President's Day Speech August 25, 2010
The Road to Mission Fulfillment
Good morning and welcome to all. I hope everyone got some well-deserved rest this summer. I hope you are as excited as I am to start another academic year at The College of Saint Rose.
It’s been a busy summer at the College with summer session classes; successful music camps; the Summer Academy and sports camps, and the noise of jack hammers everywhere. When our students arrive over the next few days, the pace will quicken. I know we are all ready to get going.
Before I proceed any further, I want to take a moment to say a few words about those members of our community who passed away over the last few months. We express our condolences to all those in our broader Saint Rose community who passed away – be they former members of our community, or relatives and friends of current members of our community.
We hold a special place in our hearts for a number of former colleagues who are no longer with us – former trustees Sr. Mary Ann Hayes, Margaret Sandman, Lewis Golub, Josephine Farinella and wife of a former trustee, Jane Pfaff.
Former faculty members who passed away include Dr. Dixon Stevens of the School of Business; long-time Business School adjunct Ted Hilts; English Department faculty member Sr. Bernarda Jaques; School of Education faculty member Sr. Jean Owens, and Arts and Humanities professor, Sr. Jean Whalen; and just this week, Dr. Margaret Scheppach, a much loved and respected member of our music faculty. I would also like to add to this list Jack McDonnell, Mary Grondahl’s father, who was an extraordinary lifelong learner at Saint Rose; so much so that he actually served as a guest lecturer in Jeanne Wiley’s Philosophy classes!
Please join me in a moment of silence as we pay homage to our departed colleagues and friends. Thank you.
President’s Day – a unique Saint Rose tradition - gives us an opportunity that is becoming rare at most colleges and universities today – the convening of the members of our academic community who are blessed with the extraordinary privilege of working in the academy.
It is remarkable that in spite of our growth over the last decade, we are still able to convene in one place to engage in conversations that bind us together as a community of teachers, scholars and learners. I sincerely hope this tradition will always be preserved at Saint Rose.
As I mentioned in my email invitation to President’s Day, I would like to focus my remarks on just a few items this morning because I want to make sure the members of the SPPC have ample time to present the draft of our next Strategic Plan. I’d like to first welcome and introduce the newest members of our community – always the most enjoyable part of the morning.
Then I will provide you with brief updates on our enrollment numbers and capital projects.
I will take a few moments to highlight some of the outstanding accomplishments we have achieved together over the course of the last Strategic Plan and finally, before yielding the floor to the SPPC, I will close with some observations on the state of our college as we are about to embark on another academic year of serving our students and honoring our mission.
Let me introduce the newest members of our community who have joined us since the close of the last academic year. Not all of them could be with us today so I will introduce only those who are present. A full listing of all the newcomers is on the table at the rear of the Forum near the coffee set up.
(Introduction of new community members)
On the enrollment front, I provided you with a snapshot of our enrollment in my August 11th memo, the bulk of which focused on our parking situation. I hope you found my comments and suggested changes to the proposed parking rate fee helpful. When I first started this job fourteen years ago, I knew the parking problem would always be challenging, somewhat analogous to a planter’s wart on the bottom of your foot that never goes away.
Well, the wart is healing somewhat, but it is still with us, reminding us that while it will always be somewhat of an irritant. Yet I know we will all survive the parking challenges at Saint Rose just as we have over the last nine decades. By the way, anyone wishing to join Dave Szczerbacki and me at the St. Vincent’s lot is welcome to do so. There are plenty of spaces and the walk to the center of the campus is only 4 minutes!
Since my August 11th memo, the enrollment figures have changed slightly, all in the right direction. As of last Friday, we have registered 652 freshmen against a budget target of 583. We have 260 full-time transfers against a budget target of 278, and we have registered 1,911 upperclass students against a target of 2,005. So on the undergraduate side of the ledger, we are at 98% of goal with more transfer and upperclass registrations expected over the next week.
Graduate credit hour activity is at 94% of goal with additional registration activity expected as well over the next few days. Our budget goal is 12,420 credit hours, or virtually the same number that actually materialized a year ago.
My thanks to everyone for their hard work and dedication in helping us meet our enrollment goals, and especially the admissions teams led by Mary Grondahl.
Some of you might question why I spend so much time in these presentations talking about enrollment results. Our resident humorist and creative genius on the SPPC, Scott Brodie, might even surmise, as he has in the past, that perhaps I worry too much about the inevitable fluctuations in our enrollment.
My response to Scott and others who might share this view is yes, I do occasionally lose sleep on this issue. After all, meeting our overall enrollment targets not only allows us to eat for another year, both literally and figuratively, but it also allows us to flourish and achieve the hundreds of goals and aspirations we set for our departments, our schools, our offices, our plans and our college year in and year out. As the SPPC warned in its FY11 Budget Priorities report to me, “Any downward fluctuations in overall enrollment will adversely impact the College’s ability to support even core expenses or enhance program support.”
So I worry because it is my nature and the truth of the matter is that you all will sleep more soundly – and probably do – knowing that I am fixated on such matters.
My other response to Scott might be that he is right to question my Irish preoccupation with glasses that are half-empty rather than those that are half-full. The news today is full of sobering stories, just as it has been for the last two years:
•that we are hardly out of the woods;
•that the threat of a double-dip recession is real;
•that consumer confidence is down again;
•that the unemployment rate is disastrous;
•that colleges and universities across the nation are freezing salaries and slashing programs,
•that our outlooks should be clouded by any number of other sour assessments of the past, present and the future.
Maybe Scott is saying to me that we have weathered the storm quite well, our enrollment levels and our finances have withstood the best punches the macro-economic forces could have thrown at us, and that the future is bright indeed.
Middle-of-the-night thoughts aside, I am an optimist by nature so I do hope Scott is right and I think that he is, but I also know that caution should never be thrown too lightly against the prevailing winds. If we continue to focus on our mission; our values; our academic strengths; our community culture; our beautiful campus, and on our students, I think we will continue to beat the odds and enroll the numbers and kinds of students who will benefit the most from the excellent educational experience we provide for our students.
While we were working very hard to meet our overall enrollment goals for the new academic year, we were also working very hard to complete a number of major and minor campus facilities projects over the summer. Projects, I might add, that helped us meet our enrollment goals.
The most significant project completed this summer is the final phase of renovations to Albertus Hall, which I often describe as the “instructional workhorse” of the campus. Well, this workhorse renovation is finally completed.
The final phase of renovations to this 78-year old structure has included both internal and external work. This $2.7 million phase encompassed the complete renovation of the ground floor and additional science and math classrooms and labs throughout the building. In addition, the stairs on the Western Avenue side of the building were rebuilt and the Riley Plaza entrance was replaced. Finally, all the windows were replaced throughout the building with energy efficient thermal pane windows. By renovating and adaptively renewing one of our oldest and most hallowed buildings (to the tune of $7.0 million over four years), the College has demonstrated its commitment to sustainable development, and saved more than $12 million – the difference between the total costs of our Albertus renovations and constructing the same structure as a new building.
Renovations to the Main Dining Room were also completed. The College now has one of the finest student dining areas in the region. Last year saw a significant increase in faculty and staff use of this space, and all are encouraged to visit the dining room and to enjoy the best campus dining program in the Northeast. I would also like to announce that anyone who has attended this morning’s session will receive a complimentary guest meal card good for lunch or dinner in the Main Dining Room. Rich Meigel has the meal cards ready to pass out later this morning. You might want to take advantage of this offer so you can sample the culinary talents of Darrin Alvaro, our Executive Chef. Darrin recently won a gold medal for the region in Aramark’s Culinary Excellence competition and was part of an Aramark team that placed third nationally as one of the best chef teams in America.
The Campus Theater also received some renovations and repairs, including exterior lighting, painting and improvement to the grounds around the theater. Inside, new work spaces were created, electrical service was improved and new bathroom facilities were installed. It’s not the Globe Theater in London, but it is a big improvement.
The Plumeri Sports Complex was also completed this summer. The parks and fields are available for use, and for the first time in its history, the College has a home for its intercollegiate and intramural programs. The sports complex is also a testament to the power of a partnership between the College and the City, and to the College’s commitment to the City of Albany. Stay tuned for more announcements in the coming weeks about our community-wide dedication and celebration at Plumeri Park on Saturday, September 25.
On campus, a significant amount of effort has gone into the continued improvement of the campus grounds. The most obvious of these is the new Alumni Garden between Moran and Gibbons Halls. As Marcus Buckley likes to say, “this space has been like a missing tooth in the smile of Madison Avenue, adjacent to the oldest building on campus – Moran Hall.” Now, it is an inviting gateway to the campus quad, which has become a treasured part of the campus.
New campus signage will enhance the appearance of the campus, and will provide way finding and guidance to visitors to the campus. The signage program also includes interior signage, something that has been sorely lacking from many of our buildings. The last time the College invested any sizable amount of money on campus signage was in 1989. The wooden signs marking our buildings stood up well, but it is time to replace them with more modern, attractive and durable signs.
A great deal of other work was completed this summer as well, and I refer you to the Hard Hat Update for further information on these projects.
Needless to say, we’ve come a long way in developing our campus as a jewel in the heart of Albany and more is on the way.
The “More that is on the Way” was detailed in a Memorandum that I sent to the entire Saint Rose community on June 4 in which I summarized the decisions made by the Board of Trustees in authorizing two major projects over the next two/three years. Prior to making these decisions, the board reviewed the progress we have made under the past and current Masters Facilities Plans over the last decade. A summary of those accomplishments appears on the screen above me and it shows the magnitude and scope of our investments in capital projects over the last ten years.
These investments have clearly produced significant gains for the College in terms of the functionality and attractiveness of our facilities, and the positive influence these investments have had in our ability to attract and retain students.
In formulating its decision on future projects, the board was driven by a number of considerations, including such factors as:
•Board leadership support and donor interest for significant fundraising support;
•Projects favorable to enrollment and student retention at the Undergraduate and Graduate level;
•Projects that do not significantly drain our capital projects reserve fund; and
•Projects that can demonstrate the potential capability of being self-liquidating.
Using these criteria as a guide, the Board of Trustees authorized two projects in the 2010-2013 time horizon – a project estimated at $3.2 million for a renovation and addition to 994 Madison Avenue for use by the School of Business, and a project estimated at $14.5 million calling for the construction of new student housing on campus on the southern side of Madison Avenue on a parcel of land that we have assembled on Madison Avenue and off Yates Street. The latter project also assumes the creation of between 175-200 additional parking spaces on campus.
School of Business
As the data on past facilities investments indicate, we have invested major sums in instructional facilities that benefit all students and, in particular, students in the Schools of Education, Mathematics and Sciences, and Arts and Humanities. The Lally School of Education; the complete overhaul of math and science classrooms, labs and offices in Albertus; and the newly constructed Massry Center for the Arts, as well as the CCIM are indicative of the extent of our investments in these schools. The School of Business, while the smallest of our four schools in terms of total enrollment, is in need of attention owing to its recent growth and need for physical identity to enhance its and the College’s branding potential. In fact, the School of Business produced the largest percentage increase in freshman and transfer enrollment (17%) this fall.
Last year, the College purchased from the Diocese of Albany a Victorian-style building near the Administration Building at 994 Madison Avenue. Consistent with the recommendation in the Master Plan to develop space for the School of Business, the Board of Trustees has designated this building as the future home of the School of Business, at least in a partial sense. While the building and a planned addition will not be large enough to accommodate faculty offices for Business School faculty, this project will serve as the first phase in a long-term process to create a new center for our School of Business. The planned renovation and addition at 994 Madison will create 12,000 additional square feet of office, classroom and seminar space for our undergraduate and graduate business programs, as well as general classroom space for other degree programs.
In approving this planned initiative, the trustees echoed the recommendation of the School of Business Advisory Council which encourages the School to consider complementing its current offerings with new program initiatives in areas such as entrepreneurship, non-profit leadership, business education distance learning, technology enterprise management and other new and emerging fields in business education. Preliminary plans for the re-configuration of space within the renovated and enlarged building call for two classrooms, four seminar rooms, space to support the School’s rapidly growing internship/field experience programs and offices for the School Dean and program directors. Possible future expansion of the School would involve adjacent property if and when such property becomes available.
A focused building campaign will be launched this Fall to raise a minimum of $2 - $3 million for capital expenses. The project will not begin until the bulk of the capital costs are raised or pledged, ideally within a one to two-year timeframe.
The next two slides provide you with a brief overview of the exterior plans for the new building.
As we try to meet the need to modernize our student housing options and meet rising demand, the College will embark on a plan over the next two years to build “suite style” housing to accommodate between 180-225 new beds. This initiative is long overdue. With the exception of normal upkeep and maintenance of our housing stock in the residence halls and houses, the College has invested relatively modestly in student housing over the last fifteen years. During that time, the demand for additional beds has become acute as more students express preference for on-campus housing in safe, secure and modern living environments.
Over the last two years the College has conducted two major studies on student demand for new housing and prime development zones for new housing. These studies have indicated that the best available location for new student housing is along the southern side of Madison Avenue. Fortunately, we have made a number of strategic property purchases in this area and along Yates Street over the last few years, producing a viable parcel of acreage upon which to build new student housing.
We will continue planning for this project over the next six months so that approvals and financing are in place to start construction in the Fall of 2011. Project costs will be bonded and the project will be of a self-liquidating nature with room revenues dedicated to support project financing and facility operating costs over the life of the bond.
Our overriding goal is to construct new student housing that is high quality, affordable to our students and responsive to the student housing preferences, e.g. single room options, dedicated bath facilities and modest food prep options. At this point in time we are still mulling over the design features of the project, but the site has been finalized and siting concepts have been advanced by the architect. Let me share a glimpse of the site plan with you on the screen above. As we move the design process along, we will share more information with you over the next few months.
Clearly, the development of new student housing and the planned renovation of 994 Madison will require added parking to meet planning and zoning requirements and serve our own needs. The preliminary plans for the student housing complex envisions the construction of between 175 - 200 new spaces on the southern side of Yates Street on land recently acquired by the College. These additional spaces will more than exceed the required additional parking for the student residence project and estimated growth in Business School enrollment as a result of the 994 Madison Avenue conversion.
In summary, these three development initiatives, linked together to form the Madison Avenue Corridor Plan, will consume our attention over the next two or three years.
Marcus Buckley and I will answer any questions that you have on these three projects at the end of the presentation and discussion of the new Strategic Plan, so we ask you to please hold your questions until that time, just before lunch.
Let us now move to the focus of today’s convocation – a discussion about strategic planning and the presentation of a new draft of the Strategic Plan by the members of the SPPC – the Strategic Planning and Priorities Committee.
Of course, the basis of any new strategic plan relates closely to the preceding plan and the template for action that last plan provided. Last Wednesday, you were mailed in “snail mail” fashion a copy of a summary report on the accomplishments that we as a community, working together, achieved under the 2005-2010 Strategic Plan, the title of which was “Sustaining and Enhancing Quality.”
We sent this to you because it is important to take stock on occasion of the progress we have made as an institution of higher learning and an engaged academic community. The former Mayor of New York City, Ed Koch, would always ask his constituents, “how are we doing?”, an impromptu survey to elicit feedback on the state of the city. Well, if we asked that question of ourselves today, the answer would be “we are doing quite well, thank you.”
In the first paragraph of my message to the community in the 2005-2010 Plan Summary, I said the following:
“The contents of this summary report on the current Strategic Plan convincingly demonstrate that our College is well-poised to continue on its path to becoming an outstanding institution of higher learning. Our progress is impressive, our academic stature and reputation are growing every year, and our commitment to providing outstanding mission-centric programs and activities is resolute.”
As you peruse this summary, and I certainly hope you do, I hope you take a few moments to note the many accomplishments of the Saint Rose community over the past five years, even during the recent years when the general state of the national and state economies has not been healthy. Since this plan summary is quite lengthy, as it should be in chronicling the progress we have made across so many areas over the last five years, I will not spend much time this morning repeating that which is detailed in the summary. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t note just a few areas of progress before we get to the presentation of the new plan.
The first and most important goal in the last plan called for us to enhance our academic distinction by becoming an outstanding liberal arts and sciences college with widely recognized professional programs. While there are many ways to point to the progress we have made in moving this goal forward, perhaps none is more important than how our peers evaluate our progress. Last year, our regional institutional accreditation agency, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, reaffirmed our accreditation for another five years without any qualifications and commended us on the quality and depth of our periodic review report. In fact, Middle States has referred to our report as a model for other colleges and universities to emulate.
Over the life of the plan, the College successfully reaffirmed accreditation by six (6) external accrediting agencies for academic programs and added one (1) new accreditation. The College has 46 degree programs accredited by these external professional accreditation bodies. Approximately 70% of undergraduate students and 92% of graduate students are enrolled in externally accredited programs.
We broadened our portfolio of academic offerings by creating new programs as the needs of local and global communities and industries changed. Since 2005, we have seen a marked increase in the number of undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs - 22 new undergraduate offerings, 16 new graduate offerings and nine new certificate programs.
Coupled with our expansion of academic offerings, we have been fortunate in attracting outstanding new faculty to each of the College’s four schools. Over the life of the plan, 66 tenure track faculty have been hired, including 37 replacement lines and 29 new lines, representing substantial long-term budgetary commitments. Most significantly, 96% of these new faculty members held terminal degrees when hired.
And perhaps most telling in terms of enhancing the quality of the academic experience, we have, over the last five years, made significant strides in promoting new ways to challenge our students through expanded undergraduate student research programs, honor internships and additional capstone experiences such as thesis projects, senior seminars, portfolios, engagement in professional, discipline-based conferences, and other scholarly and creative endeavors. In short, we have proven to ourselves, our peers and our students that the depth and range of the academic experience at The College of Saint Rose is second to none.
Matching our commitment to academic excellence is our mission-centric commitment to community engagement, the lynchpin of the second goal in the last Strategic Plan. Our results are impressive. Today, we are among the leaders in colleges across the nation as far as outreach efforts to improve our broader community, promote service learning and partner with our neighbors. Let me cite just a few examples from the summary:
•Under the leadership of Dean Maggie Kirwin, Saint Rose’s Thelma P. Lally School of Education just received funding of $433,000 from the Corporation for National and Community Service for a three-year program: Service Learning and Teacher Education (SLATE) focused on capacity building for stronger schools and communities in New York’s Capital Region. Our School of Education, the lead agency for this grant, developed a consortium of partners including: Union Graduate College School of Education; The School of Education of The Sage Colleges; Schenectady County Community College; Greater Capital Region Teacher Center; and the New York State Education Department Learn and Service America Program.
SLATE will provide infrastructure for its partners, community-based organization, and the Greater Capital Region Teacher Center. SLATE’s activities will impact 3,300 future and current teachers, and will disseminate Service Learning to benefit urban, suburban, and rural communities in New York’s Capital Region. Join Maggie, our partners and me as we formally announce this grant tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m. right here in the Forum.
•The Help Yourself Academy, sponsored by the School of Education in cooperation with the Albany City School District and the Help Yourself Foundation, currently serves third, fourth, and fifth graders in an afterschool program in partnership with the Pine Hills Academy. The Program focuses on the integration of the arts and sciences with literacy and communication to foster student success in the areas of pupil participation, attention, motivation, attendance, overall increased interest in school, and timely/satisfactory completion of homework. Assessment results for this program highlight significant increases in all of these areas.
•The School of Mathematics and Sciences sponsors the Institute for Science and Mathematics Education that includes the Problem-Based Learning Initiative, Summer Teacher Workshops and Teacher Training, all designed to strengthen the College’s partnerships with the local community.
A new $45,000 grant to Saint Rose marks Time Warner Cable’s first “Connect a Million Minds” commitment to an educational institution in the Capital Region. During this partnership with Time Warner Cable, the “Time Warner Cable Teacher Training Center” will coordinate the College’s math and science teacher professional development programs, as a part of the Institute. Saint Rose and Time Warner Cable anticipate reaching 150 teachers from high-needs school districts throughout the region, ultimately impacting nearly 6,000 children.
•In an effort to focus on diversity, entrepreneurship and economic growth through curriculum opportunities, the School of Business continues to support the Center for MicroEnterprise Development. With a vision of a diverse, sustainable and equitable Capital Region economy, that fosters a healthy quality of life for all area residents, a unique strategic alliance has been formalized between the School of Business at The College of Saint Rose, the Capital District Community Loan Fund and the Albany Center for Economic Success. The unique partnership provides space, financing and educational opportunities for aspiring micro-entrepreneurs, and includes a popular six-week Business Plan training course taught by School of Business faculty.
•Faculty from the College, including Arts Education, English, Philosophy, and Social Work professors, as well as the College’s Office of Community Service, and numerous student volunteers, work closely with the afterschool program at the Emmaus United Methodist Church in Albany. The Program supports assimilation of refugee children and their families to their new life in upstate New York. On weekday afternoons during the school year, upwards of 60 children from Sudan, Congo, Nepal, Thailand, Iraq, Burma, Rwanda, Pakistan and Malaysia work on their English, receive homework help, participate in art classes, receive assistance with social services and enjoy a meal together.
These are just a few of the extraordinary programs and activities that place Saint Rose deep into the core of our community. Many more could be cited, providing yet more evidence that we are honoring our mission of service in everything we do.
Of course, none of the initiatives and accomplishments that I have cited and the many others that appear in the summary would have been possible if we hadn’t met our enrollment goals and hadn’t committed ourselves to following a disciplined financial plan that supported our strategic plan and allowed us to make the investments in human capital, our technology and our physical assets, all of which have elevated our standing in the highly competitive higher education market in which we operate.
We are educating more students than we did five years ago – about 4% more – and our students are more geographically, racially and program diverse than ever before. And this has happened during the deepest recession in eighty years.
To serve this growing student population we have added faculty, as I mentioned earlier, and continued to invest in our personnel and our campus.
We know that attracting and retaining high quality faculty and staff is central to sustaining our momentum so we have raised salaries every year of the plan; completed a five-year salary enhancement plan for the faculty a year ahead of schedule; developed another plan to continue investing in our faculty; continued efforts to offer competitive salaries for our administrators and staff, and stressed professional development in every aspect of our human resources program through increased funding for faculty sabbaticals; scholars and artists grants; global literacy grants; CREST residential fellows; reassigned time grants and a host of other professional development grants for faculty and staff.
In terms of facilities, as I noted earlier, our commitment to improving the physical aspects of our campus is profound. It would have been very easy two or three years ago to batten down the hatches and do what many other college campuses have done – stop investing in facilities and campus improvements. We took a different tack and it has proven to be very wise in terms of enabling us to attract students to Saint Rose and improve the overall stature and reputation of our college.
Goals 5 – 7 in the last plan deal with promoting student engagement in all aspects of the Saint Rose experience, promoting a culture of dialogue across the campus and embracing diversity as a core value of the College. As you read the summary, note that we are moving our college to be more inclusive, more prominent from the aspect of the many national and international speakers we invite to campus and more celebratory as we note the personal achievements of our community members and the distinctions we garner as an institution.
On the last page of the summary, I observe that the progress we have made in the current plan has provided us with an excellent foundation for achieving the goals outlined in the new draft plan. I endorse the new plan and commend all the members of the SPPC for the patient and deliberate way they went about producing this draft.
In my August 11 memorandum, I made reference to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s high ranking of Saint Rose as a “Great Place to Work”. One of the criteria used by the Chronicle in choosing Saint Rose as a top ten college for this honor was the high ranking we gave ourselves in the category of Collaborative Planning and Governance, a category which encompasses the collegial nature of our planning and budgeting process.
The exercise of producing a strategic plan is an inexact science, characterized by voluminous data-gathering, exhaustive analysis, and seemingly endless debate about language, emphasis and tone. We rank ourselves high in this task because of the history of solid performance by the SPPC, led by our Provost, Dr. David Szczerbacki. I have noted the progress we have made as a community because we develop a plan and we follow it. We now have a new plan to consider that will guide us well over the next few years. I urge you to pay close attention to what you will hear because it is an excellent representation of good analysis and planning. Again, I thank the members of the SPPC for their hard work and dedication.
Let me close on a very positive note. All I have talked about this morning should give you a sense of comfort that we are moving in the right direction. You have spoken and others have noted that this college is a “Great Place to Work”. Our peers across the country have begun to sit up and take notice given our high ranking this year in the annual U.S. News and World Report survey on the Best Universities in the North. We rank 40th out of 172 ranked and moved up the list by 14 slots in one year. The “take away” from this is not that we increased our standing in a media popularity contest questioned by some and exalted by others, but that we rose in the rankings because the “peer assessment” portion of the survey, the heavily weighted portion that attempts to measure overall academic reputation, keeps creeping up every year. In short, other academic leaders at other institutions across the northeast are seeing us in a different, more prestigious light every year.
The day I walked into this college in 1996, I told everyone I met that Saint Rose was a much stronger institution than its trustees, faculty and staff considered it to be at the time. I am thrilled to see that we and others have come around to the widely shared opinion that we are, indeed, a very fine college in all respects.
Yet we all know success is fleeting and it takes a commitment on the part of all of us to work hard at improving everything we do. However, as we go about our business in the weeks and months ahead, I hope we hold uppermost in our minds the notion that we are here to serve our students, we are here first and foremost to teach – both within and outside of the classroom - and create a learning atmosphere that turns our students into passionate learners, always seeking to push themselves harder as they delve into whatever subjects and endeavors that are here to motivate them.
Over the summer, I read a book by an author by the name of Bill Smoot, a California professor. The book was entitled, “Conversations with Great Teachers”, published by the Indiana University Press. In his book, Smoot interviews 51 teachers from all walks of life and all kinds of schools and universities and attempts to glean from these teachers the essence of good teaching. And while he freely admits there are thousands of ways to probe this question, he does a nice job on the subject.
The comments of one university science professor, in response to the question, “What would you most want to tell others about teaching?” struck home with me. She says:
“I love it when the lightbulb comes on. You sort of look out in class, and if you are teaching a new principle or concept, a student might have that deer in the headlights look, where it’s like – I have no idea what she’s talking about. And then, it clicks, the lightbulb comes on, and it’s just wonderful.”
It’s time once again to begin our quest for those wonderful “lightbulb” moments. Thank you again for your dedication to The College of Saint Rose. Thanks for attending President’s Day. All the best for a great start of the new semester.
Thank you very much.