Message From The President - Baruch College image
January 10, 2014
Senior Leadership Reorganization
Dear Faculty and Staff:
Since assuming the presidency of Baruch more than 3 ½ years ago, I have continued to search for ways to improve the organizational efficiency and effectiveness of the College. As you know, one result of this process has been our “Institutional Effectiveness” initiative, led by Dean David Birdsell, which has provided valuable staff training, improved information sharing between individuals performing similar work (i.e., the “cross border” teams), and the revitalization of the College Senior Staff meetings, which are being co-led by Dean Birdsell and Chief of Staff Mary Gorman. Today, I am pleased to announce three major changes in the organization of the College’s senior executive team as part of this same effort.
1. For many years, Baruch has been at the leading edge of information and technology services within CUNY. Much of our success in this area can be attributed to the expertise, management ability and vision of Dr. Arthur Downing, who has served most ably since 1997 as Chief Librarian and, since 2002, as Assistant Vice President for Information Technology, overseeing the Baruch Computing and Technology Center (BCTC).  Today, Baruch takes the next step in the convergence of its information and computing operations by establishing the first integrated Division of Information Services in CUNY under the leadership of Dr. Downing, who is promoted to the new title of Vice President for Information Services and Dean of the Library. In this enhanced capacity as Chief Information Officer for the College, VP Downing will continue his leadership of the award-winning William and Anita Newman Library and the BCTC, and he will also now oversee the work of the Office of Institutional Research and Program Assessment. Already a member of the Cabinet, he will henceforth report directly to the President.
The case to be made for closer integration of library, IT and institutional research services has only become stronger over the past twelve years. The library profession is producing skilled individuals who are assets to technology-centric organizations. The shifting patterns in use of the Newman Library over the past decade mirror trends across higher education. While the use of print collections has decreased, access to digital collections and the need for instruction and support in the use of these resources continue to grow. The new master plan for the library will reflect these changes by re-programming the use of some library space to support user interaction with information technology in private and collaborative environments with access to experts, as well as focusing the instructional activities of the library as an academic department. Over time library faculty will increasingly help faculty and students use "big data," support work in the digital humanities, and address other areas of convergence between librarianship and IT. Moreover, the incorporation of institutional research into the new Information Services Division will facilitate a more robust and better integrated data analysis and business intelligence operation, including through the engagement of data management professionals who previously supported the use of legacy mainframe systems eliminated by the migration to CUNYfirst.
2. Two of the most pleasant discoveries that I made at the start of my term as Baruch president were the enormous strides that the College had made over the past eight years in (a) improving its overall academic quality and the retention and graduation rates of its undergraduates and (b) the vitality and strength of its Student Affairs programs. It is no coincidence that both of these success stories have occurred during the tenure—and under the inspired and creative leadership—of Dr. Ben Corpus in his role as Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. Among the indicators of the former is, of course, the average SAT score of our first year class, which this year increased to an impressive 1239—placing Baruch far ahead of the next highest CUNY college—as well as our CUNY-best first-year retention rate of 91.5 percent and 6-year graduation rate of 62.6 percent. As a result of Ben Corpus’s expertise and vision, the Baruch Admissions Office has pioneered the use of empirical modeling techniques within CUNY in the recruitment and selection of both the first-year and transfer classes.  Also through VP Corpus’s leadership and commitment, the quality and type of Baruch’s student life activities has increased significantly, the number of student clubs has grown, and athletics has flourished.  The annual “Battle of Lexington,” which was Ben’s idea, has become an annual highlight for many Baruch students; and he and his team have developed a number of other creative ways of improving school spirit on a commuter campus.
In recognition of VP Corpus’s leadership talent and entrepreneurial abilities, I have asked him to take on a new set of responsibilities for “Strategic Academic Initiatives”—i.e., those related to the expansion of programming in Baruch’s two Summer Sessions and the January inter-session, as well as other academic initiatives designed to enhance Baruch’s revenue streams and to increase the prestige and national/international visibility of the College. In this regard, Ben Corpus has already pioneered a successful Summer Academy for promising high school students and has been exploring innovative, semester-long ESL programs for international students that can lead to eventual matriculation at Baruch. In taking on these new responsibilities, Dr. Corpus’s title will now become: Vice President for Enrollment Management and Strategic Academic Initiatives. All enrollment and retention-related functions, including: Admissions and Recruitment, Financial Aid, Registrar, Academic Advising, Testing and Evaluation, Housing administration, International Student Services, and SEEK will continue to be overseen by VP Corpus.
3. In part due to the success of Ben Corpus’s efforts to improve student life at Baruch and to expand the role that Student Affairs now plays at the College, I have concluded that the time has come to make this a fully separate function, as it is at most colleges and universities across the country. Accordingly, all student affairs activities, including: Student Life, the Starr Career Development Center, Athletics and Recreation, Counseling, Health and Wellness, Services for Students with Disabilities, Residence Life, and the Early Learning Center, will now be a separate Division that will be led by an Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, who henceforth also will carry the functional title of Dean of Students. The AVP for Student Affairs and Dean of Students will report to the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and will be a member of the President’s Cabinet. As most will be aware, the AVP position recently became vacant as a result of the unanticipated resignation of Dr. Corlisse Thomas. We were fortunate, however, to persuade Sharon Ricks to take on this responsibility on an interim basis, and she has been doing a great job dealing with some very challenging issues.We plan to launch a national search in the coming months for a permanent AVP for Student Affairs and Dean of Students.
Please join me in congratulating Arthur Downing and Ben Corpus, and in thanking Sharon Ricks for stepping into the Dean of Students role this year. I ask that you give all three your full support and cooperation in their new roles.
Mitchel B. Wallerstein
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