NURTURE INNOVATION AND THE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
To recruit top students and keep them actively engaged in their intellectual, personal, and social development, we must adapt to changes in higher education and look to best educational practices. These changes require that while we maintain our focus on liberal education, we understand educational markets, new modes of organizational structure and innovative teaching methodologies. Traditional modes of teaching have given way to different approaches, driven in part by advancing information-technology inside and
outside the classroom. Students are more comfortable using computers and multimedia resources and their tolerance is declining for in-class lectures. The AAC&U report on College Learning for a New Global Century (2007) recommends that teaching and learning
must be “active, hands-on, collaborative, and inquiry-based” (p. 11).
New Paltz has had a longstanding commitment to active, hands-on, collaborative, and inquiry-based teaching and learning. Such goals correspond with George D. Kuh’s AAC& U report on “High-Impact Educational Practices” (2008). Kuh identified the following
high-impact teaching and learning practices: first-year seminars and experiences; common intellectual experiences; learning communities; writing-intensive courses; collaborative assignments and projects; undergraduate research; diversity/global learning;
service learning, community-based learning; internships; and capstone courses and projects. High-impact practices improve rates of student retention and levels of student engagement. These are also among the experiences that enhance the competitiveness of our graduates to succeed in and contribute to the complex societies and economies they will face.
Students on our campus are engaged in a number of these high-impact practices, but expanding such opportunities and ensuring that all students take advantage of them must be among our priorities. Such steps demand that we review and develop curriculum,
pedagogy, programs, and service to advance our distinctiveness, lift our innovative and creative value, and welcome and serve our students. Strengthening our educational and student-life programs in these ways – and ensuring that these successes are known beyond the campus – will help ensure our future competitiveness.
- Provide curricula, course scheduling and delivery, and co-curricular experiences that meet the needs of students, support institutional goals, and expand access to the high- impact practices noted above
- Focus on hiring and mentoring faculty committed to innovation and “high impact” practices
- Re-think the purpose and structure of the Teaching and Learning Center
- Provide the necessary training and resources to support faculty creativity and innovation and recognize achievement in these areas
- Re-invigorate graduate education including delivery approaches to address current trends, meet student needs, and support the region
- Markedly improve the effectiveness of advising by creating plans to value student advising as “teaching,” supporting faculty in advising efforts, and improving clarity of program and advising materials
ESTABLISH AN ENGAGED LIVING AND LEARNING COMMUNITY
Our identity as a campus that welcomes people of diverse backgrounds, cultures, political views, and ambitions makes us ideally suited to meet educational challenges and prepare students to live and work in a global century. The AAC&U report on College Learning for the New Global Century stated, “Today it is clear that the United States – and individual Americans – will be challenged to engage in unprecedented ways within the global community, collaboratively and competitively. The seismic waves of dislocating change will only intensify” (p. 15). We need to be more focused on helping students make connections between their classroom work and applying what they learn outside the classroom in regional and global communities.
New Paltz is positioned to provide a distinctive living and learning community that demands a commitment to curricular and cocurricular learning opportunities that are fully embraced and supported by faculty, staff, alumni and community. Such an environment
will meet Kuh’s call for high-impact teaching and learning practices that provide students with an opportunity to engage in intellectual activities and programs that promote intellectual curiosity, inventive problem-solving skills, leadership and active engagement within an increasingly complex global society. Supported by faculty, staff and external stakeholders in the College, students will be given opportunities to learn about themselves, to explore their interests, and become leaders in and beyond the classroom.
- Commit resources to expand living-learning communities and cultivate social engagement for students to foster greater connections with faculty, staff, each other, and alumni, values that are integral to the student residential experience
- Encourage and support collaboration among academic and support departments, creating opportunities to increase familiarity with other programs that will enhance opportunities for partnership
- Achieve national recognition as an institution of higher education where student involvement in leadership and intellectual pursuits in and out of the classroom is central to a New Paltz student’s experience
- Support a culture of teamwork, tolerance and collaboration through student clubs, campus organizations and athletics that encourages active support from faculty, staff, alumni and students
- Develop an inclusive residential community of first-year and continuing students, transfers, and graduate students, across all axes and elements of diversity
STRENGTHEN PHILANTHROPIC COMMITMENTS AND SUCCESS
In the Planning Retreat, lack of funding was cited as a major obstacle in nearly every criterion identified for the College’s future success. This included the student experience, faculty experience, the ideal 21st century undergraduate program, service to the
community, and pride, boldness and identity. As described earlier, the absence of a strong philanthropic tradition and record of major fund-raising success at New Paltz is a current shortcoming that constrains our quest for excellence in many ways. In 2012, the
College and Foundation Board undertook a feasibility study (results summarized in President Christian’s 2012 State of the College address) that identified the most pressing steps that must be taken and barriers overcome for the College to undertake a credible, first ever campaign to raise significant private support (tens of millions of dollars). Those steps are currently in progress, but much work remains and must be a significant focus during the 5-year life of this strategic plan.
The major areas of needed improvement include: changing the thinking of all college members and constituents about the importance of philanthropy for a public college; connecting more effectively with friends, alumni, and prospective individual and corporate
donors and foundations; improving the capacity and efficiency of our development operations and Foundation; increasing the effectiveness and reach of our communication and marketing about New Paltz and our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and programs;
investing in and realigning financial and human resources to achieve these goals.
- Begin to create a culture of philanthropy among current students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, Foundation Board, and supporting community members
- Clarify roles and increase involvement of these constituents in continuing and new fund-raising initiatives
- Continue progress on feasibility-study implementation that expands capacity, builds a foundation for a major fund-raising campaign (years 1 and 2)
- Initiate and advance a major, multi-year fund-raising campaign
ENGAGING ALUMNI IN THE LIFE OF THE COLLEGE
Alumni are among the most important assets of any college or university. They are the living embodiment of the values within the institution’s DNA – values that can inform decisions and directions well into the future. Their own stories about their successes and challenges that they have faced in their lives and careers since graduation provide important assessment information to inform curricular and program revision. Alumni can be key ambassadors, for example by supporting recruitment goals by connecting
prospective students and their parents with their alma mater; speaking on behalf of an institution’s financial or other needs with state legislative or executive leaders; or introducing potential major donors to the development office. Alumni may mentor students, and serve as inspiring and informative speakers. Working alumni are often key to identifying internship, research, or cooperative educational opportunities that are critical in the learning and career preparation of current students. Certainly alumni are often the primary philanthropic supporters of their alma mater.
As noted earlier, New Paltz has not had a strong record of engaging its alumni, despite having nearly 60,000 alumni and despite every indication that large numbers of our alumni have deep affection for the College and the impact their education has had on their lives
and successes. In December 2012, the College filled a long-standing vacancy for a dedicated leader of its alumni relations efforts, and President Christian subsequently announced the formation of a task force that will identify ways to engage our alumni for all of the above reasons.
- Develop and implement a program of effective alumni relations and engagement
- Expand the geographic base of connecting with alumni beyond the Hudson Valley, New York, and the Northeast
- Engage faculty, departments, schools, and other units in alumni affairs
MARKET NEW PALTZ INTERNALLY AND EXTERNALLY
Marketing activities have become more critical to the college’s success. It is an inescapable reality that higher education functions in an intensely market-driven era. New Paltz is in a competitive market environment, vying with both public and private institutions, within New York and beyond, for students, recognition and prestige, financial resources, and political and social support. New Paltz is now a top-tier institution, and remaining at that level requires further investment in marketing and outreach. Historically, New Paltz has invested limited – and clearly insufficient – resources in highly decentralized marketing and outreach activities. Although New Paltz has enjoyed measured success with identity branding, a more substantial focus on “telling the New Paltz story” to various stakeholders is required, for purposes that include student recruitment, philanthropy, alumni relations, and political and public awareness of the College’s strengths and accomplishments.
Value, a combination of cost and quality, is increasingly important in how we position ourselves and how we are perceived. The cost advantage of New Paltz, with relatively low SUNY tuition, is largely a given. But the perception of our quality is not, and the success of any of the following goals depends on continued improvement in academic and student-life programming noted above.
- Increase impact of outreach activities to enhance visibility and quality of public perception about New Paltz as the public university in the region
- Position New Paltz in terms of our price-to-value position
- Increase awareness to sustain undergraduate and grow graduate enrollments
- Through an integrated, centralized marketing effort, engage and support departments in marketing of the College’s programs, lifting the profile of online and graduate programs, and stressing the College’s distinctive identity; gather and make better use of the voices and experiences of students, faculty members as scholars and mentors, and alumni in these efforts
- Expand alumni communication materials and connect to philanthropic efforts
IMPROVE INTERNAL PROCESSES AND ADDRESS INSTITUTIONAL CAPACITY
Faculty, staff and administrators need to have clarity in roles, expectations and consistent support to achieve institutional goals. A climate of cooperation should be established. Much work has begun in these important support areas in recent years. Initiatives for the years to come will include generation of clear and helpful descriptions of roles and responsibilities for all positions; reviewing, tightening, and streamlining all policies and procedures (academic, human resources, business, and other); laying out full plans for professional development throughout the college; allocating staff resources among departments for greatest efficiency and effectiveness; and creating campus unity and community.
- Refine and expand plans to allocate resources to best support the College’s goals and priorities
- Commit resources to clarifying and streamlining personnel, business, and academic processes and policies
- Review and streamline faculty governance and committee structure and function
BUILD ONLINE EDUCATION
New Paltz has succeeded in recruiting a diverse group of bright students and establishing a reputation as a highly selective state institution. The changing educational landscape requires that we take thoughtful and determined steps to continue attracting the best and brightest students and serving them well. The geographic market for students has expanded; there are national and global competitors for market share. State institutions such as New Paltz will compete with online courses and degree programs offered by
for-profit and prestigious state and private institutions.
It is not realistic or desirable for New Paltz to compete head-to-head with major, online, for-profit institutions or online publics like our SUNY sister Empire State. But there are opportunities, arguably imperatives, for us to expand our online programming without
sacrificing our distinction as a residential college. These may include: revamping current and developing new graduate programs that emphasize online and hybrid teaching and learning; developing limited and select online undergraduate programs that might include
degree-completion initiatives; offering online undergraduate courses that advance student academic progress and degree completion; and serving populations that we do not now serve.
The report on Open SUNY calls for active teaching and learning through online instruction that will “connect a global community of learners, through faculty partnerships and innovative online and mobile learning environments.”
- Develop institutional goals for high-impact teaching and learning practices for online course offerings
- Commit resources to support high impact pedagogical practices and professional development for online learning
- Expand online undergraduate and graduate learning opportunities to correspond with the strategic goals of “Open SUNY”
- Use online learning to engage with the global community
STRENGTHEN THE REGIONAL AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
New Paltz enjoys assets of “place” that are unparalleled within SUNY: proximity to New York City and Albany; the beauty, outdoor and recreational amenities, and cultural and historic resources within the Hudson Valley; strategic placement relative to other SUNY
comprehensive campuses and community colleges. We have a unique opportunity to hone our identity and grow potential assets by taking better advantage of these resources.
New Paltz is a cultural hub in the region with arts, cultural, and educational events open to the entire community. The Power of SUNY alignment document maps the strength of the connection of programs at New Paltz to the region at large, an engagement far more extensive and successful than generally recognized.
- Position New Paltz as your public university
- Establish the New Paltz setting as a common and connected theme in the curricula
- Integrate the campus community with Mid-Hudson Valley and greater New York City metro area through New Paltz publications, curricular planning and fieldwork opportunities, performances and other events
- Achieve first-time Carnegie Community Engagement Classification
- Explore opportunities to make fuller use of campus facilities and expertise to support revenue goals and the mission of the college
- Publicize the good work that CRREO and other academic and support units undertake in supporting the region