Monthly Report to the Faculty
Provost Julie Bernier
November 3, 2010
Earlier this week a message was sent from Human Relations regarding our inclement weather procedures. Please note, the following message will be sent to students this week:
Plymouth State University normally remains open through inclement weather. Because most students live within minutes of the campus, every effort is made to avoid an official closing. There may be times, however, when an emergency or extreme weather conditions necessitate a general closing of the University (see Inclement Weather notification below).
Students should make reasonable decisions when considering travel or family needs and faculty should respect these decisions. Students should notify their professors at once if they are unable to report to class due to poor driving conditions. During finals week, classes WILL NOT be cancelled. If inclement weather is anticipated, students should communicate with their professors in advance or make arrangements to stay locally.
In the event of severe weather or an emergency, the University Administration will do all it can to decide on and post notifications of class/event cancellations and/or facility closures by 6:00 a.m. For canceling evening classes, the decision is usually made and communicated no later than 3:00 p.m. Every effort will be made to make the decision as early as possible.
Inclement Weather notifications will be communicated via the following means:
PSU Alert Emergency Text Messaging System (sign-up at: plymouth.edu/alerts)
“Need2Know” campus e-mail (formerly PSU-Announce)
PSU Alert/Storm Line (603) 535-3535
Report on Online Teaching
Last year PSU offered 273 fully online courses, a 49% increase from the previous year. This included 132 Frost courses and 141 CoGS courses. This year we expect another 17% increase. Online courses will be an important component in our strategic initiatives in the coming years. Greater numbers of students are enrolling in the Frost School and in CoGS and are expecting fully online courses and programs. As you know, we are migrating over to Moodle from Blackboard as our Learning Management System. The feedback from students and faculty who have already implemented the change has been very positive with both groups finding the system more intuitive and user friendly.
This Fall and in the Spring we will be piloting a new online course evaluation tool called CoursEval. For more information about this tool, contact Ellen Murphy in the Office of Online Education.
More info here –>http://www.academicmanagement.com/products/course_eval.php
NEWS FROM ACADEMIC AFFAIRS
Atmospheric Sciences and Chemistry
Center for Rural Partnerships
College of Business Administration
Health and Human Performance
History and Philosophy
Library and Academic Support Services
Music, Theatre and Dance
Monthly Report to the Faculty
Provost Julie Bernier
November 4, 2009
President Steen mentions in her report our appreciation to everyone for the role they played in dealing with a difficult situation last Tuesday evening. A question that has been asked that I wanted to address here is related to the policy on cell phone use in the classroom. Two years ago when we first implemented the e2Campus text alert messaging system we clarified the policy. I will provide that information again here.
We understand that many faculty members previously asked students to turn cell phones off during class. The emergency text alert system requires that students, faculty and staff leave their cell phones on at all times. In class, students should turn their phones to vibrate and should be instructed not to respond to text messages unless multiple phones vibrate. There is no reason for students to check their phones regularly nor to respond to text messages. In the event of an emergency, it will be clear that multiple phones are receiving messages simultaneously. This should signal a potential e2Campus alert and at that point, students and faculty should check for messages.
If a computer is available in the classroom, someone should log-in and monitor the email system. Email messages will contain more information than is allowable in a text message. Additionally, the website and the storm-line (535-3535) will contain updates.
If you’ve been reading the H1N1 updates on the PSU website, you noticed a spike in reports of the flu this week. Previously there have been 2-3 reports per day. On Monday, that number jumped to 55 new reports of illness. If you haven’t given much thought about what you will do if you are out for an extended period or how you will respond to student illness that requires them to miss several classes, now is the time to prepare. At the beginning of the semester we asked faculty to prepare for the inevitability that we could be hit hard by the seasonal flu and H1N1. We asked that you communicate your plan to students. – How will ill students be allowed to continue progressing in the course until they are well enough to return? – How will class be continued in the event that you are unable to attend class? – Will you continue class through the use of Blackboard? Email?
Many of you included information in your syllabi and participated in workshops provided by the Office of Online Education. If you need assistance in preparing for this situation, please contact the Office of Online Education who can provide suggestions for how to effectively use Blackboard. If you will be out, communicate with your Department Chair, the Administrative Assistant and contact (email) students to inform them of your plans.
On faculty day, we discussed the challenges facing the University regarding enrollment and its impact onthe financial picture. We presented a number of strategies to offset the impact, including new revenue streams, diversifying programs and offerings through the Frost School, CoGS, and development of the White Mountains Institute. We talked about new recruiting initiatives, use of social networking, and international recruiting. We discussed the creation of 2+2 transfer programs and efforts to improve retention, like stronger and proactive advising, the work of the college of university studies and other initiatives to reach out to students struggling to stay in school. A number of activities are in progress or will be in the coming months. For example, our first two 2+2 transfer agreements were signed last month. The Frost school added new programs to their offerings and are working to increase the number of online and evening courses available. We are about to begin planning the first phase of the White Mountains Institute in the coming months. But many of the initiatives require faculty and will truly require a team effort. The role of faculty in recruiting and retention is absolutely critical.
The U.S. Department of State-funded professional development project for Pakistani educational leaders at Plymouth State University just completed its sixth summer institute. It focused on training in conflict resolution and science education with a literacy component. The delegates are now sharing their knowledge in follow-on activities across Pakistan. They work in the tribal and northern areas, Baluchistan, the Punjab, the Sindh, Kashmir and Islamabad Capital Territory.
A campus-wide committee provided support for the ’09 institute. It included project director Blake Allen and administrative assistant Michelle Lauriat; George Tuthill, College of Graduate Studies; Christopher Williams, OPR: Tammy Hill, Physical Plant; Lisa Ladd, Kirk McClelland, Bagley House; Liane Sutcliffe, Tara DiSalvo, OSP; Chief Creig Doyle, Investigator Jennifer Frank, University Police; John Martin, Lamson Learning Commons; Keith Botelho, Sodexho; Sarah Roesener, and Alex Lindsay.
Institute instructors consisted of Mary Ann McGarry, Warren Tomkiewicz, and Marguerite Crowell in science education; Robert O’Donnell in conflict resolution; Gaye Gould in literacy, and Kimberly Rawson Sychterz in Master Action Plan design.
The Pakistanis had opportunities to work with American counterparts in the Arts in Education Institute, Plymouth Writing Project, and the institute’s International Watershed course.
As a capstone, the delegates travelled to Washington, D.C. for meetings at the U.S. Department of State and Embassy of Pakistan. They were accompanied by Blake Allen, Michelle Lauriat, Jennifer Frank, John Martin, Mary Ann McGarry, Warren Tomkiewicz, Sarah Roesener and Alex Lindsay.
Everyone met with officials from the Office of the Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Holbrooke, and from the Bureaus of South and Central Asia Affairs and of Educational and Cultural Affairs. His Excellency Ambassador Haqqani hosted the group at an afternoon reception at the Embassy.
Project director Blake Allen is now working with Lahore-based partner, ITA, Pakistani alumni, and State Department officials on the in-country phase, which focuses on supporting and tracking outcomes of institute training. With assistance from the U.S. Embassy in India, the project will be hosting a South Asia conference in Delhi, India, in March, 2010. Educators from Pakistan, India and New Hampshire will participate in the sessions.
The project has been commended by State Department officials for its work with Pakistani educational leaders. With the project encompassing phases in both the United States and Pakistan, 120 educators have attended the institutes and shared their knowledge in professional development outcomes in Pakistan.
Monthly Report to the Faculty
Provost Julie Bernier
November 5, 2008
At the November 5th faculty meeting I’d like to take a few moments to address some of the questions that are being asked regarding curricular revision. A brief overview is provided below.
The questions being asked center around two main themes. Why are we doing this? and specifically, Will it mean that we will have lots of large lecture sections with hundreds of students?
Why are we doing this? Over the last 5‐6 years, a series of faculty‐led initiatives, reports, and recommendations have all called for action toward improvement of the curriculum, removal of barriers, improving time to degree, and addressing faculty teaching workload. Briefly they are:
All of these conversations have called for curricular revision. We are acting on these recommendations.
Will it mean that we will have lots and lots of large lecture sections over 100 students?
No‐ We currently offer 4 sections with over 70 students. Offering sections with hundreds of students is not who we are at PSU. We pride ourselves in NOT having these types of large sections. Even if it we did want to grow in this direction, we do not have the facilities to accomplish large scale sections. We do, however, need to be as efficient as possible in offering our curriculum by bringing our average class size to approximately 25 students/class. Below is a distribution demonstrating our current class sizes for this fall. There are 995 regular classes (i.e. practica, internships, student teaching etc. have been removed and double numbered classes have been combined). The blue bars show the number of classes of each size (0‐5, 6‐10, etc.). For example there are 216 classes with 16‐20 students enrolled.
We can positively impact cost of education and reduce teaching workload by reducing the number of classes with fewer than 20 students and increasing the number of classes with 25 ‐40 (as proposed in red below). This would mean a significant reduction in teaching workload. We could do this without significantly increasing large lecture classes. As an example, if we shifted average class size by about 5 as shown below, we could offer 190 fewer sections per semester (one less course per faculty member) effectively creating a 3/3 load. It would mean we would offer 805 classes instead of 995.
You can see we are not talking about adding large lecture sections of hundreds of students. Instead we are talking about small shifts in class size that would greatly impact our ability to offer the curriculum (both majors and Gen Ed) and positively impact teaching workload.
The curricular revision process has the following goals:
- Provide quality programs that promote student success, retention, and completion in four years
- Offer programs that are based on the student outcomes
- Reduce programs to 120 credits
- Use resources wisely to reduce faculty teaching load
- Evaluate low enrolled programs for substantial revision or possible elimination
- Reduce reliance on low enrolled courses
- Remove unnecessary pre‐requisites and other barriers
- Maintain or reduce the size of the major providing more free electives
Curricular revision truly can lead to more effective and less costly programs AND to a positive impact on faculty teaching workload.
I look forward to discussing this with you further on Wednesday.
PSU Coös Outreach: The CRP is pleased to announce that the following grants have been awarded to fund six PSU faculty projects that will include important work and provide opportunities for faculty members and students to make connections with a variety of partners, communities, and individuals within the region. Additional RFPs will occur and all PSU faculty are encouraged to apply. The current funded projects are:
Events: In support of the PSU mission as a regional comprehensive university, CRP seeks to “bring the region” to PSU, enriching student and faculty experiences and interactions, and helping the regional constituency to feel at home on our campus.
Staff: The CRP is growing! Welcome:
Monthly Report to the Faculty from Provost Julie Bernier
November 7, 2007
My report to the faculty for November 7th was presented orally at the faculty meeting and is printed below:
October has been a busy month:
It’s time to think about next year, in particular, what to do about the position of AVP for undergraduate studies. You’ll recall that two years ago Daniel Moore stepped in to UGS to fill my role while I worked on development of the Frost School of Continuing and Professional Studies. Last year and this year, David Zehr has filled the position. Now it’s time to search for a permanent replacement. To that end, I’d like to begin the search process, but first, I’d like to hear from you. Specifically I’d like to hear from you about whether you think we should conduct an external or internal search. I’d like to ask the Steering Committee to develop the Administrator Selection Committee in the next few weeks, so if you have thoughts about the search, please contact me in the next week or so.
I have established a Research Advisory Council and we had our first meeting last week. This Council is chaired by Mark Okrant. Among a number of issues the group will be looking at, I’ve charged them with developing the criteria for the new Faculty Research Development Grants. Applications will be accepted at the end of this semester for next fall. Awards will be up to $10,000 and may be used to fund equipment, student support, travel to conduct research, or release time. Last week I spoke at the Frost Faculty Center on a number of challenges facing higher education in general as well as the challenges and opportunities unique to our campus. At the faculty meeting this week, I shared some of my comments from that session. (See attached pdf of the PowerPoint)
Topics covered included:
PSU as an evolving institution: challenges and opportunities