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The Weekly Blab 1.12

The Weekly Blab

Vol. 1, Number 12—December 2, 2006


Dear Colleagues,


Here we go with the twelfth issue of the Weekly Blab. Please—share your thoughts!  Bear in mind that some of the items that may appear here may later disappear without a trace upon further consideration, due to their preliminary nature!



ITEM:  Academic Planning.  At the ALC meeting on November 29, we discussed gearing up for Academic Planning.  As you may recall, the Strategic Plan called for us to establish an Academic Planning Task Force as soon as the Strategic Plan was completed.  The Academic Planning Task Force will begin meeting this spring.


The first item for discussion was: “Who should be on the Task Force?”  We all recognized that all segments of the faculty and academic affairs staff needed to be represented, and we needed to do this in a way that would ensure that the task force would continue into the future and not just fade away.  After much discussion, we arrived at the following membership list:

  • All members of the undergraduate curriculum committee
  • One member from each department on the graduate programs committee
  • All members of the ALC

Now, that brings us to about 45 people, which is a pretty broad representation!  We also decided that all meetings would be open (of course) with invitations for everyone who wanted to participate to come.  We would also issue more extensive minutes than most committees, to give folks who didn’t attend a better “feel” for what went on.


Plans are for the Task Force to meet twice a month, for about 90 minutes per session.  I know that seems like a lot, but this is a serious undertaking and a 1 hour meeting per month just won’t cut it. 


Also, an expanded Deans Council (the regular Deans Council plus one additional representative for each school drawn from the larger committee), will act as a steering committee for the Task Force and meet once per month (two weeks after the ALC meeting).  I’ll be sending out a calendar of all this in a week or so.


Assuming this structure works out well, in about a year we’ll send a proposal to the Faculty Senate to make the Task Force into a standing committee.


As it turns out, Alan Gabrielli wrote the meeting up on his blog, and a faculty member immediately emailed in saying that faculty not on the UCC should also have the opportunity to serve.  I’m not against the idea of having a few “at-large” positions on the group.  Send me an email if you think that’s a good idea.


The Task Force will focus on at least the following issues (other issues will no doubt be added later):

  • Develop an overall plan for what SPSU will look like within 5-year, 10-year, and 20-year windows.
  • Develop hard time-lines for phasing in programs within context of the plan         
  • Develop financial models that consider costs of program phase-in, potential revenues, and uses for those revenues.
  • Prepare annual reports for affirmation and adoption.     


Quoting from Alan’s blog (who I thought put it very well): “The plan will not be a wish-list of new majors, but rather, it will consider priorities, resources, enrollments, and revenues, to create a blueprint for growth.  This plan will be driven by input at all levels.  Each department will work on a departmental plan in parallel with the development of the campus plan.  Because the departmental plan must agree with the campus plan, there will have to be a lot of communication in both directions between the departments and the task force.  This will be an iterative process, with priorities and goals at all levels being set, changed, and reset as the big picture is brought into focus.  The Steering Committee will set timetables, guidelines, and formats to make the process as efficient as possible.”



ITEM:  Advising Task Force.  The Advising Task Force has been meeting regularly to discuss improving advising on the SPSU campus.  The goals of SPSU’s advising program are described in P&P 308.0:

(new link = P&P 308.0)


The Advising Task Force divided up the task into several parts:

  • Part 1:  How to improve faculty and staff “content knowledge” about advising and mentoring.
  • Part 2:  How to encourage students to have more “face to face” meetings with their advisors
  • Part 3:  How to evaluate the advising process and advisors


You may recall that for Part 1 (described a few WEEKLY BLABS ago at http://fac-web.spsu.edu/aa/The%20Weekly%20Blab,%201.8.htm(new link = The Weekly Blab 1.8)), the plan is to develop a series of “courses” that can be taken online, dealing with the various aspects of advising and mentoring.  The course would contain an online multiple choice test that could be repeated without penalty.  Faculty and staff would be expected to complete a certain number of these each year, and this would count as evidence of professional achievement.  This plan met with general positive comments.  The first “beta-test” course module should be available for people to review in early January.  Assuming everything looks OK, we’ll develop some others and have the first batch ready for people to take in Fall 2007.


For Part 2, here’s what the Advising Task Force is considering:


Each first-time student would be required to meet with their advisor three times their first semester.  The first time (about 2 weeks into the term) would be a “How’s the transition to SPSU going for you?” meeting.  The second time (about at mid-term) would be a “Let’s talk about your courses for next semester, and pre-register you” meeting.  The third time (at the end of the term) would be a “How did it go this past term, what are you planning to do to fix whatever problems arose, and let’s think about your future” meeting.  Thereafter, students would meet with their advisors twice per term, at mid-term and toward the end.  A script to assist advisors will be developed and distributed. 


Department Chairs would ensure that every student was assigned an advisor in Banner.  Advisors would be able to see a list of their advisees, and each advisee would have their own “form” in Banner.  When an advisor meets with their advisee, they would pull up the form, be able to review comments and entries from previous meetings, and would enter information about the current advising meeting.  The information would include the date and time (entered automatically by Banner), selecting a choice from a pull-down menu (“The student was advised”.  “The student was referred to Counseling”.  “The student was referred to the ATTIC”.  “The student never showed up for the meeting”.  “The student never made an appointment”, etc.), and entering any comment one wished into a comment field (“The student was advised to register for MATH 1113 next semester”).  The record form would be useful to advisors as a record of past meetings, and as proof that the student was advised properly if a student claimed otherwise.


For Part 3, here’s what the Advising Task Force is considering:


At annual report time, the Department Chairs would ensure that the advisor took the requisite “courses” and that the forms were filled out and indicated that the advisor had met with a majority of advisees.  Any advisor who has completed the requisite number of advising “courses” and who had filled in the advising forms appropriately for their advisees would thereby meet the standard for effective advising


Your comments on this process are invited.  I’ll share the ones I receive with the committee, and in a future BLAB.



ITEM:  Engineering.  As I’m sure you all know, the Faculty passed the Systems Engineering B.S. program concept at its meeting last Thursday, and the proposal will be going downtown in the next week or two.  In the meanwhile, we are meeting about how to implement the programs and how to handle lots of logistical issues.  Tom Currin (our Director of Planning for Engineering) puts out a newsletter every two weeks or so for the Engineering Task Force, which I thought I’d share with everyone here.


November 15 issue:

(new link = Engineering Update 11-15-06)


November 29 issue:

(new link = Engineering Update 11-29-06)



OK—That’s it for now.  Let me know your thoughts.  Also, let me know if there’s any topic you’d like me to address, and I’ll try to do it.