3 years from its target, SUNY-ESF continues implementing the updated Vision 2020 strategic plan

Brandon Bielinski | Staff Photographer

Several different initiatives and programs are being pushed through by SUNY-ESF, as part of the updated Vision 2020 strategic plan.

Multiple initiatives and programs have been updated and implemented at SUNY-ESF over the current academic year as part of the college’s overarching Vision 2020 overhaul plan.

In 2003, a committee of State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry community members created a campus assessment called Vision 2020 that proposed seven goals, each with their own targets, for the college to achieve by the year 2020. The original plan was centered on student life, external partnerships, funding, academic excellence and the needs of society at large.

But by 2015, it became clear to administrators and campus leaders that the plan was in need of an update. Many of the original targets listed in the plan were obsolete or already completed, prompting an update aimed at bridging the college’s current needs and the original 2020 target date.

Some of the Vision 2020 update’s goals include SUNY-ESF becoming financially “secure” and independent of the state and the college increasing diversity and inclusion on campus.

A group of 18 faculty members and student leaders formed the college’s Strategic Planning Steering Committee, which met from February to May 2015 to draft the Vision 2020 update for SUNY-ESF President Quentin Wheeler’s approval. All of the original seven goals were revised and carried over in the Vision 2020 update, along with the addition of an eighth goal focusing on diversity and inclusion.

“As we maintain our core academic strengths, new and enhanced program efforts continue to progress in alignment with the Academic Directions section of the Vision 2020 Update,” SUNY-ESF Provost and Executive Vice President Valerie A. Luzadis said in a statement to The Daily Orange.

One of the original goals revised and carried over in the Vision 2020 update is for SUNY-ESF to become financially “secure” and independent to “protect itself against the vagaries of state funding.”

The college wants to create $100 million in ESF College Foundation assets by 2020 to include increased alumni, corporate and foundation giving. SUNY-ESF also wants to achieve $30 million in annual research money through diversified funding sources, according to the update. The college additionally wants to grow sponsored research revenue from a baseline of $16 million in fiscal year 2014-15 to $20 million in fiscal year 2020-21.

Kelley Donaghy, an associate professor of chemistry at SUNY-ESF and a former member of the SPSC, said that she considers offsetting costs to be more realistic than financial independence from the state SUNY system.

“We’re going into debt because our state allocation and our tuition allocations aren’t covering the operating costs of the institution,” Donaghy said. “Our administration needs to find a way other than through state funding, other than tuition, to make ends meet.”

Donaghy added that the college is currently working toward doing so.

The original Vision 2020 plan also included a target of diversifying the student body, but a commitment to inclusion was not one of the plan’s seven main goals. Different initiatives and programs are now being set into place at SUNY-ESF in an effort to create a more inclusive campus.

Last Tuesday, the SUNY-ESF academic governance passed a resolution to provide more women’s bathrooms on campus and label all single-stall bathrooms gender-neutral.

“We passed a couple different resolutions calling for more gender-inclusive spaces on campus as well as mandatory diversity training for professors,” said Ben Taylor, president of SUNY-ESF’s Undergraduate Student Association.

The college has an Inclusion, Diversity Equity Committee that ran different campus-wide diversity programs this semester, Luzadis said in the statement, and is pushing through a strategic plan for diversity and inclusion, Taylor added.

SUNY-ESF is also in the final stages of hiring a chief diversity officer, Taylor added, which is one target of the Vision 2020 update.

Luzadis said several other changes included in the Vision 2020 update have been recently implemented by SUNY-ESF, including an increase in the college’s web presence and investment in infrastructure.

In a statement to The Daily Orange, Wheeler said it is important that the college address current goals and look toward future ones.

“We must be nimble and capable of adapting to unanticipated challenges and opportunities, not the least of which are changes underway in our nation’s capital,” he said.


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