As the fall 2008 semester begins, I am delighted to welcome back to campus all of you who have been away for the summer break, and I thank all of you who worked hard preparing the campus for the upcoming academic year. I trust that each of you had a relaxing yet productive summer.
I am especially pleased that we are welcoming 42 new full-time faculty members to our campus community this year. This is the largest one-year increase in faculty that we have had in several years, and it will aid in our goal of increasing the number of full-time faculty. We are also delighted to welcome the many professional and classified staff members who have joined us over the past year.
Each new academic year offers new hope and fosters new learning opportunities for students, faculty, and staff. This year we welcome approximately 1,500 new freshmen and nearly 1,100 transfer students as well as 400 new graduate students. We expect total enrollment to exceed 11,000 students. About 2,200 students will be living on campus in our residence halls, and approximately 200 students will begin the semester residing in the Adam’s Mark hotel in downtown Buffalo. We are especially proud to welcome 17 Chinese students from the Sichuan Province of China, which was devastated by a massive earthquake in May. These undergraduates are among 150 Chinese students who will study at 22 SUNY campuses for two semesters before returning to China. I encourage you to make them feel at home during their time here.
This will be an exciting year, and I invite all faculty and staff to attend Academic Convocation on Thursday, September 25, at 12:15 p.m. in Rockwell Hall. Author, educator, and activist Lorene Cary will deliver the Bonnie and Vern L. Bullough Academic Convocation Address and will receive an honorary doctorate of letters. At the event, we will celebrate a new year of scholarly excellence and embrace the academic theme for 2008–2010, “Inconvenient Truths.”
This summer we have had the opportunity to improve several campus facilities, underscoring our ongoing commitment to enhance our teaching and learning environment for students and faculty. We have installed smart classroom technology in 12 classrooms, lecture halls, and laboratories in Ketchum Hall, Rockwell Hall, Caudell Hall, and the Classroom Building. Construction on both the new science and mathematics complex and the technology building is expected to start in 2009.
This summer the turf was replaced on Coyer Field, securing safer, more consistent conditions for our athletics teams. Renovations to the residential dining center in the Campbell Student Union will be completed August 29, providing a fresh and welcoming setting that will lend itself to collaborative interactions between students, faculty, and staff.
Construction of the new Burchfield Penney Art Center is complete, and the building will be dedicated on September 5. Once artwork is installed, there will be a grand opening for members, the college community, and the public in November. At the new museum, learning opportunities for our students will be enhanced through collaborations between the museum and college faculty and students in all disciplines.
The college will undertake several signal endeavors this year that include completion of the planning process for our next strategic plan for 2009–2013, and a campuswide facilities master-planning process for 2008–2018. We look forward to engaging the campus community in each of these important initiatives.
Finally, as you know, the challenging fiscal situation facing New York State has prompted the state to propose ways to curtail expenses, including a 3.35 percent cut to SUNY institutions enacted in May. We continue to implement a plan of reduced spending and careful monitoring of all expenditures until more information is available.
Have a great semester, and I look forward to working with you as we strive to fulfill the mission of Buffalo State College to ensure the intellectual, personal, and professional growth of our diverse population and to inspire a lifelong passion for learning.