President Jones gives 2015 State of the University address
By Tomas Gomez
University at Albany President Robert Jones delivered his fall 2015 State of the University address Tuesday. The president spent the hour highlighting the university’s achievements as well as future goals.
Among the achievements. was a National Science Foundation grant of $4.5 million awarded to a team of atmospheric and social scientists which included UAlbany’s Everette Joseph. The grant will go toward research in early warning systems for detection of large storms. Jones also praised the launch of the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity in response to a call from the governor for university programs in those fields. He also mentioned an affiliation agreement made this month with Albany Law School and a $1.6 million grant given to a joint faculty team for an international health law project from the Global Institute for Health and Human Rights.
Jones praised what he called the university’s commitment to diversity, claiming that 42 percent of the freshman class were students of color. He expressed a desire to enroll 20,000 students by 2020, saying that developing programs in new, high demand fields will make his goal possible. Jones also referenced a plan from the provost to increase retention by 10 percent.
“Retention is absolutely critical to our enrollment goals. This is where we can make a big difference in our numbers,” he said.
Jones stated that $8.8 million would be spent on new investments for 2016-17, with more than half of the funding going toward academics. Future goals include the creation of a UAlbany B.S. program in computer engineering and a new Advanced Data Analytics Institute. Jones also highlighted a desire to grow health sciences and biomedical research. He stressed that he wanted to continue funding the humanities as well and announced the development of the Institute for History and Public Engagement.
“This will be fertile ground for collaboration across disciplines, to attract grants, host colloquia, and develop experiential learning programs,” he said.
Jones also announced the investment of $2 million in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, an initial investment of $400,000 for contingent faculty pay, and $250,000 for graduate student stipends. Jones also intends to expand the university’s EOP program and has applied for a SUNY grant that he expects will grow the program by 30 percent.
“As the allocation of state resources to SUNY has declined, more and more we find ourselves in fierce competition for public funds,” Jones said, “So more than ever, we have to be targeted in our requests and we have to continually show a return on investment.”