Welcome from the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost - Fall 2014
The beginning of a new academic year always brings excitement, as we greet new students, faculty, and staff, renew relationships interrupted by summer travel, and continue to pursue research advanced over the summer.
This fall, we welcome 2,550 freshmen, 1,200 transfer students, and 1,200 new graduate students, keeping us on pace to achieve our goal of increasing enrollment to 17,000 students by 2016. These students were selected from one of the largest pool of applicants in Binghamton University's history—over 28,000 freshman applicants and 6,900 graduate applicants. With the competition for admission keen, it's not surprising that the students who join us this fall add to the tradition of excellence for which Binghamton University is well known. The SAT scores and high school GPAs of our freshmen continue to be among the highest among public doctoral universities, new transfer students boast a mean GPA of 3.4, and we recruited top graduate students from across the United States and around the world.
Outstanding students need world-class faculty to challenge them and help them grow intellectually and personally. Binghamton University has long been known for its excellent faculty—individuals who combine cutting edge research with a passion for teaching. This fall, there will be a lot more of them as we welcome 56 new tenure track faculty to campus. Combined with the 46 new tenure track faculty who joined us in August 2013, we are on track to increase the number of our tenure track faculty by 150—or 25%—between 2011 and 2016. The rapid expansion of our faculty will continue, as we launch almost sixty searches for new tenure track faculty to join us in August 2015. Our new colleagues not only bring enormous energy, intellectual vitality, and exciting research programs. They are helping us decrease our student-faculty ratio and contributing to a richer experience for our students.
Last year, much of our recruitment was linked to our Transdisciplinary Areas of Excellence (TAEs)—five cross-disciplinary themes that address important scientific, social, technological, cultural, and policy questions that can best be answered by teams of faculty from multiple disciplines (http://www.binghamton.edu/tae/). We hired over half of our new faculty as part of a TAE, using search committees composed of faculty from several disciplines. As they join the Binghamton faculty this fall, these new faculty will become part of exciting intellectual communities that offer rich possibilities for collaboration and promise to strengthen research at Binghamton. We will continue this hiring strategy in the coming year as we conduct over 30 searches for faculty who will join one of our TAEs.
Our transdisciplinary approach to recruitment and a growing faculty are strengthening research at Binghamton. Recently, we were awarded funding for two federal research centers: the Northeast Center for Chemical Energy Storage, led by Stan Whittingham, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, and the Developmental Exposure Alcohol Research Center, led by Distinguished Professor of Psychology Linda Spear. These join another federal center, the Center for Energy Smart Electronic Systems, as well as the Small Scale Systems Integration and Packaging Center, the Integrated Electronics Engineering Center, the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, the Fernand Braudel Center, and the Watson Institute for Systems Engineering as jewels in the crown of Binghamton University's thriving research enterprise. In addition, Binghamton University has over 20 Organized Research Centers and Institutes exploring a wide range of exciting research areas and bringing together faculty from every school on campus.
A new School of Pharmaceutical Sciences will significantly enhance research in the health sciences through research partnerships with strong programs in biochemistry, biology, biomedical engineering, chemistry, neuroscience, nursing, and systems science and industrial engineering. We are well along with design of a new building and are conducting a search for a founding dean, with plans to welcome the first class of 80 students in August 2017.
Graduate programs, like pharmacy, provide advanced education that prepare students for success in the knowledge economy and are also a vital part of the research enterprise. Expanding our portfolio of graduate programs and increasing graduate enrollment are, therefore, high priorities. We have created a new Ph.D. program in Community and Public Affairs and are developing a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences and as well as a PharmD. At the masters level, we have initiated new programs in health systems engineering, taxation, public archaeology, and sustainable communities, with several more in the planning stages. Our new and existing programs have been popular with students, helping us achieve a 16% increase in graduate enrollment since 2011.
Binghamton University has long been known for excellence in undergraduate education, and we work hard to offer our exceptional students a transformative education. Guided by Road Map to Premier, Binghamton University's strategic plan (http://www2.binghamton.edu/president/road-map/docs/binghamton-road-map.pdf), the Division of Academic Affairs continues to make significant investments in state-of-the art learning spaces, our dynamic Center for Learning and Teaching, undergraduate research (including a new Freshman Research Immersion Program supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute), a wide array of study abroad opportunities, advising, and, of course, more outstanding faculty. We have also expanded partnerships with colleagues in the Division of Student Affairs to assure that our residential communities bring living and learning together.
The coming year will be a time of significant change as Binghamton University grows in size, ambition, and quality. One thing, however, will not change: our commitment to excellence. We remain a place where world-class faculty conduct path-breaking research and help remarkable students realize their enormous potential.