - Another piece of good news. Thanks to the work of Matt Colson and the College Foundation,
the College has had a number of recent fundraising wins. More significant is a gift
form Murray Pasternack '60 of $500,000. This is the second largest gift in College
history and will help us begin funding for an honors program. In addition, our virtual
gala and annual fund have been quite successful. At mid-year we are well above recent
fundingraising levels. In addition, the Foundation and Alumni staff have organized
events including a virtual panel discussion, Forecasting the 2021 Economy, with Dean
Richard Vogel, faculty members Betty Feng and Kenneth Liao from the School of Business,
and FSC Alumnus Kenneth Rende ′82. Nearly 50 alums and others participated.
Title IX and Affirmative Action - A new position focused on Title IX compliance and training and affirmative action
efforts is being established within Human Resources. These areas present both challenges
and opportunities for the College and it is prudent to invest responsibility for these
functions within a dedicated position.
Mother Language Day- As always, thanks to Nazrul Islam, Computer Security, Chiara DeSanti, Modern Languages,
and Jeannette Sinnott of International Education and Programs, for organizing this
year's Mother Language Day. The previous events have been informative and enjoyable.
Given the quality of the event, attendance has been a bit low. The virtual event will
be held on Tuesday, February 23 from 11:00 a.m. to noon. Please try to attend.
CircleIn - Thanks to all of you who have been working to engage students under these unfavorable
circumstances. I know it is not easy. This semester, thanks to the Greenley Library
and the Provost's Office, students will have access to CircleIn. This is a new student
engagement app that allows students to study together remotely, collaborate with their
peers to exchange ideas, and stay productive. Students logging into CircleIn on their
mobile devices or desktops will find their courses pre-populated, and will be able
to reach out to their classmates to share class notes, ask each other questions, and
set up chat or video study sessions. Faculty who use CircleIn will have access to
an insights dashboard where they can see the types of questions their students are
asking each other. By using the dashboard, faculty will get a previously unseen window
into students' out-of-class collaboration.
CTLT Program - The CTLT 10 Annual Conference "Online Student Engagement" was a huge success with
over 300 attendees. Faculty and staff along with 100 UHS faculty partners from participating
school districts engaged in the event. The Keynote speaker, Dr. Bettyjo Bouchey, kicked
off the conference focusing attention on bridging the virtual divide and creating
meaningful learning experiences through community building. The afternoon included
colleagues from Monroe Community College who provided information on the utilization
of the CircleIn App to support student engagement. Faculty across many schools shared
experiences and lessons learned from the fall semester.