Welcome from the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost - Summer 2015
Eight commencements marked the conclusion of the 2014-15 academic year. In three days, we awarded over 3,400 degrees, almost 2,600 to bachelors candidates and more than 800 to masters and doctoral students. It was an exhausting but exhilarating three days as we celebrated the accomplishments of a very talented group of students who will make their mark on the world, just as they left their mark on Binghamton University.
Commencement is a time to reflect on the past year as well as a reminder that it's time to step up preparations for a new one.
2014-15 was a banner year for Binghamton University. Our newest school, the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (http://www.binghamton.edu/pharmacy-and-pharmaceutical-sciences/), got off to a fast start as we hired an outstanding dean and her leadership team, gained approval to offer the Pharm D from the SUNY Board of Trustees, made strides in designing a state-of-the art facility in Johnson City to house the school, and received our first major private gift to support pharmacy research.
Other notable developments included expansion of undergraduate research opportunities through our Summer Artists and Scholars Program and Freshman Research Immersion (http://www.binghamton.edu/freshman-research-immersion/), which offers first-year students the opportunity to participate in research the day they walk on campus. In addition, our Center for Learning and Teaching opened a futuristic learning studio (http://www.binghamton.edu/clt/instructional-enrichment/learning-studio.html) that allows faculty to experiment with cutting edge technology designed to promote student-centered teaching and also began design of a visionary digital learning commons. The Department of Mathematical Sciences continued to enhance calculus instruction by recruiting Dr. William Kazmierczak to serve as director of calculus and developing new approaches to increase student success in classes that are critical to almost 40 percent of our students (http://www.binghamton.edu/inside/index.php/inside/story/9856/a-new-equation-for-calculus-classes/). We also strengthened our offerings in Middle Eastern languages, history and culture by creating making key hires in Turkish studies and launching an Israeli Studies Institute.
Faculty hiring continued at a blistering pace as we conducted 75 searches for tenure track faculty. By early June, we had filled 62 of these, recruiting outstanding candidates who will contribute to Binghamton's reputation for excellence in teaching and research. Three are senior faculty recruited to fill core positions in our Transdisciplinary Areas of Excellence, which are designed to promote cross-disciplinary research on topics that address critical scientific, social, technological, cultural, and policy questions (http://www.binghamton.edu/tae/).
These individuals will join an accomplished faculty that continues to distinguish itself in scholarship and teaching. In the past six months, three Binghamton faculty have been promoted to SUNY distinguished professorships: Mark Fowler and Jessica Friedrich of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Zu-yan Chen of the Department of Asian and Asian American Studies. Many others have gained acclaim for their work, notably Stan Whittingham, a chemist whose pioneering work on batteries was recently recognized with a $12.8 million U.S. Department of Energy grant establishing the Northeast Center for Chemical Energy Storage at Binghamton; Wendy Wall, a historian whose work on immigration has garnered a prestigious 2015 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship; Hari Srihari, the dean of the Watson School of Engineering and SUNY distinguished professor, who was awarded the 2014 Michael P. Malone International Leadership Award by the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities: and Linda Spear, a neuroscientist whose highly acclaimed research on alcohol addiction won renewal of an $8.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue support for the Developmental Exposure Alcohol Research Center.
During 2014-15, we made great strides toward reaching the goals established in our Road Map to Premier strategic plan (http://www.binghamton.edu/president/road-map/index.html). As we look ahead to a new academic year, we anticipate building on this momentum. Graduate enrollment will continue to grow, as the research accomplishments of Binghamton faculty make us an attractive destination for top graduate students. While undergraduate numbers will, by design, remain flat, we anticipate one of the most academically accomplished, diverse freshmen classes in Binghamton's history. And we will welcome a bumper crop of new faculty who will strengthen research and contribute to the excellence that characterizes undergraduate and graduate education at Binghamton.
Binghamton University is moving steadily toward the goal we established in the Road Map: becoming the premier public university of the 21st century. As we grow in size, we are growing with quality while maintaining our commitment to diversity and access. We are also enhancing our research infrastructure and, most importantly, recruiting top faculty. Together, faculty, staff, students, and alumni are building on a tradition of excellence to make a great university better.