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Dean's column: Progress report

Thursday, October 6, 2016

More than a week has passed since the State of the College and it’s still on my mind. I was thrilled to see how much our faculty and staff are invested in the advancement of the College. You attended in great numbers and asked important questions – some that were tough but all fair and relevant.  I will continue to revisit your questions and ideas as we consider all the ways the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences can grow and strengthen. If you were unable to attend, I encourage you to watch the video of the event and send me your thoughts.

A few recent initiatives demonstrate our commitment to using your insights to guide the College’s direction forward. Many of you participated in the anonymous feedback survey last month. We are reviewing your comments and developing a report of key themes. By the time you receive this newsletter in December, we will share those themes and any action we will take as a result. I greatly appreciate the time you put into sharing your thoughts with us.
Additionally, the College is in the midst of our second semester of the faculty-student mentoring program. Those of you who participated in the first semester helped students who met with their mentor achieve an average 0.98 increase in term GPA. You also helped us make changes in our second iteration to refine the program. We are pleased to announce that faculty participation is up almost 30% from the first round.
Finally, we will introduce our first-ever winter session, during the winter break. Something we’ve heard from students and faculty is that the traditional model of several 16-week courses each semester isn’t the ideal educational model for some students. As a result, the College is supporting more opportunities to offer courses in shorter sessions and online. We will offer more than a dozen winter session courses, all of which are previously existing online courses that will be condensed into four weeks. Much like summer school, winter courses give students an opportunity to focus on just one or two classes at once, helping them catch up on, or accelerate, their progress to graduation. Importantly, this format provides the opportunity for a more intense focus in a shorter period, while holding the rigor of the course constant.
I look forward to continuing to share our progress. It’s an honor to work with so many talented individuals who care so deeply about the experience of students and colleagues. Thank you for all your contributions.