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Faculty Meeting Address August 2007

August 20, 2007


Good afternoon.

Dr. Joseph, and fellow faculty members and others in attendance today, I thank you for this opportunity to extend my welcome for the 2007-2008 Academic Year. 

I look forward to this address because it provides one of the genuine pleasures of my job:

  • To congratulate faculty members who’ve earned special recognition,

  • And to acknowledge the outstanding accomplishments of our faculty, staff and students in the past year.

In doing this, it allows me to briefly review the past year.

  • The more I’ve examined the state of the institution, the more excited and confident I’ve become about UNI’s future.

Finally, I will be highlighting for you some of the key issues facing UNI in the coming months.

  • We are facing some challenges, but in every case I envision:

    • any frustrations we have giving way to optimism,

    • problems giving way to progress, and

    • UNI taking new positions of leadership on education issues. 

Brief Review of Selected Accomplishments

To paraphrase that renowned academician Frank Sinatra, the 2006-2007 Academic Year was a very good year.

  • First of all, a number of faculty, staff and students were recognized for their achievements and contributions by winning awards or being asked to serve on prestigious boards.

    • For example:

      • Jay Edelnant in the department of theater was appointed as a member of the National Endowment of the Arts.

      • Mary Herring in the department of curriculum and instruction was elected president of the National Association for Education Communication and Technology.

      • Barbara Cutter in the department of history was awarded a distinguished faculty award by the American Association of University Women.

      • Jason Jiskoot, an accounting major, earned the student performance award from the Certified Management Accountants for scoring the highest on the CMA exam among more than 4,000 individuals.

      • Patrick Willoughby, a chemistry and biotechnology double major with a statistics and actuarial science minor, received a Goldwater Fellowship in national competition for undergraduate research.

      • Mona Millius, associate director of residence, was awarded the highest honor, the Theodore W. Minah Distinguished Service Award, from the Association of College and University Housing Offices.

    • I can acknowledge only a few of those who deserve it, but I congratulate all faculty, staff and students who were recognized for their excellence and service last year.

  • Second, a number of programs were reaffirmed through reaccreditation, or acknowledged for their excellence and quality.

    • For example:

      • For the eleventh straight year, the UNI accounting program ranks among the top ten accounting programs in the nation in terms of first time candidates passing all sections of the annual CPA exam.

      • UNI’s internationally recognized Jazz Band One received Blue Chip Honors for its latest CD recording.

      • The undergraduate and graduate programs in social work, and the Bachelor of Arts in athletic training were reaccredited without conditions for the maximum time periods.

      • Both the Counseling Center and the Student Health Clinic underwent the reaccreditation process and both were successful in being reaccredited without conditions.

  • Residence Life remains in very good shape, with high satisfaction levels indicated by surveys.

    • The marketplace also indicates this, with more than half of the sophomores now choosing to live on campus.

  • Success in intercollegiate athletics took place both on and off the playing field.

    • Very importantly, the teams performed well academically with the women’s basketball team earning the second highest collective GPA in the country (3.629).

  • We had some additional or renovated facilities come on line last year with the ITTC, McLeod Center, and the Business and Community Services Building all opening their doors.

    • Dedication of the Business and Community Services Building is this Saturday at 10:00 a.m.—Senator Grassley, Regent Pro Tem David Miles will be in attendance.

    • This year we will have the completion of Science Building Phase I, with Physics, Greenhouses and McCollum Science Building affected; and Human Performance Complex.   

      • Cliff Chancey noted that he was ‘very happy to be leaving Sabin and returning to Physics’; Dean Julia Wallace, at the same meeting, noted that her faculty are also very happy that the Physics faculty are leaving Sabin and returning to Physics.

  • We had a record year of fundraising for the university, with over $20 million raised in gifts, pledges and estate commitments.

  • This is only a small sample of the programmatic accomplishments.

Quick Review of Last Year’s Four Points

At last year’s Faculty meeting, I focused on four main issues:

First, I had two very important leadership positions to fill—the vice president of academic affairs and provost, and the vice president for Educational and Student Services.

  • As noted last year, I asked Jim Lubker to stay on another year and I’m glad I did. He is serving the university very well.

    • The search for provost will begin early this fall with an expected naming of the new provost late fall or early spring. Start date is anticipated to be in the summer of 2008.

  • We had a successful outcome of the search for VP of Educational and Student Services.

    • Terry Hogan began serving UNI last week; please welcome Terry.

      • Terry comes to us from Ohio University where he was the Senior Associate Vice President for Student Services

    • Also, I want to thank Jan Hanish for her service as interim vice president for Educational and Student Services. She provided strong leadership during the past year.

Second, I expressed my concern about our declining enrollment and the financial implications of it.

  • I questioned if we had:

    • the right incentives for colleges to grow,

    • the right marketing of the programs and UNI,

    • and the right investment of our set-aside funds.

    • Questions remain on all of these issues but I have taken steps:

      • The Enrollment Management Council was established to focus on recruitment/retention and meets twice a week

      • I have been meeting with the leadership of the Community Colleges:

        • to see how we can better facilitate the transfer of students, and

        • to discuss concerns and issues that we might have with some of their programs.

        • I met with five community colleges last spring and plan to meet with the rest of the community colleges this academic year.

        • The Community Colleges are a vitally important source of our students, including some of our most outstanding.

      • We initiated a College Hill project—a quality of life initiative and an important factor in recruiting students, faculty and staff.

      • There is a need to upgrade the nearby area in both the retail and housing areas.

    • Numbers this fall look better than expected, but the final count will not be known until next week.

    • We need to, and will make, major changes in the area of recruitment and retention of students.

      • We will have a negative report coming out at the September Board of Regents meeting with respect to our retention record with minority students.

Third, I focused on the budget situation and the budget processes used at UNI.

  • As you know, for FY07, we had to make significant reallocations even after the implementation of a surcharge.

    • A slightly larger enrollment in the Spring Semester alleviated some of the budget pressures for the past academic year. 

  • We did get more help for the FY08 budget and we need to thank our local legislators and the Governor for their support.

    • Salaries were fully funded for the first time in a long time, and

    • we received $2 million for new faculty lines and the necessary support of faculty.

    • The Board will submit a legislative proposal for full support of salaries again, and we believe will allow several requests—more about this later.

    • We are facing budgetary challenges for FY08 and possibly FY09 because of the reduction in congressionally directed appropriations, due to the political controversies that surround this process.

      • Loss of direct funding to carry out projects, but also loss of indirect cost revenues that will adversely affect overall university budget.

      • We need to increase our submission and success rates for competitive proposals.

  • I also noted the challenges of having a lot of programs at both the undergraduate and graduate level given the level of resources we have, and the decentralized nature of the budget.

    • I should note that this issue of having too many programs is also true of areas outside of the academic arena; all areas need to be carefully reviewed with appropriate changes made.

    • Work will continue on the budget development process issue.

    • We need to continually ask ourselves: ‘Are we strategically using our resources?’ and ‘Are our resources in alignment with our strategic goals?’

Fourth and Final, I noted that the communications from the President’s Office must and would be enhanced.

  • As indicated last year, Jim Lubker and I were to visit with each of the colleges and library during the year, and we did; we will do the same this coming academic year, in the fall.

  • I maintained meeting with the Campus Advisory Group, started by Bob Koob, and I will meet with this group this year.

  • We created the University Council—a group of administrators and leaders of organizations on campus—and held four meetings to discuss enrollment, budget, facilities, NSSE data and provide updates.

    • The presentations are posted on the president’s Web site for all to read.

    • I will continue that practice; we will have four meetings this year with the information available on the Web site.

Key Issues for the 2007-2008 Academic Year:

What are the priorities, the goals, and the key issues for this coming academic year?

There are many issues; I will focus on a subset and will cover each one only briefly. 

(I would be pleased to visit with you after this meeting during the reception and, of course, Jim and I will be having open forums with all of the colleges and others in the fall semester.)

  1. Among these issues is the question of whether we should arm the trained UNI Public Safety Officers.

    • The catalyst for this discussion and decision was the horrible tragedy at Virginia Tech last spring.

    • We provided a requested report to the Governor regarding:

      • the campus security protocols, technologies, and prevention and counseling techniques that are currently in place, and

      • possible process and protocol improvements.

      • We also indicated the estimated costs of making these improvements.

    • The Board of Regents has asked each of the three presidents to make a recommendation to the Board.

      • The Board will decide whether trained officers should be armed.

    • I am gathering input from individuals and constituencies.

    (I had announced the deadline for input as Sept. 15, but this must be changed to Sept. 5, to coincide with the Board’s timeline.)

    • The leadership of the United Faculty and the Faculty Senate are co-hosting a Public Forum August 27 from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Commons Ballroom (venue is subject to change).

  2. A number of issues surfaced last year, and earlier, about the organization of and ability of the Information Technology resources to meet the various needs on campus.

    • A search for the position of director of information technology in the academic division revealed some confusion as to what we expected of this person, and what the IT area should look like at UNI.

    • There are some significant challenges:

      • For example, the student services information technology system is in need of a major overhaul.

      • The security of our information technology system is continually being challenged; this is a matter of risk management.

    • Based upon what we learned from the search for the director of IT in the academic division, Provost Lubker and I concluded an overall review of the UNI IT system is needed.

      • I will establish a task force to review:

      • what we have, 

      • what we need now and in the near term, and 

      • how we should be organized to most effectively and efficiently meet the IT needs of today and tomorrow.

    • I anticipate changes to result from this review along with a set of recommendations.

  3. There are several issues related to accountability and accreditation:

    • First, it is time to begin the reaccreditation process; we received our letter this summer.

      • Provost Lubker will begin the reaccreditation process, the one that we undergo once every ten years with the North Central Association and Higher Learning Commission.

      • He will be establishing a steering committee and identifying a person to lead the effort.

      • We will have the campus visit in about two years, but the preparation is substantial.

      • If done correctly, the process itself can be a very helpful learning process.

      • This is a time consuming and costly process, and more than ever, a meaningful process from a regulatory perspective.

      • The regional accrediting agencies and specialized accrediting agencies are under attack from the U.S. Department of Education.

      • Accordingly, the accrediting agencies are making their reviews more meaningful in terms of expectations, particularly in the area of learning outcomes.

    • Second, the two major higher education associations—the National Association of State Universities and Land-grant Colleges (NASULGC) and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU)—are developing a Voluntary System of Accountability.

      • These two organizations represent nearly all of the public colleges and universities in the country. UNI belongs to AASCU, headed by former UNI President Deno Curris.

      • Why create a voluntary system of accountability at this time?

        • The Spellings Report, which came out last September, clearly suggested a threat of a federally mandated set of accountability measures.

        • The leadership of these two organizations preferred that the universities that would be most affected be involved in developing these accountability measures—pre-empt the federal government.

        • I serve on the 12-member president’s commission providing oversight on this project; it is headed by Brit Kerwin, chancellor of the University of Maryland System.

        • About 80 educators from across the country have been working this project for the past six months—the final report is about to be released

      • More will be said about this at the college visits and at other venues.   

    I promoted three priorities, in addition to enrollment growth,  last year:

    • To elevate our undergraduate educational programs from “Good” to “Great”;

    • To ensure that UNI is the leading academic institution in the state for addressing Pre-K through 12 issues, and to enhance the teacher education program to make it the best in the state, in the region, and among the best in the country;

    • And to increase our efforts to assist the state in economic development.

      • The opening of the Business and Community Services building is a key part of this effort.

    • Progress in all three areas will help achieve the goal, with additional marketing efforts, of enhancing UNI’s visibility and reputation in the state and nation; of course, that will help address the enrollment issue.

    These priorities remain from last year. Let me briefly speak to the first two in terms of where we are and what is being done.

    • The first is to enhance undergraduate education.

      • The provost’s office, working with a task force of faculty, is working the curricular issues related to this priority.

        • Jim established a task force (with the Faculty Senate) on the Liberal Arts Core and the Curriculum, improving the effectiveness of both while integrating them into a more coherent and unified educational experience. A report is due this year.

      • I am looking forward to working with Terry Hogan, and others, on designing outside-the-classroom experiences that reinforce and enhance quality undergraduate education.

      • I should note that we need more diversity to enhance the quality and vitality of our undergraduate education; I will review programs, mechanisms, and the commitment on campus for diversity, which will lead to a diversity plan for all parts of the university.

      • We need to focus on selected majors and uplift a few for national prominence.

    • The second priority is to ensure that UNI is the place to go for Pre-K-12 issues and teacher education excellence.

      • There is new leadership in the College of Education; we welcome Bill Callahan to his new role as dean of the College.

      • Last year various steps were taken to implement programs to accommodate this goal:

        • UNI assumed leadership of the Regents’ Initiative on Math and Science Education.

          • We hosted the Math and Science Summit meeting in July.

        • We developed a stronger relationship with Judy Jeffrey, Director of the Iowa State Department of Education.

      • This year, additional steps are being taken:

        • We are submitting a major legislative proposal on Math and Science Education. It is a multi-year proposal involving several millions of dollars, a critical issue facing the state of Iowa.

        • Several major developments with respect to teacher education will take place this year:

          • Under the leadership of the provost, a Professional Development School model for teacher education is being piloted. Faculty leadership is John Henning, who will be working with Waterloo and Cedar Falls.

          • UNI and the State of Iowa Department of Education are jointly conducting a feasibility study, at the mandate of the General Assembly, for having a research and development school in the State of Iowa. It will consider the Price Lab school as the site.

            • Judy Jeffrey, director of the Iowa Department of Education, and I will co-chair the study committee.

          • We are organizing Presidential Forums for early fall with three co-sponsors: Lee Enterprises, the Iowa Business Council, and the ‘Ed in 08’ organization.

Final Observations-Closing

The 2007-2008 academic year will be a year of opportunities:

  • Opportunity to select the next academic leader of the university;

  • Opportunity to build back some of the lost faculty lines;

  • Opportunity to further strengthen our historical leadership of Pre-K through 12 issues, including Math and Science and Early Childhood;

  • Opportunity to move our undergraduate programs from good to great.

Not only am I excited, I am truly honored to be serving students as a faculty member (I will be teaching a class on leadership this spring) and serving you as your president.

As you may know, my background is in economics.

George Bernard Shaw once commented that, “If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.”

At this time, I would like to do my part to disprove that statement.

Thank you for listening.

May we all have a great experience in the coming academic year.