On Course Archives
On Course, July/August 2000
Summertime...and the work of the University has been invigorated by substantive progress on key initiatives: from solidifying our commitment to research and finalizing Memoranda of Understanding as part of Mission Review, to exploring new ways to improve the physical environment of our campuses. This issue of On Course highlights several examples of the positive momentum of the State University as we head into the 2000-2001 academic year.
First, we look at the Educational Opportunity Program’s summer sessions, taking place at 28 campuses and running anywhere from two days to five weeks in length. These important programs provide for a structured transition into higher education for dedicated students who have been faced with academic and economic challenges.
We feature an update on the work of the Advisory Council on Teacher Education, a University-wide group working to strengthen SUNY’s teacher preparation programs, and detail a new fellowship program implemented this summer within my office at System Administration. This issue also looks at the focus on multidisciplinary research at Binghamton and the outstanding work of its Institute for Biomedical Technology.
My best wishes go out to the University community as we wrap-up what has been a busy and productive summer. I look forward to the start of the new academic year and to a continuation of our work together. As always, please contact my office with any questions or comments.
"I thought this would be a terrific opportunity to put a human face on System Administration and a unique opportunity for professional development," said Diane Dalto, Assistant Professor and Chair of the Technology Division at Adirondack Community College. Dalto is currently working as one of two summer fellows in the Provost’s Office, based at System Administration four days a week for a six-week period. She is joined by Paul Grover, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at the Health Science Center at Syracuse.
"Too often those in leadership positions on our campuses have sporadic or limited interaction with the administrative side of the University," said Provost Peter D. Salins. "I started this program so that we could have a formal means of bringing campus staff together with their colleagues at System Administration to work collaboratively, share experiences and viewpoints."
The program was launched in early spring with a letter to campus presidents asking for nominations of individuals they felt would benefit from summer appointments within the Provost’s Office. The scope of responsibilities for the assigned fellows is broad. "From the more operational work of the office, to our ongoing work with initiatives such as Mission Review, teacher preparation, and the development of performance funding models, we knew there would be no shortage of interesting and innovative projects for campus staff to be exposed to," said Vice Provost Steven Poskanzer.
Dalto, for example, is currently assisting with the review of new academic program proposals and/or requests for revisions to existing programs. "One of the projects that I had just finished before I left Adirondack was the development of a new program proposal," said Dalto. "It has been a terrific learning experience to now take a seat on the other side of the table. I think it’s hard for campuses to keep a perspective about the sheer number of program proposals that are going through System Administration," Dalto added. "When I saw the stacks of requests that were coming in each week, I realized what a difficult task management of it all is."
For Grover, who has been with the Health Science Center for more than 25 years, the summer fellowship seemed like a logical fit in terms of his own professional development. "There is no question that it can be very refreshing to be in a new environment and have new challenges."
Since coming to System Administration in mid-June, Grover has been involved in a variety of projects, from the review of program proposals to participation in discussion about medical school enrollment and membership on a committee looking at tuition assistance for graduate students.
"I was the lead person for my campus in the Mission Review effort and I think that experience was probably my most prolonged exposure to System Administration. I really thought the opportunity to come here and continue those relationships was a very positive one." Grover said the program is definitely a win-win situation. "I see a definite value in continuing the fellowship program. The quality of the information exchange between campuses and System Administration is definitely enhanced by a long-term acquaintance." Both Dalto and Grover will be providing important feedback about further enhancements to the program in the coming weeks.
Campuses should expect to receive communication about next summer’s program this fall, so that they can begin the process of preparing their recommendations. "We are looking forward to making this program an integral component of efforts to recognize and support the professional development of University faculty and senior staff," said Provost Salins.
The Provost’s Advisory Council on Teacher Education is gearing up for its September meeting and the preparation of a report documenting its work to date. The Council was created in an effort to enhance and strengthen SUNY’s teacher preparation programs — a professional field of significant importance to the University, the State and beyond. In fact, through programs at 16 institutions (15 State-operated campuses and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell), the University accounts for approximately 40% of all college- and university-recommended teaching certificates granted by the State Education Department.
The work of the Council is being directed under four committees: (1) Committee on Curriculum and Programs - seeking out best practices with regard to field experiences, subject matter-pedagogy issues, technology in program improvement and instruction, models for programs, and educational research; (2) Committee on Program Quality - exploring accreditation, assessment and Board of Regents regulations; (3) Committee on Supply and Demand - exploring teacher shortages in special-need fields and high demand regions, student preparedness, and programs for career changers and returning teachers; and (4) Committee on Urban Education - exploring the special issues and challenges of urban schools, teachers and their students.
The Council is expected to report on its work in developing a program for those who want to change careers to become teachers, efforts relating to development of a quality assurance statement about graduates of the University’s teacher preparation programs, the establishment of an urban education training center and more. Look for a report summary in an upcoming issue of On Course.
"Our summer programs provide a value-added benefit to New York State students that extends beyond the traditional support of the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)," said Associate Provost Robert James, director of the System EOP office.
As highlighted in a previous issue of On Course, EOP is recognized as an established link to access. Administered centrally through the Office of the Provost and operated on 47 State University campuses, EOP programs combine academic support and supplemental financial assistance to help capable students attend college; despite limited financial resources and deficits in prior preparation.
"While the foundation of EOP is support throughout the academic year, we also recognize that the sooner we can establish a relationship with incoming students, the better off we are," said James. "We have students about to enter EOP programs who have never been outside of the city where they live or who have not been exposed to the rigorous academic environment that awaits them on State University campuses. The summer programs allow us to facilitate the transition to higher education in a smaller setting and with an emphasis on the resources available to ensure they succeed."
Twenty-eight campuses were selected to run summer programs this year — ranging in duration from two days to five weeks — through a competitive proposal process. "When you are talking about a limited pool of resources, there is no question that deciding where to direct funds is a difficult decision, said Assistant Provost Deidre Clark, responsible for EOP planning and policy development at the System level. "However, we have seen such success with the summer program that it continues to be a priority project."
According to Carson Carr, Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs and Director of the EOP program at the University at Albany, the summer program has contributed to student retention and graduation rates. "We recently received national recognition for having one of the highest retention rates among comparable EOP programs in the country, and there is no question that the time we spend with students in the summer plays an important role in that success." The University at Albany runs a five-week comprehensive program that is mandatory for incoming freshmen accepted into the EOP program.
According to Carr, a typical day for the 130 students in Albany’s summer program begins at 9 a.m. with three one-hour classes: reading and writing; math, which is taught in multiple sessions at different developmental levels; and study skills, which is taken for credit. "In the afternoon, students attend workshops with EOP counselors on academic and nonacademic matters, ranging from how to use the Registrar’s office to college adjustment," said Carr. "There is a break for dinner and then students participate in a supervised study period from 7 p.m. - 9 p.m., involving both faculty and student advisors (many of whom were participants in previous summer programs). Carr emphasized that the EOP program is institutionalized on the Albany campus and that the summer program relies on staff and resources from throughout the campus. "There is no way we could have as successful a program as we do without the support of our campus leadership and all faculty and staff. Remember, students live on campus and take classes, this is truly a team effort."
Dana Britton, who will be a junior at Albany this fall is currently working as a student advisor for the summer program. "I participated in the summer program two years ago and really enjoyed it. I learned that even having a set period of three hours of study a night isn’t enough if you want to get good grades." Britton added that her experience this summer as a student advisor has done a lot to help her with a fear of public speaking. "I am learning to be very patient and to speak out. You can’t be shy because these kids are looking to you for help."
The State University College at Geneseo will enroll 40 students in its EOP program this summer, holding two one-week sessions. "We are experimenting with a shorter session this year but have divided students into groups of two to ensure more individualized attention," said Director Isom Fearn. "At Geneseo, there are no learning centers on campus or official programs for developmental learning; our students must be prepared to function in the general academic environment when they return in the fall. The summer orientation is an intensive effort to enhance the possibility of success for our students."
Program participants are evaluated in writing and math and participate in mini-workshops on topics ranging from time management and career identification to coping with peer pressure. They also meet with their counselors and register for fall classes. "The EOP orientation program is scheduled during the same weeks as Geneseo’s general orientation and, at least two of the five days, EOP students participate in activities with all incoming freshmen."
Fearn added that establishing relationships in the summer gives those students the opportunity to interact with peers and faculty who provide visions of success.
Students at Monroe Community College participate in a summer program designed to give them an introduction to the college and its neighboring community. "We operate a five-week program that for the first time this year includes one week especially designated for cultural enrichment — visits to museums, Niagara Falls and more," said program director Ethel Lewis.
Students at Monroe take courses in English, math, critical thinking, and career development — they meet their assigned counselor, pre-register for fall classes and receive a thorough orientation to the campus. "The challenge for us is that because we cannot provide housing, we have to work especially hard to facilitate attendance. We transport students to and from the program and provide lunch...we do everything we can to eliminate problems that might get in the way of academic success," said Lewis.
No matter what the specific length of the program on a given campus within the State University, each is designed to build a foundation upon which students and staff can build success. "The feedback we have received from students and EOP program staff alike is that the summer program makes a lasting and positive impact," said James. "We are very pleased with the innovative and effective programs that staff throughout the University have developed."
The Institute for Biomedical Technology at Binghamton University is an integral element of that institution’s commitment to research through effective collaboration. "We have consistently had a fairly large group of Binghamton faculty actively involved in biomedical research," said John Baust, Professor of Biological Sciences at Binghamton and Institute Director. "But the formation of the Institute created a new umbrella for that work, providing faculty with an optimal opportunity to interact with one another and with internal and external constituencies."
The Institute is dedicated to identifying fundamental areas of research that provide interfaces between academia and industry, and has a clear focus on the promotion and expansion of biotechnology in the Southern Tier of the state. In fact, the Institute is home to BioLife Solutions, Inc., an incubator company working with research groups in such areas as cryobiology and molecular cell biology. Baust serves as Vice President of BioLife.
"Binghamton is stepping forward as an engaged research institution, actively involved in sharing the fruits of discovery with local, state, national and international communities," said Frances Carr, Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Studies. "We are committed to increased cooperation between disciplines and among the many different research centers and institutes on campus."
The Institute for Biomedical Technology is one of nineteen similarly structured organized research centers on campus. "I firmly believe that using multidisciplinary partnerships and core facilities to maximize Binghamton’s resources and research efforts is key to enhancing and expanding educational opportunities at the undergraduate and graduate level," said Carr. Expanding on the importance of collaboration, Baust added, "What we are really doing here is changing the traditional mathematical equation associated with research from ‘one equals one,’ to ‘one plus one equals many,’ with respect to overall productivity. We work closely with Binghamton’s Integrated Electronics Engineering Center and the Roger L. Kresge Center for Nursing Research, as well as with internal and external agencies."
The Institute is currently housed in an existing science building on campus with hopes to soon be part of a research park concept Binghamton is developing. "We are looking forward to a state-of-the-art building that would bring Binghamton’s clinical centers of excellence together physically, with incubator space for new and growing companies," said Baust.
While the scope of the Institute’s work is varied, there is no question of its ability to make an impact. "For example, in 1990, working with a team of Binghamton students, we developed a new instrument for use in cryosurgery," said Baust. Use of the tool allows for the freezing of tumors through a minimally invasive procedure, allowing the damaged cells to be harmlessly reabsorbed into the body as they die. "The tool is incredibly effective and has been used in the treatment of more than 12,000 individuals — the problem is that until now, it was about the size of a small car," said Baust. "Thanks to the creation of the Institute and our ability to work hand in hand with the Integrated Electronics Engineering Center, we have made vast progress in minimizing the size of the instrument and improving its basic functionality. We have made modifications to move the tool from an 800lb unit to a 100lb unit. Our work in this area will have positive repercussions in the medical community for years to come."
Another example of the Institute’s work is its ongoing collaboration with the Diabetes Research Institute of the University of Miami. "Our research in the area of harvesting islets (which produce insulin in the pancreas for the management of glucose) for transplant, is offering new hope to those living with diabetes," said Baust. "While tests to date have shown a 100% effective rate with respect to the transplant, islets have a very short ‘shelf-life,’ making the process of getting healthy cells to those who need them difficult." Thanks to a new procedure co-developed with scientists at Miami, researchers at Binghamton have been able to extend the life of the islets, increasing survival for multiple days and are very positive about the potential of the procedure going forward.
Aiding Institute researchers in this and other work is a newly acquired protein microarray processor, which allows for analysis of high volume experiments, monitoring cell response to various types of stress, such as illness or disease. "Historically it has been very difficult to identify the fingerprint of cell response under particular circumstances," said Baust. "The protein microarray processor allows us to explore how a cell responds to a particular illness. We can study that pattern and try to introduce new controls into the mix." Available at very few institutions in the nation, this equipment will allow the Institute to leapfrog traditional approaches to treatment of diseases like prostate cancer.
The Institute works collaboratively with other SUNY institutions. "We have a working relationship with Stony Brook and are working to develop new collaborative arrangements with other SUNY institutions," said Baust.
The Institute also maintains a critical focus on enhancing the undergraduate and graduate experience of Binghamton students. "Here our focus on a multidisciplinary approach to research also shines through. We support a number of graduate students in various departments on campus, offer summer internships and continuously work on enhancing the research experience for students at all levels." Baust added that he and his colleagues are consistently looking for new ways to utilize research in enhancing the curriculum.