May 4, 2016 Minutes

 College Council Minutes for Fall 2016 (PDF 112kB)


James Lytle, Council Chairman
Anthony Esposito
G. Angela Henry
Lori Jiava, Student Representative, via telephone
Daniel Wall
Linda Weiss


Merodie Hancock, President
Sue Epstein, Assistant Professor
Samuel Conn, Interim Executive Vice President for Information Technology Services and Administration
Alfred Ntoko, Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs
Mary Caroline Powers, Vice President for Communications and Government Relations
Clayton Steen, Vice President for Enrollment Management


Mary Mawn, Senate Chairwoman



A. Minutes Review and Approval

James Lytle welcomed the council members and acknowledged that Lori Jiava, student representative,
was nearing the end of her term of service to the council. Council members congratulated Jiava on the
completion of her degree work with the college and moved to pass a resolution to acknowledge her
service to the council. The resolution was approved.

The minutes from the March 9, 2016, meeting were approved by voice vote.


The minutes from the May 7, 2015, meeting were approved.


Mary Mawn, college Senate chairwoman, reported on Senate business, highlighting the recent work
relating to the restructuring of the college specifically to maintain a level of engagement at the local
level as the transition from a regional-based model to an academic discipline-based model occurs. At
the Senate meeting, members discussed the transition from faculty chairs to governance chairs and the
importance of local support during this transition.

At the All College Conference meeting in March, a proposal set forth by the committee of teaching and
mentoring sought to amend the college bylaws. To keep in stride with the emphasis on a disciplinebased
structure, faculty on Senate will have greater representation. While faculty typically have a large
governance presence at traditional colleges, Empire State College Senate has been more inclusive of all
groups. The assembly approved this change at the All College Conference.

Governance will be changing to reflect the shifting structure in other ways as well. A committee has
been formed to collect feedback and work through the necessary changes, to ultimately present at the
upcoming Senate meeting. Bylaw changes will be proposed accordingly and a policy retreat was held to
address changes needed by the collegewide course catalog. Mawn will be traveling to the SUNY-wide
faculty senate meeting, which takes place three times a year.

At this time, G. Angela Henry joined the meeting.


G. Angela Henry told the council members about a conference call between ACT members and SUNY
Chancellor Nancy Zimpher regarding the procedures of presidential searches. Those who joined in
discussed possible ways to facilitate the search process for campus staff and to alleviate some of the
costs incurred during the search. Meeting participants also discussed the highly qualified candidates
who are not chosen but remain as people of interest – some candidates who ultimately are not
chosen for the position they are seeking are still very qualified for the field, and would be considered
in the future for other positions as they open. She described this as an internal employee recruitment
resource where resumes and notes could be kept and shared across the SUNY system to make the
most of their search processes. More meetings will be held to discuss this subject further.

The annual ACT conference is taking place this fall in Fairport, N.Y., near Rochester. Survey results from
last year’s conference were used to inform the planning process this year, and the planning committee is
still working to set the agenda for this year’s conference. Lytle suggested that ACT contact the governor’s
office to invite a representative to speak to the difficulty that college councils across the SUNY system
have experienced in appointing new members as their term dates expire.


President Merodie Hancock addressed the difficulty of a presidential search from a candidate’s
perspective: SUNY conducts open searches that reveal candidates at the stage that they are brought in
for “campus” visits and presentations, which often dissuades potential candidates who feel they might
be putting themselves at risk at their home institutions as it is learned they are considering external
positions. This means that many applicants are individuals just starting out in their careers at that level
of higher education leadership. The approval process for a hire can also be time consuming, and risks
losing a candidate to another offer.

The broad restructuring of the college will soon be complete, as ESC 2.0 comes to a close, with all
major changes in place by Sept. 1. Once this work is done, the college will be able to move forward with
strategic planning. The search for assistant vice president for enrollment management is still ongoing,
as this position will be key to the college moving forward and the individual filling the role will need to
be exceptionally well suited for the demands in marketing and other areas. The chief diversity officer
for institutional equity and inclusion is also in progress. The position is an unfunded mandate from
SUNY, but the college will be shaping the role to best serve students through embracing differences and
Hancock believes it will ultimately better the college as a whole.

The Ban the Box initiative is an international campaign started to remove the checkbox on applications
that asks whether the applicant has a criminal record. Groups at the college have become interested
in pursuing a similar movement for college applications in SUNY. The efforts to further this campaign
reached SUNY system and options are being explored, such as leaving “the box” off of applications,
but keeping it for residential life disclosure applications. This would be helpful for convicted individuals
trying to begin anew in society after having served their time. There are some restrictions that exoffenders
face when pursuing specific licensure programs, and the college will work with that in mind
so that applicants are aware what their options are so no one goes down a path to a career that would
ultimately be unattainable due to their past.

Chancellor Zimpher called an emergency meeting with the presidents and chief financial officers of
SUNY to address the uncharacteristically low budget allocations from the state. The upcoming fiscal year
is being discussed along with the next year, 2017-18, in hopes of being better prepared for whatever the
future allocation may be. Hancock explained that the colleges have been reaching out to government
contacts for support.

The college is moving forward with the development of health professions programs and the first
doctoral offering.

A large scale construction project will soon be underway on Union Avenue in Saratoga Springs, next
door to the college’s Alumni House located at 28 Union Ave. A developer has purchased Moore Hall,
known locally as the Pink Palace, with plans to tear down and rebuild residential units in its place. This
project has caused some concern to the college, as the Alumni House is close to the property line
where the demolition and construction will be happening and is fairly fragile, having been built in the
late 1800s. The developer has assured the college that they his employees are very familiar with taking
special care of historic buildings and they will continue to work with the college throughout the process.

Hancock announced the upcoming commencement ceremonies and encouraged council members to
attend if possible.

Lytle asked if there was a way to characterize how alarming the budget is this year and Hancock
answered that the current budget simply puts the college in a vulnerable position, requiring a cautious
approach. The reserve funds are within the appropriate range, and some funds are even being used to
invest in infrastructure, such as server space, that will benefit the college in the long run.


A. Introduction

Hancock explained that this portion of the meeting is part of the ongoing effort to keep the council
members informed about college business and introduced Sue Epstein and Clayton Steen, who would
be reporting.

B. Examples of Empire State College Recruitment Efforts

Assistant Professor Sue Epstein gave a presentation titled “Balancing Work Life and School for SUNY
Empire Students.” Students typically come to the college already established in some type of work, and
often have families as well, meaning that they must find a balance when trying to manage work, life
and school. The way that these parts overlap can be positive or negative, depending on the student’s
individual situation. Epstein explained that she looks into how things like confidence gained in the
classroom can positively affect, or enrich, other parts of their lives, like their time at work.

The range of study modalities the college offers, including onsite meetings, online classes and prior
learning assessment, allow students to choose what works best for them within their specific worklife-
school balance needs. Degree planning also engages students to reflect on what they would like to
achieve personally and professionally.

Epstein interviewed alumni about their experiences balancing these aspects of their lives and explained
the value in these perspectives. Alumni were able to share stories about the difficulties and benefits they
faced, as well as some examples when a difficulty resulting from school ultimately became a benefit.

C. Explanation of Higher Education's Current Approach to Recruitment

Vice President for Enrollment Management Clayton Steen remarked about the special way the college
treats students – at many institutions, when people attend, they are expected to be students first and
all other things second, but that isn’t the way Empire State College operates. Enrollment Management
is working to embed the idea of creating and maintaining the work-life-school balance in the marketing
and recruitment plans.

A statewide open house will be held on June 28 at 5 p.m., which allows for more effective advertising
and increased availability to prospective students. Following in the same vein of statewide availability, a
statewide clubs and organizations fair is being planned for September and brown-bag lunch and learns
throughout the college’s locations will be scheduled this coming fall. These events are all part of a larger
culture shift in the college, which will ultimately better serve students. Feedback from faculty and staff
from around the college has generally been positive.

A four-phase strategic enrollment plan is underway, with communication and collaboration as the
key features to the plan’s success. The phases were outline as follows: 1) data collection, 2) strategy
development, 3) enrollment goals, especially important with the current financial state wherein the
college will rely heavily on enrollment revenue, and, finally, 4) implementation of the plan including
committee formation and re-evaluation of the plan.

A new customer relationship management, or CRM, system will be implemented to provide current
data and inform college initiatives. Steen illustrated in his presentation how key performance indicators
will be used to determine where funding goes, for example, and what areas require the most attention
to be successful.

Some of the plans in place using the strategic enrollment planning as a guide include working to
increase nursing student enrollment in some locations, increasing the summer coursework offerings
and translating recruitment materials to Spanish.

The measures will eventually provide a richer image of how people are finding out about the college and
how best to serve students during their time enrolled. Internal workflows will be streamlined to be more
effective and current with marketing strategies.

Statewide channel recruitment presence will be represented by five territories: Buffalo, Alfred, Latham,
Newburgh and Staten Island. These recruiters will work to establish and maintain relationships with
local companies to explore partnerships. Once initial contact and interest is established, the Office
of Academic Affairs will become involved to arrange for the actual academic plans and areas of study
connections through the associate deans. This could eventually become a way to achieve statewide
partnerships between the college and larger companies.

Empire State College will be working more carefully than ever to stay focused on keeping ahead of
the competition.

Steen described current practices in determining return on investment and ways in which that will be
improved. More strategic ad placement and more realistic calculations, such as not planning expenses
for people simply inquiring about enrollment versus actual prospective students who are very likely to
attend by “scoring leads.”

This work is part of a plan to increase student retention from 68 to 74 percent within the next two years
and have a better hold on the student life cycle as they move through their academic journey. Center for
Distance Learning students, who have slightly lower retention rates, will be routed by zip code to local
college locations with the idea that they will receive more direct care and tending, and have a stronger
connection to their own experience.

The Student Information Center is working to conduct outreach to students who are near to graduation
but need assistance in completing their education. The goal is to increase the percentage, which is
currently at 42 percent, of students graduating within six years.

Nonmatriculated students have long flown under the radar in the Empire State College metrics, but
their information will also be considered when Enrollment Management works toward a fuller picture
of the college.

Henry applauded the use of data and the focus on customer service that these plans outline.

The average student age is on the decline, which is important to keep in mind as the tenured college
faculty age and technological and academic advances speed ahead. The college must work to maintain
relevancy and usefulness in these times.


The September College Council meeting is being planned to coincide with the open house of the new
building located at 680 Westfall Road, Rochester, N.Y., scheduled to take place Sept. 14 and 15.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:50 p.m.


Respectfully Submitted,

James W. Lytle

Mary Caroline Powers
Vice President

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