Achievements as President of Alfred State College

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Under my leadership, and working closely with a strong senior leadership team of five Vice-Presidents (Academic Affairs, Administrative Affairs and Technology, Student Affairs, Enrollment Management, and Institutional Advancement), Alfred State College achieved the following between 2003-2006:

  • Strategic Planning and Development: A campus-wide collaborative dialogue over a yearlong period led to embracing the “intentional learner” concept as advanced by AAC&U. The vision called for the creation of a community of stakeholders, who are empowered, informed, and responsible. Quote from Middles States Accreditation Report (2005):

“The Institutional Strategic five-year plan is very well conceived to support the goals of the College. The new leadership team has created, in a short period of time, an atmosphere of mutual trust and cooperation among different segments of the college community. The leadership team also gained support from its constituency for a vision to create an intentional learning environment. The new vision, mission and the strategic plan that was developed, clearly articulate the future for the institution.”

  • College Accreditation: A team of twelve external members gave high praise to the college’s leadership team, its visionary thinking to transform the institution, and the overall health of the institution. It was one of the most highly successful accreditation reports the College had received. Quote from Middle States Report (2005):

“The administration has raised the right questions in the right way and created a balanced plan that respects the full aspirations of the College.  The team suggests that it will be important for the administration to stay the course and implement the plan, maintaining the same open and inclusive process with which the plan was created.”

  • Friend-raising and Fund-raising:
  • For the first time in its hundred-year history, the college secured an unprecedented five million dollars in state funding in its very first year of implementing this plan. This was due to collaboration, teamwork, and strategic thinking of dedicated educators and community leaders.
  • In spite of serious gaps in the staffing and infrastructure of the Development Office, fund-raising increased 16% in the first year and 17% in the second year.
  • Unrestricted donors increased nearly 500% between 04-05 and 05-06. (40 donors to 242 donors) and the college experienced a 338% increase in unrestricted dollars between 04-05 and 05-06. While this kind of a growth pattern is difficult to sustain year after year, it demonstrates my drive and ability to raise funds for the institution.
  • For the first time, regional alumni chapters were established. The alumni magazine was completely redesigned and there is a new vigor and vibrancy in alumni relations. The Centennial Celebrations of the College are under full swing and several friend-raising and fund-raising initiatives are already under way.
  • New programs: Processes for creating and streamlining a steady flow of new programs were established. As an institution moving from a two-year culture to a four-year culture, the importance of launching innovative and inter-disciplinary programs was emphasized. As a result, close to ten new associate and baccalaureate programs are in the process of being launched over the next two years. Processes for transfer and articulation agreements were initiated and streamlined, an office for Transfer Students was established, and significant increase in the number of transfer students achieved.
  • School of Sustainable Technologies: The College embarked on the innovative idea of establishing a School of Sustainable Technologies to capture the growing global workforce need for environmentally educated citizens. Such a school would set the College apart and create a unique niche and platform for high-demand, interdisciplinary programs, with sustainability principles and technologies as core concepts. The College will celebrate 2006 as the “Year of Sustainability” and launch several teaching, research, and community initiatives to underscore the importance of sustainability in our communities. In October 2006, Alfred State College will host the first Sustainability Symposium, a weeklong event featuring a keynote address, films, workshops, presentations, and hands-on projects.  In the wake of the SMART Farm’s success, Alfred State is now poised to integrate its technological expertise to the creation of new programs in applied sustainable technologies.
  • Program Escalation: Discussions are under way to offer graduate programs through collaborations and partnerships with nearby exemplary graduate schools.
  • Internationalization: The Office of International Education was established to centralize recruitment and retention efforts of international students. Several new study abroad initiatives were launched. The college participated in the Linden International Tour for the first time. Due to the above efforts, although the number of international students is still small, the campus experienced a 35% increase in international students.
  • International Alliances: Several international alliances either are under development or have been established. Alliances with Turkey, Mexico, Bermuda, Japan, and India will help the college build strong partnerships in a number of areas, including agriculture, engineering technology, and applied technology.
  • Succession Planning Pilot Project: During the summer of 2006 Human Resources piloted a new succession planning process to ensure the continued effective performance by making provisions for the development and replacement of key positions and work activities over time.  The plan provided a systematic process to identify internal capabilities, gaps in organizational core competencies, and strategies for meeting future staffing needs.  The pilot project will be used to streamline the process so it can be implemented across the organization.
  • Successful hiring of key leaders: Under my leadership, Alfred State College was successful in attracting exceptional talent from around the country. This was no easy challenge, given that Alfred State College is located in a very rural and remote part of the state of New York. Through national searches, the Vice President for Student Affairs came from MIT, the Vice President for Institutional Advancement from the University of Buffalo, and the Vice President for Academic Affairs from the University of Texas at El Paso. The college was also blessed to hire an exceptional Latino Dean of Student Affairs. Other positions throughout the organization also attracted exceptional talent in national searches. This success was primarily due to the senior leadership team’s vision, integrity, and dedication to the success of our students.
  • Institutional Financial Health: Long-term planning, fiscal prudence, and institution-wide efficiency and effectiveness measures were put in place.  The importance of accountability of public tax payers’ dollars has been emphasized in all areas of the college. 
  • Capital Construction: Alfred State College experienced the largest building boom since 1960s with capital construction projects at nearly thirty one million dollars. A 150-townhomes complex was conceived by my leadership team and is expected to be completed by late 2007. This is an important step toward embracing a strong baccalaureate culture.
  • Faculty Governance: The Chair of Faculty Senate in December 2004 noted the following about my leadership style and faculty governance for the Middle States accreditation team:

I think that under the previous administration there was a considerable degree of discontent among faculty regarding consultation by administration in development of campus planning instruments.  Today’s climate is quite different.  The new administration has provided ample opportunity for faculty input through open forums and the inclusion of members of the faculty on committees such as the Campus Leadership Team.  It is my feeling that the faculty is now quite satisfied that we have the opportunity to voice our opinions openly and frankly.  The creation of the College’s new mission statement and strategic plan are examples of situations where faculty concerns and opinions were sought out and included in the development of those documents. Currently, faculty governance has more opportunity than ever before to interact with administration on issues of planning and policy.  We have been granted two permanent seats (one for Alfred, one for Wellsville) on the Leadership Team and have been encouraged by administration to develop an enhanced charge for our Budget and Planning Committee. 

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About Dr. Gupta

Dr. Uma G. Gupta is the Founder and President of STEM.SMART, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the pipeline of U.S students interested in STEM careers. In addition, she is the CEO of PlanetGPA, an international student recruitment services that serves as an extension to the recruitment offices of U.S. universities.

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