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President Hurley Delivers His First State-of-the-College Address

Faculty, staff, administrators and members of the media crowded the Montante Cultural Center on Thursday, September 9, to hear Canisius College’s new president, John J. Hurley, deliver the state-of-the-college address during the President’s Convocation. It marked one of many firsts for President Hurley, whose 30-minute speech reported on the state of the college, his transition into the president’s office and his priorities for the year ahead.

To download a video of the speech, click here to enter the Canisius iTunesU site.   You will need iTunes installed on your computer.

Before he went into any detail about the aforementioned, President Hurley first wrapped up some “unfinished business” from the 2009-2010 academic year. He offered belated congratulations to English Professor Kenneth M. Sroka, PhD, the recipient of a double bene merenti. Sroka marked 40 years at the college last spring, however, he missed the annual Celebration of Service awards due to a serious injury, which resulted in a lengthy recovery process at home.

President Hurley also reported that Canisius ended its 2009-2010 budget year in the black, with a $1.3 million surplus. Due in large part to belt-tightening across campus, President Hurley stated he is “grateful for the cooperation of everyone in the campus community as we attempted to navigate some very difficult economic waters.”

As he moved into the new business at the college, President Hurley reported more good news. The college exceeded its target goal for new students this fall. Canisius enrolled 714 freshman students and 162 transfer students for a total of 876 new students. The operating budget for this year was based on 870 new students. These numbers coupled with better than budgeted undergraduate retention and summer school enrollment, “meant that we opened the year with 3,027 undergraduates and exceeded the budgeted target.”

Graduate enrollment also hit a new high in the School of Education and Human Services and a recent high for the Wehle School of Business. In all, enrollment in graduate programs exceeds 14,400 credit hours, which is likely the highest number ever. President Hurley credits the “cross marketing of the business and education programs, as well as new programs that have come on line.”

Enrollment is President Hurley’s number one concern. “Nothing else comes close.” In stating this, he introduced the college community to Donna L. Shaffner, the new dean of admissions. He explained that Shaffner spent the summer reviewing the college’s undergraduate and graduate recruitment efforts and is beginning to make necessary changes regarding the ways in which the college, its schools, their departments and their programs are promoted.

President Hurley also introduced David W. Ewing, PhD, the new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Michael J. Pardales, PhD, the dean of the School of Education and Human Services, Craig T. Chindemi, the new vice president for institutional advancement, and 10 new faculty members who joined the Canisius family this fall.

Faculty and students who returned to campus this fall were greeted by approximately $2 million in capital improvements made across campus during the summer months. President Hurley also announced that design plans for Science Hall are just about final and construction on Phase I will begin next spring. This phase will encompass the main floor and create space for, among other things, the college’s successful Institute for Autism Research.

President Hurley followed up this good news with more about the college’s comprehensive campaign, A Legacy of Leadership, which just secured an anonymous $2.5 million endowment for the creation of a new scholarship program.

“With this, the first major gift of my presidency, the campaign now stands at $76.6 million toward its $90 million goal,” he stated.

The positive news concerning the state of the college follows a relatively smooth transition into the president’s office. He laughed, “If there has been a surprise in the first month or so, it’s that there are more new parts to this job than I expected.”

Throughout his lengthy transition period, which began last October, President Hurley worked quietly behind the scenes with the vice presidents and Rev. Vincent M. Cooke HON ’10, S.J., so that he could hit the ground running. Among his first orders of business was the appointment of a 23-member senior operating team, which meets monthly, to manage the operations of the college. President Hurley also began a series of meetings with every academic department and operating unit within the college. While these meetings resulted in substantive discussions about the issues, they also helped people make personal connections with the president, “so that we can approach our work here at Canisius on a solid foundation of mutual respect and trust.”

President Hurley’s final topic of discussion during Academic Convocation focused on his future plans for Canisius College. He outlined three priorities: resource development, financial management and strategic planning. “These are the three legs of the stool that support the academic enterprise and the important work our faculty does in teaching and research.”

Resource development, he explained, includes the recruitment of undergraduate and graduate students, the retention of students, the development of new programs and other new revenues, and the success of the college’s fund-raising efforts.

The second leg of the stool, financial management, will include the introduction of reforms to the college’s budgeting process and an emphasis on efforts to make Canisius more efficient in its operations.

“I don’t think anyone in the administration is pleased with our historical approach to budget challenges, which has primarily involved across-the-board cuts with little regard to the strategic positives or negatives.”

This, President Hurley explained, fits into the third leg of the stool: strategic planning. The college’s current strategic plan is at the end of its useful life and now “is an appropriate time to embark on a brand new round of strategic planning.” To begin the process, the Senior Operating Team will create a report on exactly where the college finds itself today. This is to be completed by mid-October, at which time President Hurley intends to present it to the Board of Trustees to begin their involvement in the strategic planning process. A campus-wide forum is expected in early November. “Ultimately, my goal is to complete the strategic planning process during this academic year and have the final plan approved by the Board of Trustees at its May meeting.”

The college’s Catholic, Jesuit identity is one area, in particular, that will involve careful discussion throughout the strategic planning process. This October, President Hurley announced that he will attend a meeting of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities, and the provincials of the present 10 provinces, where the principal topic of discussion will be to strengthen ties between the provinces and the schools “as we head into a period when more of our schools will have lay leadership,” he explained.

President Hurley concluded his inaugural state-of-the-college address with an observation about leadership. He quoted Napolean Bonaparte, whom “he is not anxious to emulate in totality.” The quote states: The role of a leader is to define reality and give hope. President Hurley then added, “This is a new era at Canisius and I, personally, am filled with hope for the future. I hope that my optimism and excitement is contagious and I want to tap into your enthusiasm and anticipation, and quickly set a sound course for the future.”

Submitted by:  Public Relations

Meet-the-Faculty Recitals

The first two Meet-the-Faculty recitals will take place in the coming days.  Both are free and open to the public.

On Sunday (September 12) at 3 p.m. in the Montante Cultural Center, the program will feature the music of Beethoven, Quantz, Chausson, Saint-Saens, and some Brazilian Jazz tunes by Jobim and others.

The second Meet-the-Faculty recital is Friday, September 17 at 3 p.m. in the Montante Cultural Center.  The program will feature The Dave Schiavone Quartet with Dave Schiavone (Canisius College faculty member) and pianist Michael Jones, bassist Buddy Fadale and drummer Peggy Scalzo.  This original group was formed as an answer to “background” jazz.  The music will be performed for a listening audience – upfront, in the moment, with amazing originals and hot retakes on standards.

For more information on either of these events, click here.

Submitted by:  Ellen Barnum, assistant director, ArtsCanisius