All College Meeting informs campus on the state of the college

Zoe Deno
Staff Writer

mb1_9543Mikey Bryant|The Hudsonian

The semi-annual All College Meeting that occurred last Monday where President Andrew Matonak informed faculty and students on the current state of the college.

After an introduction by Emma Dillon, the student senate president, Matonak took the stand to talk about the issues of the college.

“This year, it would be an understatement to say we got off to a rough start. We were hit very hard by a variety of problems with information technology deployment and services, as well as our power supply from the cogeneration plant. The result was interrupted services to the college, college closure and immense frustration from our college community,” he said.

When Matonak addressed the staff in attendance, he thanked them for their hard work despite all of the problems they have been experiencing.

“All of you find a way to make it work and to serve our students, and I want to thank you so much for that… You guys are the best, and I appreciate it,” said Matonak.

Blackboard
“It is an understatement to say that we are irate with Blackboard’s inability to resolve these problems,” Matonak said.

The failure of Blackboard came as surprise to the staff who had tested the program over the summer without a problem.

“I know that there has been extreme frustration and there has been no one more frustrated than our ITS staff and everyone working with students,” said Matonak. “In fact they have done a remarkable job with regard to trying to respond to this issues. It’s not their fault.”

“The interruption of service that we experienced during the beginning of this semester is absolutely unacceptable and we are going to correct this,” Matonak concluded.

Blackout
“As you know we had to close the college for a day due to a power outage during the first week. Our cogeneration plant has powered collage in environmentally-friendly way for over a decade, the facility is aging, and we continue to have temporary disruptions every so often.” Matonak said.

Matonak described the blackout that forced students to evacuate campus as, “the perfect storm.” According to him, the cause of the blackout was all three engines of the cogeneration plant giving out at the same time.

“As I mentioned last semester, we are in the process of reconnecting to National Grid for additional power. National Grid will not replace the plant, but add power to the campus to help stabilize and prevent these power outages,” said Matonak.

The system will not be tested until December because administration does not want to cause more disruption to learning.

Enrollment
According to Matonak, there has been a 3.8 % decline in admissions since last summer.

“We do need to be very conservative and diligent in managing our budget this year, as well as into our 2017 and 2018 budget.
However, I need to tell you if this downward trend continues, we will have to make the necessary budget adjustments going forward. In the college, enrollment is very, very important,” he said.

Matonak went on to explain that enrollment is counter-cyclical to the economy, which means enrollment tends to drop during periods of low unemployment. Enrollment trends from the past six years support this.

SUNY schools have reported enrollment declines from nothing to 13 percent, with an average of a 5 percent decrease according to Matonak. Four-year colleges in this area and statewide, however, are stable and growing.

New Website
“In June the office of communications and marketing and ITS issued an RFP for the design and development of the new college website. It will include streamlined and optimized content, including site search functionality, design that is responsive to those who use mobile devices and a content management system to provide improved info management and editing capabilities to certain offices,” Matonak said.

He announced that students can expect the initial launch for the new mobile-friendly design in fall 2017.

Outdoor Sports Complex
“I’m sure you’ve noticed that we’ve made tremendous steps toward completion of the outdoor sports complex,” Matonak said. “It will transform soccer, football and lacrosse play, and the students love it. This spring, we began the construction of a multi-use field, an actual grass field and a track and field complex.”

The athletic complex is almost completed, with the addition of the outdoor track and field still to be finished. The field will allow for additional opportunities for men’s and women’s sports in the spring of 2018.

Matonak invited everyone to the dedication and the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which will be at Hudson Valley’s first home football game on Oct. 8. It will be accompanied with a full weekend of homecoming activities.

“Please come out and support our student athletes and take part in the tailgate party and the other homecoming events.”

Gene Haas Technology Center
The college recently announced its plans for a new building they are planning to construct behind the parking garage.

“We have drawn up more plans for the Gene F. Haas Center for Advanced Manufacturing Skills, which is a new, $41.5 million, 37,000 square-foot building,” said Matonak.

“It will expand the opportunities for students in the advanced manufacturing technologies program. It will allow us to double the program’s enrollment and to develop other programs that will meet industry needs; jobs related to management, sales, marketing and procurement.”

While they are nowhere near the $41.5 million needed to complete construction, the project is hoped to be completed sometime in 2019.

Social Issues
“Maintaining and encouraging a diverse environment is another initiative of the college,” said Matonak. “A special SUNY task force issued a system-wide policy for diversity and inclusion last fall, and as a result, we are in search of a chief diversity officer who will assist this college in the development and implementation of diversity, equity and inclusion policies.”

Matonak briefly touched on the college’s new preferred first name policy, which will allow students and faculty to be identified by a name they choose. By passing this, the college hopes to protect individuals from discrimination based on gender identity and expression.

Matonak also mentioned the new general neutral bathrooms. The college is currently working to identify and appropriately assign all single stall bathrooms on campus as gender neutral. All information on where these stalls are located can be found on the college website.

Retirement
Earlier this year, President Matonak announced his retirement.

At the meeting on Monday, he explained why he gave two-year notice. When the college’s last president left in 2005, it took roughly 15 months to find and hire Matonak as the new president. The national search, if thorough, generally takes a year, and he wanted to make sure the board had enough time to find the best possible replacement.

“In the meantime,” Matonak concluded, “I know I can count on all of you to work very diligently to provide the best education and the best services to our students. I will assure you that I am fully committed to making sure, until my last day here at the college, that we are improving the student experience at Hudson Valley.”

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