Back to class: Fall 2017 Faculty Staff Assembly covers building projects, the strategic plan and more

SUNY Broome President Kevin E. Drumm speaks at the Fall 2017 Faculty Stayff Assembly

This fall, SUNY Broome students may see an unexpected face at the head of their class: President Kevin E. Drumm.

President Drumm – who taught online graduate school courses when he initially came to the campus 7½ years ago – will teach COL 105, the Academic Planning Seminar, he revealed at the Fall 2017 Faculty Staff Assembly on Aug. 24.

“I haven’t taught in a traditional classroom for 15 years,” said Dr. Drumm, who was excited to be back at the head of the class.

As is SUNY Broome tradition, the Faculty Staff Assembly kicked off the semester and the academic year with a recap of the previous year, updates on current projects and initiatives, and a recognition of new, promoted or retired faculty and staff members. Among the new faces: Dr. Carol Ross, the college’s new Vice President of Student and Economic Development and its chief diversity officer

“This year’s theme is ‘Teaching and Learning.’ It’s what we do, bottom line,” said Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer Francis Battisti, who kicked off the program.

Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer Francis Battisti kicks off the Fall 2017 Faculty Staff Assembly

While the FSA covered programs and initiatives integral to campus, it also took the time to showcase student excellence. Incoming SUNY Broome student Megan MarkAnthony gave her diva best with a vocal performance of “Gorgeous,” accompanied by Professor Pej Reitz on piano. MarkAnthony has experience in community theater, and also has taken classes in the Early College program, Music Program Coordinator Brenda Dawe said.

Biology Professor Tracy Curtis also highlighted student research efforts. Last year, SUNY Broome became one of 44 community colleges in the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative (CCURI) and students continue to perform research on diverse topics. Projects have included Lyme disease and tick research, the prevalence of handwashing hygiene and the efficacy of tutoring for student success, and students have presented at research and development conferences – sometimes winning top honors.

SUNY Broome student Megan MarkAnthony gave her diva best with a vocal performance of “Gorgeous,” at the Fall 2017 Faculty Staff Assembly

“It’s not just about doing a project in the classroom and getting a grade for it, but also sharing it with the community,” she said.

Construction updates

President Drumm offered updates on a number of capital projects that continue to transform the college’s campus, both in Dickinson and in downtown Binghamton.

The construction of Broome County’s one-stop economic development center is nearing completion, and The Agency (formerly known as the Broome County Industrial Development Agency) should be moving in by the end of September, Dr. Drumm said. The building is officially known as “Five” for its address: 5 North College Drive.

SUNY Broome’s Collaboration Lab opened this spring in the new Koffman Southern Tier Incubator. The college has much of the third floor, a space that will be dedicated to student entrepreneurship. The project is a partnership between SUNY Broome and Binghamton University, with the former receiving $6 million in state funding to establish the Co-Lab. An official grand opening and tours will be offered this fall.

“It’s a really stunning space,” Dr. Drumm said.

The renovation of the historic Carnegie Library in downtown Binghamton has hit some challenges, however, President Drumm acknowledged. The 114-year-old building was originally slated to become SUNY Broome’s Culinary Arts Center, but the kind of HVAC system needed for such a use may be cost-prohibitive in a historic building. The Administration anticipates that it will know later this fall whether it can surmount this obstacle or, if not, what the building will contain.

“We will be in that building either way, and there will be some aspect of catering and hospitality and events, no matter what we do there,” he said.

The Mechanical Building renovation

Perhaps the most noticeable project on campus is the much-needed renovation of the Mechanical Building, which has fenced off much of the center of campus. Prior to the start of this project, the old Science Building was extensively renovated to provide classroom and office space to accommodate those moved from Mechanical.

At a cost of approximately $11 million, the Mechanical Building project has an expected completion date of August 2018, said Director of Campus Operations David Ligeikis. Work this summer has included tree, brush and hardscape removal, interior demolition and – the most dramatic piece – the drilling of the geothermal wells in the Quad that will be used to heat and cool the building.

Once renovated, the building will include an additional entrance on the Natural Science Center side. On the opposite side, the Mechanical and Business buildings will be joined in an airy atrium that will enclose the current overhead walkway and provide an area for students to gather.

The renovated building will showcase new technology with updated labs and equipment, including a state-of-the-art clean room, a high-tech soldering lab and food science processing lab for yogurt and brewery production. Sustainability will be a theme throughout the entire facility, and unique features include the emerging infrastructure technologies sandbox, a geothermal field and a rooftop solar array. Outside the building, a plaza-type space will make the area more conducive to student activities, according to Ligeikis.

The building will also bear a new name: The Paul & Mary Calice and Mildred Barton Advanced Manufacturing Center. Part of the funding comes from the historic $11 million estate of Emil Calice. Paul and Mary Calice, Italian immigrants who owned a corner store in Binghamton, were his parents and Millie Barton his companion and a local philanthropist.

“The name is required by the Calice estate,” President Drumm explained. “That gift turned out to be the single largest private donation to any SUNY community college ever.”

Strategic plan, enrollment, research and more 

Dr. Carol Ross, the college’s new Vice President of Student and Economic Development and its chief diversity officer, at the fall 2017 Faculty Staff Assembly

Not all campus developments involve bricks and mortar, and the Faculty Staff Assembly highlighted these wide-ranging efforts as well.

The strategic plan has been finished, helping cement the college’s long-term vision of “learning today, transforming tomorrow.” The plan is guided by six key goals, Dr. Battisti explained: fostering diversity and inclusion; an inclusive teaching- and learning-centered environment; fiscal, program development, and infrastructure sustainability; student support and success; civic, community engagement, and service learning; and strategic and continuous improvement.

The strategic plan, which plays an integral role in formulating campus vision and priorities, is accessible at

Final Registration Week was moved a week earlier than previously, giving students more time to settle matters before the start of classes. Enrollment is again on the upswing, and SUNY Broome students are taking advantage of the state’s new Excelsior Scholarship program, which provides free tuition for income- and credit-eligible students.

“Some institutions of our size have no more than a handful of Excelsior students. We have 30,” Dr. Drumm said. “I suspect that will double or more next year.”

BPS has been renamed as the Division of Business and Professional Studies. Study Abroad will now become the Global Experiences Office, and emphasize faculty-led programs both at home and abroad, Dr. Battisti said. An example of the latter: Professor Kennie Leet received a grant to develop a faculty-led instructional program focusing on groundbreaking research going on in Africa.

The Achieving Success initiative continues to make headway in formulating data-based approaches to closing achievement gaps for students, and college officials are exploring online educational resources (OERs) to provide course materials to all students, who face the prospect of purchasing pricey textbooks.

The Applied Learning & Career Center closed out its first year with a range of successful events, connecting with more than 670 students. During the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Job Fair, more than half of the 430 job-seekers were SUNY Broome students or alumni. On-campus recruitment events also landed 13 students internships and another three full-time jobs.

The Broome Community College Foundation, which plays an essential role in funding student scholarships, professional development programs and capital projects, saw nearly $5 million in revenue this past year, in part due to earnings on its $34 million portfolio, Executive Director Cathy Williams said. The Foundation awarded nearly $1.3 million this year in student scholarships, faculty grants and capital initiatives.

New gift highlights include a $50,000 gift to support the faculty development endowed fund, several new endowed and annual student scholarships, and scholarships for the Health for Haiti program, she said.

It may seem a lot to take in – the many moving parts, under constant development, the gestalt of the college’s future and its continuing success. Dr. Drumm circled back to a motto he unveiled a few years ago: CI squared, for continuous improvement times continuous innovation.

“We’re constantly trying new things to better the experience for our students, both in and outside of the classroom,” he said.