Starting out strong

Laura Huenneke

          by Laura Huenneke, Provost

Welcome—or welcome back—to the academic year!

As the president and I have been saying in this week’s college faculty meetings, the usual enthusiasm of the start of year is even greater thanks to our growing student numbers and sound financial position. (If you watched the headlines through the summer, you are aware that not all higher education institutions are so fortunate.)

This will be our year to build on the strong foundation of recent progress.

President Haeger and the Faculty Senate recently signed the shared governance document worked out so carefully last year. This year work is under way to develop an academic planning framework so that in the future we can collaborate on the development, analysis and planning of new programs, as well as an assessment of our existing ones.

There will be a continued focus on setting goals, documenting accomplishments (e.g., through the Faculty Activity and Achievement Reporting or FAAR system) and giving attention to compensation. This year we launch a major effort, the COACHE survey, to understand faculty working conditions and how the university can improve the working environment for teaching, mentoring and scholarly work.

We’ll continue to transition from an institutional emphasis on teaching to learning and student achievement. Both administration and faculty are supporting collective efforts to design courses and curriculum in very intentional ways to help students be more successful. Visiting speakers, internal grant programs and other resources will all help us maintain this momentum.

I look forward to working with you all over the coming months on behalf of our students and our stakeholders. We are grateful for your best insights and creative energy as the university continues to evolve.