Letter from President Hefner and Board President Gibbs
President Dennis L. Hefner, left, with Alumni Board President Greg K. Gibbs, '71
Dear Alumni and Friends,
We’re halfway through the 2010-11 academic year, and things are as exciting as ever on campus, as students, faculty and staff continue to make substantial differences at every opportunity.
Construction initiatives continue to provide the most visible signs of progress. Two new projects will begin later this spring that will have a profound impact on the campus community.
The first will be our $60 million Science Center, set to break ground in May. This state-of-the art building is being designed with input from some very successful alumni (such as Dr. Jeff Kelly, the subject of this issue’s cover story). This new facility will not just improve the capacity and aesthetics of our natural science departments; it will markedly change the way science is taught at Fredonia, with a cross-disciplinary, collaborative approach driving everything we do, from faculty instruction and laboratory research to field experiences and corporate/institutional partnerships. Construction should be completed within two years.
The long-awaited renovation of the Williams Center will follow. The ground and second floors of the student union will be closed during the 2011-12 academic year, with temporary overflow space occurring in Dods Hall and in modular units located in adjacent parking lots. However, the result will be a wonderfully enhanced facility – with such new features as an outdoor patio and barbecue pavilion.
These projects continue the momentum we generated last year, which saw the opening
of the Technology Incubator in downtown Dunkirk (p. 9), the completion of the new Campus and Community Children’s Center in August (p. 24), and the dedication of two new Mason Hall rehearsal rooms – thanks to the generosity of Robert and Marilyn
Maytum – in October (back cover).
In addition, the Fredonia College Foundation’s Capital Campaign continues toward its $15 million goal, with more than $13 million generated as of the close of 2010, and one year left for the campaign. The generosity of alumni and friends allows us to attract higher quality students and faculty, and enables more students to afford a Fredonia education.
Ironically, this fund-raising success and our strong construction program come at a time of increasing financial difficulty for SUNY campuses. The repeated cuts in state funding for day-to-day operations, coupled with the refusal by Albany lawmakers to allow modest tuition increases or eliminate unnecessary layers of bureaucracy, has created a very challenging operating environment. Some short-term relief was generated through the SUNY-wide retirement incentive program, which on our campus resulted in 53
employees opting to bid us farewell. And while we wish them the best in their well-earned retirements, the resultant loss of “institutional memory” and the reduction in our workforce create new and separate challenges. So far, a total of 41 full-time permanent positions have been eliminated.
We are hopeful that a new Governor marks a new day for SUNY. We believe the state’s current budgetary crisis will serve as an opportunity for SUNY to rise up and be the economic development engine that will allow New York State to shine once again. Our campus, and all of SUNY, will again be calling on Albany lawmakers to approve a non-political approach to tuition, and will be requesting elimination of the many unnecessary layers of bureaucracy that hinder and delay normal campus operations.
Your efforts are critical in the continuing health and progress of this campus. We encourage you to contact state lawmakers, no matter where you live, and let them know how critical it is to have a public higher education system that is properly funded and capable of creating sustainable, well-paying jobs that will halt the outflow of residents to other states. We ask for your help as SUNY Fredonia’s strongest ambassadors and its most evident examples of success. Together, we can make a difference.
Dennis L. Hefner, Ph.D.
President, SUNY Fredonia
Greg K. Gibbs, Ph.D.
President, Fredonia Alumni Association