Dean’s Newsletter - Fall 2011
Dear COAS Faculty,
Welcome back and best wishes for the 2011-2012 academic year! I hope you had a relaxing and rejuvenating summer and that you share with me the excitement of a new academic year. As you will recall, David Fenner and I visited each of your departments last year to discuss our strategic planning discussion document and a newer initiative for a 21st Century Education. We hope to return in the coming year to continue these discussions. It was informative for us to hear your perspectives, and I hope you will feel free to visit anytime to elaborate on any of the business of the college.
Though this is a busy time, I want to share with you some news about our college. For some of these items, there is supporting documentation; I will place that on the college “O: drive” -- please click on the link directly below to access these documents:
O:\COASall\Dean's Fall 2011 Newsletter Supporting Documents
The College conducted 28 tenure line searches this past year and was successful in hiring 25 new faculty members. We will be searching on 13 open lines this year. The college has more than 13 lines open right now, but our resources will only stretch far enough this year to search on 13.
The COAS Advising Office was given three additional advisors. We had a number of retirements so it was a year requiring a great deal of search time. The end result, however, is a staff of well-qualified advisors; a new associate director of advising (Keith Martin) and implementation of a new vision for COAS advising. Some advisors now will be embedded within departments; the first of these was deployed to the Fine Arts Center to work exclusively with Art and Design and Music students. The second will be deployed to Communications, the third to Biology once their new building is completed.
The Lasting Lecture initiative, inaugurated two years ago, continued this year with Lasting Lectures from Dr. Henry Thomas and Dr. Susanna Urbina. Both were very well attended, and faculty were appreciative of the opportunity to hear some parting thoughts and synthesis of colleagues’ careers.
New Music Flagship
With a new call for proposals, Music responded with an intense effort to prepare a good proposal. This was a group effort with strong commitment from Music faculty and the dean’s office. We are gratified that this very strong program can be recognized for its excellence and use the flagship funding to further elevate its offerings.
New College Funding Opportunity
A new program, developed in partnership with departments and ORSP to provide course releases or research funding for faculty who need additional resources to elevate their research efforts, was initiated. This “Research Enhancement Plan” served six faculty in its first year.
Development of Academic Programming
The project to re-imagine the UNF General Education program that began two years ago and resulted in the use of the Reflective Judgment Model as a philosophical framework for the new Venture Studies program was implemented this past year. During the past year over 40 faculty members, including representatives from all five colleges, participated in VS activities. In Fall 2010 we offered 16 Freshman Seminars for incoming freshmen; four of these were Living & Learning Communities operating out of the residence halls. In Spring 2011 we introduced our first Venture Studies multidisciplinary social science course, “Bridging Jax.” Taught by four different faculty members, it highlighted Inequality, Crime, and Environment in Jacksonville. Another team-taught multidisciplinary course – focused on the arts – will be offered this year. In all, this past year, over 60 sections of Gen Ed courses were re-conceived to use the Venture Studies framework.
A COAS Interdisciplinary Council was recently established. We expect to see the expansion of two kinds of interdisciplinary programs in the college this year: programs that are multidisciplinary (we have several minors of this sort) and programs – a major and a minor – that, under the guidance of a faculty mentor, allow students to design their own interdisciplinary degree programs. The latter will be based upon the Liberal Studies major, reconceived as an Interdisciplinary Studies Major with the Department of English overseeing this rather than History.
The college soon will offer a new Clinical Laboratory Sciences program. This is a joint effort among UNF, Mayo, Shands, and Baptist hospitals. We expect to have our first students in this program in spring 2012. This program will be managed within the Department of Biology though coursework will be provided largely by community members with the needed expertise.
An M.A. in International Affairs, a B.S. and M.S. in Social Work, and a B.A. in Religious Studies were proposed to Academic Affairs and placed on the New Degree Master Plan. Psychology completed a proposal for a Ph.D. in Psychology, Communications a proposal for an M.S., and Physics is very close to completing its proposal for creating a Professional Science Master’s degree. Religious Studies completed its proposal process and has been granted permission by the Board of Trustees to launch its new major.
With support from Pre-Law endowments, a new Pre-Law lecture series was initiated. This past year one speaker was brought to campus in spring semester; additional speakers are scheduled for the coming year and the year after as well.
The construction of the new Biology building is underway and should be ready for occupancy in 2012. When Biology leaves Bldg. 3 and 4, some of the vacated space will be repurposed to provide additional offices for Mathematics & Statistics, offices and research labs for Psychology, and introductory labs for Chemistry and Physics.
The move of Communication to Building 14 has provided better space for that department and also freed up space in the Fine Arts Center for Music and Art & Design. A new piano lab was arranged for Music. Construction of studios for Art & Design was completed in some of the vacated space as well.
History moved into newly renovated space in Bldg. 9. The space is light, airy, and comfortable. English has now been able to expand into the space that History left behind. This has provided dedicated spaces for the Writing Center, as well as their theater and film programs.
Leadership Development in the College
In collaboration with the Brooks College of Health, four major leadership events were planned and executed for our chairs and some department leaders. The first was facilitated by one of UNF’s new Associate Provosts, Bobby Waldrup, and involved the reading and discussion of Good to Great. The second workshop was provided by Dr. Tony Bell, the third by Dr. Walter Gmelch, and a final one by Dr. Bob Duke. Responses to these half day sessions were very positive. We hope to continue this program this year.
College Strategic Planning
In 2009-10, COAS undertook a major strategic planning discussion among the department chairs; this resulted in the Strategic Planning Discussion document. In 2010-11, this document was distributed to each faculty member and then discussed in department meetings with the dean. A number of new approaches and policies resulted from this effort and were implemented this year.
- A new model for allocation of Graduate Teaching Assistantships was created.
- New summer funding for Graduate Program Directors was implemented.
- A comprehensive equipment audit was generated for all of COAS in support of VP Shari Shuman’s efforts to budget for equipment replacement and repairs.
- A new scheduling policy was devised -- and approved by Academic Affairs. Each department has developed a course matrix describing the courses to be offered over a two-year cycle. This will make scheduling more predictable for students and should eliminate some of the unhappiness that occurs when courses are canceled at the last minute.
College Budget and Resource Allocation
At times when resources are plentiful, and requests for funds are readily met, interest in exactly what money there is and where it is going is likely going to be less than at times when resources are scarce. For those interested, we would like to provide an explanation -- brief but hopefully informative – of what our college resources look like, where they go, and why they go there. We encourage faculty who have questions about the college budget to be in touch with us.
All decisions about formulas and distribution philosophies are made collectively among the dean, the associate deans, and the chairs; they are always open for reconsideration and are periodically reviewed. Within the past few years they have received fairly intensive scrutiny and in some cases overhaul.
The college distributes virtually all of its resources out to departments, programs, and centers at the start of the fiscal year. The approach is simple: if the college provides the faculty with the greatest amount of resources it can up front, these resources can be put to better use throughout the year; they can be spent “locally” and as the result of departmental deliberations. It is important to understand, however, that in “pushing out” funds to departments, the COAS Dean’s Office retains very little and is sadly not in a position to support many of the requests that then come to us during the year.
Best Wishes for 2010-11
Please know that we in the dean's office -- Marnie, David, or I -- are available and happy to meet about any concerns you have at any time. I hope the coming semester will be productive and fulfilling for you.