President's Day Speech August 22, 2012
Welcome back for the start of another academic year at The College of Saint Rose.
I am proud to be standing before you as President of this great institution. I am also humbled to follow in the footsteps of Mark Sullivan who led the College so ably for 16 years.
Moment of Silence
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 year. We express our condolences to the family and friends of all those who passed away – be they former students and colleagues, or relatives and friends of colleagues.
We hold a special place in our hearts for five former members of the Saint Rose community who are no longer with us:
•Karene Faul, our beloved colleague who helped build the Art Department into what it is today – one of the most outstanding art departments in higher education, whose devotion to Saint Rose, her colleagues and her students was an example to us all;
•Jeannette O’Hare, our dear colleague from the Housekeeping Department, who left three young children, her extended family, many friends and co-workers to cope with her sudden and unexpected loss;
•Joseph Lee, the College’s master locksmith for many years, who will be sorely missed by all of us;
•Bakari Lake-Sample, a graduate student who would have graduated from our Communications program last May had he not left us so soon; and
•Etemowei James Oki, a transfer student majoring in communications, and a proud veteran of the United States Navy who was tragically killed by a hit and run driver last Fall.
Each, in their own special way, left an indelible mark on our college and their departure has been felt by all of us whose lives they touched in such positive and enduring ways. A moment of silence, please, for Karene, Jeannette, Joe, Etemowei and Bakari.
Introduction of New Members of the Saint Rose Community
Abdella Taibi, Foreign Language Teaching Assistant
Janet Acker, Visiting Assistant Professor, Social Work
Lucille Beer, Visiting Assistant Professor, Music
Ema Buco, Visiting Instructor, Criminal Justice
Dr. Ellen Cole, Visiting Professor, Clinical Psychology
Joann Crupi, Communications Professional in Residence, Arts & Humanities
Sara Goldberg, Visiting Instructor, Special Education
Kara Jefts , Visiting Instructor, Visual Resources/Neil Hellman Library
Dr. Rebecca Landsberg, Asst. Professor, Biology
John Lenio, Inventory Control Specialist, Purchasing and Auxiliary Services
Patrick McWalters, Coordinator of Athletics Communications, Athletics & Recreation
Dr. Robert Owens, Jr., Associate Professor, Communication Sciences & Disorders
Claire Sherwood, Visiting Assistant Professor, Art
Dr. Jessica Sofranko, Assistant Professor, Communication Sciences & Disorders
Sarah Stark, Office Assistant, Project Aspire, Lally School of Education
Dr. James Teresco, Assistant Professor, Computer Science
Tyese Traynham, Administrative Secretary, HEOP/ACCESS
Patricia Whyte, Visiting Instructor, Spanish
Dr. Sherwood Wise, Assistant Professor, Music
Annual Community Service Award
This is the College’s third year in recognizing our employees with the Community Service Award. The recipients of this award are recognized for their outstanding contributions to the external community. These employees exemplify the spirit of community service and involvement embodied by the Sisters of Saint Joseph, who were founded to serve the “dear neighbor.”
This year’s recipient is Barbara Wyllie, who has been the Office Manager in our Athletics and Recreation Department since 2003.
Barbara has an impressive record of service to others. She sets an example for volunteerism and community leadership:
As the Vice President of Gift of Life for Rotary District 7190, she provides life saving cardiac procedures for impoverished children around the world; arranges for the children’s families to stay at Ronald McDonald House while in US; sends families home with necessary medical supplies, clothing, and other necessities for all children in the affected families, and works to coordinate clean water in villages where these children live, if needed. She is the Immediate Past President of the Rotary Club of Glenville, and has been selected as the Rotarian of the Year by Glenville’s Rotary and named a Paul Harris Fellow, a Rotary Club’s highest form of member recognition.
As a Rotarian, Barbara helps provide monthly dinners to those staying at the Ronald McDonald House; regularly volunteers at Jezreel International, sorting & packing goods to be sent to those in need, and was selected to work their recent National Feed the Children campaign; along with her family has worked Glenville Rotary’s Ziti Dinner for each of the 22 years since it started; is an advocate for Veterans and Troops by collecting over 1,000 paperbacks to mail to troops, and created fundraisers to pay shipping costs; fundraised with sales of fair trade coffee to purchase and ship fair trade coffee to deployed troops, emceed Veterans Recognition Services and breakfasts, had a specially designed Veteran’s Recognition pin created to distribute to all veterans in attendance; creates and sends monthly care packages to two Troops; supports in the supplying of dictionaries to all 3rd graders and thesauruses to all 5th graders in Scotia-Glenville School District annually; supports ShelterBox, which is a disaster relief charity that provides emergency kits which include a tent, bedding, cooking/eating utensils, and water purification tablets for 10 adults and created and facilitates an annual Rotarian of the Year Recognition Night at the Joe Bruno Stadium. In addition, Barbara is editor of Rotary District 7190’s online monthly newsletter, serving over 1,300 Rotarians.
Barbara also volunteers at Camp Braveheart’s Oncology Camp for Women by offering Reiki, shuttling campers, and being a general source of support. Camp Bravehearts was co-founded by Karen Haag, the first recipient of the College’s Community Service Award.
We are pleased to honor Barbara Wyllie with this award. The College will contribute $500 to Gift of Life, an organization of Barb’s choice.
• For the FIFTH consecutive year, The Chronicle of Higher Education has named Saint Rose as a “Great College to Work For.” The College ranks among the top 10 medium-sized colleges (3,000 to 9,999 students) in 11 of 12 categories for specific best practices and policies. Saint Rose was also placed on the survey’s Honor Roll for the FOURTH straight year as one of the 10 medium-sized colleges and universities to score the highest among the 12 recognition categories.
• The Saint Rose Women’s Swimming and Diving Team was recognized by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America for earning the HIGHEST Spring 2012 GPA among ALL Division II swim teams in the Country.
• Bryan Sawyer, a 2006 Saint Rose graduate with a master’s degree in special education, was named “Top Teacher” by the “LIVE! With Kelly” television show this summer. Brian is the special education teacher for grades 2 and 3 at Karigon Elementary School in Clifton Park and was nominated for this honor by the parent of twin sons diagnosed on the autism spectrum.
• Cecily Wilson, a 2007 graduate of the College with a certificate of advance study in school building leadership, was selected as the next Principal at Albany High School.
Arts & Humanities Summer Camps:
• 98 students attended the two-week music camp in the following areas: Piano Intensive Program, Chamber Ensembles, All-Camp Choir, Select Choir, Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble
• The 3rd week of the music camp program was reserved for juniors and seniors in high school and had 14 students attend.
• This was the first year for Film Making Camp and 10 students enrolled – the maximum number we could accommodate.
• 13 students enrolled in Art Camp which was in its second year.
Summer Academy for Youth:
• 331 students registered for over 700 courses this summer; compared to 684 course registrations last summer
New Student Orientation:
• The Office of Student Life and Parent Relations welcomed 572 first year students and 717 family members during summer orientation.
• 95% of students who attended indicated that Orientation helped them recognize that they are responsible for their own learning and their own academic process, as well as to appreciate the value of a liberal arts education.
HEOP/ACCESS Pre-Freshmen Program:
• 38 students attended this program which included course work, team building and a community service project with the Grant Street Arts Program and the Community Gardens.
• It was a busy summer for the facilities department as they oversaw the completion of Centennial Hall and the Huether School of Business. Vice President Marcus Buckley will have more to say about these projects later in the program.
• In addition, approximately 100 other projects were undertaken including: fire alarm replacement in 18 buildings; window replacement in 11 buildings; lighting retrofits for energy conservation and replacement of boilers.
• Despite the heat and the dry weather, our grounds have looked fantastic all summer!
• M.F.A. in Creative Writing will enroll its first students this Fall. Thanks to the English Department and to Dean Shaw for their work in developing this program over the past 2-3 years.
Recently Awarded Grants:
• $146,000 for the Huether School of Business from the George I. Alden Trust
• $25,000 unrestricted from The Royal Bank of Canada to support undergraduate research projects involving the Normanskill Water Shed.
• $5,000 for Massry programming from the John Ben Snow Memorial Trust
• $15,000 endowed scholarship from the David Paul Family Foundation
• $10,000 for service learning from the Standish Family Fund of the Community Foundation
• TODAY there will be a special showing of the Faculty Art Show (between 1 – 5 p.m.) and Reception sponsored by the Social Committee (from 3 – 5 p.m.) in the Massry Center for the Arts
• August 25th – Academic Convocation
• August 29th – 3 p.m., Ribbon Cutting and Dedication of Centennial Hall
• September 8th – Reach Out Saint Rose Day
• September 20th – Constitution Day; 7:30 p.m. lecture by Dr. Ellen Schrecker, “Under Control: Political Repression in America from Puritans to the Patriot Act”
• September 21st – Benefit Concert by Hair of the Dog to raise money for the Student Emergency Fund
• September 24-28th: Stevenson McIlvaine, the Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow will join us on campus and participate in the Interdisciplinary Conversation in Ethics and give the Vickery Lecture.
• October 9th: Tully Lecture by Benjamin Lawsky, New York State’s first Superintendent of Financial Services
• October 11th: Ribbon Cutting and Dedication of the Huether School of Business
• October 22nd: Sidney and Beatrice Albert Interfaith Panel Discussion on the issue of Separation between Church and State
• Will be held on Saturday, October 13th beginning at 10 a.m. at the Empire State Plaza Convention Hall. (Same location we used to use for commencement.)
• I hope many of you will be able to join members of the Board of Trustees, my wife Susan and me at this official installation ceremony.
• Keep an eye on your Saint Rose email account as additional information will follow on the details of the day.
• It has been another challenging year in terms of recruitment of new students and retention of current ones. Student debt, the lingering recession, weak consumer confidence, and gridlock in Washington are weighing heavily on the minds of prospective and current students and their families. The members of the undergraduate and graduate admissions offices have worked tirelessly, as have all of you, to ensure that the benefits of a Saint Rose education are clearly articulated to prospective students. I thank each one of you for your continued efforts in support of our enrollment goals. We will need the same high level of commitment going forward to meet future enrollment goals – both in enrolling new students and in retaining the ones we have.
• Vice President Mary Grondahl will provide additional detail and perspective about our Fall enrollment picture in a few moments.
• As Vice President Buckley noted in his June 15, 2012 memo, the College began the new fiscal year on July 1st with some financial challenges. At that point, we forecasted a revenue shortfall of $1.9 million. Projected enrollment numbers were lower than budgeted expectations – a situation which persists. As a tuition-driven institution, 86.5% of the College’s revenues are derived from tuition and fees.
• As a result of the anticipated revenue shortfall, a number of steps were implemented. These steps were outlined in the June memo, including a 2-3% reduction across all programs and departments which was imposed in consultation with budget managers. As a result, the operating budget was balanced.
• Our conservative budget position last June was not unwarranted. We are conservatively projecting an additional revenue shortfall of $3.5 million. Softer than anticipated transfer, graduate and returning student enrollment has contributed to this additional pressure on revenues as has additional upward pressure on the freshman discount rate.
• Note that in FY12 we eliminated $3.8 million from the budget, contingencies and reserves. Thus over FY12 and FY13 we have the potential for an $8.9 million reduction in operating budget, contingencies and reserves.
• In this environment, there is continued pressure to increase revenues, decrease expenses all while also improving the quality of a Saint Rose education and strengthening our reputation.
• To maintain expenditure controls, we have curtailed or deferred certain expenditures, reallocated resources, and continue to seek cost containment and reduction opportunities. Following the drop-add period in September, I will issue a more comprehensive report on our budget situation.
• I will update the Board of Trustees Executive Committee on our budget situation this Friday and will seek their active guidance.
VISION – Priorities for 2012-2013. . . . And Beyond
I now want to address the vision for the future of the College. I believe that visions should express our shared aspirations. Thus, I want your input. You will all receive an e-mail from me seeking input on six vision themes which I will now present.
Visions should challenge the status quo and the usual way of doing things. They confront inertia and resistance to change. Making visions come to life – fulfilling our collective aspirations – is hard work.
As statements of an attractive, and realistic and believable future, visions respect the past, they are grounded in the present; and, they embrace the future.
My orientation to the future is simply this:
• Let’s continue the momentum of the past 16 years under the leadership of President Sullivan – a momentum which is appropriately cast within the heritage of the Sisters of St. Joseph who, with seven Sisters, $1,000 and a dream, founded this institution in 1920;
• And, let’s also expand the vector of change – the range, spectrum, breadth – of change. In my first meeting with the President’s Transition Team, there was a strong belief that we should strive to reach “the next level” of academic excellence. I like the sound of this!
Thanks to all of you, and under Mark Sullivan’s leadership, the institution has been nothing but dynamic. Since 2008, we have continued to embrace change in the face of a severe, lingering recession. And – importantly – we have done so on our terms consistent with our mission. I am confident and hopeful that this posture will continue to be a hallmark of our culture.
The First Theme is Clarify the College’s Value Proposition
I would like to continue the campus discussion, begun last January at President’s Day, on the value of higher education – with a particular focus on the value of a degree from The College of Saint Rose. We have captured the many responses from that date and they are available on the President’s page on Blackboard under “Information”. This information has also been provided to our Middle States Working Groups for their discernment. We need to spend some time as a community with this data.
Thus, I will ask the Strategic Planning and Priorities Committee, under the leadership of Provost Kirwin, to design a campus program (e.g. Faculty/Administration Day, January President’s Day, Brown Bag lunches) which continues and extends this discussion. This discourse is important as we chart a future which is informed by our core values. It is important as we work to attract, retain and graduate students. It is important as we recruit and develop faculty, staff and board members. It is important for our fundraising work.
In reviewing last January’s work, and to foreshadow this discussion, note that there is plenty of good news to build upon.
Your input last January suggests that we offer an exciting and powerful “value proposition”. Examples include:
• We are mission centric;
• We focus on the individual student;
• We are a community;
• We provide dynamic, active learning experiences in and outside the classroom, lab and studio;
• Our faculty, staff and administrators consistently demonstrate passion, knowledge and purpose;
• We are proud of the remarkable outcomes of current students and our graduates;
• Our programs are externally validated;
• A progressive orientation is evident in our shared governance structure, leadership and strategic plan;
• We invest in quality facilities, technology and student services.
Such statements are important – they define us – but let me provide one vignette which gets to the heart of the matter:
Last Thursday, while walking by one of our Residence Halls - 908 Madison Avenue – Gary Altman called me into “his building”. As a member of our custodial team, Gary is responsible for 908-910 Madison Avenue. With pride and enthusiasm, he showed me the freshly polished floors, stairwell repairs and other summer renovations. We talked about his work – not just over the summer – but throughout the academic year. What resonated then and now was Gary saying “we want to do what’s best for our students – we take pride in our work!”
This is the Saint Rose Difference. We all have a role in realizing our mission – our value proposition is best served when we all exhibit Gary’s passion, knowledge and purpose. Thank you Gary.
The Second Vision Theme is Innovation in Living Our Mission: Focus on High Impact Practices
This theme places a priority on innovation – innovation which moves our academic programs to the “next level” of excellence. We are poised to step up our game in terms of achieving cutting edge, best practice approaches to the teaching and learning process. I have studied closely the work of American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), and their robust Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative. I am convinced that we can be leaders in offering what AAC&U terms “high impact educational practices” in these areas: learning communities; writing-intensive courses; collaborative assignments and projects; undergraduate research; diversity/global learning; service learning/community-based learning; internships, and capstone courses/projects.
Our challenge is to work to “move the excellence needle” for these and other practices through innovation and collaboration. To spur discussion in this regard, the second half of this morning’s program will showcase four innovative programs. I will organize a second such panel for January’s President’s Day.
Let me suggest some priority innovation projects for 2012-2013. Think of these as “targets of innovation and collaboration opportunity”. This list is not exhaustive.
In the next twelve months to 24 months:
• Let’s embrace active learning as the way Saint Rose defines the academic experience, our “brand promise.” Active learning, in my mind, is defined as a rich and intentional interplay of theory and technique, exposure to a practice or work environment or situation, and reflection. Let’s make active learning the hallmark of our academic experiences.
• As but one example, let’s develop required internships or clinical practicum/student-teaching for every undergraduate major. Graduate students that have not had an internship or student teaching experience as an undergraduate will also have internship opportunities. I am excited by the fact that just two weeks ago, Inside Higher Education ran a story which highlighted the fact that our English majors complete required internships as part of their degree programs.
• Keeping in mind that most students have to work to support themselves we will continue to actively work with employers and alumni to support more paid internships for our students. Institutional Advancement has been asked to expand funded internship opportunities – building on the very successful “Project 70” initiative. Speaking of Project 70, I had the pleasure of having dinner with this year’s Project 70 Intern in Washington earlier this summer. Emily Gydesen, a dual degree major (BS/MBA), completed her internship working directly with the Director of the Legal Services Corporation, James Sandman. Emily’s experiences affirmed my belief in the power of active learning. Jim Sandman, moreover, was thoroughly impressed with Emily’s ability to add value to his organization and with her level of preparation – particularly her writing skills and her professionalism.
• I envision a future where every undergraduate student will have the opportunity to participate in service learning in at least one course in their major and in one course in their liberal education requirements.
• I also believe that very undergraduate student should participate in faculty-mentored research projects. We are doing very good things in undergraduate research. We just need to do more.
• I envision a College where every undergraduate student will participate in a capstone senior seminar in their major.
• Building on the experience of the American City – which you will hear about later this morning – let’s expand the interdisciplinary liberal education Freshman Year Experience by developing one or more additional faculty liberal education projects for FY ’14.
• Let’s triple the amount of students participating in study abroad or domestic “study away” experiences.
• Finally, let’s renew our commitment to the returning adult student, so long a vital part of our mission. We should develop a degree completion program for the many adult students, who have college credits from previous college work and a wealth of valuable learning experience from work or military service so that they can seamlessly complete their bachelor’s degree. We had such a program called the Experienced Adult Program. It is time to bring that program back and renew our mission of serving adult students.
The Third Vision Theme is: Reaffirming our Mission as an Engaged Urban College
Where are we now?
In his inaugural address, Mark Sullivan said this campus has never had walls and never will, either literally or symbolically. Our boundaries between “town and gown” are porous, and they should be. In the last decade, we extended our campus to become an even more integrated part of the fabric of the City of Albany and of this neighborhood. Since our founding, we have always been known for the outreach of our students and faculty, but now in addition to that grassroots service, the College has made more than $100 million of investments becoming the anchor of the Pine Hills neighborhood, and revitalizing the Hoffman Park area through the Christian Plumeri Sports Complex, a national model for public-private partnerships.
Saint Rose was named to the President’s Honor Roll for Community Service in 2011 and 2012.
Reach Out Saint Rose Day has increased from 50 - 60 students, faculty and staff participating the first time to more than 550 last year (2011).
We have served this community for the last 100 years. Our campus ministry students volunteer in soup kitchens, and food pantries, our art students teach refugees English through art, our School of Education runs an extensive after school program with Pine Hills Elementary School, the list goes on and on. Indeed, in a given year, we have 75 – 100 community-based curriculum or co-curriculum partnerships. We extend our community impact to soup kitchens in Washington D.C., Habitat for Humanity projects in Florida and Louisiana, and the poorest of the poor in Honduras.
Where are we going?
We have an opportunity to play leadership roles across the lattice of stakeholders in this City and region. We can bring these stakeholders together. When the needs are so many and so urgent and the resources are so limited, we need to be unified and work with deliberate intent focused on common goals: educating our youth, creating accessible jobs and alleviating poverty among all demographics, and strengthening our neighborhoods.
• For example, Fr. Chris DeGiovine, dean of spiritual life, is chairing a Community Advisory Board consisting of representatives from a number of community based organizations, City officials, and the College.
• Working with a consortium of Albany institutions, and led by SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, the College is participating in the “Albany Promise” initiative which is developing “Cradle to Career” interventions for Albany’s most distressed neighborhoods – Arbor Hill, West Hill, and the South End. We will work to be a leader in this initiative as it takes flight.
• We are participating in the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge – thus strengthening our dual commitments to service learning and interfaith engagement and dialogue.
• We will complete a comprehensive assessment of all of our community engagement programs using the Carnegie Engagement Documentation Framework with the goal of being recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for excellence in community engagement by 2015.
• Finally, and very importantly, our engaged urban campus activities must be guided by two factors: alignment with our core values: academic excellence, teaching and learning, supporting the development of the whole student; and, the reality of resource limitations: we cannot afford to be all things to all people.
The Fourth Vision Theme is Program and Market Diversification
Where are we now?
In the last 10 years, we have added such programs in criminal justice, forensic science, forensic psychology, economics and just recently a new MFA program in creative writing. We are actively planning a doctoral program in Communication Sciences and Disorders. We have gone from having no online courses to more than 70 on-line or hybrid courses in an average semester. We also offer degrees, certificates and courses outside of the Capital Region with our partners – the Center for Integrated Teacher Education, the Teacher Effectiveness Institute and NYS United Teachers. We regularly assess and refine our degree programs through the leadership of faculty, department chairs and deans.
Where are we going?
• Diversify the enrollment to increase the amount of students coming from out-of-state particularly New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Connecticut and from abroad, including China, Taiwan, India, Indonesia and Australia. As Vice President Mary Grondahl will share, we are already making progress on this front. Our goal is to move our total new international enrollment from an average of 24 students (grad and undergrad) to 113 students by 2015-2016. Vice President Grondahl and Colleen Thapalia, Director of International Recruitment, are developing and implementing programs to support this goal. I had the opportunity to visit two colleges in Taiwan earlier this summer to explore partnership ideas. I returned with two conclusions: 1) there is much opportunity for expanding international enrollment and exchange, and 2) we have a lot of work to do.
• We must increase the amount of non-tuition sources of revenue. This will include non-credit options, professional development offerings, sponsored-research and professional practice with our role models including our Institute for Community Research and Training and the Emery Educational and Clinical Services Center.
• We must develop and expand alternative learning options. We should use technology as an enabling and mediating tool – a means to an end. This can mean more e-hybrid courses as part of a “brick and click” campus. This can also mean weekend degrees, courses delivered off-site, closer to where people live or directly at workplaces. We have to think creatively and meet the needs of students on their timetable, at their convenience, and consistent with their personal and professional obligations. This is particularly true when we are speaking in terms of graduate programs and returning adult students. We should not assume, for example, that a traditional semester and in-class format will fly for mid-career professionals looking for advanced academic work.
The Fifth Vision Theme Relates to Faculty and Investing in Academic Excellence
Where are we now?
Faculty define the character and quality of an institution. They represent our core and as such are the key to achieving the “next level” of academic excellence. We need to continue to commit to hiring faculty with both the credentials in their field and the passion for teaching and mentoring students. While Saint Rose is not a research university, we need to continue, and where possible, expand support for scholarship research and creative activity. I believe that the best teachers refresh and expand their fields of vision and competencies through such work. Active researchers, artists and musicians serve as role models and mentors for our students and are best positioned to incorporate state-of-the-art knowledge in the teaching – learning process. Finally, I have been reminded hundreds of times (if not thousands) in my career that faculty are who students remember long after graduation.
96 percent of Saint Rose tenure-track faculty members now have the highest degree in their field. In 2005, it was 77 percent. Today, we have 213 full-time faculty members up from 175 in 2005. In 2011, we hired 14 new full-time, tenure track faculty members and 10 new visiting faculty. Today we welcomed 4 new tenure track faculty and 9 new visiting faculty.
This year, working with the Provost, Deans, Faculty, and Institutional Advancement,
1. I will outline a plan for endowed professorships in each school.
2. I will develop a plan for developing endowed support for 2 – 3 two signature institutional lectureships, as well as for visiting scholars, creative writers, artists and professional residencies.
3. I will develop a plan for raising endowed funds for a number of strategic initiatives currently funded through the operating budget, thus providing needed budget relief. Examples include: Provisions – including a new Provisions Fellowship program, Frequency North, First Year Writing Program, Scholars and Artist Grants, undergraduate research, American City, Urban Launch and other Pathways programs, visiting scholars and artists and the like.
Finally, the Sixth Vision Theme is Affordability
Where are we now?
To remain competitive we must be affordable! We are in the midst of a price bubble not unlike the housing bubble of 2008 or the “dot.com” bubble of the late 1990s. A price bubble exists when price significantly exceeds value or perceived value. Price bubbles are exacerbated – and bubbles burst – when economic forces cannot support the price structure. These forces include the inability of families to finance education through home equity loans, or unemployment, wage stagnation and the like.
We know Congress, presidential candidates, the media and, most importantly, families are concerned with the cost of college and rising student debt! Spend a few minutes talking with Steve Dwire, Director of Financial Aid, or any admissions officer and you will know that families are worried, are pushing back, and are searching for alternatives.
Our ability to realize our mission as a tuition-driven institution – to pay our bills; to support innovative programs; to provide raises and support progressive benefits programs – will be predicated by our ability to address the issue of affordability head on. We do so as a relatively low tuition – high discount institution. This is a very tenuous position to be in, but it is where we find ourselves.
What can we do?
• As noted in my first vision theme, we need to better define and communicate our value proposition.
• Since we are constrained in our ability to increase tuition rates beyond what the market will bear, we need to develop a comprehensive campaign which squarely and aggressively builds endowment capacity to support the cost of attendance. This priority has an urgency to it and I cannot overstate its importance.
• On this note, we are in the very early stages of assessing the potential for a comprehensive campaign. The foundation for any campaign and for fundraising for a college is its Annual Fund. In preparation for a potential Centennial campaign, I have asked Vice President Karin Carr to significantly increase The Saint Rose Fund, both in dollars raised and in alumni and constituent participation in the Fund. I am asking the entire Saint Rose community to help us reach this goal through your support and participation. We expect to double The Saint Rose Fund in five years and have set a target of increasing the fund by 50% in two years.
• Finally, we will work diligently to contain costs, to allocate and re-allocate scarce resources to priority needs, and to balance budgets. This posture should not be seen as a threat to our mission. My view is that fiscal prudence enables mission achievement.
I welcome your input relative to these six vision themes – or relative to other priorities. As a community, we are united in our belief in the inherent value of higher education to society and the importance of educating the whole person. We should challenge ourselves to improve our methods, programs, facilities and governance processes. When we collaborate as a community, there is nothing we can’t do together in realizing our values.
I have had the opportunity of my career these past eight years to serve this fine institution. It has been a labor of love. Working with President Sullivan and many of you – faculty, staff, administrators, board members – we have accomplished much. While we face challenges, we should face the future with confidence, hope, and trust in one another. I am energized and excited as I establish my Presidency. I feel fortunate – blessed actually – to be in this position. I also know that I need the help of everyone in this room in order to succeed. I am honored to work with so many talented and committed professionals who strive to live the College’s mission in all that we do. Working together in re-affirming our commitment to our mission, we will achieve that “next level” of academic excellence as a community. Thank you for all you do and will do. Have a great year.