By ELIZABETH WHITE
(HACKENSACK) – The first slide of the PowerPoint presentation displayed on the screen in Wilson Auditorium read: “Town Hall November 16.”
It was Nov. 15.
The Campus Executive Office hosted the Metropolitan Campus Town Hall meeting. University President Chris Capuano and University Provost and Vice President for Academic A airs Gillian Small spoke about FDU news.
Dr. Robert Vodde, metropolitan campus executive, gave opening remarks.
President Capuano followed.
“Start thinking about questions,” Capuano said. “We have some already, Bob [Vodde] indicated that – I don’t know if he got any. Got any in advance?”
“None that I can repeat,” Vodde said.
That brought scattered chuckles from the audience. Capuano said that the meetings were about “always keeping lockstep” with the strategic plan.
“I wanted to start off by telling you about some things you already know,” Capuano said. “Specifically, a lot of work that was done in the summer months by Rose D’Ambrosio and her team.”
Capuano also talked about the budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
“In July we forecasted the freshmen class as being larger than we initially forecasted,” Capuano said. “turned out even larger than we forecasted in July.”
He said that the Florham campus had its largest freshmen class ever, with 805 incoming freshmen, which he said was “too many.”
The Metropolitan campus enrolled 650 new freshmen, the largest incoming freshmen class in decades, according to Capuano.
“Hopefully this bodes well for retention and things going forward,” Capuano said.
Capuano went on to talk about salary increases.
“Despite the fact that we had declines in other areas, mainly the graduate enrollment, I was very happy to push very hard for salary increases,” Capuano said. “I know a lot of people didn’t expect that [because they think] ‘things are bad’ and that ‘budgets are being reduced.’”
Provost Small then talked about the restructuring, reiterating many points.
“We’re looking at programs that we can add resources to and grow and make centers of excellence,” Small said.
She defined the upcoming restructuring as evaluating
each academic program. “We’re looking at low enrollment and duplication across campuses with low enrollment,” Small said. “We want to consider combining or reducing or eliminating [programs].”
Small also addressed the controversy surrounding the restructuring.
“Of course when you talk about doing things like that, people get really worried,” Small said.
She explained that other universities going through similar restructuring often remove tenure-track faculty.
“That is not the idea here,” Small said. “We’re not doing these initiatives to get out of trouble,” Small said. “Really we’re doing these preemptively so that we don’t get into trouble.”
Small announced that consultants had been hired.
“[We’re] working with some external consultants who have the external perspective and the expertise to do some of the analysis that we don’t have the resources and manpower to do,” Small said.
She said that the advisory committee already met with the consulting agency.
“Our hope is to have some recommendations that we can discuss,” Small said.
Small gave the microphone back to Capuano for the next portion of the Town Hall, updates on various campus improvements.
The most noteworthy update was the delaying of the campus identity project and footbridge.
The campus identity project, which includes making an official entrance into the university with bigger monument signs, was originally set to be completed by November 2017.
Capuano explained that getting the necessary approvals from both Teaneck and Hackensack was taking longer than originally anticipated.
“We have now gotten most of those approvals,” Capuano said. “We’re going to possibly do the monument signs [this fall]. I’m not in that much of a rush now.”
“We have time for questions,” Vodde said after Capuano finished explaining the new student union
building and hotel.
“I love the idea of having the strategic plan online so that we can spend more time in our town hall meetings,” said Ben Freer, an assistant professor in the School of Psychology. “I have some concerns about the ACTA agency acting as the consultant. What thought was put into making that decision to go with the organization? How will FDU remain a global leader if they take their recommendations?”
Small assured Freer that he didn’t have to worry about ACTA as an organization.
“We’re not talking about their philosophy, we’re talking about a person [ACTA president Michael Poliakoff] who has been steeped in higher ed their entire life,” Small said.
Dr. Aixa Ritz, an Associate Professor in the School of Hospitality, asked if FDU is changing their tagline from “the leader of global education” to “one university, many dreams” on the new 75th anniversary banners around campus.
Capuano explained that the new phrase was being used for the 75th anniversary banners, but that it was not replacing the “leader in global education” tagline.
“Although I will tell you, that tagline, “leader in global education” is not appearing in everything, Capuano said. “We’re not abandoning the mission, we still believe in global education.”
Capuano explained that one of the strategic plan initiatives is to add another international campus.
“We want to focus on branding just FDU,” Capuano said. “I am happy to think that we are among many leaders in global education,” Capuano said. “That is not a bad thing, that’s a good thing.”
Capuano said Michael Adams, former president of FDU from 1999 – 2012, proclaimed that FDU would be the leader in global education. Capuano said he thought that was a bold statement at the time.
“The world has changed considerably since Michael made that pledge,” Capuano said. “Global education is something that almost every institution today is talking about doing.”