Expanding on themes that are becoming more familiar at Northern Arizona University, President John Haeger discussed the growing connections between instructional changes, revenue and student retention during a campus forum Thursday.
“Change is the dominant theme as we face this next year,” Haeger said while delivering his remarks at the High Country Conference Center. His presentation, titled “A New Paradigm: Technology, Performance Funding and Student Success,” covered a range of initiatives that are under way or planned.
Haeger presented details about a new Technology Innovation Fund, which offers financial incentives to academic units that propose and implement innovative models of instruction that integrate new approaches to technology.
“We think we can save money and give students an excellent experience at the freshman level,” Haeger said. By using technology appropriately, he added, “We can even create more face-to-face contact between faculty and students because that’s what students say they want.”
Haeger also introduced a formal name for the math emporium he has discussed in recent months. The Lumberjack Mathematics Center, he said, will be located initially on the third floor of the Health and Learning Center. Finding a space large enough for students, computers and faculty facilitators, he said, posed a challenge that will recur as the model of self-directed students with faculty mentors is advanced.
“The whole design of the campus must change if we go ahead with this solution,” Haeger said.
The president pointed out that a number of other initiatives directed at student retention, including the First Year Learning Initiative and Student Success Coaching, already are making a difference. More must be done though, he said, because the only way for the university to receive state funding beyond its base budget is to outperform the metrics established by the Arizona Board of Regents.
“Performance funding will affect everyone on campus,” Haeger said, “and we will be successful only to the extent that everyone gets behind it.” When asked if performance funding would reach to the level of the individual classroom, Haeger replied, “This will impact how we think about the funding of departments and programs.”
Funding, in fact, will continue to be a challenge on many fronts as state funding levels off, Haeger said. “One of the challenges in the next several years is to develop new sources of revenue to support our educational mission,” he said. “The university has continued to move forward despite the tremendous cuts it has taken.”