SUNY funds innovative programs

Geneseo was recently granted $475,000 from SUNY Investment and Performance Fund to support two new programs called the Critical Language Consortium and the Honors Transfer Path that will help more students to earn degrees. Out of this $475,000 that Geneseo was provided, $200,000 will help to create the Critical Language Consortium. This program will collaborate with SUNY Brockport and Monroe Community College. Students will have the opportunity to learn Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Russian. Geneseo’s collaboration with these partner institutions will involve video conferencing and face-to-face teaching. This semester, both Brockport and MCC are piloting the program.

According to department chair and associate professor of Spanish Lori Bernard—one of the founders of the programs—the language department has wanted to implement a program like this for a long time.

“We’ve all had this in mind, sharing the resources and working together to figure out how to offer the most languages in the most efficient way,” Bernard said.

Bernard added that the funding from the Investment and Performance Fund will go into training teachers, rehabilitating a classroom with the proper technology, providing a stipend to pay a coordinator and providing students with technology or transportation if they need it.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Carol Long vetted the project proposal and expressed her hopes that other institutions can participate in this program in the future.

“We’re hoping that if this works, it can be a model for other colleges to participate in,” she said. “The ultimate goal is, really, to provide more opportunity to study more languages at a higher level for all of our students.”

Geneseo will also partner with MCC to grow the honors programs at both schools with the $275,000 it received to form the Honors Transfer Path. This program will serve as a transition path from the MCC honors program to the Geneseo honors transfer program.

“We have a couple of goals with this program,” Long said. “One would be to increase the number of students who complete their associate’s degree at MCC, rather than transferring before they complete that degree. Another goal is to have a pathway for really high quality transfer students to come into our program from MCC and to provide high impact learning opportunities and more advanced work for them when they arrive here.”

Long hopes that one other proposed program by Geneseo will eventually be approved by the SUNY Investment and Performance Fund.

“We put in a proposal that would give $50,000 in startup funds to each of five new faculty hires in a variety of disciplines in a computational cluster,” Long said. “It looked at hiring in a mix of disciplines––the sciences, humanities and social sciences––so that we would build a cluster of faculty who can develop programming and really bring expertise to the campus in quantitative and digital areas.”

According to Long, the SUNY Investment and Performance Fund was developed to help SUNY schools expand the current total of 93,000 credentials offered to 150,000 by 2020. At the sixth Annual State of the University Address, SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher explained that this fund is now open to every part of the SUNY system. Currently, 32 proposals are being invested across 31 SUNY institutions.

One of these programs discussed was “Early Alert,” which is designed to help students identify problems that they may be having academically or non-academically that may be preventing them from succeeding in their classes. It is stated in a video on the SUNY website that this will help improve retention rates for students who attend SUNY schools. According to Long, Geneseo is beginning to use “Early Alert” in the MCC Honors Path.

Another program underway is “Quantway/Statway,” which is targeted intervention for students who need help in math classes. “Quantway/Statway” is open to all SUNY campuses and 20,000 SUNY students are eligible to participate.

Zimpher also introduced “Predictive Analytics,” which is a system that would collect and analyze data and identify patterns, trends, obstacles and successes of students across SUNY campuses.

The final project that Zimpher highlighted was the “SUNY Predictive Analytics Transforming Higher Education” or “SUNY Path.” It is similar to “Predictive Analytics” in that it is another system to maximize data opportunities.

At the close of the meeting, Zimpher reinforced the idea that obtaining a college degree is just as important as the process of earning one.

“We push until everyone gets the message that college completion isn’t about the diploma framed on the wall,” she said. “It’s about what that degree or credential means.”