May 2, 2012

08/29/2012

Remarks before the Board of Trustees


Higher Learning Commission Self-Study

Dr. Sherman said that the University is pursuing its Higher Learning Commission reaccreditation. He said the self-study steering committee continues to meet regularly to guide that process, and writing teams are drafting the self-study document.  He said Trustees would be involved in that process during the site visit in March 2013, as well as through other interactions.

Program Review

Dr. Sherman said all departments and department-level academic programs had been reviewed in a five-year cycle, and those were undertaken in a formative way.  He said that last year those findings
were updated, and the Delaware Study (a teaching load comparison) was used to benchmark that work.

Dr. Sherman said the Academic Program Review Committee has been reconstituted under the leadership of Dr. Midha.  He said the committee will perform summative reviews within a shorter time frame so that, over the next academic year, discussions can take place with the Board concerning the potential of reallocating, maintaining or investing in programs in different ways.  He said a similar approach is being designed to assess academic-support units, and Trustees would hear more as that framework is established.

Achieving Distinction

Dr. Sherman reported that the Achieving Distinction strategic investment program, of no less than $2 million per year over the next 10 years, will be created by faculty coming together and conducting interdisciplinary research.  He said an open question-and-answer forum about that initiative had been conducted during the prior week and was attended by approximately 40 faculty.  Dr. Sherman said it was a great conversation that clarified how to move that agenda forward in the most effective and productive ways.  He noted that information is updated regularly on the Achieving Distinction website:  http://www.uakron.edu/provost/achieving-distinction/.  He said that proposals would be received on May 18 and reviewed by Dr. Proenza, Dr. Newkome and him, along with an advisory group this summer.  Those resources will be allocated for the beginning of the next academic year.

Enrollment

Dr. Sherman said the University’s summer enrollment and fall yield activities continue in earnest.  He thanked the colleges for their efforts, noting that—9,000 letters had been sent to admitted students, faculty contributed significantly to the senior visit days, and hundreds of phone calls had been made by faculty and staff to both prospective and current students.

Dr. Sherman said that May 1 was the due date for student confirmations, which are being monitored closely as they provide a very strong indicator of fall enrollment numbers for full-time, first-time students.  He said that the fall 2012 freshman profile promises to be more academically prepared, reflecting a 9 percent increase in students with an ACT score of 25 or higher.  He guaranteed that recruitment efforts would be robust and relentless and that those involved would learn which strategies are most effective, improve tactics and make sure to execute them in the following year.

Dr. Sherman said that, during the summer, a great deal of effort would be focused on transfer students with the goal of a 6-percent increase in confirmed transfer students.  He expressed confidence in attaining and exceeding that goal, noting that the increase was at 5 percent already.  He said that work will continue with a focus on adult learners and veteran students.

Budget Forums

Dr. Sherman said that, as I had indicated, the budget forums over the last several weeks were very productive.  He said those conversations were steered in great part by University Council and are a strong example of shared academic collegial governance.

University Awards

Dr. Sherman said he had the wonderful opportunity to join with Dr. Newkome and me in presenting
awards to the University’s outstanding teachers, researchers and exemplary University service
awardees for creating a remarkable Akron Experience.  The award winners are:

  • Outstanding Teacher Award – Dr. Curtis B. Clemons, professor of Applied Mathematics;
  • Outstanding Teacher/Mentor of First-Year Students Award – Dr. Dr. Sheldon B. Wrice,professor of technical writing and composition and chair of Associate Studies;
  • Outstanding Researcher Award – Dr. Matthew D. Shawkey, associate professor of Biology;
  • Staff Exemplary University Service Award – Cpl. Robert W. Stachowiak, Jr., departmental systems administrator, University Police Department; and
  • Contract Professional Exemplary University Service Award – Mrs. Karen E. Dickerson,director of Transfer Student Services.

Dr. Sherman said a video presentation introducing those individuals would be made at a future
Board meeting.

He concluded his report by saying that this past academic year was very rewarding for the campus
and, with the Board’s endorsement of Vision 2020, the University is on an improved trajectory of accomplishment.