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Chancellor sets long-term goals for SU
As he prepares for his Oct. 8 address to the University community, Chancellor and President Kenneth A. Shaw, his Chancellor’s Cabinet and the Academic Deans Cabinet have identified 17 issues that will face the next Chancellor of SU.
- Academic Plan-By 2004 we will be entering the third year of implementing the most comprehensive academic plan in the University’s history. Each year sees fine-tuning of the key aspects of the plan, yet the essence of it continues. It calls on us to secure our foundation-ensuring greater faculty success; ensuring greater student success; refocusing graduate education; and enhancing the intellectual climate. We are also challenged to create strategic research partnerships in areas of University strength: information management and technology; environmental quality; collaborative design; and citizenship and social transformation. We have made progress in each of these areas, but much more needs to be done, most particularly in the funding of these strengths.
- Assessment-The Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools has outlined the expectations for assessment in our next accreditation report, due in 2008. The Periodic Review Report submitted in June 2003 described our current status. The creation of the University Assessment Council (UAC) was part of the Academic Plan with a mandate that all schools and colleges and each unit in Academic Affairs and Student Affairs participate in the assessment effort. There are local assessment committees within all schools and colleges as well as all academic and student affair units, and the chairs of these committees serve on the UAC. The last assessment reports submitted this summer show that units are in different places in terms of assessment. The challenge continues to be involvement of faculty and staff in an ongoing process of assessment that includes a focus on student learning, direct assessment methods and the review of data to make changes in courses, programs, departments and colleges.
- Branding-The University must implement an integrated and highly focused branding initiative to ensure that key audiences can quickly and clearly identify the characteristics that make SU unique, and that fund-raising efforts are reinforced. In part, this will be done by publicizing the accomplishments of the Academic and Space Plans and the University’s many contributions to the public good. More can and should be done.
- Budget-While we forecast an essentially break-even bottom line for the next five fiscal years, changes in the external environment could easily cause our fiscal situation to deteriorate. The present process for forecasting the budget is adequate. However, the University will need to continue to be resilient and willing to make hard choices. We have been able to rely on the Senate Budget Committee for sound guidance.
- Campus security-A number of initiatives will have been implemented prior to August 2004. These include peace officer status for our public safety staff, an implementation plan to help them make effective use of this status, and further progress on an access and surveillance program for campus. It is expected that we will need to do even more. Also, we will need to fine-tune and implement the University’s emergency preparedness program and our critical incident management plans. This summer the Department of Public Safety is working with a cross-functional University team to expand our preventive heightened security protocols such as limiting campus and building access and increasing officer deployment in response to terrorism alerts. Thanks to the efforts of the Logistics Committee, we have an emergency preparedness program that includes a Web site, an emergency control center at Skytop to enable administrators to function off campus, a communications plan and phone bank, evacuation plans, campus support centers and response teams, and a number of other targeted plans. The Critical Incident Management Team has been charged to develop a University-wide crisis response plan.
- Diversity and internationalization-At present, members of under-represented groups make up almost 18 percent of faculty, putting us ahead of the national average for private universities. Now, 25 percent of our tenure-track appointments are filled with members of these groups. This is good news, but we must do more to make this an embracing, open environment for all to ensure that we retain those members we have worked so hard to recruit. We must also do more to internationalize the curriculum and to open the doors to study abroad for far more of our students.
- Faculty and staff compensation-The University must continue to address the challenge of being competitive in salary and compensation. We have made little progress. There is a faculty development fund to support increases above the scheduled 3-percent increases, but that fund will end in FY 2005 according to the current budget plan. There is no supplemental funding for staff. It is essential that we address these issues in spite of tight budgets.
- Fund raising-The next fund-raising campaign is expected to raise at least $550 million by the year 2012. The silent phase will run through summer 2005 with the public launch in fall 2007. Chancellor’s roundtables meeting through the 2003-04 and 2004-05 academic years will help set clear priorities. To support this effort, the University Senate has allocated more than $550,000 for fiscal 2004 growing to $1.5 million by fiscal 2007. It goes without saying that reaching and exceeding the next campaign’s goal are critical to the University’s future.
- Graduate education and research-By August 2004, we will have significantly improved graduate student recruitment, graduate admissions and financial aid awards processing and procedures, and the budgeting basis for continuing operations. We need to continue to evaluate our graduate programs to ensure that the best ones are strengthened. We must also continue to encourage faculty research productivity. The new University policy on indirect cost recovery, which aims to return 25 percent of all indirect cost dollars to the schools and colleges within two years, will certainly be an incentive. To solidify our position as a research institution, we must do more.
- Intercollegiate athletics-The budget for intercollegiate athletics has been balanced in the past few years, but it will not be so in the future without either cutbacks in spending or increases in revenue, contributions or institutional support. Athletics constitute about five percent of overall spending, with most of the money raised through contributions, gate receipts, television contracts and the like. Decisions will need to be made in the future about levels of spending and institutional support as well as what will be needed to comply with Title IX.
- Library-There are a number of issues surrounding changing modes of scholarly communication, including digital publishing, intellectual property, and the journals pricing crisis. If the University does not participate in the movements toward change it will lose the ability to control how they affect learning and scholarship. Scholars are increasingly publishing in digital form. At the same time the academic journal industry has merged to a small number of publishers reporting very high profits that match increases in prices over the past decade. These high prices have limited the ability of libraries to supply broad ranges of information to their faculties. The journal publishers are also participating with the entertainment industry in legislatively constraining academic use of information and in inaugurating contractual regimes of licensing instead of open scholarship modes of publishing. Many academic institutions are experimenting with alternative modes. SU is a member of the SPARC project, which has stimulated not-for-profit alternative journals in a number of fields. SU should examine the best way to participate in such efforts.
Intellectual property law is changing rapidly, yet there remains a Constitutional bedrock conception of its purpose as enhancing “progress in science and the useful arts.” Campus-wide discussions of copyright should consider varying interests under the umbrella of furthering intellectual progress.
- Regional economy-The Central New York area is challenged by an unstable economy and demographic losses, both of which can affect the University. According to news reports, in 2000, the area had 48,700 manufacturing jobs. By 2002, that number had dropped to 41,900 jobs. By July 2003, there were 39,500 manufacturing jobs. In addition, the state is losing residents at a rate higher than any other in the nation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Manufacturing losses have been offset lately by an increase in the number of jobs in the service industry, health care, higher education and the financial sector, among others, pointing to a growth in knowledge-based employment in the region. The University must monitor this situation carefully and continue to be partners in addressing economic development and quality-of-life issues in the area. Efforts to build the Center of Excellence as well as other major collaborative initiatives on the Hill, such as the bioengineering center proposed by Upstate Medical University, will be critical in developing Central New York in the decades to come.
- Retention and student quality-Retention has improved greatly over the past few years. This spring, we reached a 79 percent retention rate for the cohort that began in the fall 1998 semester, putting us well on our way to our short-term goal of 80 percent and our longer-term goal of 85 percent. The dropout gap between Caucasian and African American students is narrowing to an all time low of 6 percentage points. This is due in large part to our efforts over the past several years to reach our vision of becoming a leading student-centered research university with smaller classes, better advising and support for first-class teaching. Our progress is also the result of the strategic partnership between the Division of Student Support and Retention and the Division of Student Affairs.
As Vice Chancellor and Provost Deborah A. Freund noted in her most recent address to the community, we have made progress in these areas, but we must do more. We are on target to reach our goal of 80 percent for a six-year graduation rate for the 1997 cohort, but this rate will not be sustained, at least for the two subsequent cohorts given the current data. Despite important gains in the first- and second-year drop-out rates, we are still losing 13-15 percent of our students by the end of their second year. Reducing the drop-out rate in the first two years is critical.
The Academic Plan describes several initiatives geared toward improving the undergraduate experience: Integrating theory and practice, blending the liberal arts and professional studies, emphasizing internationalization and inclusion, stressing quality writing, and addressing the group of highly qualified, highly motivated students who leave before graduation and tell us that they don’t feel challenged enough by our curriculum. Freund recently met with department chairs to begin to plan a new initiative in this area.
- Space Plan-Construction of the expanded Chilled Water Plant was completed in July 2003. The University Avenue Parking Garage was opened in late August and will be fully operational by the end of September. Construction of the first of the new academic facilities, the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, started in May with an expected substantial completion date of December 2004.
Architectural design work continues for a number of projects. Construction for the School for Information Studies’ renovation of Hinds Hall began in August and will continue into Spring 2005. Construction for the School of Architecture’s renovation of Slocum Hall will be phased, with final completion planned for no later than Summer 2009. Design for the Life Sciences addition to the Center for Science and Technology will be completed in April 2005 and the building is expected to open in July 2007. Selection of an architect for the expansion of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications is under way, after which the project will go into the design phase. Construction of the third building in the Newhouse complex will begin in early 2005 and be substantially completed in December of that year, with the balance of the sitework and renovations completed during Summer 2007.
Decisions about priorities and timing will need to be made for the remaining part of the plan. By the Space Plan’s completion, it is expected that we will have spent in excess of $200 million, and will have added approximately $6 million to our annual operating budget.
- Student high-risk drinking-Despite decades of effort by colleges and universities to reduce high-risk student drinking on their campuses, a serious epidemic continues. A recent report from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) outlined alarming statistics: more than 1,400 college students die annually from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, and alcohol is involved in 500,000 unintentional injuries and in 600,000 assaults and 70,000 cases of sexual assault and acquaintance rape. Our own statistics demonstrate that substance abuse plays a significant role in a majority of the incidents of negative student behavior and self-harm here at SU. Syracuse University’s Twelve-Point Plan for Substance Abuse Prevention and Campus Security underscores this institution’s commitment to promote a safe and healthy campus environment for students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community. It is part of an ongoing effort to change the campus culture from one in which excessive high-risk drinking is perceived to be socially acceptable-even normal-to one where academic and personal responsibility is the norm. The need is great since high-risk drinking is one of higher education’s most complex and entrenched social challenges, one to which we must respond vigorously.
- Student housing-We must continue to upgrade student housing to ensure that it is clean, safe and attractive. Further, when opportunities arise, we will want to consider modifying, replacing or adding to facilities to create smaller residential communities that support our educational and extracurricular objectives. Given our present housing mix, this will be difficult.
- Technology funding-Currently the University spends approximately $30 million per year on information technology-$15 million through the Office of Research and Computing and an equal amount by the academic and administrative units. We will need to provide adequate funds for upgrading our infrastructure and new computing systems. There are several challenges facing Syracuse University in the near term. One is to upgrade the existing wire plant. Today about half of the academic spaces on campus have wiring more than 10 years old that will not support the next upgrade of the network (to 100 megabits per second). This wiring should be replaced, an expensive and labor-intensive project. Another is support and exploitation of the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Although almost all of the PeopleSoft modules are installed and functioning, most of the value of an ERP system has not yet been realized. Acceptance of the system and sophistication in utilizing the functionality provided by the system varies widely across campus. We need to work toward realizing the service improvements and potential streamlining of effort the system promises. Finally, we must focus on enhancement of educational utilization of information technology (IT). Faculty members’ IT sophistication ranges from advanced pioneers to absolute resisters. Many make good use of IT in their teaching and research, and support has generally been available for them. There are faculty support services in the central organization and in the academic units, and most classroom spaces are now equipped with modern presentation technology. However, not enough has been done to bring along the late followers and the resisters. Relatively little has been done in the areas of technology-enhanced distance education, courseware development, or assessment of the effectiveness of IT in enhancing learning.