A Road Map Renewal conversation and update

Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger and Executive Vice President and Provost Donald Nieman talk about the University's Road Map Renewal

Clock tower Image Credit: Jonathan Cohen.
Clock tower
Clock tower Photography: Jonathan Cohen.

​BingUNews recently sat down with Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger and Executive Vice President and Provost Donald Nieman to learn about the four University Initiatives (UIs) that developed through the Road Map Renewal strategic planning process.

The four UIs are:

Developing a College of Nursing and Health Sciences

Moving the Decker School of Nursing to Johnson City near the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and UHS Wilson Hospital creates an opportunity to expand the curricular offerings of the school into new, allied health graduate programs. This will significantly change the nature of the Decker School and truly make it a College of Health Sciences.

Health Sciences Core Facilities Support combined with the Brain and Body Imaging Center

Our expanding research and education activities in health sciences has increased the demand for modern and advanced instrumentation. These facilities will enhance our ability to attract external funding as well as build research partnerships with industry and other universities.

Data Science Initiative

The application of data science theory and practice is rapidly expanding across almost every discipline in higher education. Recruiting faculty and building facilities to support this evolving area will enhance our research and education offerings across the campus.

Presidential Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowships

This fellowship program will provide a mechanism to increase the diversity of our faculty by supporting postdoctoral fellowships in academic departments and programs where diversity is needed and that can successfully recruit diversity faculty candidates.

Read Q&As with the co-chairs of each UI via the linked headlines above for more complete updates.

The following is an edited version of the conversation with Stenger and Nieman:

Tell us about the Road Map Renewal initiatives

Donald Nieman: The renewal took a strategic approach to funding projects rather than the tactical one we have used since 2013. In the past, we voted to fund many projects that helped advance Road Map strategic priorities. In the renewal, we identified four big ideas that will take a long time to implement but are strategic for the University.

Harvey Stenger: The renewal process arrived at four university initiatives – data science, faculty diversity, a health sciences college, and health science research infrastructure. We hope to use these initiative areas to expand our research and educational programs in ways to address pressing problems of society.

DN: Take data science. The ability to analyze massive amounts of data available to organizations offers the potential to make better decisions in just about every area of society.

HS: We have lots of examples of faculty using data science to help answer difficult questions in the humanities and social sciences.

DN: Medieval studies in one area where digital humanities has had an important influence, and we have faculty hired through the TAE process who are eager to make our renowned Center for Medieval, Early Modern and Renaissance Studies (CEMERS) an important site for digital humanities.

HS: We know we are behind our peers in health sciences research infrastructure. For example, we do not have equipment to do brain imaging, which is an important tool to help us study neurological diseases.

DN: For instance, in the case of MRI equipment, it would be good if we could push to think deeper about that. Say you’re in psychology and know that to move forward with your research you need an MRI scan, but it’s more than that. What does an MRI scanner give us in the way of developing other research programs and collaborations to expand brain sciences?

HS: We believe a partnership with UHS could possibly give us an opportunity to purchase and operate a brain imagining tool (fMRI) at a cost that would be lower than doing it ourselves.

DN: Access to an fMRI is critical for us to remain competitive in psychology, historically one of our strongest research areas. It also opens opportunities to promote collaboration across the health sciences and with clinical partners.

HS: Connecting with the private sector – hospitals and industry could also help us increase our impact in Johnson City.

DN: The Health Sciences Campus is a unique opportunity for us and for Johnson City. The pharmacy school will relocate there this summer. And Dean Mario Ortiz’s expansive vision for creating a College of Nursing and Health Sciences promises to amplify the impact when Decker follows pharmacy to Johnson City in 2020.

HS: Our postdoctoral diversity fellowship initiative should help us bring potential faculty members to campus that in the past may not have looked at us as a possible place for employment.

DN: We have enjoyed success in increasing faculty diversity during the past six years. By creating and sustaining this program, we can move the needle further and do it faster.

HS: The recruiting process will start soon, and will be guided by a team of faculty led by Daryl Santos and Fernando Guzman.

DN: Like many other Road Map initiatives, the Presidential Diversity Post Docs initiative opens opportunities for departments to meet their needs while advancing a critical University priority. In my opinion, that has been the beauty of the Road Map.

HS: For each of the four university initiatives, the co-chairs and project managers have formed committees that have begun to meet and build business plans for their areas. This will probably take a few months. A business plan needs to show how an initial investment can create a program that will eventually be sustainable. Funding is tight this year, but we do hope to make seed investments in each of the four University Initiatives.

DN: If we plan well, we will be able to use available resources to advance these initiatives, which will position the University for success five and 10 years from now. Binghamton’s emphasis on planning positioned us to take advantage of NYSUNY 2020, and these initiatives will allow us to build on that success and continue to develop as an outstanding research university.

HS: I believe the processes we use to identify directions for the University (the Road Map in 2012 and the Renewal in 2017) have made us a healthy campus community.

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