President Edward Guiliano, Ph.D., delivered the state-of-the institution address challenging faculty to enrich their courses with technology. He called to provide students with all of the "flavors of learning," including multi-media presentations, online forums, and educational challenges outside of the classroom. As part of the annual convocation, he presented five faculty members with Presidential Technology Awards recognizing their creative and effective use of technology to enhance teaching, research, and service at NYIT.
President Guiliano welcomes faculty and staff to the new academic year at NYIT Convocation.
Good morning. Thank you for joining us today as we formally kick off the 2011-12 academic year… Let us challenge ourselves to push NYIT to a new level in educating and serving our students.
We are here individually and collectively to make a difference… in the lives of our students and in the world around us. Our lives are inextricably intertwined. And here at New York Institute of Technology, we have a responsibility to work together to make this institution outstanding and to protect and enhance its reputation for all of those students and employees who came before us and those who will come after us. “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny,” as Shakespeare’s Cassius says, “but in ourselves.”
You have chosen to work in higher education, and the greatest rewards we can take away are not printed on our paychecks but are in the pride and self-satisfaction we have in working at and building a quality institution and helping each day to create the human capital that will secure our future.
Going forward, we need a shared passion for unleashing NYIT’s potential, and we need to communicate the same NYIT themes in the same, consistent words and manner.
Today when we look at the state of our university, we know it is stronger than it has ever been. We have much we can be proud of and celebrate. And we should. We are so much better and in such a better position to manage our future than many, many institutions of higher education here and abroad.
Challenges abound, of course-- certainly attracting top students and non-tuition revenues are harder than ever-- but in our minds today is the question: how are we going to continue this year to grow our institution and excel in fulfilling our mission and achieving our 2030 goals?-- especially in this changing, competitive world of higher education, global economy, and life-- life.
Yes, we are increasingly strong:
I said we are here individually and collectively to make a difference. The brief highlight list I have just given points to the good work and successes of the members of our community.
So, it is because of all of you, whatever your good efforts were in whatever area they took place over the past months and years-- and everyone’s efforts count-- is why we are stronger today than we were a year ago. I thank you and salute you.
You might remember that less than four months ago in my commencement address, I made a glib remark that I had just gotten a new iPad, and I wondered aloud: could there be Angry Birds in my future?
Well, as many of you know, Angry Birds is the most popular app and game around. It’s played by 200 million people every day. Over the summer, I downloaded the app and played the game-- as a professional responsibility, of course. Before my pedagogical analysis, here’s a little video primer.
Let’s consider three educational take-aways from the game:
All this, by the way, is relevant to what we do in the classroom. How much active feedback are we building into our courses? In Angry Birds, the feedback a player receives is multi-faceted. You can get the sound and sight of an exploding pig, of course.
Remember when Hamlet says, “There is a special providence in the fall of a sparrow?”
I wonder what he’d make of an exploding pig? Or an angry bird, for that matter. You get a running tally of points earned and a clear indication when you fail to achieve a level. Then you get a prompt asking, “Do you want some more help and tips?
If so, the game provides you with additional help. Now, that is what our students expect. Real-time, immediate help when they need it.
That’s why students are emailing us at 2 a.m.-- any one of us in any office. When they cannot do their math or science problems, they want online help right away. They do not want or even benefit as much by having to wait until the next time they are on campus and the professor has office hours, the math lab or tutoring session is open, or some other support service we think is there for the students.
They don’t want an appointment at an inconvenient slot between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., the next day, or the day after that, or when the weekend is over. That’s why we supplemented our traditional services with Smarthinking-- a 24/7 online tutoring service utilizing trained professionals. It’s global, and student-centered.
Have you been to our libraries lately? They are packed, but not with students sitting amid mountains of books. They are grabbing information from where it resides in cyberspace. The NYIT online library resources are superb. Our students are indeed using them at 2 a.m. when they are writing their papers and/or thinking through ideas. And do you realize that what took a day-and-a-half to research in 1935 now takes 4 seconds?
But online libraries are only part of the tutoring and support systems our students need.
Video games-- and Angry Birds is a model here-- create a level of interactivity and involvement that we as educators can, and must, learn from.
As teachers, we’re expected to put our “student learning outcomes” in the syllabus so students know what to expect. And we’re supposed to link our coursework directly to those outcomes. To what extent are we doing this and measuring this?
Are we giving our students enough “low stakes” assignments at first so they get multiple opportunities for success?
In Angry Birds terms, do they get a chance to knock down some timbers and shatter some glass as they gain mastery? Are they getting frequent interactive feedback?
Our teaching materials have to be up-to-date and visually sophisticated to compete with the content our students experience on TV, on the Internet, and in the world of video games. Remember, we are talking about a class of 2015 that was mostly born in 1993 and for whom bicycle helmets have always been required and video games have always had ratings.
I’ve said in the past that “higher education lacks the great killer app.” There are some marvelous educational games for young children and some highly successful programs in the K-12 space, but there is fame and fortune perhaps for some educational innovators at the college level.
In the corporate world, 70% of major employers use interactive software and video games to train employees.
At NYIT, let’s use technology to refine and improve our communications and to improve our presentation of material.
Can these help us be more productive?
Keep in mind that “productivity” is increasingly a key word in academia. Students and parents-- those who sacrifice to pay tuition-- demand it.
And speaking of families' sacrifices, have you seen the price of textbooks lately?
As a student-centered university, shouldn’t we be doing our students a financial service and be looking at e-textbooks a bit more proactively?
We need to harness technology to be as productive and efficient as possible.... so that our students are successful in problem-solving and critical thinking and NYIT is a model of 21st-century engagement and education.
Two last points on technology. What are the current differentiators for NYIT in the higher education landscape?
One is our name and location-- New York. Another, our global profile and recognized leadership position in global education. A third is the rich mix of programs we have that point to 21st-century careers. And a fourth is technology. You have heard me say again and again we need to demonstrate the T in our last name. It is expected of us, and with technology we can continue to differentiate ourselves, while being cool at the same time.
The second point is one that I hope we all recognize: technology does not replace professors or staff members, but rather enhances what they do and often the need for them. As you know, the role of professor has evolved in the last few decades and in many situations morphed from prophet to coach.
A couple of weeks ago, I was the United States delegate to the World Presidents Forum, held in China. On my long Air China flight aboard, I pulled out my iPad to put in a session with Angry Birds, trying as I might to move from Level II to the levels of true accomplishment. I had an aisle seat and the head flight attendant walked by. Next thing I know, she is kneeling in the aisle, coaching me, then showing me, then alternating turns with me. She was very good. And it turned out every member of the staff on board played the game. What a world!
It also turned out that with her teaching, I improved to Level 4 over a shared hour when everyone else was sleeping, reminding me of the essential role of faculty in helping students be all they can be. I appreciate the comic comparison, and you will forgive me for using it to make a serious point. And, by the way, do you know what happens when you complete level four of the free Angry Birds iPad app?
Talk about interactive feedback-- you are invited to purchase a more advanced Angry Birds app.
Quality Teaching and Quality Research
Some of you have heard me refer to John Henry Cardinal Newman’s idea of a university, which dates to 1859. Newman said a university is first a place for teaching universal knowledge; and second, a place where knowledge is created. Therein lie the two cardinal purposes of most modern universities: teaching and research-- sharing knowledge and creating knowledge.
At NYIT, a vital part of our mission is to support and encourage our faculty’s research-- research that is practical and applications-oriented, research that enhances the quality of life in our community and the world. Yes, I’m proud to say that your minds are, in the words of Carroll’s Alice, “curiouser and curiouser”-- you seek to find and share answers and solutions.
Yet, we need to balance the creation of knowledge with the application of it. We must balance research with our fundamental mission of teaching and learning; even achieve balance between basic and applied research.
We don’t speak enough about research and scholarship at NYIT. For many years now, I have had the opportunity to review our faculty’s scholarship and creative work-- whether for tenure or promotions, contract renewals, announcements or faculty receptions. Last spring, I came to the realization that the whole is so much greater than we know, and it should be a point of pride at NYIT.
One of my goals for the year is to celebrate and support research more than ever. It should be a point of pride for all of us.
I congratulate those outstanding faculty and staff members who are being so productive and raising the profile of our institution as well as their own.
My charge this year to our colleagues in communications and marketing and in the deans’ offices is to collect and disseminate news of research and creative work in a much more formal and rigorous way.
I believe we’ll be impressed. Over the past decade, we have moved up in class as a scholarly institution, and it is time to share the evidence. And we have the support structure in place to continue to grow our capacity and results to an even higher level.
I also believe whole-heartedly that our faculty has a responsibility to the NYIT community and our students to stay current on the latest research in their field as well as current pedagogy. It has a profound positive impact on what goes on in the classrooms and laboratories.
Here I speak from experience. It is not easy, but I research, think, and write every year because it is a professional responsibility.
A 21st Century Global University
As I mentioned earlier, one of our prime differentiators as a university is our vision and record of globalism. And as we grow our university in the coming decades, one of the expressions of our 2030 goals is to have half of our students studying in New York and the other half studying abroad, whether at our own campuses, in dual-degree or exchange programs, or through shorter experiential learning opportunities.
For more than a decade, we have been asking ourselves: what will a 21st-century global university be and why should we care?
In answering what “global” means in higher education, our community has had lively discussions. Some faculty or staff members mention our projects around the world… our students who went to Cuba to help plan the renovations of historic buildings in Old Havana, for example. Others mentioned a writing class that joined students in New York and Nanjing through distance learning. Some point to our degree-granting sites around the world, or projects near our campuses in New York. Our conferences, here and abroad, surely embody globalism. They show that these days the teaching and study of the sciences, the humanities and culture can-- indeed, must-- cross borders.
I think about our Center for Global Health, where our young doctors-in-training have taken three trips to West Africa to help at a rural clinic.
So we at NYIT have come up with a broad framework that defines our institution.
Defining a global university forces higher education to re-invent itself, to re-imagine its role in a greater society. Education is the currency that crosses borders and oceans… and brings solutions to civilization’s most complex challenges.
Back in 1970, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching first developed a taxonomy for post-secondary colleges and universities. That’s where we derive talk of research universities, liberal arts colleges, community colleges. Elsewhere, I have proposed a new university taxonomy, with classifications that reflect the degree of complexity and global interconnectiveness a university embraces. The truly global university is one that offers one degree and one curriculum at more than one global location, and I believe it embodies our aspirations for the 21st-century global era.
It is not a McDonald’s franchise model; it protects the distinctiveness and strengths and reputation of the university and it is not imperialistic in nature or scale. It ensures quality in the curriculum, outcomes, and graduates. And it leads to a rich, glocalized infusion into course content.
After all, in the world economy, there is more than one accounting system and standards being applied, for example. We fix a curriculum requirement but the content is both globalized and glocalized. We think globally and act locally. We measure and ensure outcomes that will serve our graduates well in the 21st-century economy.
At such a university, there is an ongoing exchange of students, faculty, and ideas without borders. The outward-looking global university has one set of standards and outcomes worldwide. It is guided by one administration. Virtual or distance-learning classrooms enrich offerings, enabling cross-currents of knowledge that foster global understanding, and lead to “globalized” content.
At NYIT, our development into a global university links three strategies.
We want to:
Again, we must develop high-quality applications so technology can in fact revolutionize higher education. And here at NYIT, I am proud that we have faculty who eagerly embrace collaboration and ingenuity… and soon, I hope… a nod to Angry Birds.
What Makes a College Great?
As you know, the Chronicle of Higher Education again independently confirmed that we are one of the best colleges to work at in America. Don’t we like knowing that?
But what does it mean to be a great college to work for, and how are we going to be even better next year?
Among many things, it means that the institution makes a concerted effort to create a welcoming and fair environment for all its employees, that facilities meet needs, campus appearance is pleasing, and steps are taken to provide a secure environment; that employees are recognized for their contributions; that pay is fair and benefits meet the needs of the employees; that faculty members say the institution recognizes innovative and high-quality teaching; that people are appropriately involved in decision-making processes in their area; that there is confidence in senior leadership, that the leaders have the knowledge, skills and, experience necessary for institutional success.
Fundamentally, it means people responded in an impartial and independent review that they are satisfied with their job and workplace.
There are about 5,000 colleges and universities of all kinds in America. Not everyone sought to be evaluated to be declared a great place to work for. You can figure out why. Thousands knew they would fail in their pursuit. Only 111 colleges in America are entitled to call themselves a great college to work for. Harvard succeeded, Georgia Tech succeeded, and for the second consecutive year, New York Institute of Technology succeeded. Congratulations, colleagues.
This distinction tells me that unlike the case at many colleges and universities across America, morale at NYIT is good, despite what a few loud doomsday sayers will sometimes tell you. The evidence is clear. And it shows that we have come a long way and are proud of the institution at which we work. That certainly makes me feel good, and I hope it makes all of us proud.
But… and there is always a “but” in academia. We can be an even greater place to work at. And this year, we are going to make a sustained effort to be just that. We are going to make NYIT an easier, more efficient and even more pleasant place to work.
In our 2030 plan we identified some administrative processes that were making our work life difficult and needed fixing. We set up a committee and got a list of good recommendations. And I looked at the list just a week ago and was duly impressed that we had addressed almost all of the issues. But… AGAIN, a "but"… there is more to be done. That’s clear, and points to a 2030 plan deliverable.
We’ve developed a culture here and an organizational structure. Too often, work processes, organizational structure, and management culture inhibit improvement. NYIT is organized vertically-- different schools, departments within schools, and support divisions-- at a time when we recognized in the 2030 plan that the 21st century embraces interdisciplinary approaches and collaborations.
Our students experience NYIT horizontally. They talk to someone in financial aid, in registration, in career services… they talk to a professor, an advisor, a cashier at the bookstore… We pledged to break down silos that inhibit both innovation and efficiency.
We’ll work together to make NYIT an easier, more intuitive place to live and work at, but, of course, we need accountability. And, in some instances, we’ll need to disabuse some of our colleagues of their sense of entitlement at the expense of you and me and our students.
Let’s recognize the idea of “loose-tight” control, where a few key decisions are controlled tightly while others are decentralized. Also, improving the efficiency within and across departments is something we can always work on. As we grow larger, lines sometimes blur-- but we simply must all be on the same page. Making these moves is part of our continuing evolution.
What worked well in the past is not always what works well today. Our award-winning LI News Tonight program is an example. No one can deny its leadership role in developing local and award-winning on- and off-air talent, among many other accomplishments. But last year and the year before, few students participated. There are few would-be Walter Cronkites today… the Millenials get their news online, not at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on a network broadcast. That’s why we are developing a new curriculum. More broadly, we are scrupulously assessing programs, modes of delivery, and even the need for each and every campus.
Knowing when to grow and when to tighten is part of the natural and sound management of our institution. In recent years, we have looked more closely at what we do and why. We closed our Central Islip campus to academic programs, you recall, because we never had a break-even year from operations and, frankly, our future was not in Suffolk County. We phased out Ellis College, a noble experiment from which we learned a lot and profited… and today we are growing our NYIT online activities.
Our global programs are evolving too. We are phasing out our Bahrain and Jordan campuses over the next few years, because the requirements of the Ministries of Education in those countries do not conform to accreditation requirements we must meet in the United States. Maintaining the status quo is no longer an option.
These are examples of the need to give up some things in order to take on new-- and better-- challenges, particularly as we stay true to our 2030 vision of being a student-centered university.
We all recognize that at a time when the value of higher education is being questioned by some, NYIT is well-positioned because of our focus on careers. But we are not immune to the influences of the U.S. and global economies, competitive forces, or the expected decline in high school graduates across the Northeast. Therefore, we cannot continue to rely solely on increasing student tuition revenues to support investments in NYIT's future.
A sound financial footing is one of our 2030 goals, but here's a current reality. Each year we want to do more, invest in more, raise quality, and seek the funds to do so. However, our enrollment, though solid, is essentially flat and likely to remain relatively so as we build quality. The revenue for new initiatives is coming from tuition increases or program savings. But personnel is the largest cost at all quality universities. Our salaries are solid and each year we use a good part of our tuition increase to pay for annual salary increases so they remain sound and more than competitive. And in recent years, health care and benefit costs have gone up 20%.
Starting to get the picture? This week we open a new building in Manhattan, growing that campus, and we will all profit in differing ways from that growth. NYIT will be stronger because of that. We need to be there, and at the same time, we need to continually grow as a global university. But beyond the capital expense to build out that new space, we will incur a large and recurring operating cost-- in the millions of dollars a year. We will need to hire more cleaners, security guards, union mechanics, pay operating expenses on new equipment, and pay the rent. And how about paying for a little heat and electricity? And I proudly pointed out that our facilities are well maintained and work. Well, two weeks ago, the electricity in Midge Karr and Ed Hall in Old Westbury did not work for several days, even though crews worked around the clock to bring the buildings back on line. A deteriorating electric cable that had failed before was the problem, and this week did not help, so we're going to fix it properly and for the long run. The cost? The full tuition for a year of about 16 students. Yet, our budgets are balanced, and we are making investments.
Our appetites are big, though, and how are we going to feed them? Short of a couple of hundred million dollars added to our endowment-- got any leads? We will need more than ever to increase our non-tuition revenues and drill down to all areas and sources at the university. The generation of new non-tuition revenue will be one of the recurring themes this year and in years to come.
I’ve mentioned 2030 a lot, because it is indeed guiding our planning and development. Let’s see it in operation. What better way to do that than through a game?
“O brave new world that has such people in’t.”
The Year Ahead.
We are living in a transformational period in American history. Those of us in this room and watching are accustomed to America as the leading nation in the world, the only superpower. A nation pre-eminent in so many areas, including education.
Well, I never thought I’d be talking about ill-tempered avians in a convocation address. Nor did I think I’d be quoting Richard Nixon in the same speech. But back in 1971, he said, “When we see the world in which we are about to move, the United States no longer is in the position of complete pre-eminence or predominance [and] that is not a bad thing.”
We are living in a far more volatile time than Nixon imagined. In just the first eight months of this year, we’ve seen long-standing governments implode in the Middle East, and stock markets plunge in the United States and elsewhere, wiping out billions of dollars of wealth. Several of our peer institutions are finding that their very survival is in peril. Here at NYIT we can no longer settle for being merely good in some areas; we must be great at much of what we do.
I believe we will do just that-- because we’ve made investments in human capital. We are coming off a year of aggressive hiring of faculty, staff, and administrators at a time when many institutions were shrinking payrolls. We seized opportunities to attract the highest levels of talent to our campuses-- gifted people who will see that we become stronger and stronger and stronger. In the end, our students and our employees are our greatest asset.
Last year, we searched the globe for the best and brightest, and we know they will inspire us. Our senior administration too, is evolving. I’m pleased to welcome four new members: the chief of staff, Peter C. Kinney III; the Vice President for Development, John M. Elizandro; General Counsel Catherine Flickinger; and our new Provost, Rahmat Shoureshi. They, along with a large number of new faculty members on our New York campuses as well as abroad and quite a few new staff members, will infuse us with energy and ideas.
Not long ago, author Jim Collins researched companies and figured how 11 of them made the transformation from good to great. Great organizations aren’t consumed by the fear of being left behind. They don’t motivate people, their people are self-motivated.
There is no “wow” moment… but there is a tremendous effort.
NYIT is accelerating, but we need to work one by one, and we need to continue to work together, to maintain and create momentum.
Alice may have said it best: “I can’t go back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” Well, NYIT is not going back to yesterday. We remember fondly what we’ve done and savor our accomplishments, for they help inspire the present. But in so many respects, we are different-- and better-- than we were 10 years ago, two years ago, or last year. Today, we begin anew and refreshed, embracing our evolution, pushing to higher levels of achievement for our faculty and students, and basking in renewed optimism about the grand discoveries before us.
Thank you for your willingness to serve our mission, vision, and community, and best wishes for a superb academic year.
Office of the President