Updates from the Provost
- Tuesday, October 29th, 2019
Last summer, President Caboni asked each of his Cabinet members to share their goals for this academic year. As the new Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, I worked with the deans and my other direct reports (Associate Provosts, Registrar, etc.) to develop some broadly impactful goals that now direct the work currently being done by our division not only this year, but for the next several years to come. Our initiatives and success as a division involves all faculty and staff in academic departments along with the administrative offices that report to Academic Affairs.
Not surprisingly, the overarching goal for the Division of Academic Affairs is STUDENT SUCCESS. Nearly everything we do can be tied to STUDENT SUCCESS either directly or indirectly.
All of these goals are consistent with the WKU Strategic Plan, Climbing to Greater Heights and are as follows:
1. Post-CAPE, launch both new and improved innovative and market driven academic programs that will attract a diverse body of undergraduate, graduate, and non-traditional students.
To this end, we have shared a process and timeline for the programs identified for transformation through last year’s CAPE process with academic departments. With an eye toward developing programs that will prepare students for success ten years from now, we have asked our faculty to engage with experts in your disciplines as well as consider market trends for employment and future study, a preliminary plan for each program’s transformation is due to the Office of the Provost by the end of this month, but if done well, this work could take the whole year (or longer). Our developing programs will prepare students for ten years from now with the expectation that these transformed programs will attract a diverse body of undergraduate, graduate, and non-traditional students.
2. Implement efficient electronic curriculum, personnel, and workload processes.
This goal is necessary for us to function more professionally and efficiently through the use of technology. Our student, personnel and financial information system (Banner) has the capability to help us complete essential tasks more efficiently. New modules that streamline workflow processes, faculty load and compensation, and student progression toward degrees will allow our employees the flexibility to try some new, sustainable, and innovative ways of doing things on our campus. Let’s work together to eliminate paper-based and cumbersome processes!
3. Ensure a positive SACSCOC outcome.
The importance of this goal cannot be overstated. We cannot function as a university without our regional accreditation. 2021 is WKU’s fifth year SACSCOC review. Because of the changes in personnel over the past couple of years, we have found that the historical knowledge about the SACSCOC review is slim. However, we have worked hard to gain a thorough understanding of the review process and understand the work that needs to be done. The most important and impactful work will have to be associated with developing a campus culture of continuous evaluation and improvement. To that end, Associate Provost Michelle Trawick is leading an Assurance of Student Learning Committee that will help program faculty, department heads, and deans develop the assessment tools they need to evaluate and continuously improve their programs and, ultimately, enhance STUDENT SUCCESS.
4. Foster mutually supportive and productive partnerships between the Division of Academic Affairs and the Division of Enrollment and Student Experience with the ultimate goal of increasing enrollment, persistence, and graduation rates.
After developing our goals, I realized that the success of WKU depends entirely on the collaborative efforts across all divisions. I meet weekly with Executive Vice President for Strategy, Operations and Finance, Susan Howarth. Vice President for Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement, Amanda Trabue and I meet bi-weekly.
Vice President for Enrollment and Student Experience, Brian Kuster and I meet and speak often about our mutually supportive roles and joint endeavors. Our collaborative work with Ruffalo Noel Levitz consultants has allowed us to bring together faculty and staff from both divisions to develop a forward looking Strategic Enrollment Plan. In addition, retention initiatives including living learning communities, cohort learning communities, central and mentor advising, first year experience, and the summer scholars program places both divisions in the center of WKU’s efforts at increasing STUDENT SUCCESS.
While not an articulated goal, communicating with campus is a high priority. Every other Monday (or so), Updates from the Provost are emailed to the entire campus community. I write these messages to be informative and to share the progress surrounding specific initiatives while tying them to the larger strategic view associated with our work. Each message has a thread associated with student success and opportunity.
There are still several months to go this year, so if you have any ideas for themes for my Monday Messages, please let me know. I am excited about the work we’ve done, are doing and the work yet to come.