Dear Faculty,

It has been a year since I was given the opportunity to step into the position of Provost at BGSU. Visits that the president and I have made to all of the academic departments over the past year have provided us with a much deeper understanding about our faculty, staff, students and programs.

Those visits have helped us focus the strategies and goals for the academic affairs of the University moving forward. In the coming years, we'll be focusing on what I'm calling the "three Rs":

  • Reinvesting in faculty and academic facilities
  • Renewing our commitment to student success
  • Recruiting high achieving students

While I have talked with many of you about the opportunities and challenges ahead for BGSU, I feel we need ongoing, open discussion. Therefore, I will be sending a monthly communication to keep you apprised of the activity in the provost's office and across academic affairs.

In this initial message, I'll want to share some thoughts on the first two "Rs." In turn, I invite you to contact me at rrogers@bgsu.edu with feedback, ideas, or concerns.

Best, Rodney

 

 

Renewing our commitment to Student Success

 

Many of our discussions on campus over the past year have focused on retention. However, I think you will agree that retention is simply one aspect of the much broader issue of student success. Discussions with faculty, staff and students suggest we have opportunities to dramatically improve student success by focusing on four areas:

  • an academic culture that provides clear expectations
  • support for strong academic advising
  • academic and administrative policies and procedures that support a culture of student success
  • reform of the undergraduate educational experience

Some issues are structural in nature and we have begun to address these with:

  • New deregistration policy to ensure all students are adequately prepared to meet their financial obligations.
  • Improved tools for academic progress reporting based on faculty feedback about cumbersome systems currently available. We are working to have new software in place for fall, and details will be coming soon.
  • Better learning management system to replace Blackboard system. Again based on faculty feedback, we will replace Blackboard with the Canvas learning management system. Pilot groups of faculty are already using the system and additional training will be available this fall as we work toward full implementation by fall 2013.
  • Appropriate academic advising for all students by clarifying our advising processes and providing resource support for our academic advisors.

Other issues are more philosophical in nature and go to the very heart of our values as an institute of higher learning. I am most appreciative of the various faculty who took the time this past spring to engage in debate about ways to strengthen our academic culture. These discussions have continued this summer.

A group of faculty is also serving on the University Academic Policy Taskforce and has been working this summer on reviewing our academic policies and procedures, which will result in recommendations for Undergraduate Council this fall.

Finally, the cornerstone of our efforts to refocus on student success is the development of a coherent and connected educational experience that prepares our students for their future. I am pleased that six teaching grants have been awarded to groups of faculty in support of innovative pedagogies and approaches to enhance student learning. Additionally, during spring term, more than 400 faculty and staff provided their comments and rankings of potential changes to the undergraduate curriculum. This fall, we will work with Undergraduate Council, CAA and Faculty Senate on these changes, including a meaningful assessment system. While assessment is important to monitor our student's abilities and accomplishments, it is also critical as we prepare for our reaccreditation visit from the Higher Learning Commission.

Although we already have many of the components of an integrated and connected undergraduate program, we could be even more effective with improved support and coordination across our various colleges. Thus, I have asked Dr. Sue Houston to work to reorganize the ways in which we support and coordinate the undergraduate curriculum and the various high impact programs such as learning communities.

Finally, we must also focus on the success of our graduate students. Implementing the various initiatives recommend by the Graduate Programs Task force will be important work this next year.

 

 

 

Reinvesting in faculty and academic facilities

 

Faculty support is intrinsically linked to the success of our students and ultimately the success of our University. I understand many of the concerns and frustrations you have shared with me this past year and am happy to report some significant progress:

  • Research grants were reinstituted this past year and 66 faculty members received support, more than double from two years ago when 32 faculty members were funded. I am pleased that we will be able to continue this support for next year with the budget approved by the Board of Trustees.
  • Approval of nearly 20 tenure track positions for fall 2013.
  • Faculty development resources have been a continued source of faculty frustration. In response, we are reallocating provost resources and funding new positions by recent resignations to create a new Office for Faculty Development. Under the leadership of Dr. Sue Houston, we will combine resources from three disparate offices into one area designed to provide faculty with resources needed to meet the challenges of higher education today and into the future.

We're also keenly aware of the need to upgrade our teaching and research facilities.

  • The Board has approved a nearly $200 million investment in academic facilities. These investments will occur over the next seven years. Most immediately, you will see some classroom upgrades for this fall and our goal is to ensure that all large lecture halls will be upgraded by next summer.

 

 

Moving Forward

 

While there are many concurrent conversations, changes and initiatives, I want you to know that all of us in Academic Affairs are working to align decisions and resources in ways that improve the academic culture at BGSU for faculty, staff and students,

Over the next months, I'll share with you more information regarding progress on these initiatives as well as our initiatives regarding graduate programs and recruiting high achieving students.

Working together we will continue to build nationally recognized academic programs, strong research activities and high levels of student success. I look forward to the beginning of fall term.

   
Bowling Green State University