Dr. Sherman began his report by outlining its main topics: fiscal integrity, excellence and capacity assurance, strategic investment and initiatives, and remaining relevant and connected.
Dr. Sherman reminded the Board of efforts to improve utilization of instructional space this fall semester and said he was pleased to report that the involvement of the Office of Academic Affairs with the departments in scheduling classes was successful. Dr. Sherman said that there are more students being served this year than last across all hours of the day and all days of the week. He noted that 8,200 more students are being served this year across all hours of the day on Friday compared to a year ago. He complemented the faculty and administrators who helped to reconcile our schedule to use our space more effectively and efficiently.
From the e-learning and online perspective, Dr. Sherman reported that Vice President Sage is leading a group in discussions with Pearson, a company experienced in the e-learning and online areas, about the possibility of providing back-office services to support online students fully. He said that this is part of the University’s strategy to move aggressively in expanding its online programs.
Excellence and Capacity Assurance
Dr. Sherman said interaction with the deans regarding capacity and excellence analysis through their academic program reviews would take place soon. Those analyses will lead to decisions about faculty positions in each college, he said. The conversation also will include discussion of the use of part-time faculty, particularly when an academic program’s full-time faculty are not carrying a full instructional load.
Dr. Sherman said he was pleased to report the convergence of the Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Creative and Professional Arts is on schedule, if not ahead. A draft of the new bylaws for the converged college was distributed to all faculty on October 21, he said. There will be a two-week window for discussion, comment and revision. He said the revised bylaws will be presented at a joint college meeting on November 15, and a week-long voting window will follow. The results will be announced at the college meeting on November 28, after which the appropriate rules will be brought to the Board.
Strategic Investment and Initiatives
Dr. Sherman reported that the University Council Exploratory Committee and others are supporting the council’s implementation, which is progressing as planned. Excellent cooperation has been received from all constituencies on campus, he said, and by the end of October, each of the nine standing committees will have met.
Dr. Sherman said that he soon would begin searches for the inaugural dean of the College of Health Professions and the next dean of Wayne College.
Dr. Sherman said that, on October 21, the Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences hosted a three-hour listening session with women faculty to learn more about the ways in which the College and the University can promote career success of women. Approximately 40 faculty, from assistant professors through distinguished professors, participated in the session, which also was attended by Candace Campbell Jackson, Elizabeth Reilly, Becky Hoover and Judge Jane Bond.
Relevant and Connected
Dr. Sherman reported that the University did make a difference on Make-A-Difference Day on October 23. More than 1,000 students, faculty and administrators participated by helping to make Akron, and the University Park Area, a better place to live, work and study. He said this was one of the largest groups of participants since the University became involved in this national initiative, which is led by a steering committee comprised of faculty, administrators, staff and students. Dr. Sherman observed that this year’s program was more organized and efficiently run than any such program had been in the past, and he commended those individuals who helped to make that happen.
Dr. Sherman reported that Jeannette Walls, author of this year’s Common Reading Program selection, The Glass Castle, spoke to a sold-out audience at E. J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall on October 12. Incoming students were assigned to read Ms. Walls book, which in turn is being used in many first-year classes including English Composition, Basic Writing, the Student Success Seminar and certain sections of social-sciences classes. Dr. Sherman added that Judge Bond met Ms. Walls at the reception preceding her lecture and shared with her some insights from having dealt with court cases involving child neglect. Ms. Walls noted that interchange in her remarks to the audience, which included Forum Series ticket holders, University faculty, staff and students, community members, and high school students and their English teachers who were bused to campus to attend.
In closing, Dr. Sherman reflected that these activities evince the University’s commitment to student success as well as the success of the community ... because when students, and the community, succeed, we succeed.