February 2012 Monthly Update

Campus Conversation: I invite all faculty and staff to a campus conversation on Wednesday, February 29, at 4 p.m., in Sykes Common Room.  I’ll provide a brief update on the Board of Trustees meeting and hear your comments and questions. 

Strategic Map: Facilities Master Plan: Saratoga Associates will return to campus February 28 and 29 for campus-wide charrettes, collaborative sessions that will give all students, faculty and staff the chance to provide ideas and feedback to facilities needs and campus design possibilities.   The Facilities Master Plan Advisory Committee has begun its leadership of this process. I thank Professor of Chemistry Larry French for his willingness to co-chair the Advisory Committee with Dan Seaman.  Committee members are faculty Brian Chezum, Catherine Jahncke and Melissa Schulenberg; senior staff Tom Pynchon and Jeff Rickey; administrators Jim Koszan and Matha Thornton; staff Jackson Binan and Rick Sprague; students Stephen Cash ’14, Jack Holby ’14; Kurt Malkames ’12, Corey Parent ’12, and Colleen Ryan ’15; alumni Steve Todd ’92 and Jacquie Kuno ’84, P’12, P’15; and Village Superintendent Brien Hallahan.

Strategic Map: Identity research and website redesign:  University Communications has engaged Studio-e of Concord, Massachusetts, to assist with the development of the University’s new communications and marketing plan. Its staff visited campus last week for preliminary research and will connect further with faculty, staff and students over the next several weeks. University Communications also has formed a Website Redesign Advisory Group, including staff, faculty and a student, to assist in directing a comprehensive redesign of the website, including selecting a partner firm. We plan to select the firm by the end of March so we can kick off the project in April. Depending on the firm we select and other variables yet to be determined, we could launch the new site by the end of this year. We will be reaching out to campus as well with updates and opportunities for feedback along the way.

Strategic Map: New Curriculum: The Academic Affairs Committee has worked for the past four months, including a day-long meeting in January, to revise our learning goals and general education curriculum. Revisions have been guided by the feedback generated from faculty conversations over the past three years, including a faculty caucus held this fall about the general education curriculum proposal.  The result is a streamlined proposal that the committee believes will renew and strengthen our commitments to skill development (writing, oral communication, information literacy, and quantitative and analytical reasoning), while giving students greater freedom in defining their general education courses and encouraging them to think in integrative ways.  The proposal will now go to the full faculty. 

First-semester retention: We’ve maintained the first-to-second semester retention of first-year students at 98%, same as last year, which was the highest retention rate since 1992.  This semester, we have the highest number of students studying for the semester off-campus since tracking began in 1982.  It is the highest number in absolute terms (181) as well as a percent of the student body (7.8%).   The second highest term was fall 1982 with 177 students studying off-campus (7.4% of enrollment).

Admissions: Our Early Decision applications are at a record 284, a 21% increase over a year ago.  

SUNY Canton:  As you know, our neighbors at SUNY Canton experienced a serious fire in one of their science buildings on February 10. I am very pleased to announce that arrangements have been made for affected SUNY Canton students to continue their academic work through the use of some labs and facilities at St. Lawrence.  Three labs on the third floor of Bewkes, no longer in use by our faculty and students, will be used by chemistry and biology classes from SUNY Canton. Students and faculty will have bus transportation to and from campus, provided by SUNY Canton. We will prepare the spaces to be used, including cleaning and restoring all life safety systems necessary for lab work.  SUNY Canton classes are scheduled to begin here on March 5, SUNY Canton will use the labs through this semester and perhaps longer, depending on how quickly repairs can be completed to their facilities.  I am very proud of the faculty and staff of St. Lawrence for your generosity, initiative and overall willingness to help our academic neighbor. I know you will join them in welcoming our SUNY Canton colleagues to campus.

SUNY Canton’s Small Business Development Center and the Canton Chamber of Commerce had planned 6 seminars on e-commerce. With the fire, they lost their venue.  Our staff  has identified space that will serve the need, and we will sponsor their time on campus.

Advancement:  For all causes, including the St. Lawrence Fund, we have raised $8.9 million to date toward our goal for the year of $16 million.

This past weekend successful meetings of the Parents Committee and the Alumni Executive Council took place on campus. Each group heard from President Fox and other University officials on campus updates.  The Alumni Council held focus groups to discuss alumni attitudes and philanthropy as they prepare to help provide further input on alumni engagement activities as a part of the Strategic Map.  University Advancement staff continue to work on how the Strategic Map goals are being channeled through our programs and are pleased with the level of alumni and parent engagement through events and look forward to the feedback from the Alumni Council.  A joint presentation will be made at the University Advancement Committee on how alumni, parents, faculty, and staff can work together to increase our alumni engagement.  Advancement staff has been working on the implementation of Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge and Net Community with intensive training and design sessions.

Laura Ellis, our next vice president for university Advancement, joins the staff on March 12. 

Management training: About 70 administrators who supervise other staff or students attended a half-day management training seminar on January 19 to learn more about harassment prevention, about providing constructive feedback, and about University policies.

Innovation grants:  The deadline for spring proposals is March 2. The Innovation Grants program will award several grants at $2,500 per project and one or two grants up to $5,000 per project for new initiatives proposed by faculty, staff and students.  The program encourages new initiatives that will improve the quality of life at St. Lawrence through new curricular, co-curricular, or campus life projects and provide a foundation for St. Lawrence’s future.  All faculty, staff and students are eligible to submit a proposal to the Innovation Grants Committee.