Updates - From the Office of the NYIT President
Aug 29 2013
NYIT 2013 State-of-the-Institution Address

Following are excerpts of remarks delivered on August 29 by President Edward Guiliano, Ph.D.,  in his 14th address to welcome faculty and staff to the new academic year during NYIT's annual convocation: 

Good morning.

Today, for the fourteenth time, I have the honor and privilege of delivering the state-of-the-institution address.

As you may know, when the time arrived for Thomas Jefferson to give his first state-of-the-union address, he ignored the precedent of George Washington and sent in a written report instead.

Then, for over a century, when it was time to deliver their state-of-the-union address, most U.S. presidents just set pen to paper and called the messenger.

That got me thinking... So, check your email and thank you for coming.

Just kidding.

It's a pleasure to address you face-to-face, and like all modern-day presidential addresses, virtually.

This is an NYIT tradition and officially launches our new academic year.

And, like the Twinkie, it's not -- and I am not --going away any time soon. And I confess, I prefer Hostess cupcakes to Twinkies.

But seriously, in our global and digital world, a university is like a tech company -- we can't possibly stand still. The world keeps racing ahead, and if we don't move faster, we fall behind. Remember MySpace?

In our disruptive world of higher education today, and at our NYIT, we are living a Through-the-Looking-Glass existence. We're like young Alice, who kept running and running only to end up in the same place.

Understandably perplexed, Alice addresses the Red Queen:

"Well, in our country," said Alice, still panting a little, "you'd generally get to somewhere else - if you run very fast for a long time, as we've been doing."

"A slow sort of country!" said the Queen.“Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.

If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"

In evolutionary biology, it's known as the Red Queen hypothesis: "organisms must constantly adapt, evolve, and proliferate not merely to gain reproductive advantage, but also simply to survive while pitted against ever-evolving opposing organisms in an ever-changing environment."

That describes the world of higher education today locally, nationally, and globally, as well as our challenge at NYIT. We must continue to deliver on our mission: providing career- oriented professional education, with access for qualified students, and applications-oriented research for the betterment of society.  But we must do so at twice our normal speed.

We must be bold and nimble and smart, as we take up the noble cause of sharing and creating knowledge, and developing a generation of global citizens. And at this moment of constant game-changers, we must do so with a sense of tech-company urgency. There are challenges galore, but I am truly excited about opportunities within our reach.

As we begin this year's journey, today is a time for us to take stock and evaluate.

I want to speak about three topics:

  • Where we are.
  • Where the world is.
  • And where we're going.

First: Where are we?  Our NYIT dashboard has meters and gauges for such benchmark indicators as: Academic and Student Quality, Enrollment, Advancement, Leadership, and Financial Indicators.

In summary, I can say that the state of NYIT's dashboard is good, and we have many achievements to celebrate.  The academic quality light on the dashboard is a richer, brighter green than ever before.

We are achieving program and institutional accreditations with regularity and distinction:

  • Our master's program in physician assistant studies and our undergraduate interior design program were reaccredited this past year through 2019.
  • Our M.S. in Instructional Technology received "national recognition" through 2019.
  • These are maximum periods of accreditation - signs of confidence in our sustained quality.
  • This week we expect formal word about the ABET reaccreditation of our Electrical and Computer Engineering program as well as our Mechanical Engineering program, for the maximum periods of six years.
  • Our Master's in School Counseling program was visited for initial accreditation in July and met all requirements and conditions. We anticipate accreditation in January.
  • And our School of Management, in the pre-candidacy phase of its AACSB accreditation, has submitted its Standards Alignment Plan and expects to begin its self-study year this fall.

  This same pattern of academic excellence holds true abroad.

  • Last November, the Chinese Ministry of Education certified bachelor's programs in Communications Arts and in Electrical and Computer Engineering at NYIT-Nanjing. A big deal.
  • In the same month, the Abu Dhabi Education Council approved our licensure renewal.
  • In March, the Chinese Ministry renewed its approval for our M.B.A. with JUFE through 2015and approved an undergraduate B.S. degree with a concentration in human resource management with the Shandong Institute of Business and Technology through 2017.
  • This month, the Chinese Ministry recognized a third program in Nanjing, the B.S. in computer science.
  • In May, our Vancouver campus received the educational quality assurance designation from the British Columbia Ministry and last month conferred upon us degree-granting authority for the Master's in Information, Network, and Computer Security as well as two M.B.A. concentrations: Finance and Tourism.

This range of approvals speaks to a tremendous amount of hard work, and to the unquestionable quality of our programs. Our students, our alumni and colleagues, and I, all thank you.

Now more than ever, it is important that we recruit students of good caliber and potential. Here, too, the gauges on our dashboard glow green. The average high school GPA for admitted freshmen in 2012 was near 90 and SAT scores in critical reading and math were higher than average in New York and nationally. The same is holding true for this year's freshman; the average SAT score is 1126.

But our students are more than academic statistics; they are a diverse hard-working group who seek good careers and a chance to contribute to our ever-changing world.

Here are a few student highlights from the past year:

  • After Hurricane Sandy, our students launched a global competition to encourage the design of resilient homes and neighborhoods.
  • Our team won a "People's Choice" award at a New York State competition for its business plan for the School of Architecture and Design's SodaBIB project.
  • The Museum of Modern Art is currently exhibiting student-designed models of a Costa Rica recycling center alongside the work of major architects.
  • A team of engineering students led STEM projects at a Harlem grade school, teaching kids to think like engineers and helping teachers leverage technology.
  • Students from each of our campuses shared highlights of thousands of hours of community service at this past spring's Global Connection Day celebration.
  • But perhaps the key indicator of our academic success is the success of our graduates as they pursue meaningful careers. In fact, in 2013, NYIT was ranked in the top 10 percent of American universities based on return on investment. And in another ROI ranking released this summer, NYIT placed 17th among the 472 colleges in New York State. And, if the plan President Obama proposed last week is approved, ROI will be even more important in the government's perspective on higher education.
  • We also celebrated athletic "firsts," as our men's and women's tennis teams won their first regional tournaments and advanced to the national round of 16.
  • Our women's basketball team headed to the ECC championship for the first time since 2006 and earned a top-25 NCAA Division Two ranking in the nation. Go Bears!

NYIT faculty are smart, creative, and competitive in their fields, and no... I am not contractually obligated to say that.

Hundreds of publications, including the high-impact journals Nature and Science, and grants from a host of government and private agencies, recognize the merits of our researchers and creative thinkers.

During fiscal 2013, through the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research, NYIT received approximately six and a half million dollars in new grants and contracts, including estimated future-year support. A further $2 million in awards is pending and likely to be received by the fall.

These awards include:

  • Our first-ever Academic Research Enhancement Award, from the National Institutes of Health, to Dr. Kurt Amsler, for research in renal physiology that will engage NYIT students and enhance the college's research environment.
  • Our first Research Experience for Undergraduates grant from the National Science Foundation, to Dr. Cecilia Dong for research on mobile and wireless security that engages undergraduates from NYIT and other universities.
  • NYIT's first Major Research Instrumentation grant, from the NSF, to a team from the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences and the College of Osteopathic Medicine, headed by Dr. Sarah Zhang.  While this is her second NSF grant, it marks a milestone for NYIT for the infrastructure support it provides. For a long time, we were not competitive for equipment grants because we didn't have a sufficient portfolio of funded research grants, which, in turn, we couldn't get because we didn't have the necessary equipment. A Catch 22. Now we do, so we can, and we will.
  • In his short period at NYIT, Dr. Kiran Balagani, has received three grants totaling $1.2 million for cybersecurity research from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency with Dr. Paolo Gasti acting as Co-PI on one of the projects.
  • NYIT is also currently included in two consortia of American and European universities funded by the European Commission: one in structural chemistry, involving Dr. Ana Petrovic; and the other on artificial intelligence, involving Dr. Kevin LaGrandeur.
  • And finally, this summer, I was happy to be involved, through our School of Engineering and Computing Sciences, in leading a project with Peking University that was selected as one of six EcoPartnership programs to promote innovative collaboration between the United States and China on clean water and environmental sustainability.

The success of our research and publications indicates academic quality and points to significant strides toward achieving our vision, set forth in NYIT's 2030 Plan, of becoming a "well-funded institution, with dependable revenue from a variety of sources." The Provost, Vice President for Health Sciences and Medical Affairs, and many others deserve credit for nurturing this important part of our NYIT academic culture.

As a further indicator, I am happy to announce that in 2013 we added 35 outstanding faculty members: 28 domestically (2 as visiting professors), and 7 abroad, some of whom were formally at other campuses. One investment we have consistently made is in growing our faculty, and that remains a high priority.

I briefly want to mention enrollment indicators.

After some record years, our enrollment figures dropped last year, partly by design as the result of phasing out of some programs, but largely due to changing demographics, a depressed world economy, and stiff competition.

Despite increasing the total number of new students last year, our domestic enrollment fell by a few percentage points. We graduated more students than we brought in.  That will happen again this year. And while we hope to reverse these trends significantly, colleges are facing challenging times.

Nationwide, college enrollments are down 2 percent, loans are maxing out, and tuition is hitting an affordability ceiling. At the same time, graduating classes from Long Island high schools—one of our largest pools of potential students- are dwindling. When our new Vice President for Student Affairs graduated from his Long Island high school in 1974, his class had 800 students. This year, the school graduated 400.

This past academic year was the first time since the 1970s that I did not teach a class. I felt I needed the extra time to devote to enrollment and development. 

I will marshal my time even more so this year, especially as it relates to domestic enrollment. It is a priority for the institution and one I will share with the Board of Trustees in September. Virtually every time the Provost or I travel abroad, we bring students, or grants, or even alumni gifts back to New York. The only true growth area this year is in international students.  And it happened because of hard, systematic and multi-faceted work. We will see even more sustained and supportive growth in fall 2014 and 2015. NYIT's greatest global campus is in New York, and I am not taking that for granted.

To help us move forward, we're conducting a leadership search in Enrollment Services. Our ability to bring in high-level leadership is proof of our appeal and reflects our desire to prepare our staff for the challenges we face.

I am happy to introduce two new Vice Presidents who bring truly distinguished backgrounds and expertise to NYIT. First, please welcome Dr. Patrick Love, our new Vice President for Student Affairs. Next, Nancy Donner, our new Vice President for Communications and Marketing.

Public relations and brand recognition are key components on our advancement dashboard, and I am confident that with Nancy's leadership, NYIT will develop a strategic and integrated marketing approach that will strengthen our reputation and extend our reach.

One significant, long-coming branding event that took place last year was the renaming of our medical school as the NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine. Finally, we have the unity and tools to build institutional awareness and reputation with our fine medical school as a leading component. At the same time, we removed a symbolic barrier from the interdisciplinary goals of our 2030 plan.

Without funding, we're like a city without electricity.

We recently announced significant donations from members of the Board of Trustees, alumni, and others in support of endowed and annual scholarships, and the Annual Giving Program. Working together, Vice President Elizandro and I are gaining traction and have also charted significant success in adding to NYIT's endowment.

On the whole, NYIT's financial status is good. We've tightened our belts to pursue timely opportunities as guided by our 2030 priorities. Our strategy was pretty simple. Spend less revenue than you generate and things are fine…and that's just what we've done during this recessionary period. While others were downsizing, freezing pay, or making layoffs, we've made strategic hires, invested in necessary facilities, and granted salary and related increases.

This guarantees we will continue to have our group of good, caring, and understanding employees—that's all of you—for years to come.

I remain cautiously optimistic that in 2014 and 2015, based on our smart decisions and the improving economic situation, our financial dashboard light will be bright green, as it has been for most of the past decade.

So, the gauges and dials on our dashboard look good—but our performance can still improve.

At NYIT, education is our mission - one that relies on both technology and finance. And yet nothing is more volatile or changes faster than those two.

While everyone can see the results of new technologies when they appear in the marketplace—when was the last time you saw two people at dinner talking to each other instead of reading or texting on their iPhones?—the tectonic shifts frequently announce themselves as murmurs of possibility in grapevines, micro-markets, and shoe-string startups. But once rapid changeover occurs, it can be hard to catch up. Ask Microsoft.

It is our job as a university to prepare our students for this world. For NYIT, this means figuring out how to negotiate the ever-shifting technology of education.

Educators are already working with game-like simulations that may increase student engagement and understanding. Wearable technology may create opportunities for virtual interactive labs and classrooms, bringing students into even closer contact with professors. Even Lewis Carroll's imagination could not foresee "Alice Through the Google Glass." 

Today, with mobile learning and Cloud computing, and the cost of technology more affordable than ever, our students are walking around with two or three devices connected to the Internet. And they want to use their devices, not ours, to connect to applications and learning platforms. Distance learning isn't so distant when access is in your hand.

Social media, where our students are hanging out, is a game changer in how people present news and ideas, interact, gain information, communicate, and learn. We are living in a period of disruptive access to information.

The great philosopher Groucho Marx once said, "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." Today we're replacing paper-and-ink books with back-lit tablets, so theoretically, it may well be possible to read inside of a dog.

Soon more of our labs will be virtual or remote - in that we manipulate the equipment through a remote device.

Some of us are already managing the systems and appliances in our homes from an iPad. Remote and virtual labs should cost less to construct, decrease space needs, and improve safety, while allowing for investment in higher-caliber labs with greater access. 3-D printing, which we're already working on, offers the prospect of a New Industrial Revolution. Today it's at the stage of the first LaserWriter, which ushered in a new era of desktop publishing.  3-D printing triggers even greater possibilities, as students in our Architecture and Computer Graphics programs are discovering.

In fact, our College of Osteopathic Medicine's 3-D printer may someday help our researchers develop synthetic organs. Using a CT scan, they can build a "scaffold" of a liver or a kidney and "seed" it with human cells, creating an implantable organ. Who needs The Wizard of Oz when NYIT can print a heart for Dorothy's Tin Man?

Remember when information once arrived through just a few channels, like the nightly news? Now, infinite data is available at your fingertips. Ignorance once meant lack of information; now it means a bad choice of information.

As educators, we must impart knowledge to our students and train them to select the best sources for themselves. In our new information age, everyone is a reference librarian.

MOOCs, the massive open online courses I spoke about at last year's convocation, may be the future.

I don't know what to make of MOOCs, except that they are here to stay and no one yet knows how to make money with them. MOOCs have a great economy of scale that may drive down the cost of education. Our Federal and State governments like MOOCs because they provide a way to educate the nearly one million more professionals needed in our knowledge economy.

Students from around the world like MOOCs because they don't need a visa to study with a top professor at MIT or Stanford or experience an American education.

One reason MOOCs are here to stay is because of their free Open Content. The challenge is to shape learning processes to exploit and measure it. Much of MOOCs' content is better than a textbook. Why should someone listen to me read a poem when they can have the poet or actor read it? Shakespeare...Gielgud...Guiliano...Tough choice.

Then you can participate in an interactive live discussion with a great professor. I would just have to assign it from a MOOC, free. And, of course, I have just given an example of the so-called flipped classroom.  Leave the lecture at home.

The role of open content provider is one likely long-term position of these MOOC companies, as a Blackboard-like learning platform loaded with content. There will be a way to make money from that. MOOCs also will drive the Academy to focus more on learning analytics.

We will expand outcomes assessment and prove and accept competency-based learning. We'll have access to digital data on students and their learning, like Amazon has on consumers. As we move toward more personalized education we'll know more about recruitment and retention, and how students interact with material. This is the world we live in and as a global university we must embrace.

Clearly one value of a global university is that it can cross borders and reach students far away. A global viewpoint challenges local thinking and can refine and even vaporize it.

Our students will need intercultural competence to find solutions to global problems.  After all, we live in a world of transnational companies. It's no longer just Coca-Cola and McDonald's in Red Square.  The world's leading business consultant, McKinsey, has 102 offices around the globe. Electronic Arts, the world's largest videogame publisher, employs more than 9,000 people and is hiring across Europe and the Americas.

Global virtual teams are vital. They create market opportunities, reveal critical information about local buyers, and introduce perspectives that kick-start innovation. But these teams are tricky and often fail due to the lack of trust that can arise from cultural, geographic, and linguistic differences.

So companies desperately need good intercultural navigators, who cannot only save them money and time, but also prevent important projects from dying. And I don't have to tell you - our graduates have a head start in global competence and they're worth more to employers.

They're already developing the worldwide networks of friendship and trust, the "regimes" of mutual understanding.

As open and diverse as New Yorkers are, we generally know only one or perhaps two cultures and one or two languages.

That is why in our classrooms, in our curriculum, with the person at the adjacent desk or lab space, in our research, and in our study abroad and service programs, we need to create environments that collide with global cultures. I was pleased to learn that, at yesterday's Assessment Day, more than 125 faculty members spent significant time planning how to assess the global competencies of our graduating students in every major.

As international trade becomes more frictionless, that value of global competency keeps growing.

For instance, in June 2013 talks began between the European Union and the U.S. to forge a trans-Atlantic NAFTA. This doesn't guarantee we'll all live happily ever NAFTA (sorry), but should this succeed, it could create the world's largest market.

Talks are also underway for a trans-Pacific NAFTA, involving Japan, Chile, and Australia. Japan, a leading competitor for many years, is struggling.  Its population is graying and smartphone technologies are undercutting legacy companies like Sharp and Olympus. Prime Minister Abe has said that if Japan is to grow, it must seize "this last window of opportunity" to join these talks. So we may soon lower trade barriers with Japan, and create rules for a trade bloc that will finally pull in China.

Global is vast and community is small. And NYIT offers the best of both -  access to endless possibilities for new experiences and a place where people care and their name means something.

A recent report by the Institute of International Education argued for the importance of making "international" a part of everyone's education. It urged U.S. universities to develop a sound “foreign policy" that entertains a range of internationalization possibilities, from recruiting more students to developing strategic partnerships such as dual degree programs that benefit all members of the academic community.

Sound familiar?

We at NYIT have differentiated ourselves by getting out in front of global education. It is one of our strengths, and we are going to keep at it.

As we move forward, we look for seminal moments, events that change the context, and maybe even the rules of the game. They are generally born of crisis or created from within. What seminal moments has NYIT had in the last 14 years?

The global refinancing of 2000 was huge in helping to develop the NYIT we are proud of today. You can't predict these seminal moments.

Columbus's return from the New World was a seminal moment, yet he thought he had landed in the Far East. Do you realize the iPad is only three years old? The people at Dell do. Remember peak oil, a few years ago when supposedly we would have tapped more than half of the world's hydrocarbon reserves?

Now with off-shore oil finds, fracking, and melting ice caps, we have vast new reserves and the U.S. is again an oil and gas exporter. The NIH just celebrated the 10th anniversary of the complete mapping of the genome.
And the phrase "social media" is not yet 10 years old.

What seminal moments lie ahead?  While I cannot predict any seminal moments for NYIT this year, I can describe three important undertakings that together might become one.

First, we will build a sophisticated, transparent, and user-friendly set of data- everything from alumni statistics to the cost of educating students, to the impact of financial aid packages, to enrollment and graduation statistics going forward.

We'll also develop a new set of data relating to how we model financial aid for accepted students to help us project yield outcomes and more accurately forecast recruiting.

A major goal for this year is to build a strategic, data-driven enrollment plan for the next five years. It will help us to analyze each program by capacity, quality, and revenue, incorporating demographics and market research. And it will include every constituent group - graduates, undergraduates, transfer and international students, and veterans. We'll integrate systematic research into our planning and decision-making. This will feed our schools and enable our Chairs, Deans, and Vice Presidents to better realize the future of NYIT.

Second, we are pursuing a proposal to build residence halls on the Old Westbury Campus and have plans for additional residence halls in Manhattan. [Editor’s note: We are working closely on this project with our neighboring communities—Old Westbury, Brookville and Old Brookville.  The project team is working hard with the Village of Old Westbury to secure the necessary approvals by next spring.] The decision to build residence halls in Old Westbury is a big one and has involved the most study and discussion of any decision I have been associated with at NYIT in the past 15 years.  A lot of people have been informed and engaged.

Third, we will develop a sharpened communications plan with clear messaging and hierarchies and deploy it digitally and otherwise to priority audiences.  We will carefully craft, articulate and rehearse our university's messages. 

We will continue to build an integrated communications and marketing strategy- utilizing media relations, marketing, editorial, social media, web, photography, video, and design- that is proactive, cost-effective, current with the times, and responsive to the institutional priorities of this university.

Collaboratively, we need to expand our marketing efforts. We need to go digital and mobile. We have great stories to tell. Of course, we have more to do in many areas of the university...and we will continue to evaluate and perhaps adjust our 2030 strategic plan. 

NYIT is well-positioned and great success lies ahead. We are NYIT, you and I, together with our students and alumni, and we will keep it moving forward.

In Chapter 12 of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, titled "Alice's Evidence," the White Rabbit asks the King how he should present the case:

"Where shall I begin, please your Majesty? he asked. "Begin at the beginning," the King said gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop."

I think that was very good advice.

I hope this morning I have told an exciting story about NYIT. In any event, I will stop.

Thank you and best wishes for a splendid new academic year.