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SUNY Brockport discusses goals for the college at town hall meeting

Photo credit: Gio Battaglia

On Wednesday, Nov. 3, SUNY Brockport President Heidi Macpherson, and other SUNY Brockport staff addressed their colleagues during a town hall discussing updates on the four goals of the college’s strategic plan. 

Interim Provost Linda Delene Ph.D. and Vice President Kathy Wilson discussed the statistics of the four current goals. The first goal, to be a great college at which to learn, has seen some improvements.  

COVID-19 made the faculty in IT quickly discover ways to transition to online learning, such as using software like Microsoft OneDrive and Microsoft Teams. Wilson says this call-to-action helped keep the college’s student retentions at the same level as other SUNY campuses. 

For recruitment this year, the staff used virtual events to encourage students to apply including academic meet and greets, as well as bringing students from the same location together to ask questions about the college.  

The student retention rate fell from 75.6% in 2019-20, to 68.8% in 2020-21. Wilson says these numbers are like those of other SUNY schools, and schools around the country. 

“It wasn’t a happy story,” Wilson said. “You roll up your sleeves and you try to bring back as many of those students, and you do a bang-up job with our returning students, and new students this year.” 

Wilson says plans to increase retention will include working with the Intercultural Center to hold more programs for diversity like the 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge, which was successful this past year. 

Other measures of success were to revise and further develop the academic program array, with the primary areas of focus being “completion, review and implementation of recommendations.”  

Wall says this can be achieved through the Academic Strategic Plan, expected to be implemented in February, which will move the institution to a more competitive position for student enrollment. 

Additionally, a donation of over $1.1 million from ESL Federal Credit Union was received to help students in need. Vice President for University Relations David Mihalyov says this shows the collaboration of advancement, enrollment management and student affairs. 

The second goal, to be a college engaged in its community, took a turn for the better with the impact of COVID-19. 

One project that helped create more opportunities in the community was the New York State’s Reimagine the Canals Initiative. SUNY Brockport, in collaboration with the village of Brockport, received a grant from the state as well as the Ralph Wilson Foundation to construct a new bridge to be completed in 2024. 

Endowment for fundraising has grown over $23 million, and total assets within the foundation are over $30 million. Virtual quality content events with donors across the world helped attribute most of these donations.  

To engage with faculty and intentional marketing, Career Services is planning to put on more events for the spring 2022 semester. A Campus calendar has been introduced and will be promoted as a universal place to find all events happening in Brockport.  

The third goal, to be a sustainable institution for the 21st Century, had priorities such as Emergency Preparedness, the Clean Energy Master Plan, the Academic Strategic Plan and more. 

Chair of Administration and Finance Jim Wall says assessments were completed on the successfulness of each plan. The goal to achieve and maintain a higher sustainability tracking rating will focus on curriculum-related action status, and the development of the Clean Energy Master Plan. The projects will begin this semester.  

Chair of Advancement Mike Andriatch says another strategy for this goal is to “enact a new budget model that incentivizes innovation and strategic priorities.” This would make a zero-based budget for all divisions for the 2022-23 fiscal year.  

Goal four, to be a great college to work at, focused on improving employee retention. Mihalyov says this was accomplished by launching initiatives around employee recognition and creating a campus climate survey.  

The 21 Day Racial Equity Challenge was incorporated into this goal as well. Over 300 participants had a SUNY Brockport email address, which was a good indication that people were invested in the program and got a lot out of it. Programs like these have helped keep employee retention rates trending in the right direction. 

The celebration committee launched Bravo Awards, which encouraged employees to recognize each other through an online form which generates a certificate that is presented to the nominated employee. With over 300 submissions, Mihalyov says this was a great indication of they are moving towards their goal.  

There is also an Employee Success Center planning for construction. 

“With an Employee Success Center, we are looking at a physical space, which is an important manifestation of what we believe in, where we can combine our human resources, our training and other things that will help employees be successful at SUNY Brockport,” Mihalyov said.  

Macpherson ended the meeting by talking about the importance of planning and how generations of past students can help future students. 

“That’s why planning is so important,” Macpherson said. “It is important that the people who came before us did some great work and got us to where we are.” 

More information about the Strategic Plan can be found here.  

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