As we move toward mid-semester, I wanted to update the College community on a number of issues of general interest.

On Thursday, Oct. 24, we celebrated Convocation, where President Fritz gave his State of the College message. All who were present, especially any Deadheads in the room, had a grand time. The Williamson Theatre literally rocked, last year’s accomplishments were noted, and we recognized milestones in the service records of our faculty and staff. The mood was light and one of camaraderie and mutual respect. The attendees had an exceptionally pleasant two hours as we celebrated the significant progress that has been achieved. The Provost re-established his preeminence as the CSI Dancer-supreme. Feedback from Dancing with the Stars has been one of astonishment with generally positive marks, and just a little jealousy was expressed by the PCA Department and Professor Vasilios Petratos. (A Zorba dance-off is planned for the near future and Larry David was heard to remark “pretty, pretty good”). Overall the day made me proud to be part of our exceptional campus community and gave me renewed confidence to face the challenges and opportunities of the future.

As I write this message, we are closing the loop on our campus response to the Middle States request for a monitoring report. This document reflects the work of large numbers of faculty from all departments and programs. It has been discussed extensively in the General Education Committee, and in the assessment subcommittees of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, the Graduate Studies Committee, and the General Education Committee. It was shown in draft form to all department Chairs and the faculty leadership. The Monitoring Report and its supporting materials have been posted on our Middle States Website. It will be submitted by the end of November. Although many deserve credit for the steps taken to develop the documentation that provides the foundation for our report, I want to particularly thank Eileen Gigliotti, Warrick Bell, Syed Rizvi, Susan Mee, Lacey Sloan, Richard Powers, and especially Susan Holak and Catherine Lavender for spearheading the process and authoring the report. The campus is indebted to these individuals.

In general, with the exception of CUNYfirst-related issues, the fall semester has been a relatively smooth one. Departments are working effectively, the new schools are off to an energetic and exciting start, and I have been pleased with the spirit on the campus. CUNYfirst is clearly a burden to us all and we have been trying to maintain effective communications between the departments and faculty and the IT people on our campus. The Deans have been compiling issues that remain unresolved and we are communicating them to CUNY Central. The teamwork exhibited on solving this problem is laudable and I hope it will lead to resolution of the more egregious deficiencies.

On thursday, November 7, the College will hold an Open Forum on the Foundations of Excellence Self-Study that we completed last year. The purpose of this day is to reach closure on the process and to consider for implementation a number of recommendations related to the First-Experience. It is an important event and will provide us with the opportunity to set new standards and processes to improve the education of our students. I urge you to attend.

One final note, I have just approved approximately $200,000 for expenditures related to College and departmental infrastructure needs. The items purchased were all the result of faculty-initiated requests and should improve undergraduate and graduate laboratories; pedagogy, in general; and, in some cases, our scholarly efforts. The monies for this initiative were made available by President Fritz and Vice President Persky and reflect, I believe, their strong commitment to Academic Affairs. This investment in our infrastructure is the outcome of departmental planning that began in the fall of 2012 and which developed a two-year plan for purchasing replacement equipment. When these purchases are completed, the College will have spent nearly $600,000 dollars in response to faculty requests. I suggest that the faculty begin a second round of evaluations of our needs. It is possible that money will become available in the spring and by planning now we can make sure that this is spent in a way that best supports the needs of our students and scholarship.

I wish all of you a satisfying semester.