On Course Archive
On Course, January/February 2002
Highlighting Service to the State
This issue of On Course highlights the University’s response to the attacks of September 11 as it relates to campus research. Chancellor King has given us a clear charge to maximize the intellectual resources of the University in the prevention of, and response to, acts of terrorism. Our campuses have risen to the task and our efforts to date have been productive—resulting in the identification of three areas of existing expertise and research focus: cybersecurity, sensor technology and vaccine development.
I am confident that our two recently created Task Forces focused on: Biological and Environmental Threats and Infrastructure Threats and Cyberterrorism, will make an important contribution to the state’s anti-terrorism efforts.
This issue also provides an update on another effort of the University to meet state needs, specifically the shortage of qualified teachers in urban areas. We have hired a permanent director for the recently launched SUNY Urban Teacher Education Center (SUTEC), Dr. Bongsoon Zubay. The Center was specifically designed to enhance the University’s efforts to meet state teaching needs. I am looking forward to great things from SUTEC.
And as part of our ongoing series that explores one area of the office in greater detail, we look at the Institutional Research and Analysis group and its ever-increasing value to the University.
If you have any questions or would like any additional information on the material covered in this issue, please don’t hesitate to contact my office.
The State University is making a concerted and coordinated effort to use its vast research capabilities to improve homeland security following the devastating terrorist attacks on America on September 11.
Chancellor Robert L. King asked Provost Salins to convene University experts in October—an effort resulting in the creation of two task forces dedicated to:
"A natural outgrowth of our commitment and service to New York State, the homeland security initiative will maximize the University’s vast intellectual capital and ensure that SUNY's researchers are able to respond quickly to funding opportunities," said Provost Salins. "We believe this effort will lay the groundwork for important collaborative research across the University."
Task force members developed a taxonomy or list of potential terrorist threats and began surveying all campuses to determine how the University's research capabilities could meet these threats. Dr. Shamash and his assistant, Dr. Lisa Chichura at Stony Brook, coordinated the survey which identifies the University's research capabilities at four levels: prevention, diagnosis, mitigation, and recovery. The survey addressed such public health threats as anthrax exposure, infrastructure threats such as blast destruction of buildings and transportation systems, cybersecurity threats and other potential dangers.
Information from the survey is being used to create a database that inventories the University's strengths in areas relevant to homeland security. "This database will allow us to respond faster with multi-disciplinary and multi-campus approaches to requests for proposals from defense agencies, the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, National Institutes of Health and other agencies," Dr. Shamash said. Survey results identified three of the University's greatest strengths in anti-terrorism research:
After reviewing initial survey results in December, the homeland security task forces commissioned three white papers to explore the possibility of establishing centers for research in these three areas.
Cybersecurity includes protection of the Internet and electronic communication through software virus detection and other techniques. Sensor technology encompasses not only environmental sensors, but also security sensors, bioinformatic sensors to identify individuals, building safety sensors, screening tests for pathogens and diagnostic tests for early detection of infections. SUNY faculty members are already doing basic and applied research in vaccine development, for example at Upstate Medical University, where work is being done on HIV vaccines.
"The University has tremendous assets and competencies in these three areas," Dr. Shamash said. It is anticipated that all SUNY campuses will play a role in securing federal and foundation funding for anti-terrorism research. Campuses that offer advanced degrees will provide relevant research in many vital areas while community colleges, for example, more frequently will offer the ability to train public and private sector workers as new techniques are developed to improve homeland security.
Also, a special effort will be made to coordinate efforts to secure grants for research among SUNY and non-SUNY campuses in New York State.
Dr. Eastwood, chair of the Biological and Environmental Threats Task Force, said it is important to develop an infrastructure that facilitates proposals for research projects pertaining to homeland security and to other areas of research strength for the University, such as biotechnology.
Dr. Salins noted that the process used to assess the University’s strengths and coordinate its efforts relating to homeland defense could serve as a model for future areas of research collaboration.
Biological and Environmental Threats Task Force
System Support: William Gehring, Associate Provost; Beth Kempter, Director of Foundation Relations; Gregory O'Connor, Foundation Relations; and Peter Pileggi, Associate Provost, Hospital and Clinical Services.
Infrastructure Threats and Cyberterrorism Task Force
System Support: Matthew Behrmann, Vice President for Foundation Relations; Elizabeth Bringsjord, Assistant Provost; Robert Kraushaar, Associate Provost; and Donald Steven, Associate Provost.
The SUNY Urban Teacher Education Center (SUTEC)—a key component of the University’s New Vision in Teacher Education action agenda—is now fully operational in New York City. Part of the University’s commitment to meeting the special challenges of urban public education in New York’s cities, SUTEC will work to increase the number of State University graduates who are prepared, hired and retained to work in New York City's 1,100 public schools.
"The work being done at our urban teacher center is very important, especially in encouraging State University students to get their clinical experience in New York City," said Chancellor Robert L. King.
SUTEC's office opened last October with an interim director and staff liaison in space provided by the city schools at 131 Livingston Street in Brooklyn, near the headquarters of the Board of Education.
The former headmistress of the prestigious Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn, Bongsoon Zubay, was appointed SUTEC's director as of February.
A resident of Manhattan, Dr. Zubay retired last year after 19 years as headmistress of the Berkeley Carroll School, a preschool through twelfth grade facility that was honored in 1996 as a National Blue Ribbon Secondary School. She earned an Ed.D. in curriculum and teaching and an M.A. in educational psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University and a B.A. in English at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
"Heading SUNY's urban teaching center is an exciting challenge," Dr. Zubay said. "By cooperating with the New York City schools, State University campuses and the Office of the Provost, the teacher center will have a positive impact on students' preparation as well as on the city's schools."
"Our first priority at SUTEC is to serve the needs of our campuses in placing student teachers in urban settings," said Hubert Keen, Special Assistant to the Provost, who is the University’s liaison to the city’s schools.
Over 100 State University students are receiving classroom experience in New York City this school year, a 30 percent increase over last year. The figure should more than double in the fall of 2002.
"Our second priority is to help the New York City public schools in recruiting teachers from our campuses," Dr. Keen said. "One way to do that is provide classroom experience for our students. Only well prepared students will be placed in city schools, and if their classroom performance is commensurate with their potential, they will all get job offers."
Consistent with its mission, SUTEC will administer the Summer in the City program on behalf of the University. This initiative of Governor Pataki supports college students in New York City as summer school tutors and classroom aides. Last summer, the second year of the program, 350 college students took part, 200 of them from State University campuses. The students receive a stipend for living expenses and are housed in college dormitories in the metropolitan area.
Further, a major effort will be made by SUTEC to facilitate alternative teacher certification programs through State University campuses. Under alternative certification, a person with a non-education undergraduate degree would obtain some classroom experience and take critical education courses in the summer, then begin teaching.
"We will also look to SUTEC to ultimately serve as a laboratory for enhancing the effectiveness of teacher preparation in urban schools, facilitating educational research projects in the city that are conducted by State University faculty," said Provost Salins.
"There is no question that the charge for SUTEC is wide in scope," added Provost Salins. "However, I have every confidence that we will be building a model here under the direction of Dr. Zubay that can ultimately be applied to other urban areas of the state."
Expanding the data analysis function of the Office of Institutional Research and Analysis was a critical component of the charge given to Associate Provost John Porter when he joined the Office of the Provost almost one year ago. Dr. Porter leads the 11-person group within the Academic Affairs office that provides an essential flow of information both within the University and to external constituencies. The group's primary responsibilities include data collection and reporting, special studies and analysis.
"Institutional Research has grown to be a comprehensive repository for information and analysis to support the University, one of the world's most dynamic and complex systems in higher education," Dr. Porter said. He explained that the State University has one of the best higher education databases in the nation, with the most complete student records and excellent course data to analyze faculty workload through its unique Course and Section Analysis (CASA) system.
The focus now, with the support of Provost Salins, is to share this rich information resource with a national audience—increasing the University’s reputation and maximizing its unique contribution to the national dialogue on a broad range of higher education issues. "Building a national reputation for excellence will ultimately attract better faculty and students," said Dr. Porter.
Dr. Porter has encouraged the University to participate in sponsored studies, particularly those that inform national higher education issues. For example, the federal government is using the State University as one of five oversampling sites for a national postsecondary study. This oversampling will provide the University with even better data for analyzing student financing issues.
Under Dr. Porter's leadership, Institutional Research and Analysis is also updating its data analysis and retrieval technology. For example, the office is implementing data warehousing, a new technology for storing data over time that makes data easier to retrieve and utilize. Another new technology under consideration for the group is data mining, a process whereby statisticians look at what the data can say about all kinds of issues, rather than using data to answer one particular question.
These activities are expansions of the existing services provided by the group to campuses and System Administration.
Analyzing campus submitted data on everything from student demographics and opinions to enrollment, degrees, and more, information provided by Institutional Research and Analysis serves as the backbone for the financial and academic planning done by System Administration and individual campuses.
This data serves as a fundamental resource for a number of specific System activities, including the budget process, enrollment and revenue projections, the SUNY assessment initiative, benchmarking, policy analysis, policy initiatives, and the program review process.
In addition, the group maintains a number of surveys and databases covering University libraries, non-credit instruction, financial statistics, institutional characteristics, financial aid, equal employment opportunity and more. On the assessment side, the office conducts a student opinion survey every three years—which evaluates student opinion on everything from the academic experience to how students like the dormitories. Broad surveys of faculty and alumni are also conducted.
Institutional Research and Analysis has responsibility for all mandated State and Federal reporting for State University campuses, ensuring the dissemination of consistent, comparative data for the University.
The office's reporting function is extensive, involving data on attrition and retention, faculty workload, residence hall utilization and other areas. Further, the office responds annually to hundreds of queries from national associations, accrediting bodies, the academic community, the press and the general public.
Finally, the office produces a large number of statistical documents, including:
"Institutional Research has always been a tremendous resource to the system," said Provost Salins. "John has been able to build on the existing strengths of the group and the strong relationships his staff has established with our campuses to enhance the level of service provided and our effectiveness as a system."
Previously director of institutional analysis and data administration at Arizona State University in Tempe, Dr. Porter's experience at SUNY is his first at a university system level. Porter said, "It's been challenging and rewarding, my most exciting year in a long time."