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Provost’s Update

February 2013 Provost's Update

Colleagues,

Last month, President Destler presented his decisions on cost containment recommendations during his open administration forum. The context of these cost containment discussions is the increasingly apparent realization that the ability of parents and students to pay increases in the “net price” of a college education is lessening. (Net price refers to the publicized tuition rate less the average discount amount that a university offers.) This is evidenced by the fact that more and more institutions are having to put increasing amounts of revenue back into financial aid to make the net price affordable to the students they want to attract.

There are many articles that discuss this realization and I thought the campus community might be interested in a few of them. One example, the January article from the Chronicle of Higher Education,Declines in Tuition Revenue Leave Many Colleges Financially Squeezed” speaks to how the net price revenue at colleges is projected to decline outright or increase at a slower rate. Another recent article from Inside Higher Ed,  “Higher Ed Downgrades Vastly Exceeded Upgrades in 2012” describes how Moody's Investor Services downgraded far more institutions than it upgraded and one of the reasons is that these institutions are having problems raising net price revenue.

Finally, if you heard or read about President Obama's State of the Union address this past week, you will be familiar with his emphasis on higher education affordability. Please see the Chronicle article “Obama Puts Federal Weight Behind Calls for College Affordability” for a good overview of his speech.

RIT continues to be in a very strong position and has received high accolades (and the highest credit rating) from Moody's. Our career-oriented educational mission, our competitive publicized tuition rate, and our graduates’ placement rates continue to be strong indicators that what RIT offers is very much aligned with what parents and students want.

Here's my February update; I hope you enjoy the new format.

Jeremy Haefner, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Budget Hearings In Progress

Each year the university holds 19 budget hearings where deans and vice presidents present their operating budgets and capital requests to the Budget Committee.

Each year the university holds 19 budget hearings where deans and vice presidents present their operating budgets and capital requests to the Budget Committee. The committee consists of President Destler, the provost, Dr. Watters, staff from the Budget Office, and representatives from Academic Senate and Staff Council. Everyone involved puts forth a tremendous effort to make a compelling case for the allocation of resources toward our strategic direction.  Based on the final allocations, the upcoming year’s budget is recommended to the Finance Committee, and is then presented to the board of trustees for approval at the April board meeting.

Academic Excellence: Academic Senate Endorses Proposed Academic Portfolio Blueprint

I am delighted to report that Academic Senate—on Valentine’s Day no less—endorsed the proposed Academic Portfolio Blueprint (APB). Since then President Destler has also approved the document.

I am delighted to report that Academic Senate—on Valentine’s Day no less—endorsed the proposed Academic Portfolio Blueprint (APB). Since then President Destler has also approved the document. The APB establishes aspirational characteristics that will describe our portfolio of programs in the future and provides a list of criteria that will be referenced when considering new programs. When the APB is combined with the Academic Program Profile, our student learning outcomes for general education, and the academic program approval and review process, RIT can take pride in knowing that it has a faculty-led framework for how we manage our portfolio of academic programs. The APB has been a work in progress for the past 18 months and has been superbly crafted and managed by a terrific committee consisting of faculty and staff from across the campus:  Carole Woodlock (co-chair), Risa Robinson (co-chair), Ed Lincoln, Manny Contomanolis, Nancy Ciolek, Zoran Ninkov, Don Wilson, Henry Etlinger, Ferat Sahin, Heidi Miller, M. Ann Howard, S. Manian Ramkumar, and Gerry Bateman. Congratulations to the committee for a job well done.

Academic Excellence: Two Systems Piloted for Student Ratings of Teaching Effectiveness

As you may be aware, the Academic Affairs Committee of Academic Senate has been charged to recommend an online student rating system to measure teaching effectiveness.

As you may be aware, the Academic Affairs Committee of Academic Senate has been charged to recommend an online student rating system to measure teaching effectiveness. Following extensive research, the committee selected two student rating systems to pilot with approximately 60 faculty and almost 3,000 students during fall quarter:  the IDEA Center system and the SmartEvals system.  Following the pilot, the committee systematically collected feedback on the two systems from faculty, students, department chairs, deans and ITS.  The committee will make its final recommendation to Academic Senate in mid-March, and a new system will be in place beginning fall 2013.  

The student ratings system is part of a larger effort to provide a comprehensive approach for the assessment of teaching effectiveness and ongoing faculty professional development.  This includes using other sources of assessment information including, but not limited to, peer review, department chair evaluation, and self-evaluation.  In November, The Wallace Center’s Faculty Career Development Services team released a report, Evaluation of Teaching Effectiveness: Benchmark Report & Recommendations, which contains information about best practices at peer institutions and recommendations for establishing a consistent, yet flexible framework for measuring teaching effectiveness at RIT. 

Following this report, on January 17 and 18, Dr. R. Kirby Barrick (from the University of Florida) provided several workshops for department chairs and faculty on the methodology of the peer review process.  Dr. Maryellen Weimer, a national leader in teaching and learning, visited campus on January 24 and offered sessions focused on soliciting feedback from students about their learning experience and creating climates that promote career-long growth for teachers.

Student Success: Outstanding Undergraduate Scholar Awards April 11

Join us as we recognize our highest-achieving undergraduate students at the Awards for Outstanding Undergraduate Scholarship.  

Join us as we recognize our highest-achieving undergraduate students at the Awards for Outstanding Undergraduate Scholarship.  To be eligible for the award, students must maintain a grade point average of 3.85, and have completed at least 125 quarter credit hours at RIT. Community service, volunteer activities, creative work, and research are all strongly encouraged in nominees, who are selected from all colleges of RIT.

This year’s ceremony will be held April 11, 2013 at 5:30 p.m. in the Gordon Field House. I hope you are able to join us as we recognize these exceptional undergraduates.

Faculty and Staff Success: Policy B2.0, Charter for Academic Governance update

Academic Senate approved 15 of 22 motions related to policy B2.0. One motion was tabled and due to time constraints, the remaining motions will be considered at an early spring quarter Academic Senate meeting.

Academic Senate approved 15 of 22 motions related to policy B2.0. One motion was tabled and due to time constraints, the remaining motions will be considered at an early spring quarter Academic Senate meeting. Approved motions include the role of senior and principal lecturers in the voting process, clarification on the definition of a college, term limits for senators and many others. I encourage you to review the minutes of the 2/14 Academic Senate meeting (available after the March 7 meeting) for a detailed overview of all the approved motions and remaining proposed revisions.

When the proposed revisions to the charter are brought to the faculty for a final vote, I truly hope that you will take the time to become informed and then voice your opinion by voting. A vote will likely take place in March.  The charter, as you know, is the cornerstone of shared governance and one cannot underestimate its significance, so I hope you will take advantage of the role you play.

Incubating Project: Innovative Learning Institute Update

Neil Hair, interim director of the Innovative Learning Institute (ILI) and his team have been quietly busy with an in-depth market analysis of the online educational space.

Neil Hair, interim director of the Innovative Learning Institute (ILI) and his team have been quietly busy with an in-depth market analysis of the online educational space. In January, they released a beta-version of a creative and very cool interactive marketing survey to a select group of RIT alumni with the objective being to identify which 'disciplines' they would be most interested in if offered by RIT. The full marketing survey will go out later this month to 70,000 RIT alumni. In addition, the Teaching and Learning Studio folks have been aggressive at organizing workshops to help faculty 'flip' courses as well as promoting the new Provost's Learning Innovation Grants. Finally, the folks with the Center for Multidisciplinary Studies have been gaining additional certification for prior learning assessment, developing a 'MOOC'-like course for those individuals who want to assemble a learning portfolio, and have been in conversations with the major MOOC-providers. Mark your calendars for March 20th when there will be a provost's town hall meeting dedicated to the ILI. 

Academic Excellence: Upcoming Workshops for Intersession TigerTerm (SM) Courses

Planning for our January 2014 TigerTermSM course offerings is underway.  Over the past few months Fernando Naveda has had numerous conversations with our faculty and academic leadership leading to the development of our first January TigerTermSM offerings. 

Planning for our January 2014 TigerTermSM course offerings is underway.  Over the past few months Fernando Naveda has had numerous conversations with our faculty and academic leadership leading to the development of our first January TigerTermSM offerings.  With help from the Student Learning Outcomes Assessment Office, and the ILI Teaching and Learning Studio, an exciting workshop is being developed for April 18 – 19. The two-day program will include a plenary session by Jeffrey Noblett, associate dean of the faculty at Colorado College.  A skilled speaker, professor Noblett has 30 years of experience teaching college-level courses under an intensive course model.  A workshop specially designed for faculty who will participate in January 2014 intersession will cap the event.  There will be a special chairs and directors meeting March 27 that will focus on the January Intersession; more information will be available in the coming weeks.