Stefan Hyman: 13 years at Stony Brook

Stefan Hymen (NATHALY SIERRA / THE STATESMAN)

Stefan Hyman is the new Assistant Provost for Enrollment Strategies, Communications and Analytics. Part of his duties will be to improve student enrollment. (NATHALY SIERRA / THE STATESMAN)

After 13 years of working within the Stony Brook University community, Stefan Hyman was appointed to the position of Assistant Provost for Enrollment Strategies, Communications and Analytics at the beginning of the year.

In this new position, Hyman said he is striving to implement new plans to improve enrollment and student success. Right now, he oversees undergraduate admissions and the university’s social media accounts. He also looks into special projects, which are determined through analyzing principles and patterns of data.

And his partnerships with faculty, academic advising, administration and the new Academic Assessment Task Force, of which Hyman is a member, all allow him to tailor his department’s approaches toward student desires and necessities.

Most prominently over the past few weeks, Hyman was measuring student feedback regarding course formats and offerings for the upcoming summer session.

“I was immediately struck by how many students said ‘we really want online classes,’ and it makes a lot of sense,” he said.

In an effort to comply with this request, the Summer Online Teaching Initiative is in motion.

“This is a way to try and build more online courses that will help students satisfy more degree requirements and hopefully graduate on time,” Hyman explained.

Adding online summer classes to Stony Brook’s repertoire is not the only new initiative Hyman is involved in—he also is working to develop Inside Stony Brook, a private Facebook application for accepted students that was piloted last year.

“The idea was to allow newly admitted students to be able to have a private sector where they could make a great support network of friends who can really help them build a bond within each other and within the university,” he said, “which will encourage more to stay and graduate.”

As part of the NYSUNY 2020 bill, enrollment at SBU is set to increase by approximately 1.2 percent each year for about five years. In preparing for this continued growth, Hyman said he intends to maximize success by establishing projects that facilitate the expected influx of students in areas of high demand.

“I’m going to continue to really put in place strategies and, based on those strategies, tactics, to help recruit and enroll top students, excellent students, students from a broad set of backgrounds and students who are going to be successful at this university.”

To provide students with the best programs and opportunities, Hyman and his staff members often use social media outlets to assess student responses.

With some help from students, they manage all of the university’s accounts on a daily basis, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the recently added Tumblr and Pinterest pages.

Hyman, who himself has a great interest in the Internet and its modern technologies, found his passion for administrative duties while working at Stony Brook as a graduate assistant after achieving a bachelor’s degree in musical studies and a master’s degree in music history.

“I found a real passion for helping users, helping people at all different levels, finding information on websites and overall just helping users to have better experiences,” he said. “ I would say that gradually this led me to take on a larger role at the university eight years ago in undergraduate admissions and then that gradually increased and led me to where I am now.”

Currently, Hyman continues to pursue his interests in music and education, typically teaching one course each semester through the Honors College or the music department.

As for his new role within the university, Hyman expressed excitement.

“I’m really thankful to be in this position and I think I have a lot to contribute.  I’m most encouraged by the support system that we already have in place and the dedication of a lot of faculty and staff to help foster the most beneficial student experiences as we can at this university,” Hyman said.

Social media not a factor in admissions at Stony Brook

A recent Kaplan Test Prep report claims that more college admissions officers have Googled or visited applicants’ social media sites than previously. According to the report, a recent survey conducted by Kaplan showed that the percentage of college admissions officers who agreed to do so is higher than ever before at 31 percent.

The Statesman was not able to verify whether Stony Brook University was included in the survey.

Plamen Kamenov is a freshman physics major. He is a regular user of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Kamenov said that he would think twice before applying to a university if he knew was going through applicants’ social media. According to him, if an institution is going through an applicants’ social media, they are not trusting the applicant.

“It is not that I have anything to hide, but it is just a principle,” Kamenov said.

For Fall 2013, Stony Brook University received approximately 30,300 applications, out of which only 39 percent were accepted and only about 9 percent enrolled.

Senior Associate Dean of Admissions Robert Pertusati explains that with this number of applicants it is virtually impossible for the Admissions Department to be going through an applicants’ social media sites.

Kimberlyn Rowe is a junior transfer student in Stony Brook University currently majoring in health science. Even though she stopped using all forms of social media once she started college, she believes that admission officers going through applicants’ social media sites is an invasion of privacy.

Each of these applications goes through a holistic review in the Admissions Department where they look into two basic categories: academic and personal.

While academic fit is paramount, the admissions officers also look into the personal achievements of the applicant to understand how they would deal with multitasking when in college.

Some students may have excelled in the personal while not so much in the academic. When asked whether the admissions officers will then consider looking into social media for a better understanding of the applicant, Pertusati said, “Our decision is independent; while we are waiting on admission applications we are not accessing social media vehicles.”

Rowe says that Stony Brook University’s policy to not look at applicants’ social media sites is respectable.

 “I think it is a good policy that Stony Brook follows to not look at applicants’ social media,” Rowe said. “It establishes trust and makes students feel secure.”

Stefan Hyman is the Director of Enrollment Communications in the Admissions Department. He helps run and start different social media sites for the university to attract and communicate with prospective and admitted students. A wide variety of social media is used to help expose people from different backgrounds and different geographical locations.

According to Hyman, the university does not engage in any kind of activity regarding visiting applicants. He believes that there are challenges involved in doing so, most importantly authenticity. It is difficult to determine whether the person on the social media site is the same person you may be looking for, thus it is not a good practice.

Hyman said, “There is also just simply freedom of speech, which we respect.”

However, there are two situations when the university may look into and address an applicant based on their social media sites: first being that the applicant specifically asked the admissions department to do so since he or she has important materials to share, like his or her music, and the second being if an applicant’s application indicates that they can be dangerous to themselves or the community.

Talking about the second situation, Hyman said, “I would say that it wouldn’t be grounds to retract a student’s admission decisions because it simply came under our radar. I do think it would be worthwhile to provide some degree of outreach to the student instead.”

According to both Pertusati and Hyman, social media is used by the admissions office to reach out to prospective and admitted students and help them understand the university community better to make a well-educated decision when choosing universities.