September 1, 201109/01/2011
Thank you Chair Sterns, the President sends his warmest wishes and best regards for a great academic year and with that I’d like to make some comments about this coming year, but first I’d like to congratulate you, the university, on a great start to this academic year. Enrollment is holding steady with last year at about 29,600 students or so; however, the number of first quarter freshmen has increased, the number of transfer students has increased, veterans and adults stu- dents have increased. We’ve had some declines in graduate enrollment by about 1.8% and a small decline in returning students that I will address in a subsequent comment. We had locations for all of the classes at the start of the school year which is a testament to the hard work of the deans, the department chairs, school directors and of course faculty in being responsive to making adjustments to course offerings, locations and numbers of students in courses to provide the courses that the students needed that we have at The University of Akron. During the summer, the Board approved the Fiscal ‘12 budget. I think we gave some previews going into the end of the last academic year about principles of that budgeting pro- cess. I can indicate to you that the Fiscal year ‘12 budget was decided on the basis of three principles; one being fiscal integrity, including adequate reserves and sound Senate Bill 6 ratio. Another category was capacity and excellence assurance to assure that we have the right number of faculty and staff in areas of critical needs to ensure capacity delivery and excellence assurance, and most importantly, strategic investment initiatives. That includes a 2 million dollar allocation to hire additional faculty; which, as I’ve mentioned before, we’re intending to have as a major part of the budget in each of the next 9 years, essentially making a $20 million investment in faculty over that period of time. It included additional funds for scholarships; recognizing students who were not initially eligible for scholarship but having proved academic accomplishment became eligible; as well as providing scholarships to students who had ACT scores that other universities had been providing scholarships to that we added scholarship money to that will make us more competitive with our colleague institutions.
As far as University Council goes, thanks for your support and guidance and advice and counsel through various avenues of governance over the past year, but most importantly the exploratory committee made great progress reconciling some final issues. They insisted on developing an implementation strategy which was really wonderful because it set the stage for actually moving the agenda along this semester quite effectively. I wish to thank them very much for that support and guidance and they will, I’m sure, help with the implementation, the successful implementation of the council.
As far as the HOC self study goes, as you know, the site visit is planned for the spring of 2013; however, as you also might know and as Rex reported earlier, the HOC is changing and redesigning the criteria for our reaccreditation. Rex is involved with the HOC in trying to influence the final accreditation standards, but regardless we’re sure that we need to make significant progress in developing and understanding learning outcomes of our students as they move through our curriculum. We will be hiring an individual to help implement an institution-wide learning outcomes assessment continuum. You’ll hear more about that at a later meeting. And it looks like on the basis of these changes, we’ll have to probably reconsider, possibly reconstitute the committee that has been appointed to help guide the HOC reaccreditation process. But of course we will consult the current committee to get their input on making such adjustments.
You heard reference to discussion of questions with the Executive Committee related to the profile of our student population. We’re looking forward to sponsoring, along with the Faculty Senate, a number of university-wide forums at which Vice Provost Ramsier will present the data analysis that we have under- taken regarding both our students from both a cohort perspective, which is as you know represents the federal standards for which or through which graduation rates are reported for six years. But via another methodology, which is looking at our total student population, we believe we can provide and add more value to the consideration of the student body and the profile of the student body that we have on this campus. We’ve introduced a unique kind of assessment of the potential for student success at The Univer- sity of Akron that combines not only academic preparation on the basis of ACT scores, but adds to that perspective the actual performance of individuals on the basis of GPA having been here for two semesters or longer. So, I’m sure you’ll find that analysis and discussion quite stimulating, and the results will have clear significance for The University of Akron in the years ahead.
The President has asked the deans, and I have concurred, that we should determine the extent to which we have the potential to offer additional professional Masters degrees that might have the potential to meet important needs of the region and of the state. The deans will be interacting with the academic programs appropriately over the coming months with regard to that consideration. As was mentioned we look forward to hearing the updates from the deans on the progress of the convergence of the Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences and Creative and Professional Arts as well as the steps moving forward related to the health college. Today you’ll be asked to consider a recommendation for naming the health college that the Academic Policies Committee deliberated this week and we’d like to thank them and the faculty in those two colleges for coming together and providing the input necessary for that committee to take action. As you know, last year both the President in the State of the University address and in my Future State of Academic Affairs address we asked and suggested that we consider our general education curriculum to assure that it’s locally relevant. I asked going into spring semester, for Dean Midha to create a small committee of perspective faculty colleagues in that college to explore and present some preliminary models for general education redesign going forward. They did that and received feedback from the Senate Executive Committee and the Board of Trustees’ Education Issues and Student Affairs Committee. The next step, obviously, will be to consult campus colleagues and develop an expanded committee with more campus involvement to absolutely ensure inclusive input from faculty and students across campus as we redesign the general education curriculum. In the Future State of Academic Affairs address last spring, I brought to the attention of the university our intent to develop a strategic strategy for investment in additional faculty through innovation clusters or clusters of innovation. We’re anticipating that three of those clusters will be institutionally designed with a fourth one that will emanate through cross-campus dialogue and conversation. Tentatively, those three areas will include broadly construed; one will be urban issues or urban something; the other one will be the human condition with an initial focus on health; the third one will be related to innovation and entrepreneurship primarily focusing on materials and sustainability; and the fourth one we’re hoping will fall within a framework of economic development. As you might imagine, those general topics closely align with our engagement with vital partners; Akron Public Schools, Summit Education Initiative, City of Akron, the county, Austin Bioinnovation Institute, NEOMED, the health sys- tems, social service agencies in the county and the city, and we believe that through these areas plus the fourth one there will be opportunities for every college and every academic program to be involved. An important component to hiring faculty into the innovation clusters will be, as recommended by the ad hoc committee last year, to assure faculty have the ability to contribute to multiple academic programs either through joint appointments or through a hire, a demonstration of the ability to provide significant contribu- tions to another academic program on campus. I think in closing and before I take any questions, I’d really like to thank you for your dedication and support of The University of Akron. We anticipate the Vision 2020 will receive general endorsement by the Board in September or October. Our strategic doing then is implementing those broad goals. It will be our responsibility. I hope we’ve demonstrated to you that we’re going to work to manage the budget of the institution in such a way that the goals and objectives of Vision 2020 can be secured and can move The University of Akron to another level of reputation and of course it will necessarily and appropriately, significantly involve the faculty as the faculty will be the guiding light to creating what we’re thinking of as the new Gold Standard of performance in higher education. So thank you very much.
Senator Lillie: Thank you, just a clarification. You mentioned the ad hoc committee report. I wondered if that was the report that this body created last spring. I think one of the things that we haven’t done as well as we might is to make sure that people are aware of some of the things, as for instance the efforts to work on these kind of interdisciplinary issues in a proactive way as well as a reactive way. So, thank you for mentioning it.
Provost Sherman: Absolutely. I think that as we move that agenda forward, that report needs to serve as the basis for the success of that agenda, absolutely.
Chair Sterns: Other questions. If not, Provost Sherman thank you and thank you for your first year of leadership I think it’s been very positive for all of us.
Provost Sherman: Thank you very much I’m just pleased to be here, my family is pleased to be here and you’re great, this university is great and we’re going to do some more great things, thank you.