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SUNY Oneonta Institutional Planning

Posts: 26
Darren Chase 2022-03-02T10:35:39-05:00

2/8 Dialogue Session Notes, President's Office

Feb. 8, 2022 Dialogue Session Notes:


  • Need to bolster our reputation – both for student enrollment AND donor support. People lost trust in the college , but we need to showcase student success and prove that we have our act together and are worthy of attendance and donations.
  • Some of the reputation loss is tied to dissatisfaction of students who have left the institution – they tell their family and friends.  We need students to have a good experience to harness the power of word of mouth recommendations.
  • Budget constraints are challenging.
  • Faculty and staff morale is low.
  • Retention and recruitment decline.
  • Mental health of students and employees. When people are burnt out, it is hard to be welcoming.
  • If we don’t solve morale issues, no other problems will be solved because no one will want to put in the effort for new projects or improvements.
  • Students today aren’t as socially prepared for college because of the pandemic.
  • There are barriers to entry for first-gen and other underserved populations. What can we do to help lessen them?
  • Student’s lack of motivation and energy since COVID has lessened our ability to successfully implement high impact practices.
  • Students today are less willing to engage, there is less curiosity. This could be due to a lot of things – economy, pandemic, deaths among family or friends, political turmoil.
  • Lack of staffing, especially in the health and wellness center is a challenge – students need more support now than before. 
  • Employees are having a hard time figuring out “who students are” as in what makes them tick, because students are changing – and we haven’t been physically near them in 18 months. Their high school experience is so different now than those who came before them. We need to rediscover who our students are and how to meet them where they are/what they will respond best to.
  • We need to invite each other to the tables. We had to be insular during the pandemic, but we need to work together now to foster new ideas.
  • There is a perceived risk of rejection and pre-emptive lack of support for new ideas.
  • Customer service on campus has slipped. Supervisors need to work together to address service issues that are reported, and they need to be willing to help areas listen, learn, and change.
  • 1st line people need a tool kit to help know where to direct certain questions or concerns – we need to move away from  “well that’s not something I can help you with – you have to call x office.” We need to transfer them, we need to know the answers to some basic questions about other offices, etc.
  • Respect and trust are practices we all have to commit to.
  • The pandemic and COVID outbreak caused some faculty and staff to lose trust in students – we need to get back to trusting them to do the right things.
  • We are not good at telling anyone – externally or internally  - that there is good stuff happening on campus in any form.
  • We tend to undermine ourselves with defensiveness – as people, departments, and the institution.


  • Opportunity with a new leader, with success of AOP programs, with potential for increased international recruitment
  • We have committed people here who want to work together to make things better – this needs to be encouraged and fostered.
  • Further investigate high impact practices – Living, learning communities, first year seminars, etc – where do we need to be to meet our peer institutions in this arena?
    • we can improve here through TAs, interns, and other on-campus experiences that also count as experiential learning.
  • We need to engage first gen students sooner and may need to adjust these programs to help them learn and understand  college life and expectations earlier than we would think non-first-gen students would need the same info.
  • The strength of our community – seen many examples of employees helping students who feel isolated.
  • Once new priorities are established, there will be energy to devote to them in creative ways.
  • Instead of trying to do everything for everyone, let’s pick a few things and try to excel at them.
  • The middle states self-study says the same – we need integrated focus institutionally. We will work smarter if we are focused.
  • Let’s evaluate where students are socially and mentally and how that will change our jobs across campus. Plan ahead instead of reacting – use each other’s expertise.
  • Rebuild our structures around health and wellness. Trauma freezes a person in time. We are going to be dealing with this for years to come – how can our academic culture be more accommodating to mental health and wellness.
  • If our vision is to continue being a residential college, the residence life staff is super important – can we offer expanded or improved trainings for RAs, especially to include health and wellness informed practices.
  • Supervisor training is an opportunity – those who manage others need advice and help on communication, legal, cultural issues that are often addressed.
  • Are there customer service training programs out there that we can bring in – like Disney or Costco.
  • At a yearly kick-off we can help with communication right off the bat – reinforce priorities, highlight cross divisional work. Appalachian State has a pre-semester training that gets everyone in the room and talking about moving the institution forward every year.
  • Current students and recent grads need to be involved and can help with reputation and trust rebuilding.
  • Look for bright spots and highlight them. What we are doing in spite of all of the challenges we have faced/are facing.
  • We need to speak to students who are “middle of the road” students. – they get less attention than high and low achievers.
  • Give students the opportunity to identify their growth – we are delivering opportunities for them to grow, and they are doing it – let’s recognize and amplify it at every level.
  • Opportunity to embrace a growth-mindset. It is ok to fail and get better.
  • Encourage students to simply talk to you –employees need to reach out more than we have in the past.
  • The student learning center can help – they are trained on how to help students in these situations.
  • We need to counter the perception of having to be ok all of the time and provide info on how to reach out for help.



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