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University officials stress faculty growth
October 1, 2013Tweet
Binghamton University has 55 faculty searches underway for the 2014-15 academic year, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Donald Nieman told the University Council during its first meeting of the year.
“Hiring faculty is great, but we are trying to make sure that we are strategic in our hiring,” Nieman said. “If you simply hire faculty and sprinkle them lightly over the University, you will achieve excellence nowhere. We have tried to identify areas where we have existing strengths and – with additional hires – where we can become pre-eminent nationally and even internationally.”
Of the 55 searches, 35 are connected to the University’s five Transdisciplinary Areas of Excellence, Nieman said. Those areas are: citizenship, rights and cultural belonging; health sciences; material and visual worlds; smart energy; and sustainable communities.
“These are big issues that tackle important, complex problems,” Nieman said. “You can address them in a significant way by bringing to bear the skills and perspectives of faculty from different disciplines.”
Nieman was one of several University leaders to discuss achievement and goals with council members during a meeting in the Couper Administration Building on Sept. 20.
The provost also emphasized that 93 tenure-track faculty members have been hired in the past two years, resulting in a net gain of 67 tenure-track faculty members.
“Faculty growth is a critical part of the NYSUNY 2020 plan,” he said. “It’s creating a lot of intellectual energy around campus, but (new faculty members) allow us to offer students a stronger education because we are reducing the student-to-faculty ratio.” (19-to-1 this fall, compared to a previous level of 21-to-1.)
Officials also discussed campus spirit initiatives, such as encouraging the campus community wearing green on Fridays. Athletics will play a major role in spirit, Director of Athletics Patrick Elliott said, citing a re-launched “BU Zoo” and a new iTunes app with a “P.R.I.D.E. Points” rewards program.
“Having a Division 1 program is an asset,” Elliott said. “Our student-athletes will be all over the country representing Binghamton University. They are going to have the name ‘Binghamton’ across their shirts. We want to be able to get the Binghamton name out.”
Other highlights from University leaders included:
• Student enrollment has grown from 14,746 in 2011 to nearly 16,000 in 2013, President Harvey Stenger said. He predicted that 2014 fall enrollment will tilt toward graduate-student growth.
• Binghamton ranks sixth among U.S. public universities for student mean SAT scores, Nieman said.
• The Division of Administration is developing a campus-wide enrollment and sign-up system in which students, parents, community members and others can purchase multiple tickets and memberships (FitSpace, Anderson Center, etc.) at one online stop.
“This will not only increase revenue, but it will increase participation,” Vice President for Administration James Van Voorst said. “People will ask: ‘What do these programs do?’ That will be a plus.”
• The Division for Advancement will begin preparing for the next comprehensive gifts campaign, Interim Vice President Rebecca Benner said. A feasible study and multi-year plan are part of the preparation. The division also will expand its outreach to increase fund-raising capacity.
“Engagement leads to giving, so we will continue to partner with Alumni Relations and the development office to involve more people in the life of the University,” Benner said.
• The Division of Research will open the Center of Excellence and Smart Energy in 2013-14, Director for Research Bahgat Sammakia said. The center will create “an environment which is conducive for excellence in collaborative research and brings together science and engineering in partnership with the community and private sector,” he said.
• Goals for the Division of Student Affairs include improving experiential learning opportunities, career development and parent partnerships. An example of improving advising and student support is additional orientation and backing for international students, Vice President for Student Affairs Brian Rose said.
“The courage it takes to come here – a new country with a new language for many – obligates us to provide as much support as we can to help them achieve the success that they desire,” Rose said.