Published December 5, 2013
The UB Council spends a lot of time talking about the pursuit of academic excellence. On Monday, members of the university’s governing body had the opportunity to meet, in the words of council Chair UB Jeremy M. Jacobs, “one of UB’s finest examples of student academic excellence.”
President Satish K. Tripathi opened Monday’s council meeting by introducing engineering student Phillip Tucciarone the first UB student since 1988 to receive the prestigious Marshall Scholarship.
Tucciarone also was a 2013 Goldwater Scholarship recipient.
Tripathi also reported that Tucciarone is one of only four SUNY students to win a scholarship this year from the Association of Council Members and College Trustees, a group representing members of the governing boards of SUNY’s state-operated campuses.
Tripathi told council members that the Marshall Scholarship is a very prestigious scholarship, with only 40 students receiving the scholarship each year. “Representing UB, Phil puts us in a truly distinguished company,” he said, noting that many of the other winners come from some of the nation’s most prominent schools.
“Marshall scholars are serious intellectuals, incredibly curious and globally minded students — exactly the kind of students UB excels in educating,” he said, adding that the increasing number of UB students competing for these kinds of nationally competitive scholarships has become “a source of great pride for UB.”
For more information about Tucciarone and the Marshall Scholarship, read the UB Reporter story.
Moving on to other business, Provost Charles F. Zukoski opened his report by shifting the focus from student excellence to faculty excellence, offering council members a sampling of 2013 awards and honors accorded to UB faculty members by external organizations. The awards, he said, “are given as the recognition of accomplishment by the faculty; they’re the measure of excellence of what our faculty are doing. It’s the source of recognition by which we’re measured; it’s sort of the currency of the impact in many of the disciplines.”
In particular, he noted that Marsha Lewis, dean of the School of Nursing, was inducted as a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing; Lois Weiss, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Graduate School of Education, was elected a member of the National Academy of Education; José Buscaglia of the Department of Transnational Studies received a lifetime achievement award from the Caribbean Philosophical Association; and Carl Nightingale, also of Transnational Studies, received the Jerry Bentley Prize in World History for the best book in world history.
Zukoski also reported that during the past year eight UB faculty members were named SUNY Distinguished Professors, the highest academic rank in the SUNY system. Much of that recognition, he said, “is based on the heft of the CV and how well-known the faculty are.”
This honor, he said, is “very significant recognition of the quality and accomplishments of the faculty.”
The new honorees are Rajan Batta, Industrial and Systems Engineering; Jeremy Finn, Counseling, School and Educational Psychology; Joseph Gardella Jr., Chemistry; Paul R. Knight III, Anesthesiology; Daniel Kosman, Biochemistry; and Eckhard Krotscheck, Physics, all named SUNY Distinguished Professors; Jim Atwood, Chemistry, named a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor; and Lynn Mather, named a SUNY Distinguished Service Professor.
On another topic, Zukoski reported that the Middle States reaccreditation process is moving forward, with the university’s self-study report completed and now in the copyediting phase. The report is expected to be sent to Middle States by mid-January.
Patricia Beeson, chair of the Middle States review team that will visit UB in late March, made a preliminary visit to UB in October, offering guidance on UB’s self-study, Zukoski said.
He explained that Middle States bases accreditation on 14 standards grouped into broad categories: mission and goals, strategic planning, faculty excellence, academic programs, student learning and achievement, and institutional assessment.
At Middle States’ suggestion, UB has been focusing on two areas: institutional effectiveness and student learning outcomes.
Regarding institutional effectiveness, Middle States “wants to know that we have goals and strategies for accomplishing our mission, and that we are executing on them and that we also have ways of knowing that we are accomplishing our goals,” Zukoski said.
UB is very good at strategic planning, he noted: “If nothing else, take a look at the UB 2020 process and what we went through last year with Realizing UB 2020.”
Another example is UB’s Finish in Four program. “We developed a strategy for getting students out the door more rapidly,” which included hiring more advisors to work with students, adding 10,000 new seats in high-demand, required courses, and developing a communication campaign for the program.
The second area of importance for Middle States — student learning outcomes — is an area of major concern at institutions across the country, Zukoski said. “Do students get anything out of a higher education for the debt that they take on?” is a common question.
Middle States is interested in student learning outcomes at all levels —starting at the course level through the program level to the final degree, he said, adding that the focus is primarily at the bachelor level since graduate and professional programs usually have their own accreditation processes that address the issue.
“There is a lot of interest (from Middle States) in understanding that the faculty has set (learning) outcomes, determined how they’re going to deliver those outcomes, they do it, they assess whether or not the students have gained what they want, they then change the way they’re delivering it and they start the cycle over again,” he said, describing the cyclic assessment process.
UB does this kind of assessment on a regular basis, he said, noting that what Middle States wants, and what the university is working toward, “is institutionalizing that so there are uniform processes — best practices — that are delivered across the institution.”
UB recently opened an Office of Educational Innovation and Assessment to work with units to develop comprehensive learning outcomes, Zukoski said, and the university also is developing a new general education program —the core of the undergraduate program. “One of key efforts there is to look at learning outcomes and to assess how well we’re doing,” he said.
Zukoski noted that all departments must have defined program outcomes, as well as expected student outcomes, for all the programs they offer — starting at the individual course level and going through the requirements for a degree.
All programs will have gone through that entire assessment cycle before the visit of the Middle States review team in March, he added.
In other business, Lee Melvin, UB’s new vice provost for enrollment, described the enrollment management process and what UB hopes to achieve with the process.
Melvin, who oversees undergraduate and graduate admissions, financial aid, the registrar’s office, Student Response Center, student accounts and the data analytics team, said his goal is “to find our students, bring them to UB, retain them and then graduate them from this institution.”
“These teams (he oversees) are comprised to help the experience of our students once they come to our campus,” he said. “What we’re trying to do in enrollment management is to increase the student experience — not just when they enroll, but also once they persist through the system and once they graduate and stay connected to our institution.”
Melvin said UB’s recruitment strategy is to focus on students from New York State. “I really believe we should be taking more of our regional students, the top students from this area and enrolling them in this campus,” he said.
New York is one of the few states that will have a sustainable high school graduation rate over the next 15-20 years, he said, adding that other states in the Northeast will see a steep decline in the number of high school graduates, increasing the competition for New York students.
“We want to make sure we are visible in the state, and that we remain relevant to our students and parents in this state,” he said.
UB’s recruitment strategy also will address how to prepare students academically to come to UB. “The better-prepared students have a chance of being retained at a higher rate and graduating at a higher rate,” he said.
Another strategy will focus on ensuring that UB continues to be an inclusive institution and focus on the diversity of students — not just ethnic and gender diversity, but socioeconomic, geographic and academic diversity — which enhances the experience for all students.
In other business at Monday’s council meeting, Laura Hubbard, vice president for finance and administration, briefed council members on UB’s “Start-Up NY” campus plan.
“Start-Up NY,” announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo during a visit to UB in May, designates all SUNY campuses and community colleges outside New York City, as well as up to 200,000 square feet of space adjoining the campuses, as tax-free communities. Under the program, new companies and existing companies that relocate to unused space in these tax-free zones — and which partner with a SUNY institution — would receive tax benefits, as would the company’s employees.
Hubbard presented council members with copies of UB’s campus plan, which describes the types of businesses UB is looking to attract and the process for selecting businesses, and identifies possible locations on the South and Downtown campuses. All potential businesses must have a connection to UB’s academic mission, she stressed.
The plan has been submitted to SUNY for approval, as well as for review by local entities, including municipalities, faculty governance bodies, unions, student government and local economic development agencies.
After the 30-day review period, the plan will go to Empire State Development Corp. for its approval.
The program goes into effect on Jan. 1.
Applications from potential businesses will be vetted on campus, Hubbard explained. If UB approves an application, it then would go to Empire State Development and to SUNY for final approval.