December 2013

December 4th, 2013 by Julie

Provost Report for the Month of

December 2013

Julie Bernier

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

 Weekend Holiday celebration and OS Scholarship fundraising event

This weekend the OS Fundraising and Scholarship Committee is hosting the 6th annual Festival of Trees. Proceeds support the Operating Staff Student Scholarship fund benefitting a NH resident student.  Please come out and support the OS scholarship fund.  Information about the weekend holiday celebrations listed below.

The University Chorale will be caroling at the Senior Center on Friday at 5:00pm and Vocal Order/Mixed Emotions will be performing on Saturday at noon.  Contemporary Dance ensemble, Friday and Saturday at 7:00 pm.

Weekend Schedule of Events

Friday Dec 6

10:30 AM -8:00 PM            Festival of Trees   – at the Plymouth Regional Senior Center.  Enjoy the display and take a chance to win one of the fully decorated Christmas trees.

3:30 PM  – 6:30 PM            Free Child Care   –  At the Pemi Youth Center,  PYC and the Senior Center teams up to provide free child care (age 1 or older) so Mom and Dad can do some local    shopping and dining.

5:00           University Chorale will be caroling at PSU’s Festival of Trees, Senior Center

7:00 PM      Contemporary Dance Ensemble   – at PSU’s Silver Cultural Arts Center.     PSU faculty and students, collaborating with members of the community. (fee)

7:30 PM      “The Nutopians” a John Lennon Experience  At the Flying Monkey. Celebrates John Lennon’s genius with fresh treatments of his best known Beatles & solo     compositions – a  whole new appreciation for the iconic music. (fee)

Saturday Dec 7

8:00 AM – 10:00 AM          3rd Annual PES Jingle Bell 5k Trail Run-Walk – Support’s  Plymouth Elementary School’s Winter Programs.  For registration and information  contact

10:00 AM      PES Pancake Breakfast follows the 5K  (donation)

10:30 AM  – 8:00 PM   PSU Festival of Trees   –  (Continues)

12:00 pm     Vocal Order/Mixed Emotions will be performing at PSU’s Festival of Trees, Senior Center

12:00 -3:30 PM    Christmas Pajama Party –  Plymouth Elementary School  Kids K-6 enjoy a holiday party – pizza, sundaes, holiday    stations and a surprise visitor. Register with Plymouth Parks and Recreation (536-1397)

4:00 – 5:00 PM       Main Street Banks and Flying Monkey open for warming- Keep warm & enjoy a free cup of Hot Cocoa at CGSB, Northway, MVSB or the Monkey 4:00 to 5:00 PM   Cookie-Creation with the Elves   Fun & Delicious! Kids of all ages decorate their own Holiday cookies on the Common – Sponsored by PSU .

4:30 – 5:00 PM        Tree Lighting on the Common.  Enjoy A Christmas sing along.

5:00 PM    Holiday Parade Begins  -Bands, Floats, Walkers, Horses,  Dancers, and of course, Santa.

6:00 PM   ”Chill-Buster” Bonfire and Barbeque   Alex Ray serves up Chili, Chowder, Burgers, Dogs & hot drinks under the tent on Green St. with a bonfire to keep you warm.


Visit with Santa at the Senior Center – Kids check in with Santa while Adults warm up.   Pemi Youth Center elves serve free hot cocoa at the Senior Center.

Fireworks!  Great viewing from the Amphitheatre at the Riverfront Park or from most anywhere in the town center.

7:00  PM   Contemporary Dance Ensemble as above, 2nd show


Sunday Dec 8


1:00 – 3:00  PM   Skate with Santa  Visit with Santa at the PSU Ice arena. Skate for Free.  Skates are available, or bring your own.

Light refreshments. Photos with Santa.


Faculty meeting with President and Provost

On November 22nd the President and Provost invited conversation with faculty to discuss concerns that have been raised throughout the conversations leading up to the union vote.  Approximately 30 faculty members attended.  As promised, a survey will be sent out later this week to provide an opportunity for those faculty members who could not attend to participate in identifying concerns.  A summary of survey results and notes taken during the meeting will be provided.


Adjunct union negotiations

PSU and the SEA have reached a tentative agreement on a first contract.  The adjunct faculty, henceforth called “teaching lecturers” are in the process of ratifying the agreement.  The Board of Trustees must also approve the contract.  The SEA–SEIU teaching lecturer union includes …. “all undergraduate Teaching Lecturer members who are employed at the University and who have taught at least five (5) semesters in the last five (5) years, or who have currently begun their fifth semester of teaching and have taught four (4) semesters in the last five years. Excluded from the unit are all other Teaching Lecturers, all full time employees, all research faculty, all graduate assistants, all student teaching supervisors, all performance studies instructors and all other supervisors, managers and confidential employees…”  It is our goal to have the contract ratified by the union members and approved by the Board to be in force in time for the Spring Semester.


Task Forces

In the next few days you will be hearing from Faculty Speaker Lourdes Avilles asking for volunteers to serve on three taskforces.  Two of the taskforces arose from the conversations on Faculty Day. The third comes form a need identified during our NEASC self-study.   We will be looking for these task forces to do their work in the Spring semester, with perhaps a kick-off meeting in January. 


Improved retention and graduation rates are vital to the well-being of our students and to the financial viability of the University. PSU has a first-year to second-year retention rate of 74%. The six-year graduation rate for first year/fulltime students is 55%. As an institution dedicated to student success and committed to service, our students deserve better.  Student success is enhanced by our ability to create a culture that promotes connection to the institution; wellness; cognitive, social, emotional, and moral development and provides opportunities to engage in meaningful activities that directly prepare students for post-graduate success.

On Faculty day, we focused on these issues and the result was a series of recommendations for future discussion and action.  The Department Chairs and the academic affairs and student affairs leadership held planning sessions in July and August to discuss the same topics.  The result of these planning sessions and conversations from Faculty Day are reflected in the request for the formation of two task forces as described below.

TASK FORCE # 1:   First Year Experience

A robust first-year experience that integrates academic affairs and student life has been identified as one important vehicle to address the above concerns and to orient students to academic expectations, develop a sense of belonging to the PSU community, and to enhance dispositional and behavioral expectations that promote wellness, a service orientation, and character development. This is a joint Student Affairs/Academic Affairs task force charged with exploring elements of a vibrant first year experience that will support institutional retention and graduation goals.

First Year Experience Taskforce composition:  2 students (at least one first year), 4-6 faculty members, Assoc VP UGS, from Student Affairs: Dean of Students, Ladd Raine and Kerry Keating.  A faculty member elected by the task force shall Chair the group. 

Charge.  The First Year Experience Task Force shall address the following:

  • Determine the elements of a first year experience that will:
    • Orient students to academic expectations and promote academic success?
    • Develop connection to the PSU community?
    • Enhance dispositional and behavioral expectations that promote wellness, a service orientation, and character development?
    • Compare the above to our current first year experience?
    • Offer recommendations Consider rituals and traditions such as Convocation and other and make recommendations to provide a rich experience that connects students to PSU.
    • Consider and make recommendations about greater collaboration between academic and student affairs.
    • The Faculty Task Force members are asked to make specific recommendation related to the First Year Seminar to ensure that it is designed to promote student holistic success,  improve retention rates, and encourage timely graduation.
  • What recommendations does the Task Force have for our first year experience (Please make sure to address academic and student life considerations)?

The First Year Experience Task Force Report is due May 1st to Julie Bernier and Jim Hundrieser


TASK FORCE # 2:   Student Success Services taskforce

Increased student persistence, retention and timely graduation rates are supported by: 1) student services that are visible and easily accessed by students; 2) effective and accessible academic advising  with a clear relationship to career or post-graduation goals 3) policies and procedures that provide early identification of students at risk and outline intervention practices; 4) dedicated staff resources who have the authority to make decisions and allocate resources related to student success. The literature on student success and effective student services suggests many campuses have adequate student services but lack an organizational structure that clearly delineates staff who are responsible for overseeing student retention initiatives with the authority to allocate resources to effectively implement and evaluate these initiatives. PSU has an impressive menu of well-developed student services, however, we lack an integrated approach to improved persistence, retention and timely graduation rates that includes policies, procedures and dedicated staff resources to identify students at risk and to intervene in a timely manner.  This is a joint Student Affairs/Academic Affairs task force.

Co-Chairs: Pat Cate, Gary Goodnough   (Pat and Gary have already been working on issues in this area, and we’d like to keep the momentum going)

Composition in addition to the two appointed co-Chairs: 2-4 appointed faculty members, Dir. of Career Services, Dir. of UG Advising, Assoc. VP for UGS, from Student Affairs, Assoc. Dean of Students, Nancy Dyer, Catherine Chanoine


Mindful of the goals of student persistence and retention and with a particular focus on leveraging effective collaboration between student services from  both Academic and Student Affairs, including counseling services, health Services, diversity services, residential life services academic advising, career advising and academic support services, the task force shall:

  • review best practices literature;
  • analyze PSU’s structure of support services for achieving a goal of 81% first to second year retention and 60% graduation rate; and
  • provide recommendations for structural improvement to the Provost and VP of EMSA.
  • make recommendations for a more comprehensive early-alert system that
    • identifies at-risk students and encourages them to use available support services at optimal times rather than waiting for times of crisis.
    • Review and make recommendations regarding possible elements of the alert system such as absence tracking, academic alerts, financial distress, behavioral/social/emotional concerns, and a method or follow-up and intervention tracking.
    • Examine and make recommendations regarding the optimal relationship between academic advising and career services.
    • Improve accessibility, both virtual and physical, to student services.
    • Create a system to identify potential transfer risk and a more student-friendly process of “dropping-in” through a re-enrollment initiative.


The Student Success Services Task Force Report is due May 1st to Julie Bernier and Jim Hundrieser



ASSESSMENT of Student Learning Outcomes

TASK FORCE # 3:   Assessment Resource Task Force

The purpose of the proposed Assessment Resource Task Force is to identify the institutional resources needed to enhance academic assessment of student learning. The NEASC Self-study report and the NEASC Standards for outcome–based assessment have increased awareness of the limitations of our current systems related to developing assessment protocols, collecting assessment data, and synthesizing findings in formats that promote continuous improvement.

As a campus we have made great strides in the area of assessment; Academic Program Review and Academic Planning now require that all programs have articulated learning outcomes and assessment plans. This not only supports the assessment of student learning and program evaluation, but also helps PSU to more effectively respond to increasing assessment requirements from the USNH system and from our external accreditation bodies. However, we recognize the need to improve our processes, procedures, and organizational structures to more effectively engage in data-informed continuous improvement.

Input from the faculty is essential to developing a meaningful institutional assessment system to ensure the continued high quality of our programs, demonstrate student learning, and to meet accreditation, USNH system, state, and federal requirements. This is a faculty task force.

Composition: 4-6 Faculty members

The charge: the Task Force is asked to address the following:

  • The importance of assessing student learning outcomes at multiple levels: faculty course-based, programmatic, departmental and General Education student-learning outcomes.
  • What needs to happen for assessment data to be collected, and once collected analyzed and reported back to inform decision making and curricula development in a meaningful way?
  • What support systems do faculty members and departments/divisions need to implement meaningful assessment systems?
  • What existing and new resources/organizational structures are needed?

Click here for:

December Scholarship, Awards, and Noteworthy Service Activities for PSU Faculty and Students  

December News and Updates for Academic Affairs Offices and Departments 

Featured in Plymouth Magazine

Example Image

The Best Job Perk Ever

 An Interview with Donald Hall ■ Diane Jeffrey ’97, Director of the Silver Center for the Arts When I tell people that I am director of PSU’s Silver Center for the Arts, they often say “That sounds like fun!” Not only do I confirm their suspicions, I often tell them about the fascinating people I […]

Example Image

Building a First-Year Class

PSU’s overwhelming success with enrollment for the 2015–16 academic year was the result of focused multi-year investments in admissions, marketing, academic and co-curricular programs, and new and repurposed facilities.

Example Image

First in the (New) Nation

A Young Man’s Journey from a Nepalese Refugee Camp to the New Hampshire Polls » Southern Bhutan. Early 1990s. Members of an ethnic minority population, the Hindu Lhotshampas, began fleeing rising levels of persecution by the Bhutanese government. Denied their citizenship rights because of religious and cultural differences, the group—more than 100,000 strong—eventually sought protection […]