President's Report Masthead
September 30, 2015

Student Affairs

Division of Student Affairs reorganizes some responsibilities

Vice President for Student Affairs Brian Rose announced a number of changes within the Division of Student Affairs.

With the retirements of Assistant Vice President for Student Life Terry Webb and Director of the University Union Jimmy Koval, it is an opportune time to look at the organization of the division and determine how best to ensure their responsibilities are handled moving forward, Rose said.

“I’m adding responsibilities to two proven and experienced administrators in the division – April Thompson and Suzanne Howell,” Rose said. “Suzi had proven herself to be a strong manager of a large, complex organization and is ready to assume broader responsibilities. April has a unique talent to create a vibrant student life and so it made great sense to bring the Union, Residential Life and Campus Activities into the same structure under her.

“I also want to continue to strengthen and emphasize our healthy campus initiative and so I have decided to align our health, health education, campus recreation and counseling units and am creating a new senior position to address that,” Rose added.

  • April Thompson will become associate vice president and dean of students, adding oversight of Residential Life and the University Union to her current role.
  • Suzanne Howell, will take on the title of senior associate dean of students and director of residential life. In that capacity, Howell will continue to lead Residential Life and will also assume responsibilities to integrate the University Union and Campus Activities.
  • An assistant vice president for health and wellness position will be created to oversee Campus Recreation and Health and Counseling, with a search to begin immediately.

“These changes recognize the abilities of current staff and underscore the value that health and wellness bring to our campus,” Rose said. “It’s gratifying to see that we have people able to step into these roles. Terry and Jimmy had long experience and particular skills that could simply not be replaced. Rather than trying to replicate their unique talents, I believe this new structure will best move us forward.”

Fiore-Conte named to health and wellness position

Vice President for Student Affairs Brian Rose announced the appointment of Johann Fiore-Conte, executive director of health and counseling services, as assistant vice president for health and wellness. Fiore-Conte has had responsibilities for the Decker Student Health Services Center (DSHSC) for the past 10 years, and added oversight of the University Counseling Center (UCC) and the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to her position six years ago.

In her new role, Fiore-Conte will continue to lead the DSHSC, UCC and EAP, as well as other departments focused on student health and wellness, including Campus Recreational Services, Interpersonal Violence Prevention, Alcohol and Other Drug Programs, and Health Promotion and Prevention Services.

“Johann has successfully led the DSHSC, UCC and EAP for years, overseeing a major renovation to the health services building as well as the transition to electronic record keeping, earning the respect of her colleagues for both her insight and her calm demeanor,” Rose said. “Establishing a new position to bring a comprehensive, collaborative approach to health and wellness on our campus will be challenging, but I believe Johann is well up to the task.”

“You don’t spend your entire career in the health field and not be absolutely thrilled with this kind of opportunity,” Fiore-Conte said. “I’ve worked for over 30 years in different capacities and now will work to make health and wellness a move visible value on this campus.

“This is a new, cutting-edge position in higher education and I believe we will see more campuses implementing similar roles,” she added. “One of my priorities will be to partner with the academic side to bring health together solidly into both spheres.”

In her new position, Fiore-Conte will work to ensure that departments work collaboratively to provide a wide range of integrated programs and services that respond to the health and wellness needs of a diverse student population, facilitating initiatives that emphasize a wellness culture to support student academic success, personal well-being, and community health and safety.

Student Support Services receives nearly $3M in federal grants

Binghamton University’s Student Support Services (SSS) program, a federally funded TRiO program that provides eligible students with academic, career and personal counseling; tutoring; and assistance obtaining financial aid, has received a five-year renewal grant totaling more than $1.8 million.

A second five-year grant totaling $1.1 million was also renewed to support students interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.

Marty Wygmans, executive director of student services, said programs must meet numerous objectives to be successful in the competitive grant process. “Once you have funding, you receive points for meeting your objectives,” she said. “Having these ‘experience points’ helps going into the grant renewal process. On our original grant, existing programs like ours had to score at total of 106 or they wouldn’t be funded. We scored 104, plus had the maximum number of experience points (15), for a total of 119.”

Wygmans said the same process was followed for the STEM grant renewals, though the necessary point totals differed. “The STEM grant was only eligible for 11 experience points, and we received a perfect score for that renewal.”

Nearly 1,500 proposals were received for both grants, and the U.S. Department of Education funded 968 of them, Wygmans said. “And we got two of them.”

These grants promote academic success and personal growth for students who are first-generation, low-income or disabled. Accepted students are identified for the program based on their FAFSA, and invited to participate, said Wygmans. “The students are distributed between the two grant programs. For STEM students, they must have a declared interest in a STEM field.”

At Binghamton, the classic grant serves 400 students and the STEM grant serves 120 students.

Read more in Inside

Binghamton one of nation’s healthiest campuses

Binghamton University is among the nation’s top 25 healthiest college campuses according to Greatist, an organization whose mission is to “help the world think of health in a healthier way” by publishing “award-winning, crazy-sharable articles” about being healthy, happy and empowered.
When putting together its list of the healthiest colleges, Greatist looked for schools that go above and beyond to create an environment where students have access to an array of healthy food, top-notch fitness facilities, and robust medical and mental health services.

To make the list, Binghamton University was nominated for the award via social media, then completed a comprehensive questionnaire for Greatist, responding to questions about dining services, fitness facilities and classes, student healthcare, mental health resources and much more.

“Our interest in promoting a holistic approach to health and wellness came from a broad conversation around what should distinguish the practice of student affairs at Binghamton,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Brian Rose. “We wanted to identify areas of strategic emphasis that would promote student success and also align with the University’s strengths and with student interests. We also wanted to focus on something with broad relevance and around which Binghamton could be nationally visible and successful. 

“Having now been recognized as one of the healthiest campuses is confirmation that we have strong health and wellness programs,” Rose added. “However, we have honestly just started, and look forward to developing our identity as a genuinely healthy campus community through new programs and partnerships.”

Cindy Cowden, senior associate director of Campus Recreational Services, chairs Binghamton’s Healthy Campus Initiative (HCI), leading a broad-based steering committee of members, including students. Called B-Healthy: Choose Well, Be Well, “HCI strives to cultivate a culture that is supportive of individuals and groups in pursuit of their optimal potential,” she said. “We’re striving to integrate student health and wellness into the University’s educational mission as well by developing policies and programs to enhance the academic environment.”

According to Greatist, health and wellness have become a top priority since Binghamton launched its B-Healthy initiative in 2013, and also became one of 20 colleges in the U.S. to join Partnership for a Healthier America’s campus initiative. “Both of these programs aim to promote healthier lifestyles among undergrads, whether it’s providing sustainable food options in the dining halls or revamping the miles of walking trails around campus,” Greatist wrote.

Cowden said a secondary objective of HCI is to provide high-impact learning opportunities for students through curriculum integration where they create, test and implement solutions to campus health-related issues.

For the complete list of healthiest campuses, go online

Implementation of SUNY and State of New York Sexual Assault

Over the summer, the University implemented the SUNY and New York state regulations for prevention and responses to sexual harassment on campuses. Students and parents received training at new student orientation sessions and the Student Association is leading an information campaign.