Feb. 2017 Academic Affairs, A1

A1, Strive for Vision Driven Distinctiveness:

The following narratives from our academic leaders on the provost’s cabinet detail work in each college and school of the university, as well as progress being made in the Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence; WORLD: The David and Leighan Rinker Center for International Learning; online learning; our grants office; as well as in curricular and academic program assessment. In addition, Academic Affairs faculty, staff and administrators are working together on several initiatives that extend beyond a single area of the institution. A brief summary of a few of these initiatives include:

  • Defining the value of a Stetson education.

In June 2016, academic leaders were in considerable agreement regarding the importance of the university defining our value proposition. Work began concretely in the fall 2016 semester when the provost’s cabinet discussed and began moving toward a first draft of a document aimed at expressing a shared understanding of Stetson’s educational value. Work continued in earnest at multiple meetings in January 2017, and there are plans to circulate the current working statements more broadly (students, faculty, staff, alumni, Academic Affairs committee of the board, administration) to refine the working draft.

  • Advancing strategic enrollment strategies for adult and online learning.
    • Strategies for improving Bar passage rates

    • Curricular development and redesign for graduate studies

    • Adult degree completion

    • Educational structures for faculty who teach online courses

    • Developing student support structures for adult learners (e.g., counseling, tutoring, library resources and space)

Having reached our current capacity projection for undergraduate education at the DeLand campus and, in a similar time frame, making a decision to sell the Celebration building, Academic Affairs recognizes the opportunity to turn our attention toward a university-wide focus on excellence in adult education. The bullet points above highlight particular emphases that have existed throughout the fall and will continue forward.

  • Effective data management, innovation and training for users.

Through PowerBI (software that is supplied along with the Microsoft 365 suite of programs) and the expertise of the Institutional Research and Effectiveness Office, data has become both reliable and accessible to a wide range of users on the DeLand campus. The importance of those two steps cannot be understated. In particular, validating claims about retention and persistence and being able to parse the data by discipline, school, gender, or GPA has greatly advanced our ability to narrow the focus of our work in that area and to garner support from a wider range of constituents.

  • Campus climate survey planning.

Following the two-year process of the campus climate survey, the university is making a commitment to promoting a more diverse and inclusive campus culture at all Stetson locations. Academic Affairs is actively participating, and leading, in this work through conversations about curriculum, faculty resources around Title IX issues, promoting healthy faculty-staff relationships and building a foundational understanding around our campuses about the value of diverse communities.

  • Retention and persistence goals.

More reliable data, and awareness of the importance of the work, has led the university to commit to setting goals around improved retention and persistence on the DeLand campus. Academic Affairs and CLaSS (Campus Life and Student Success) specifically have partnered to advance the conversation and identify metrics for improvement. Five areas of focus for our work include: (1) improving policies and operations, (2) curricular changes to promote retention, (3) considering alternate advising models and instituting advising development for faculty, (4) reconsidering our FSEM structure, particularly as it intersects with Discovery students and advising, and (5) identifying and retaining high-achieving students (that is, students with a GPA of 2.75 or higher).

  • Establishing and publishing policies, procedures and processes
    • Ad Astra

    • Redesigning FAR merit rubrics

    • DegreeWorks @ COL

    • Transfer-student enrollment process improvement

    • Digitizing records (dating back to 1920) for accessibility through Banner

Several groups within Academic Affairs—particularly the Registrar’s Office, the Council of Undergraduate Associate Deans (CUAD) and the five academic deans—have advanced work on many university projects that impacts faculty, current students, prospective students, and transfer students. The five points listed above are examples of the broadly focused work that makes this institution and its constituents more successful and productive.