As the college’s new chief academic officer, Dr. Scott Furlong sees vitality on the SUNY Oswego campus
“It’s clear that there is a strong academic tradition here,” he said in an interview just a few months into his new role. “People make a campus, and it’s evident that this campus offers the strong student-faculty interactions that make it an engaging environment where students are well supported.”
Appointed to the position of provost and vice president for academic affairs in July, Dr. Furlong has roots in many corners of New York. He was born in Ogdensburg, lived in Canton and on Long Island, earned an undergraduate degree from St. Lawrence University in Canton, and made summer visits to the Thousand Islands. Today, in Oswego, his window from Culkin Hall’s seventh floor gives him a view of his new campus home and a new angle on the Great Lakes System: Prior to joining SUNY Oswego, he was with the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, with its views of Lake Michigan, for 24 years.
“There’s not a lot of college campuses in the country that can claim Great Lake waterfront property, but I’ve now been a part of two of them,” Dr. Furlong joked.
Most recently, Dr. Furlong was the dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences for the UW-Green Bay campus, which has an enrollment of around 6,800. There, Dr. Furlong, who earned master’s and doctoral degrees from American University, oversaw 30 academic programs, six research centers, more than 110 faculty and staff members, and a budget of more than $8 million.
His return to New York state to take the post at SUNY Oswego has allowed him to continue his passion for public higher education.
Dr. Furlong said he had “watched from afar” over the decades as the SUNY system evolved and gained strength to become a national powerhouse of public education.
“I’m a bit of a higher ed geek,” he said. “I enjoy higher ed readings and learning what other places are doing, and so when I think about what drew me to Oswego, it was how it has impressed me, both alone and as part of the SUNY system.”
Only a few months into his new role, Dr. Furlong has been immersing himself in the campus community—this fall attending the School of Business’s Launch It! entrepreneurial program and ALANA (African, Latino, Asian and Native American) Student Leadership Conference events—as well as developing strategies that reflect the opportunities he sees at Oswego.
“Oswego does so many things well, but we can always strive to do better,” Dr. Furlong said. “That is so crucial in higher education.”
So far, he’s been working with the deans of the college’s four schools and graduate studies to increase collaboration, particularly between academic and student affairs. He’s looking, he said, at how to best leverage the good things that are going on around campus to make the best experience possible for its students.
“I am a collaborator by nature,” Dr. Furlong said. “I’m always looking for partners to create intentionality with what we’re doing.” He’s also looking at first-year programs on campus, he said.
“One of my passions [at Green Bay] was the development of a first-year seminar program,” he said. The goal: connecting freshmen in the campus environment and engaging them in activities that result in learning both inside and outside of the classroom. Engaged and supported students lead to better retention and lifelong strong campus connections, he said.
Dr. Furlong also places a lot of stock in engagement between the college and community.
“It’s really important that the community sees the college as its college,” he said. Beyond the educational opportunities, from a cultural and entertainment perspective, the college should be seen as a resource to help solve problems.
“We also play a role in developing a sense of civic responsibility in our students,” he said.
“We play a very unique role in public higher ed in developing good citizens,” Dr. Furlong said. “We have such a responsibility in public higher ed to provide high-quality education for a large group of students. Access is clearly a big part of what we do, but the quality is important as well. It doesn’t do a student any good if we provide access and then we’re not supporting them. It’s not just getting them in; it’s providing a quality education that promotes critical and creative thinking and supporting students all the way through.”
Dr. Furlong said he and his wife, Debbie, who have two adult children, are settling into the Oswego way of life—kayaking, apple-picking, walking, anticipating hockey season—but not fearing the upcoming chilly changes in the weather.
“That part?” he said, with a smile. “That part is not too different from Green Bay.”
“We have such a responsibility in public higher ed to provide high-quality education for a large group of students. Access is clearly a big part of what we do, but the quality is important as well. It doesn’t do a student any good if we provide access and then we’re not supporting them. It’s not just getting them in; it’s providing a quality education that promotes critical and creative thinking and supporting students all the way through.”
—Dr. Scott Furlong