October 5, 2010
Stated Meeting of the Faculty Address by President Karen L. Gould
Good afternoon. Welcome to our fall Stated Meeting of the Faculty. When we met last spring, I outlined a number of initiatives that will begin to take shape in the coming months. Indeed, this will be a significant year for both planning and implementation. It is a year in which we will take stock of our college and its impact on our students and alumni, a year in which we will work together to articulate the mission and values of Brooklyn College, and also a year in which we will outline strategic directions and facilities master planning priorities for the decade ahead. In order to flourish in these challenging times, we must move ahead with intentionality and purpose. As an academic community, we must recognize where we need to stretch ourselves in our ambitions, where creativity and entrepreneurial thinking will be necessary to pursue new opportunities and partnerships, where greater efficiency can be achieved, and where it will be best to hold steady on our course.
We welcome today over a dozen new faculty members. If you are in attendance, I ask you to rise and be warmly recognized by your colleagues. Collectively, this new class of teacher-scholars is a tangible sign of our continuing commitment to the growth of our faculty and our support for academic innovation and renewal. We wish you a rewarding year of teaching and discovery and many new friendships along the way.
As we celebrate the arrival of our new faculty and staff, we also remember again two members of our community who embodied the best of Brooklyn College in so many ways. The untimely passing in August of Sherwood Johnson, director of financial aid, and Professor Martha Bell, chair of the SEEK Department, has been a great loss to our campus community, to CUNY, and to many of us personally. As so many of you have already acknowledged, Martha and Sherwood touched the lives of literally thousands of Brooklyn College students, making it possible for them to achieve their educational dreams with a confidence that might not have been possible without the assistance and inspiration of these two remarkable individuals.
We celebrate their lives and honor their memories in part by what we do together this year to ensure the intellectual growth, social development, and academic success of our students.
Enrollment and Retention
On the enrollment front, a snapshot of our current freshman enrollment for Fall 2010 shows that the number of new freshmen has increased by approximately 20% over the previous fall. Likewise, this year’s freshmen mean SAT rose to 1113, which is 10 points higher than last year, with a mean CAA of 86.4%. Meanwhile, new transfer enrollment has decreased somewhat this fall due to a modest rise in our GPA requirements in order to attract transfer students who are better prepared for the rigors of the classroom. It is worth noting that this year’s balance of new freshmen and new transfer students is much healthier than last year, due to a rather small freshman class in Fall 2009. Another encouraging sign is the rise in first-year retention rates for freshmen and for transfers.
I am also pleased to note that entering SEEK enrollment has increased this year, while the percentage of second-year SEEK students returning this semester has risen substantially, from 66% in Fall 2009 to 83.3% this fall. And while new graduate student enrollment is down slightly compared to last year, overall graduate student enrollment is up modestly. Our total Fall 2010 enrollment figures are slightly down from last fall, primarily due to higher transfer admission standards and ever-increasing competition among higher education institutions—both public and private. As a result, we will make every effort to enhance our recruitment efforts in order to raise enrollment and FTEs in the Intersession, Spring Semester, and first Summer Session.
Last May, the Presidential Task Force on Retention and Graduation Success submitted a comprehensive report on retention barriers at Brooklyn College and made recommendations regarding the need to improve communication pertaining to degree and program requirements, increase the number of freshmen learning communities, create a focus on second-year student advising, and improve services in transfer credit review and advising. As a follow-up to the report, the provost has charged a retention and graduation Implementation Committee, chaired by Vice President Joyner and Dean Wilson, to review and prioritize the recommendations of the Task Force for implementation.
In order to remain competitive, we will need to consider the evolving enrollment picture at CUNY and in the state. More broadly speaking, the landscape for public, private and for-profit institutions is changing rapidly in New York City and around the nation. Along with rising competition for baccalaureate and graduate-level students, the methods and technologies employed to recruit students at all levels are changing swiftly. In this new environment, we will need to improve our recruitment methods, admissions processes, and registration practices while also enhancing our overall visibility as a campus of choice.
We took an important step this summer to strengthen our recruitment and enrollment activities with the hiring of Dr. Stephen Joyner, our new vice president for enrollment management. Since his arrival in June, Vice President Joyner’s strong leadership and experience have already resulted in a number of improvements. He has begun a thorough assessment of our current recruitment and enrollment processes in admissions, registration, testing, and financial aid. The enrollment services staff will streamline processes for our students and implement more efficient methods for supporting the academic enterprise, including more efficient course evaluation processes for transfer students and a state-of-the-art graduation audit process.
The Fiscal Environment
I know you are as concerned as I am about the state’s budget reductions to CUNY’s senior colleges. This fall, our portion of the state reductions to CUNY amounts to $2.8 million or a 2.5% reduction in our general operating budget. While discomforting, we need to bear in mind that relative to other state colleges and universities nationwide, this 2.5% reduction, even as it compounds with others over the past several years, is less dramatic than some of the much higher reductions witnessed in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Arizona, Nevada, California, Washington state, and elsewhere. As of August, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, at least 43 states have implemented new cuts to public colleges and universities.
That said, we will still feel this year’s budget reduction. We are endeavoring to reduce spending carefully, without damaging our core academic activity, and we will also need to identify additional ways to make up the shortfall. In order to navigate what is likely to be a challenging fiscal environment for at least the next several years, we will need to grow student enrollment by increasing our qualified undergraduate and graduate applicant pools, improving retention rates, and supporting program growth in areas of high demand. Fortunately, despite the 2.5% reductions on the tax-levy side of the budget, we will be able to proceed with a number of capital projects and facilities improvements supported through other sources of funding. I will speak more about this in a few minutes.
In challenging economic times, with reductions to enact and more challenges on the horizon, there is always the temptation to shrink from new initiatives and cling to the status quo. To be sure, we will need to make some difficult choices, and we will streamline and improve efficiencies where we can. But we must not scale back on institutional creativity and renewal, nor should we avoid developing ambitious goals that will bring us additional prominence and enhance our reputation as a college of choice. As we work together to articulate a compelling case for our future, I am confident that we will find new partners and engaged supporters for some of our most exciting projects and initiatives. Looking forward, we have no choice but to expect less from the state and seek more support from private sources, external funding agencies, and public and private partnerships. On an encouraging note, Brooklyn College faculty members continue to gain recognition and support through the receipt of various federal grants from NSF, NIH, NEH, the DOE, and other agencies. Last year our annual revenue for grants and contracts rose to over $13.5 million. Our NIH-sponsored SCORE program was of special significance in this regard, supporting the research endeavors of faculty in biology, chemistry, health and nutrition sciences, and psychology.
Marketing and Branding Initiatives
One of the most effective ways to increase our visibility is to provide greater access to compelling information about the strength and breadth of our academic programs, the accomplishments of our faculty, and the diversity of our students and their cocurricular activities as well as the beauty and dynamic location of our college. For this reason, we engaged Neustadt Creative Marketing last fall to develop marketing and recruitment tools designed to raise our profile and give prospective students and our constituents a clearer sense of who we are and what we accomplish for our students. I want to thank those of you who participated in last year’s focus groups with Mark Neustadt and his team to help them understand the history, achievements and ambitions of Brooklyn College in order to help us compete more effectively in today’s higher education marketplace. Informed by discussions and interviews with faculty, students, accepted applicants who decided not to attend Brooklyn College, our alumni and community groups, the Neustadt team was asked to create a new logo and a multifaceted marketing approach that communicates youthful and engaging images of the academic and cocurricular life of the College. We have received a full complement of attractive and informed marketing materials to support the broadened recruitment efforts of the Enrollment Management division. Later this month, you will see our recruitment campaign posters at bus kiosks across Brooklyn and on subways throughout the city.
In the coming months, we will also unveil a virtual tour on our website that will give prospective students and prospective job candidates a broader sense of the College, individual academic programs, student life, and the dynamism of our borough. By the end of this academic year, we also intend to have completed a redesign of the public pages of our website, which will be more logically organized, easier to navigate, and more up to date.
Just last week CUNY announced that Marketing and Branding will become an annual Performance Measure category for all CUNY colleges. In this respect, we appear to be ahead of the curve. Of course, the proof will be in the results, and we will be measuring the impact of our “heightened visibility” campaign over the next several years.
Five Schools in Academic Affairs
One of our highest priorities this year is our common undertaking to successfully recruit four inaugural deans and prepare for the formation of four new schools that will be established on July 1, 2011. Together with our School of Education, the four new schools and their deans will report to the provost in the Division of Academic Affairs. As Professor Perez y Gonzalez indicated earlier, we are currently developing the membership of the four decanal search committees. Each committee will include seven faculty members—five elected directly by each school’s faculty and two selected by me from a slate of four faculty members provided by Faculty Council. The provost will be communicating the results of the four decanal search committee elections later this afternoon. Two administrators and two students will also serve on each committee. The search consultants from Witt/Kieffer will meet with each committee later this month to commence the review of applicants, which will continue until the positions are filled. Our intention is to have four new deans in place by July 1, 2011.
The creation of a five-school structure at Brooklyn College is a significant step forward in our organizational maturation and in the recognition of our size and complexity. Our five schools will increase our visibility in the academic world and help attract prominent and promising faculty as well as the qualified students we seek. The school deans will help advance our fundraising efforts with donors and private foundations and help increase externally funded research and program funding for faculty and students. They will serve as champions and informed spokespersons for their respective schools, faculty, and students. In addition, working with their counterparts at other CUNY institutions, they will support the University’s overall mission and help us forge new programs and partnerships. Internally, the deans will work with their respective faculties to develop the kind of strategic thinking and collaborative discussions that will foster innovation and lead to enhanced recognition for the teaching, research, and scholarly production of the faculty. They will also support professional development opportunities and effective mentoring for junior, mid-career and senior faculty.
In preparation for the formation of the School of Business, we are pleased to recognize the addition this fall of two new departments in our college: the Department of Accounting and the Department of Finance and Business Management, which together serve 2,178 undergraduate and graduate majors.
"Foundation for Success" Campaign
Last May, at our Brooklyn College Night gala held at Steiner Studios, the College and the Foundation proudly launched the public phase of our $200 million “Foundation for Success” campaign. This new phase of our ongoing comprehensive campaign encompasses an additional $80 million beyond the $120 million already raised. It is designed to advance our goals of attracting first-rate faculty, fostering academic innovation, providing 21st-century instructional and research facilities, and offering our students the full range of academic and real-world learning experiences that will lead to their future success.
Our “Foundation for Success” campaign is supported by an all-star cabinet chaired by BCF Trustee Marge Magner, and includes distinguished Brooklyn College Foundation Trustees such as Roy Furman, Don Buchwald, Michael Lynne, Carol Zicklin, and many others.
In addition to providing scholarship support for students across the campus—including presidential and honors scholarships as well as new scholarships in memory of Martha Bell and Sherwood Johnson—our campaign is intentional in its focus. It addresses ongoing needs for new facilities and infrastructure renovations, critical support for innovations in teaching and research, and support as well for flagship academic programs and for essential academic services. In particular:
- The performing and visual arts will receive a significant boost with the construction and completion of the Leonard and Claire Tow Center for the Performing Arts.
- We will build Funds for Excellence for all five schools to foster innovative teaching and research and support collaborations on important new curricular directions.
- We will continue to expand our growing inventory of endowed chairs in critical academic areas. Last year alone we raised over 3.2 million for new endowed chairs.
- We will ensure sustainable funding for the Magner Center’s innovative programming and student internship support.
Our common academic resource, the library, is expected to receive significant additions soon.
- The new Office of International Education and Global Engagement will attract critical donor and foundation support.
And, the campaign will help us establish the first public graduate programs in cinema in New York City.
A website for the “Foundation for Success” campaign will soon be available for you to follow our progress. Last year, our fundraising results more than doubled from nearly 7.1 million ($7,095,776) in 2008-09 to nearly 14.3 million ($14,278,026) in 2009-10. We will work equally hard this year to ensure that our fundraising goals and successes continue this upward trend.
Modernizing Our Facilities and Physical Plant
Last spring, we launched one of our most important long-range planning initiatives with the preliminary fact-finding and interviewing needed to develop a new Facilities Master Plan for the next decade. Assisted by CUNY consultants, Pfeiffer Partners Architects, and by our own Working Committee, we are now in the “conceptual planning stage” of this effort. Assessments about current and projected space and infrastructure needs are being considered as well as options for modernization and overall enrollment trends. Some preliminary observations have already been shared with the Master Planning Group and the Cabinet.
For example, we know that students learn not only in classrooms and laboratories with our faculty, but also with one another through informal conversations, group study work, and chance encounters. However, with few exceptions, our campus lacks the kind of informal, yet well-designed gathering spaces that can foster student learning and interaction beyond the classroom. We can see by the success of the Library Café how useful these informal learning spaces can be. Our new Master Plan will therefore call for an increase in student common areas in all of our buildings, resulting in more lounges and informal spaces where students can study, read, and share ideas.
Because the fact-finding phase of the Facilities Master Planning process overlapped with the preliminary design discussions for the new Roosevelt science building, we have made substantial progress with the architects and program planners on identifying space needs in the new Roosevelt building and have also identified renovation opportunities in Ingersoll Hall and New Ingersoll. The architects and CUNY planners have met several times with both the Roosevelt Science Working Committee and the chairs in natural and behavioral sciences to help guide them in determining the new facility’s general framework and usage patterns. An overall conceptual design has now been agreed upon for the new Roosevelt Science Commons, which will house all of our introductory science courses, the Core offerings, and attendant support units and services.
The next phase of this process is to complete a mock-up of the programmatic components of the Roosevelt Science Commons, including the classrooms, teaching laboratories, support spaces, and informal learning spaces. The plan also calls for ongoing renovation of the research infrastructure and upper-division teaching labs housed in Ingersoll and New Ingersoll, beginning this year.
Construction and Renovations Begin
This year’s state budget did not provide any funds for CUNY’s high-priority capital projects, which included two for Brooklyn College. However, I am pleased to report that with CUNY’s assistance we are in fact moving ahead with swing space construction for music and theater in Roosevelt Hall. The demolition of Gershwin Hall will begin in early 2011, once the move into Roosevelt swing space has been completed. A groundbreaking ceremony for the new Claire and Leonard Tow Center for the Performing Arts is being planned for later this fall.
One of the most exciting classroom renovation projects will take place this year in Whitehead Hall. Thanks to a 2 million dollar allocation from City Council and from our Borough President, Marty Markowitz, we will have the funding to renovate 320A Whitehead Hall—one of Whitehead’s large, outdated and very unattractive lecture halls—into an “International Conference Center.” The new high-tech facility will be a globally connected learning space and state-of-the-art conference room with worldwide teleconferencing capabilities. Equipped with a digitized podium, interactive screens, smart whiteboards and a student response system, the center will enhance large classroom interaction and give faculty and students the opportunity to link with colleagues and peers around the globe. This new teaching facility will be configured to serve as many departments and programs as possible.
Strategic Plan for Brooklyn College, 2011-16
Finally, we are about to launch a strategic planning process that will result in the development and approval of a new Strategic Plan for Brooklyn College for the next five years. This planning process will be multifaceted and will involve many stakeholders in a variety of settings: faculty, staff, students, administrators, Foundation trustees, alumni, and community partners will provide insight and ideas at several Working Committee meetings in October and November; subsequent Town Hall meetings will be held, and the campus community and external stakeholders will be invited to provide input online on a new Strategic Plan website.
A useful Strategic Plan—by that I mean one that informs both our long-range thinking and our annual action plans—should be a living document. It should be clear and deliberate in its design, overarching in its reach, and capable of inspiring our campus community and other stakeholders with a compelling mission, vision, and set of themes that will guide us forward and enhance our distinctiveness. The new Strategic Plan will be conceived in broad strokes so that our schools, programs, service units, and administrative divisions can align specific action items to the plan.
The development of a meaningful strategic plan will require broad participation as well as thoughtful dialogue and debate. Some of you have been nominated or have self-nominated for the Working Committee, and I greatly appreciate your willingness to serve the College in this important capacity. The membership of the Working Committee will be announced by the end of the week. Others will choose to participate in Town Hall meetings or provide commentary online. All of your perspectives and feedback will be of great use as we seek to articulate the value of the Brooklyn College degree, to identify new and continuing areas of institutional emphasis, and to consider ways of expanding our resource streams to enhance the quality and growth of the College.
It is my hope that our strategic planning discussions and final plan will help shine an even brighter light on the achievements of our faculty and students, give momentum to our collective aspirations, and strengthen the reputation of Brooklyn College.
I look forward to working with you on this and many other important endeavors in the coming months.
Thank you for all that you do for Brooklyn College, and best wishes for a rewarding year.