The Fall 2019 Faculty Staff Assembly revisited an old acronym and a still pertinent theme: continuous innovation and continuous improvement.
Both will be key as SUNY Broome confronts some challenging demographic headwinds – namely the decline of the area high schools’ graduating class over the next two years, said SUNY Broome President Kevin E. Drumm during the Aug. 22 assembly, the traditional kickoff for the semester.
While the northeast has long anticipated a decline in the number of teens, this population shift can be measured nationwide and is related to larger societal trends – from the impact of the Great Recession to economic and personal necessities that have encouraged Millennials to delay having children, he reflected. As a community college, SUNY Broome will need to consider a shift in priorities.
“The best way for us to maintain our status and not go into retraction mode like many of our peers is to retain more of our students,” Dr. Drumm said. “We need to be more student-ready than we have been.”
Key to this initiative is innovation, differentiation and graduation. Differentiation requires the college to consider ways it stands out from its peers, while graduation hinges on a continued commitment to student success. Innovation requires thinking differently – such as adapting more to an adult market, rather than traditional-age students right out of high school. That may involve changes to the college’s delivery system – perhaps even a shorter class week, more suitable to students balancing work and family life.
The assembly included updates from a wide range of campus offices, covering topics such as student engagement, compliance, facilities and the Broome Community College Foundation’s fundraising success.
Student talent was also on display. Hanybul Jang, who studies piano with Professor Margaret “Pej” Reitz, performed a stunning rendition Chopin’s Etude Op. 10 No. 3. A student from South Korea who is graduating this semester, Harry has already started auditioning for transfer schools – including Berkeley, said Music Coordinator Brenda Dawe.
The Culinary & Event Center is 84 percent complete, and its exterior will once again be featured as part of the LUMA light show, said Director of Facilities David Ligeikis. All of the historic building’s woodwork has been refinished and re-stained, and other developments include the installation of extensive coolers and kitchen hoods, as well as the fitting of the building’s attractive skylight with automatic shades.
Area hikers will be glad to know that the trail bridge over the “SUNY Broome gorge” is under construction, he said.
In her Faculty Staff Assembly debut, Vice President for Academic Affairs Penny Haynes outlined several goals this year, including updating the college’s academic plan, instituting a program review process and continuing to focus on student success, accessibility and diversity, and areas for improvement. The Middle States accreditation process also will be a major focus for the next two years, she said.
A key component of student success is the campus’ adoption of the Starfish Student Success Network, which allows students and professors to easily communicate and address concerns. This summer, SUNY Broome won Hobson’s 2019 Educational Advances Award for the college’s use of Starfish, and team members Michelle Beatty and Leslie Reid proudly displayed their trophy during the assembly.
Nearly half of faculty members use the system, up from 35 percent the year before. In the last year, users also doubled the number of flags and kudos they sent to students, Beatty said.
In another summertime development, SUNY Broome received a $25,000 grant from the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund that will be used for its Collaborative Online International Learning program. COIL is a SUNY-wide initiative that partners SUNY instructors with colleagues in another country. Using teleconferencing, social media and digital technology, students work together on class projects as international partners, learning about different cultures along the way.
The college will be offering six sections of COIL this year, including collaborations with Brazil, Mexico and, for the first time, with Venezuela, said Professor Kathleen McKenna.
The grant funds allow COIL students in the Spring 2020 Storytelling and Heritage anthropology class – paired with an English class at the Universidad de Celaya in Mexico — to connect face-to-face. A dozen Hornets will visit their peers in Mexico, and the Mexican students will also pay a visit to SUNY Broome.
“We are targeting under-represented students and students who are economically challenged,” Professor Lynda Carroll explained. “Less than 1 percent of community college students are able to study abroad when they’re here.”