Provost Battles Announces Academic Affairs Initiatives

Dear UNCW Colleagues,

On behalf of the Office of Academic Affairs, I’m pleased to welcome you to the 2013-14 academic year.  I want to provide a special note of greetings to those individuals who are new additions to our Seahawk community.

The coming academic year promises to be a very active one, and I want to take this opportunity to mention several of the initiatives that Academic Affairs will continue, launch, or in which we will participate.   Continuing initiatives include our ongoing efforts to implement ourUniversity Studies curriculum.  I appreciate the activities of the three workgroups (communications, competencies, and course development) established this past spring under the leadership of Drs. Martin Posey and Cara Cilano to address implementation issues associated with University Studies.  The workgroups’ recommendations will be shared as they become available. 

The University is continuing the implementation of ourQuality Enhancement Plan, eTEAL (experiencing Transformative Education through Applied Learning), with the 2013-14 year marking its full implementation.  Watch for more information on eTEAL in a future edition of SWOOP.

The work to develop the institution’s Strategic Action Plan continues, with good progress made since the workgroup received its charge in November 2012.  The draft mission statement received the Board of Trustees’ approval at its April meeting; the final step is consideration of that proposed statement by the UNC Board of Governors, expected to occur at its November meeting.  As UNCW’s current mission statement specifies our two extant doctoral programs, revision of that statement will be important to the approval of the several doctoral programs currently in development.  All other elements of the draft Strategic Action Plan have been made available for comment by the campus community.  The feedback period (send comments to will extend into early fall semester, after which the workgroup hopes to finalize its draft; I urge your participation in that feedback opportunity.

The Summer Innovation Initiative Task Force, an outgrowth of the University Innovation Council, has made great strides since its spring semester establishment.  That group, chaired by Dean Charlie Hardy, is charged with studying and recommending an action plan for restructuring the institution’s summer programs.  I look forward to receiving that group’s recommendations, expected in mid-October. 

Those of you have been following developments in Raleigh are no doubt aware of impending reductions to the UNC system’s state appropriations.  The Division of Academic Affairs, like all other areas of campus, is proactively engaged in budget planning.  The expected reductions will be incorporated into the development of hiring plans so as to align our budget with available resources.  Another important element in this alignment is the campus’s shared services initiative.  Shared Services is a customer-focused organizational model that consolidates and streamlines administrative support functions to provide the most efficient and effective service delivery possible.  The three shared services workgroups - Human Resources Management and Services, Budget Management and Services, and Report Writing Services - are currently working to evaluate and recommend an organizational model that maintains or improves on our quality of service while saving time and/or money for the university. 

A project that will have a major impact on the campus in the coming year is the planned Social and Behavioral Sciences (S&BS) building renovation.  Based on the initial work of a representative committee of faculty and administrative staff and shaped by subsequent discussions with affected individuals, department chairs, and facilities personnel, a plan for a renovated S&BS has been developed which incorporates a STEM and health science theme.  A graphical summary of that plan, including the destination of affected units during and subsequent to the project, is posted on the linked SharePoint site.  The S&BS renovation project, currently scheduled for January to August 2014, may well be our most important opportunity to address critical academic facilities needs for the next 5-10 years.  During 2013-14, we will also move forward on a Strategic Space Utilization, Management, and Scheduling initiative that will involve campus members in a broad-based effort to address the continuing challenge of providing the appropriate space resources in pursuit of the university’s mission.  I am pleased to note that Vice Provost Steve McFarland and Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Brian Victor will provide leadership for this work.

Another new initiative that we plan to launch this fall focuses on Undergraduate Student Success.  The envisioned committee, to be co-chaired by Drs. Terry Curran and Martin Posey, will study and recommend action-steps for enhancing undergraduate student success and positioning UNCW to meet student success-related performance funding goals.  The committee’s work will be mindful of the need for institutional compliance with the UNC system’s recently approved Fostering Undergraduate Student Success policies.

Also responsive to recently approved system policies while responding to institutional needs is another new initiative on Faculty Roles, Responsibilities, and Rewards.  In coming weeks, a representative task force will be appointed to study current UNCW roles and rewards systems and recommend a model for faculty roles that clarifies the essential linkages between effort assignment, evaluation, and rewards; responds to the institution’s productivity needs; and supports faculty success in alignment with our mission.  A central element of this task force’s charge will be engagement with stakeholders throughout its work.  I look forward to the outcomes of this initiative, which offers great potential for enhancing faculty professional satisfaction and achievement.

Academic Program Review is also on Academic Affairs’ docket for the 2013-14 year.  This initiative is important for positioning the campus to be responsive to the UNC system’s biennial academic program review, which identifies “low productivity programs” and solicits the campus’ justification of them.  Currently the campus has a process for the periodic review of graduate programs but lacks a similar process for the majority of our programs that are at the undergraduate level.  The next round of system review is expected to occur in fall 2014.  Beyond responsiveness to that specific need, the Academic Program Review initiative will seek to assure quality and inform program-related actions and investments.  The to-be-named committee will be asked to recommend criteria, process and timeline for review of UNCW’s academic programs.

In addition to the above-listed initiatives, Academic Affairs will engage in multiple searches to address critical vacancies on our leadership team.  Among them, you may expect national searches for the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (chaired by Larry Clark), Associate Provost for Research and Dean of the Graduate School (chaired by Ken Teitelbaum), and Chief Information Officer (chaired by Ron Vetter), and an internal search for Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Undergraduate Studies (chaired by Johnson Akinleye).  Recruitment for the vacancy created by the departure of former Associate Provost of Institutional Diversity & Inclusion José Hernández is being held pending the outcomes of the Diversity and Inclusion Initiative, the launch of which was recently announced by Chancellor Miller.

As you can see, this academic year will be nothing if not busy!  I want to thank all of those who will participate as committee chairs and members in support of these efforts and invite all stakeholders to engage in the opportunities that will be provided for participation.  My best wishes to all for a rewarding 2013-14 academic year.