Message From The President - Baruch College

September 4, 2012

To Baruch College Faculty, Staff and Students:

Welcome to the start of the 2012-2013 academic year. As we begin the back-to-school process that comes each fall, I am reminded of that time-worn question that still gets asked (no matter one’s age): What did you do during your summer vacation? Of course, College operations did not stop at all over the summer as we hosted 8,600 Baruch and visiting students for two summer sessions. Many of our faculty spent the summer gearing up for or working on grants, doing research and planning for fall programming. Baruch staff were very focused on the nuts and bolts aspects of running the college, completing the admission of a new class of students, and getting the physical infrastructure ready for the 17,500 students who will be on campus this fall. After several consecutive years of budget reductions, the agreement reached with the State of New York last year for five years of stabilized financial support of CUNY (and SUNY) has brought much-needed relief and stability. Although we continue to work with a sense of austerity, we have invested—and will continue to invest—carefully and strategically, including in upgrades of some of the facilities.

As many of you may be aware, this is the season for national rankings, and we operate in an environment where, whether we like it or not, getting ranked (and thereby adding to the College’s prestige and reputation) is important. Over the summer, the faculty and staff’s hard work paid off, and we again were included in Princeton Reviews list of the top 15% of U.S. colleges for the fifth consecutive year. We also were highlighted by Forbes magazine at #20 among America’s “Best College Buys” and at #351 among “America’s Top Colleges,” leading the charge for all of the other CUNY colleges. And we were included on Diverse: Issues In Higher Education magazine’s Top 100 list of institutions that conferred the most bachelor’s and master’s degrees to multicultural students; we ranked #58 for undergraduate and #59 for graduate degrees conferred. While we expect more rankings as the fall proceeds, these lists give us a sense of where we stand relative to our peers and where we need to improve.  For this reason, I continue to task our Office of Institutional Research and Program Assessment to analyze these rankings (many of which are quite subjective) to see what we can learn from them. Our research-active faculty are a vitally important element of the College’s mission.  Among those recently garnering prestigious grants and awards is a new member of the Zicklin School faculty, Professor Stuart Schulman, who, along with two CUNY colleagues, has been awarded a National Science Foundation grant of almost $900,000 for a project entitled "Student Entrepreneurs: A Reality-Based Video Series following the STEM Virtual Enterprise." The NSF also awarded a fellowship to Belen Guerra-Carrillo, a 2010 Baruch graduate, to study the physical effects on the brain when people learn and how those changes affect academic performance. To find out about additional grants and news regarding faculty and alumni, please check our website.

The process of building a forward-looking and achievable five-year strategic plan is now nearing completion with thoughtful input being provided by our broadly-representative Strategic Planning Committee. In the next few weeks, a penultimate draft of the plan will be ready for review and comments by the entire Baruch College community, and it will be vetted widely in upcoming faculty meetings of all three Schools, in the Faculty Senate, in a special “town hall” meeting for staff and students, and through other fora. The Committee’s co-chairs, Interim Provost John Brenkman and Interim Dean Myung-Soo Lee will lead these efforts, and I will attend as well.  We look forward to receiving your feedback.

Interim Dean Myung-Soo Lee also heads the new leadership team at the Zicklin School of Business. Along with new Associate Dean Donald H. Schepers, the Zicklin team is building a strategic plan specific to the School, including adding new full-time faculty—29 new positions, plus 5 replacements by fall 2013—and engaging the newly-instituted Dean’s Advisory Council. They will launch a Zicklin undergraduate honors program; reposition the full-time and part-time MBA and MS programs; and continue to extend global graduate degree programs. Dean Lee and team are also preparing for the AACSB reaccreditation process in fall 2014.

Of course, these measures are even more critical in light of the recent problems discovered in three of the Zicklin School’s Executive Master’s Programs. Professor Kapil Bawa has been appointed as Acting Director of Executive Programs, and Interim Provost Brenkman will be making public in the next few days a comprehensive and carefully developed set of permanent changes in the structure, procedures, and practices of these programs to prevent any recurrence of such irregularities, as he prepares to return them from receivership to Zicklin’s management. While disruptive to everyone involved, including current students, alumni and faculty and staff, I have full confidence that Interim Dean Lee and the entire Zicklin management team is firmly committed to renew and expand the School’s executive programs and to operate them only according to the high levels of integrity for which Baruch College and the Zicklin School of Business are known.

As you walk around campus, you will notice some changes—hopefully all to the good. The entire Baruch community will benefit from the completion of work over the summer—at long last!!—on the escalators in the Newman Vertical Campus.  All new escalators have been installed, and the building finally will be able to operate in the manner in which its architects intended!   And by mid-October, we expect that the installation of the protective canopy on the NVC’s 24th Street entrance also will be completed and the ugly and inconvenient scaffolding that surrounds the entrance will be removed—permanently.

Baruch is now recycling! After a successful pilot, the program was rolled out campus-wide in August to all faculty, staff and students. This is a remarkable accomplishment for Baruch, and I want to thank publicly Professor Mindy Engle-Friedman and the entire Sustainability Task Force, as well as the women and men of the Building & Grounds department for its implementation. We also continue our efforts to create an outdoor campus for the College by building a pedestrian plaza on 25th Street between Third and Lexington Avenues.  We recently had a very encouraging dialogue with the City’s Dept. of Transportation regarding our pending application for a plaza, and we expect to be able to make an announcement soon regarding next steps.

In the meantime, 165 freshmen, transfer and returning students are already availing themselves of our new residence hall on 97th Street and Third Avenue. With state-of-the-art living and studying facilities, “1760 Third,” which is within easy walk of the No. 6 Line, replaces our location on the Lower East Side and allows the College to strategically grow our resident student population and respond to increasing demand for coveted rooms in Manhattan.

As you would expect, Baruch faculty, students and staff will once again be actively engaged in the 2012 presidential election cycle. From live viewings of the presidential debates for students and our community, to panel discussions on hot-button topics, the School of Public Affairs and others will make sure that Baruch is a destination for anyone looking to participate. Couple this with active programming from all of the various academic centers across the campus, the Baruch Performing Arts Center, and a full schedule of fall sports, and it is clear that this semester is going to be jam-packed!

Finally, on a personal note, as I begin my third year as Baruch president, I will be continuing my practice of holding office hours on Fridays during each semester, which are available by appointment to any member of the Baruch community, and holding “Lunch with the President” twice during the semester, which is open to any enrolled student on a sign-up basis.  I look forward to greeting everyone in the coming weeks, and I offer my best wishes for a productive and successful year of teaching and learning.

With warm regards,

Mitchel Wallerstein
President, Baruch College

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