President's Report Masthead
December 31, 2014

Student development

Center for Civic Engagement

The Binghamton Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) has launched its new Faculty Academic Support Initiative in collaboration with the Center for Learning and Teaching. Faculty were invited to apply to the 2014-15 Engaged Fellows for Teaching Excellence program and four to six fellows will be chosen from the pool of applicants.

Selected fellows will receive a stipend and participate in monthly faculty development sessions to support and guide the designing of their own service-learning courses. Financial support is also being provided to support service-learning designated courses through mini-grants, to off-set expenses associated with the community-based educational components.

The Engaged Fellows for Teaching Excellence Program and Service-Learning Mini-grants Program will help expand and reward the use of educational pedagogy to support community-engaged learning experiences for our students in support of Binghamton University’s Road Map to Premier strategic plan. These two new programs and a number of existing services are being developed, modified and overseen by CCE’s new faculty engagement associate, Jessica Arends, and CCE Director Allison Alden.

With the success of CCE activities including Faculty Roundtable Luncheons, one-one-one consultations and a multitude of informational faculty resources, other campuses have chosen Binghamton as an aspirational peer institutions and are asking for details about our faculty service-learning support strategies.

Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development

Fleishman Center grand opening
Jonathan Cohen
From left, Vice President for Student Affairs Brian Rose, Judith ‘90 and Steven ‘91Fleishman, President Harvey Stenger and Fleishman Center Director Kelli Smith.

On Saturday, Oct. 18, during Homecoming Weekend, Binghamton University hosted a formal dedication ceremony for the Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development to recognize Steven Fleishman ’91 and Judith Garczynski Fleishman ’90 for their generosity and leadership in support of the center. Located in the University Union, the state-of-the-art Fleishman Center features a welcoming and expanded seating area for students to meet with career staff during daily walk-in services, a 40-seat presentation room and a 12-seat conference room with video conferencing capability. Other features include two large touchscreen monitors and 10 employer interview rooms, eight with built-in Skype capability.

The location of the Fleishman Center reflects how critical a component it is to the Binghamton University student experience. In fact, the center is now one of the first stops on campus tours so prospective students and parents will understand how much the University values career and professional development. “Parents’ biggest worry is that their children won’t get jobs after college,” said President Harvey Stenger. “Having the center as one of the first stops on tours not only gives prospective students security and satisfaction about life after graduation, but it shows that we invest in our students and understand their needs.”

The University’s commitment to establishing one of the best career service organizations for a public university became the reason why the center’s new director, Kelli Smith, moved her young family from Nebraska to Binghamton. When she heard that Vice President for Student Affairs Brian Rose had created a relationship with a philanthropic alumni couple sharing a similar vision for student career success, Smith said it showed how the University truly cares for its students, and also how alumni are willing to help current students.

Since her arrival this past summer, Smith has been impressed by how students use career services, stating that in the first four weeks of the semester alone more than 1,000 students had visited the center for a walk-in or counseling appointment – a 15 percent increase from the same period last year. “I knew this would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Smith said. “The Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development will help launch the careers of Binghamton University students for generations to come.”

Emerging Leaders Program

During Orientation 2014, more than 200 students applied for fewer than 80 spots in the University’s 5th annual Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) which kicked off on move-in day and wrapped up just prior to finals week. “We are looking for freshman and transfer students with a willingness to learn,” said Debora Clinton Callaghan, senior associate director of the program. “Our hope is that by the end of the semester they’ll have made a connection with a person — be that a peer, an advisor, or a University or business leader — as well as with the Binghamton community as a whole.””

That willingness is a key to success in the certificate-based program, as students dive into a full semester of activities and team projects. The outcomes, though invaluable, are mostly intangible — they receive no credit for their time and effort.

ELP students are placed into one of six knowledge communities (KCs): arts and humanities; business and entrepreneurship; environment and ecology; global awareness and citizenship; public service; and sports, recreation and wellness.

During the semester, they attend workshops that cover topics including group dynamics, professional etiquette, public speaking, goal setting and ethics. They also participate in a networking program with campus and community leaders; Binghamton Mayor Richard David, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and local non-profit and business owners were among the 30 professional attendees this year.

In addition, a major component of the ELP is completion of a service-learning project in the community. Students share their experiences at a poster symposium and formal presentation at the end of the program.

The service-learning projects are a cause for pride:
    • The public service group raised money for RISE to purchase cleaning and household supplies for victims of domestic abuse and participated in a clean-up project at RISE facilities.
    • The environment and ecology group built a raised-bed garden for a local church that will provide food for the neighboring food bank.
    • The business and entrepreneurship KC helped a group of girl scouts earn three troop badges and raise $400 through the creation and sale of bracelets on campus.
    • The sports, recreation and wellness group offered an art workshop and nail painting to residents at Good Shepherd Village in Endwell while raising funds and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association.
    • The global awareness KC held a food sustainability event on campus with proceeds given to the Hunger Project.
    • And the arts and humanities group held a student music and arts showcase to raise funds for the local Magic Paintbrush Project, in addition to volunteering at the Project.

All without a cent to begin with.

“It requires them to take initiative to find a community organization, plan how to get everyone in their group involved, raise funds and budget, and be flexible,” said Callaghan.

A cadre of faculty, staff and peers support the groups. Each KC has a volunteer faculty advisor, a volunteer staff advisor and two student mentors. The advisors lay the framework, act as content experts and provide community connections, while the student mentors facilitate and guide the process. And everyone is a cheerleader. Confidence, they know, is important to the students’ success. Every student must play a role in the project, and every student must present on the final day. For some this comes natural, for others, it’s yet another growth opportunity.

Sarah Thompson, a lecturer for health and wellness studies, has been an advisor for the sports, recreation and wellness KC from day one. “The students are experiencing a process where they learn to be proactive in their own learning and leadership skills,” Thompson said. “This is challenging. They have been told what to do their whole lives — by counselors, teachers, parents — and are now thrown into an ambiguous situation. Some students struggle. Some don’t. But, they all come out on top having learned a great deal about partnership, leadership and self-awareness.”