It is with great excitement and anticipation that I welcome back our returning faculty, staff, and students.  For those who are new to the College, including the incoming student class of 2015, I also extend a very warm welcome.  

As you arrive on campus, you will notice CUNY/CSI’s tobacco-free initiative, Change Is in the Air, displayed on posters and flyers throughout the buildings and common areas. While the slogan Change Is in the Air provides notice that smoking and other tobacco use will only be allowed in designated smoking areas, in support of the health and wellness of our campus constituents, it also serves as an appropriate metaphor for the positive and exciting transformation taking place at the College. 

For the fifth consecutive year, the College has experienced record enrollment, as more students are making the choice to attend CSI, a wise decision that will transform their lives and prepare them for success in today’s evolving society. Our robust enrollment, in conjunction with CUNY’s new rational tuition policy, will help to provide the necessary resources for our unwavering commitment to student support and achievement despite these fiscally challenging and uncertain times.

The academic profile of our students is changing. The SAT scores and the College Admissions Average (CAA) of the incoming baccalaureate class have reached heights unparalleled in the history of CSI. The consistent trend in the elevation of the academic excellence of our students is reflected in their achievements in our classrooms and laboratories. Indeed, for the first time in the history of CSI, one our students was named a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship winner, one of the most prestigious honors in the sciences, which is awarded to only 300 students across the country. This is but one example of the many honors recently bestowed upon our diverse and accomplished student body.    

As a testament to our commitment to student success, this summer CSI implemented a completely revised and expanded New Student Orientation program, which involved the contributions of virtually every department on campus. All incoming freshman were required to attend a two-day orientation during which they received essential information about their first-year experience. The orientation highlighted the importance of academic advisement and culminated in the registration for classes. 

In support of student academic excellence, we celebrate the arrival of an extraordinary group of new faculty and administrators to the CSI community. This accomplished and diverse cohort of faculty and staff represent some of the most promising talent in their respective fields, and they are certain to contribute to our evolving status as an outstanding educational institution.  

To continue to advance the College’s mission of excellence in faculty teaching, research, and scholarship, September marks the official opening of the College’s new Faculty Center for Professional Development. The Center will offer a dedicated space for professional development workshops and enhanced opportunities for interactions and collaborations among all faculty through a broad spectrum of leadership, pedagogical innovation, and scholarship support activities.    

The new academic year also marks the achievement of historical institutional milestones.  After two years of dedicated work and guidance by the College’s Institutional Planning Committee and through extensive, campus-wide discussion, participation, and collaboration involving hundreds of faculty, staff and students, the College’s new Strategic Plan, Many Voices, One Vision, has been completed.  The new Strategic Plan sets forth a full range of goals and actions that will move CSI toward fulfillment of its new Mission, Vision, and Values through 2016. 

This fall, the College will also complete an initial draft of our Self-Study report as part of the Middle States reaccreditation process. The Self-Study, which involved the participation of over 130 members of the broad campus community, sets forth a comprehensive assessment of our institution, guided by the 14 standards of excellence prescribed by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The Self-Study will serve as the primary document utilized by the Middle States Visiting Team in conducting its evaluation of the College in the spring. The initial draft of the Self-Study will be disseminated campus-wide very shortly to provide an opportunity for the College community to offer feedback and suggestions before the document is finalized.    

For all that we have accomplished together, and for all that we will achieve together this year, let me express my deep and profound appreciation and respect for the invaluable contributions of all faculty, staff, and students. As one of the many events scheduled this year to celebrate the College community, I invite you to attend CSI’s inaugural Homecoming event, which will take place on October 1, 2011. 

I am confident that with your continued support, we will discover new opportunities to provide access and excellence at CSI. This is truly an exciting and transformative time at the College as we usher in a new era of innovation, creativity, and collaboration. Today, more than ever, Change is in the Air at the College of Staten Island.