On April 11, 2011, I hosted a quarterly Communications Meeting for personnel with Provost Beth Barnett, Vice President Cathy Davey, Associate Vice President Maria Krupin, and Chief Planning Officer Dorothy Echols Tobe.
A summary of the address follows:
Dr. Dorothy Echols-Tobe, Chief Planning Officer
We are facing a $6 million deficit. In February, we knew we had a budget gap and we knew how big it was but there were still some assumptions and some unknowns. Two big unknowns were what our state appropriation would be and whether or not there would be a tuition cap. These two items are no longer unknowns. We have since learned that there will be no change to the state appropriation for higher education in general and the governor did not implement a cap on tuition.
Gap Closing Measures
We have identified gap closing measures to help us decrease the gap. We will share information on those measures at the annual Budget Forum on May 2. We still have to meet with the Board of Trustees to finalize tuition and fee rates, we still need to decide on cuts to our operating expenses, and we still need for all of you to think about cost reductions in your areas. The economic situation in the state remains tenuous and, as such, it will continue to impact our institution.
In February, we asked everyone to explore reductions in salary expenses. We asked you to look at the positions that became vacant in your area. Each position that becomes vacant is reviewed quite extensively and we have not replaced some positions. We have left some positions vacant and we have also asked managers to look within for possible replacements in essential areas. We also asked personnel to look at their own situation to see whether or not they could take voluntary furloughs. We extend our thanks to the employees that have requested voluntary furloughs effective July 1. Discussions continue about converting 12 months positions to 10 month positions. Again, lay offs remain a measure of last resort.
Another activity we have engaged personnel in was essential functions data collection. We asked employees to identify 3-5 essential functions of their position. We have an extensive amount of information to review. What we will be looking for in this exercise is redundancies, overlapping functions and the criticality of these functions in relation to institutional goals and priorities.
The Institutional Effectiveness Committee has completed its work for this year. It has reviewed projects requesting SPIF funds and Cabinet will review those requests in the coming weeks.
G Wing: Planning is continuing regarding the G Wing renovation. It is our hope that shovels will be in the ground by summer 2012.
Center for Reading and Writing: The Center for Reading and Writing will relocate from the E Wing to the Library and Teacher Education will move into that vacated space.
Student Center HVAC Renovation and Building Improvements: The Student Center project is scheduled for May 16th through August 26th of this year. During this period, the building will be shut down completely to the campus. During the shutdown, temporary facilities will be as follows:
The Bookstore will occupy G-Wing Rooms G-105, G-106, G-124 and G-125. These rooms will be renovated so that the bookstore can still function as required through the summer. They will move the week of May 16th.
Sodexo Food Service will operate out of the Pavilion from May 16th through June 26. Limited food service will be provided out of the Pavilion store from June 27 through August 8th. Food service will again resume service on August 9th out of the Pavilion until the Student Center reopens.
Student Development: Temporary offices will be provided in the international dorm from May 16th through August 12th.
Maria Krupin, Associate Vice President of Administration and Finance
P Card Program
The Purchasing Department will be phasing in a P Card program to allow units to make purchases via credit card for orders under $1000. 60% of our payments to vendors are for less than $1000 and as a result we were experiencing a lot of transactions and fees associated with such smaller purchases. An RFP was issued jointly with fellow state colleges and the bid was awarded to Bank of America. The P Cards will foster a more streamlined and efficient process for purchasing such items. The College will also earn some revenue from these credit card purchases via rebates. Our purchases will be drawn together with the other colleges and we will get a percentage of the rebate based on our purchasing volume. Some units have been identified to pilot this program June 1st. Rollout and training for remaining units will occur in the fall.
Tax Compliance and Payment Distribution
Finance is moving forward with outsourcing the Tax Compliance and Payment distribution pieces of our payroll system to ADP. The primary reasons we are taking this step are for disaster recovery, business continuity and compliance with federal and state tax laws. We have many employees that reside out of state and this better enables us to stay on top of tax laws. The tax compliance piece is really a back of the house operation and will have little impact on employees. The piece that will affect employees is the paycheck distribution process. ADP will now be issuing our paychecks so any employee currently on direct deposit will see no change. Those employees that receive paper paychecks will have the option of getting a debit card in lieu of a paper pay check.
The debit card can be used wherever credit cards are accepted and employees can write checks against the card. Paper checks will also be available but will not be available for pick up on campus any longer. Paper checks will be mailed to your home address. This process will ensure that even if the college is closed for whatever reason, employees will be able to receive their payments on time. ADP will also be processing our year end W2 statements and the ADP Web site will house payment history and information (up to three years of rolling pay stub information). Employees will also have the option to phone in for their net pay. Further information and training sessions will be provided in the coming months.
At the start of the semester we asked you to forward your budget suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. We received over 80 suggestions. They ran the gamut from cost saving measures efficiencies to new revenue sources. Many of them had a related theme. So I am going to go through some of those today. Some of the ideas you submitted have already been implemented and about thirty of them are being reviewed for feasibility.
Printing: One common theme of suggestions was printing, i.e. reducing printing, moving more information online, lessening the paper trail, etc. We have been looking at adopting an imaging system as one option to address this. Additionally, purchasing will be distributing handouts on the copy machines that many of you have in your offices. The handouts will describe how these copy machines allow for scanning, networking, and double sided printing and copying from your desktop. We are also looking at reducing the number of desktop printers on campus. Currently, almost everyone that has a desktop computer also has a desktop printer. As those printers break down or need to replaced, we will be reducing those numbers in light of the fact that we have these copy machines with more efficient resources and features. Some of you are already using Web-based, paperless time sheets. Our goal is to have all employees on Web Time by the end of the fiscal year yielding some savings on printing and paper expenses.
Travel: Some other budget suggestions were regarding travel and across the board cuts. We will be reducing travel budgets again by 10% in Fiscal Year ‘12. We are not yet instituting an across the board cut but we will be doing targeted strategic cuts. Again, we need to look at our expenses and our revenue overall to meet our strategic goals and across the board cuts are not the ideal mechanism accomplish that.
Closings: Another theme that came through the suggestions was closing the college for a week at variable times. For many reasons many of the times suggested are not feasible due to summer session, payment deadlines, etc. We are also looking to utilize our space more effectively, so closing the college at any time would not align with this goal. Also, if we did close for a week that would be a layoff and that would need to be negotiated with the state. Again, anyone who can take the time and is willing to give back, you may put in for a voluntary furlough.
Enrollment: On the revenue side we had a number of suggestions, many of which centered on adding students. As far as expanding undergraduate enrollment is concerned, we have an enrollment plan aligned with our strategic goals and we cannot grow the traditional freshmen class due to restraints we have on housing and other resources. But, we are instituting an adult learners program and have already expanded both our winter, online, and summer session offerings.
Programming and Space Utilization: We are currently reviewing class schedules to foster greater space utilization. On the graduate side, we added the MA in Sustainability Studies last year and we’ll be adding Educational Leadership in the fall. The Provost’s area continues to consider suggestions for graduate programs that meet the College’s established criteria. We also have been expanding collaboration with area high schools for awarding college credit at the high school level and we are continually pursuing additional opportunities in that area.
We had other suggestions on selling space and naming rights. In accord with College policy, naming rights cannot be sold, they can only be authorized by the Board of Trustees.
That is an overview of the majority of budget suggestions that came through. We will summarize the suggestions/responses and provide them to you in the coming weeks. Any individual who submitted a suggestion will receive a direct response to their suggestion. Additional information on the budget will be available at the Budget Forum on May 2.
Summary of Suggestions (PDF)
Cathleen Davey, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Executive Director of the Ramapo Foundation
We want to thank everyone for their interest and support in the work we have been doing with Stamats in terms of reaching out to establish a solid brand identity for Ramapo College and to push forward the promise that we want to make to our students and all of the constituencies with which we work.
Ramapo seeks clarity and consistency in its message so it can help the right students select Ramapo, help alumni reconnect with the College, help donors find the right Ramapo projects to support, and help raise the College’s profile with the general public.
Our research showed that neither internal nor external audiences perceive Ramapo as strong in student outcomes, although internal audiences do believe in Ramapo faculty quality and individual alumni testified to Ramapo’s contribution to their lives.
Our clarified brand must express how strong teaching leads to strong outcomes. A brand promise is a concise articulation of what any organization promises to its principal audiences-something that the audience views as having intrinsic or extrinsic value for them personally. Ramapo’s promise statement was developed through research, reflection, and testing to ensure that the promise articulated persuasive and distinct strengths.
To reflect Ramapo’s evolution and to speak more clearly to its audiences, the following promise statement emerged from the research conducted among Ramapo’s prospective students, current students, alumni, faculty, staff, and administrators:
The outstanding and devoted faculty of Ramapo College of New Jersey excel at teaching, mentoring and preparing students to succeed personally and professionally, all within the small, picturesque campus environment usually associated with an elite college.
While this exact statement will not appear in all of our publications or on the web, it is that which our decisions, strategy, and planning should originate. It will lead us in all of our publications, remarks, and recruitment efforts, and in the items /issues that we present as high priorities on our Web site and in our materials.
In terms of this promise, a question was asked earlier about how this differs from our mission. We are not straying away at all from our mission. We hope that the brand promise and the attributes that we focus on from that will really enhance how we speak about our mission to our students and constituencies.
Our brand promise statement is structured to link to a cluster of defining attributes, or messages, that broadly represent Ramapo in the minds of its students, faculty, staff, administration, parents, alumni, and prospective students (elaborated more fully in the brand portfolio):
- Faculty who teach and mentor
- Hands-on learning and professional development that prepares
- A strong foundation for a lifetime of achievement
- The advantages of a small private college at an affordable price
As we go deeper into the branding process, these four attributes have a variety of proof points. The proof points are very specific examples of professors, student clubs and achievements, successful alumni. All of that information then truly helps us design a campaign that will be integrated into all of our marketing and outreach efforts.
Brand Strategy: Pushing Boundaries
We are excited to announce that the strategy we are going to approach is called “Pushing Boundaries.” The concept and strategy position Ramapo as an active place where boundaries can be questioned, rearranged, or changed entirely.
For example, Ramapo’s interdisciplinary commitment pushes intellectual boundaries; its commitment to experiential, hands-on learning pushes personal and professional boundaries. The commitment of Ramapo faculty to attentive teaching and mentoring pushes students to learn actively rather than passively. Ramapo’s very location pushes boundaries, too. Ramapo is on the edge, between mountain and metropolis; in New Jersey, but only a few miles from the northern border.
Ramapo walks the boundary between public and private; its campus and facilities feel like a private college but its tuition matches its public status. In its curriculum, Ramapo is on the edge between a liberal arts and a pre-professional education, walking the boundary between the skills one needs to get hired out of college with the intellectual orientation one needs for a lifetime of learning, adapting, and succeeding.
Much of the graphics and art associated with this campaign will have bright, vibrant colors, and an emphasis on directional signs, arrows, things that push forward. This will be an edgy, bold campaign.
Draft View Book Message
Headline: See beyond
Settle? Not you. You’re headed forward: out of the box and into a college that will challenge you, push you, and accept you, even as you push back. A career that has a clear entry point, but boundless opportunities. A way through the current problems, into a future of solutions. You need a broad perspective and precise tools to be part of the positive change you foresee. You may not have seen it yet, but you need Ramapo.
Professors who teach, engage, mentor, and push you. Classes that blur boundaries between disciplines. Classmates you can really get to know. Study abroad. Internships. Hands-on classes. Laboratory research you can publish even before you graduate. Groundbreaking techniques. Creative inventions. And a perch on a pretty hillside where you can see from the city to the mountain top.
Push your boundaries. Start at Ramapo.
So, as you can hear from that, we are taking the four pillars of our college from our mission statement and we are adapting them into this messaging. For example, instead of saying interdisciplinary, we talk about where boundaries blur between disciplines. Instead of saying experiential learning, we talk about hands-on learning. It is these things that we know are our strengths and we are trying to package them in way that is attractive and meets the demands of the type of student we are recruiting and support we are interested in garnering. And so on.
During the week of April 25 a team will be on campus taking photos to support the College’s new September 2011 view book, as well as video and still photography to support the Foundation’s capital campaign.
Faculty, students and staff are invited for a full presentation and update from Stamats on the brand promise, its attributes and how these materials will be incorporated into an integrated marketing communication plan that supports our Strategic Plan, as well as our Strategic Enrollment Management Plan.
Moving forward, it will be critical that we all use the same elevator speech and the same look and feel in how we describe Ramapo. If there is not full buy in, we will have wasted a unique opportunity.
We hope you will join us.
Beth Barnett, Provost, Vice President for Academic Affairs
I suppose many of you have heard the statement that it takes a village to raise a child. Here at Ramapo College we understand that it actually takes an entire college to educate a student and of course to prepare them for a lifetime of achievement.
Student Engagement Data
We have read several reports, some self reported information from our students, and we have looked at data that indicates that in fact, our students are not as engaged as we would like them to be. When we look at data from the NSSE survey, we find that our students are not spending a whole lot of their time engaged in activities related to their coursework, service or civic engagement. They simply are occupied elsewhere and not engaged in our college.
I have had opportunities to hear from some of you, from staff and from other parts of the College that at times when our students do engage with us, they don’t do it in a desirable way. They may at times not be civil and they may not really be civically engaged, showing a concern for others. I think most of us recognize that if in fact we want them to have a lifetime of achievement; we need to make certain that they have the skills to participate in a range of activities and also to be able to interact with others in a very positive way.
Adding to the information we have recently seen, a decision was made that we will not allow freshmen to have cars on campus. So, we are now in a situation where we’re concerned…our students are not engaged enough, often they say they go home on weekends because they don’t think there is anything to do here on weekends. When, in fact we know we offer tons of activities. So we brought together a steering committee. The committee began asking questions like “What can we do to further engage our students?”
Student Engagement Goals
We know from research that an engaged student is a more successful student. They are more likely to do well academically and they are more likely to bond to the college. They’ll learn more. They’ll be better educated.
So we have had two retreats so far and we will have a third retreat in the near future. These retreats brought together members of the faculty and staff and we started looking at all of the activities that we offer across the campus, it was a quite a lengthy collection of activities. Next, we took a closer look and asked ourselves, “What are we really doing for our students and why isn’t it working?” In seeking that answer, we took a little turn and decided to explore the question of “What is it that we would want our students to know and be able to do if they truly were engaged?” To answer that question, we came forward with four goals of engagement and under that we developed some outcomes. These goals will lay the course to engage our students academically. These goals and outcomes were played with quite a bit by the 35-40 individuals that participated in the process.
Engagement Goal 1: Academic Engagement
Our primary goal at this college is to provide that first class education to all of our students but we’re not focused exactly on the classroom. We’re focused on our students having the ability to take what they are learning in that classroom and use it outside of the classroom. Now many of you know that a large part of your role is to work with students outside of the classroom. So we are looking for a way to more closely marry what occurs inside the classroom with what occurs outside of the classroom.
Engagement Goal 2: Social Engagement
Then we moved on to the idea of fostering greater social engagement. As you know this is a generation that is very locked on to their electronic devices-- you see it when they are walking across campus, you see it when they are sitting in the cafeteria. So we want to make sure that we provide the kinds of activities that make sure that they connect with other individuals, with their peers, with faculty, and with staff. And so again we need to know what type of experiences will allow them to have that kind of valuable social engagement.
Engagement Goal 3: Personal Engagement
All of you have likely recognized, and if you have children of your own you’ve really recognized it, that between the ages of 18 and 22 individuals change and grow. They come to us here at Ramapo mostly as high school seniors and they leave us as young adults. We of course want to see them leave as young adults with great potential for success so we also realize that we need to engage them in ways that will help them recognize their own strengths and their own weaknesses, and to give them that sense of self empowerment and self responsibility.
Engagement Goal 4: Campus and Civic Engagement
Last but not least, we are concerned about civic engagement and our students’ engagement with the campus. We are all very proud of Ramapo College. It is a wonderful place and we want our students to recognize that quality and take it with them when they leave our campus. On that same path, we expect them to be conscientious contributing citizens of our campus, of their communities, and even of the world.
Key Points of Engagement
In our last retreat we started to talk about which activities we have available to us and which activities that we haven’t thought of before might best lead our students to reaching the goals of becoming engaged citizens and lifetime achievers.
In our retreats we have discussed Key Points of Engagement or KPEs. We haven’t finished defining those KPE’s yet but we know already that there are some activities we are currently doing that we won’t be continuing. It’s not that they are bad activities, but it is because we were doing them as an activity alone, not as an experience that led to a specific outcome for our students. There will likely also be some activities we are not currently doing that we will introduce next year. For example, next fall we will pilot a living/learning community—an activity shown in most research to be a highly engaging activity that meets with considerable student success.
We are still exploring what our KPE’s for our first year students will be, circling back again to the reality that they will not have cars. If you have any ideas about what would be worthwhile activities, please send your suggestions to me or to Miki Cammarata, Pat Chang, Eric Daffron, or Chris Romano. Please know that this is an activity that will not be completed for along time and we will be seeking your suggestions.
I have to circle back to the idea that it takes an entire college. Each and every one of you has interactions with students. Making those interactions positive and engaging will help this overall effort. We want to make sure that we are providing both a good experience for our students but also one that will help them grow, help them develop, and help them to be lifelong achievers.
Peter P. Mercer, President
Moment of Silence for Trustee Edward Zarnock
Good afternoon everybody. Unfortunately, I have to begin on a very sad note. Early this afternoon I received word that Trustee Ed Zarnock passed away suddenly on Saturday. Obviously, this was very unexpected and tragic for his family, for us, and for all who knew him. Ed was, on the surface, a somewhat crusty character but he came to love Ramapo College and he was our biggest supporter in many respects, particularly on capital projects. So I ask, if you would, to just take a moment of silence in his memory.
It is the interesting point in the year when we are all really scrambling to finish what we need to do before then of the semester. It is only a few weeks before Commencement and on that subject I have happier news. Our Commencement Speaker this year will be Madame Justice Sonia Sotomayor of the United State Supreme Court.
Staff Development and Recognition
We have received many requests for development training and refreshing for our staff and our managers. These initiatives are very much the brainchildren of Brittany Goldstein, Judith Jeney, Bill Stovall, and John Woods and with collaboration from several other folks on campus.
Introduction to Management at Ramapo: From May to June they will deliver an orientation of sorts called “Introduction to Management at Ramapo.” That program will focus on legal issues, policies, and resources essential to manager success.
Collective Bargaining: There is a good deal of interest in how collective bargaining agreements work and the role managers have in administering them. From June to August we will offer “Collective Bargaining Agreement Modules.”
Customer Service: I know that there is some irritation at times with the language of the business world but whether we talk about serving students, the outside world, or serving one another, we are really talking about customer service. It is not as if we believe our folks don’t do a good job at Customer Service but all of us need refreshment from time to time and it also gives us a chance to be a little introspective and ask ourselves how we may be able to do things better and all of the best organizations in the world do that. So from June to July we will offer Customer Service Training.
Conflict Management/Resolution: Many of the difficulties that arise in the course of day to day administration of the College are really matters of misperception or miscommunication and often it takes some training in conflict management and resolution to understand them and solve them. Therefore from June to July we will offer Conflict Management Training. These programs are the first of what I hope will be a continuing series over time.
President’s Staff Recognition Awards: I’d next like to remind you all that you have time still to nominate someone for the Staff Recognition Awards. There are up to three Staff Leadership Awards and one award for Staff Excellence in Service. We will announce the recipients at the employee picnic on May 19th and formally recognize them on the Board of Trustee plaque and at the June Board meeting. Nominations are encouraged from students, faculty, staff and administration. I really encourage you though to consider nominating somebody or some unit and I equally hope that you will be in attendance at the picnic on May 19th to cheer them on. Please check my office’s Web site for eligibility and nomination information.
One of the other initiatives that we have ongoing is the Chronicle of Higher Education Great Colleges to Work For Program. Many of you will have received a request to fill out a questionnaire as part of this enterprise. You are randomly chosen so please complete the survey. We will use the information to assess and identify next steps on workplace quality issues.
Our Remembrance Day Ceremony is on April 20th. Our honorees this year include: Jack Dawson, Supervisor of Landscape Maintenance, Henry J. Frundt, Professor/Urban Sociology (Former Dean SSHS); Kent Eldridge, Operating Engineer 1; Milton Gittens, Associate Professor Public Administration; Raymond Olsson, Senior Repairer; Michael J. Ricciardi '79, Director of Athletics; and Julia Ysordia, Principal Operator Auto Type.
You have the opportunity to share your memories with any of these folks via my Web site. I want to emphasize how important this day is to the families and loved ones of those that we will honor. This day has become very important to them and to the life of the college and it is something that we should all be able to pay attention to in the midst of our day to day work. So, again, please consider submitting a memory and attending the ceremony.
Q & A…