SUNY Buffalo State Interim President Howard Cohen outlined the college’s top priorities for the 2013-14 academic year at his campus address (watch video) Tuesday in the Performing Arts Center at Rockwell Hall.
Cohen, who took the helm as Buffalo State’s interim president August 1, also highlighted many of the college’s accomplishments from 2012-13, including the successful 10-year reaccreditation review by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education; the addition of new academic programs; and the launch of the college’s first-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign, which has already raised more than $16.5 million.
“As we begin the 2013-14 academic year and prepare for the next president, we are well-positioned to advance the college,” Cohen said. “Together, I know we will continue to build on our successes and give direction to our efforts in 2014-15 and beyond.”
After conversations with the President’s Cabinet and members of the Buffalo State community, Cohen identified six issues that the college will address in the coming year. They include:
No. 6: Facilities Planning for the Southwest Corner of Campus
Said Cohen, “The southwest quadrant of the campus is a natural second front door for Buffalo State. The campus has a variety of needs and opportunities that could be situated there— additional student housing, an alumni and visitor center, additional parking, and community partnership spaces, to name the most obvious. Our current facilities master plan does not address these possibilities. We need to determine the best use of that space and fit our projects together so they complement one another.”
No. 5: Economic Development
“Buffalo State has a role to play in the economic growth of Western New York, and SUNY has provided an important vehicle for our participation in Start-Up New York,” Cohen said. “Quite simply, to be a good partner, Buffalo State must find a project that we can do quickly and do well. At this point, we are in the process of actively seeking out the right fit for Buffalo State to launch its first undertaking in Start-Up NY and will move ahead on this once the appropriate project is selected.”
No. 4 All-Funds Budgeting
Buffalo State will work toward streamlining its budget process by building an “all-funds” approach for general purpose accounts, with other accounts to be added the following year. Cohen noted that Middle States recommended this approach in its reaccreditation review.
“Producing a useful and timely all-funds budget is easier said than done, but we will make progress this year toward establishing a single budget building process and timeline,” Cohen said.
No. 3: Academic Program Array and Institutional Sustainability
Buffalo State will take a comprehensive look at its mix of majors and minors, its programs, and what needs to be added in the future to provide the most opportunities for students.
“In the context of strategic planning and enrollment declines, this is a good time to reflect on the alignment of our faculty expertise, our student demand, and our regional needs,” Cohen said.
No. 2: Strategic Planning
By May 2014, the College Planning Council will review Buffalo State’s mission, vision, and value statements to articulate the college’s strategic directions for the next five years. This stems from Provost Dennis Ponton’s initiation of discussions in 2012 to prepare for the next strategic plan.
“The process will be designed to engage individuals representing a cross-section of Buffalo State, will establish clear timelines for developing and sharing proposals, and will identify a small core of measurable goals that will be integral to our college’s future health,” Cohen said.
No. 1: Enrollment Growth
Buffalo State will work to increase its student body and recapture revenue that was lost due to enrollment declines over the past two years.
“When it comes to priorities for the year, enrollment growth is first among equals,” Cohen said. “We are fortunate to have reserves to help cushion a portion of this year’s losses, but use of reserves is a short-term solution. Our task this year is to bring revenue and expenses back into balance – and the most productive way to do that is by growing enrollment.
“This project will be placed under the direction of a newly constituted Strategic Enrollment Steering Committee, but to be successful, it will need to be an all-campus effort.”