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Changes in program line-up to help sustain institution

During his campus address in September, interim President Howard Cohen identified a plan to address six focus areas he deemed crucial to the college’s future. Cohen called these the “Six Priorities,” which he will oversee this yearwhile Buffalo State searches for its next president. This is the second story of six that will run in The Record to elaborate on the President’s plans as they come to fruition.

During Interim President Howard Cohen’s address to the SUNY Buffalo State campus earlier this semester, the sustainability of the institution was emphasized as a priority.

Initiatives to sustain Buffalo State through the future will be laid out in the coming strategic plan, and is also being addressed by a group of department heads. The group, Academic Program Array Advisory Group, which had itsfirst actual meeting Monday with Provost Dennis Ponton, aims to analyze Buffalo State’s current programs to seewhich should be expanded, added or eliminated.

“(Department chairs) are the ones that know,” Ponton said.“They can talk to each other and give us ideas on (new programs).”

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Ponton said programs considered for expansion could be those that receive more applicants that can be accommodated.

Determining what prospective students are looking for as far as program options could help Buffalo State stay relevant and increase enrollment, Ponton said.

The presidential cabinet came up with a task list over the summer to provide guidelines in securing institutional sustainability.

According to the written charge for the APAAG, it is to identify potential new programs that will generate positive enrollment and revenue, evaluate current portfolio programs for congruence with strategic directions to create a process for reviewing programs for expansion, closure of introduction, and to evaluate potential online growth for certain programs.

“(The group) will be looking at places where we have capacity, and where we can develop programs that would be of interest to students, and that would be appropriate for Buffalo State and Western New York,” Cohen said.

According to Cohen, an objective in sustainability is to think of what programs will give people an opportunity for careers in our region.

New student surveys that have been taken in the past have indicated that about 20 percent of students enter Buffalo State with the intention of transferring out to another university, Ponton said. Finding a way to keep students enrolled and attract new students is crucial to the sustainability of the institution.

Daniel Velez, associate vice president of student success, said his department is working hard to keep students engaged, and ultimately enrolled.

The Student Success Office is already moving in directions to keep students through to graduation. Building more rounded relationships between faculty, staff and students helps promote a more beneficial learning experience.

Something that Ponton said sets Buffalo State apart from other institutions is the educational environment. He said that expanding programs and increasing enrollment will not change that unique environment.

“That’s a way to bring in more students,” said EileenMerberg, interim director of student life. “We’re not offering the things that students are wanting so they’re choosing other schools because of it.”

To compete with the growing presence of online education, the group will attempt to find programs that could operate online to appeal to prospective students who are not looking for a campus experience.

Cohen said that the main objective is to prepare graduates to go out and be successful.

“Part of that is really learning how to learn, and learning how to continuously prepare yourself for changes in the kinds of work that’s going to be available in the future,” Cohen said.

This charge, and the strategic plan will set a trajectory for Buffalo State’s future.

“We’re not training people for fixed jobs,” Cohen said. “We’re training people to be able to do a variety of kinds of work.”


Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @andrewmanzella

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