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The Weekly Blab 1.3

The Weekly Blab

Vol. 1, Number 3—August 31, 2006

Dear Colleagues,

Here we go with the third issue of the Weekly Blab.  I’ve begun receiving some comments on items herein, but not as many as I would have thought.  Please—share your thoughts!


First off, some follow-ups on previous items:




ITEM:  Enrollment.  The enrollment news is excellent.  As of today, the number of registered and paid or held students is a record-breaking 4196.  The all time high at SPSU was 4026, way back in 1989.  This number will fluctuate a little depending on if all the folks who are being “held” actually pay.  We will need to increase the number of sections we’ll be offering in the Spring, because our enrollment will obviously be up then, too.  A good operating assumption (which we can improve later as more information comes in) is that our Spring retention ought to be 96-98%.  Departments should be able to predict how many students will be in quite a few courses based on the fall enrollments (an imaginary example—ABCD 1101 has 900 students in it now, 80% get C or better, so 720 would be eligible for ABCD 1102 and 180 would repeat ABCD 1101…Assuming 97% retention reduces these to …).  So—it isn’t too early to start thinking about how many sections of things will be needed in the spring, and identifying part-timers.



ITEM:  Lab Fees.  I wanted to clarify something from last week’s BLAB.  When meeting with the ECET department, an idea was raised whether we might just charge a particular amount for any particular lab (without capping a maximum), and just have the money go directly to that course.  The idea there was charging a smaller lab fee (say $20), but charging it for all lab courses.  Students would thus pay more or less the same total, but the money would go directly to the specific lab, rather than in a “pool” to the department.  Anyway, we can discuss nuances like this, and if there’s a consensus, we could change how we do it next year.  Please share your views with your chair and dean (or me directly if you like).



ITEM:  Deans/Chairs discussion on Best Practices on Faculty Evaluation

I got an email from a faculty member saying that this subject was so important that faculty (not just Chairs and Deans) should be included in the discussion.  Quite right—it was always our plan to extend the conversation as we move forward.  Stay tuned for an announcement of when we’ll have some open sessions to discuss faculty evaluation.



ITEM:  T1, T2, T3 Status.  The Chairs and Deans discussed two possible models of looking at looking at faculty workload at the ALC meeting on August 30.  Joel Fowler will be scheduling a faculty open forum on this issue, probably next week, so that folks can talk about whether they think there are any problems with the current system, how we might be able to support scholarship for all faculty more strongly, and how best to proceed if we feel that changes are in order.  While the discussions will be wide open, if anyone wants to have a look at the two models that were looked at, you can find them at:

            http://fac-web.spsu.edu/aa/Workload%20Model%201.htm           Model 1
(new link = workload model 1)

            http://fac-web.spsu.edu/aa/Workload%20Model%202.htm           Model 2
(new link = workload model 2)

Remember—no decisions will be made without full input and consultation, and then only through normal legislative channels. 



ITEM:  GoalQuest.  We have now heard back from the GoalQuest people, and it will apparently be possible to have the “My Personal Guide to SPSU” tab that I talked about in the Weekly Blab 1.1.  I showed a simple possible template to the Chairs and Deans at the ALC meeting for some initial discussion.  Some of the concerns that were raised were:

  • How to keep the material in the Guide current, given our difficulties doing this on the website.
  • As part of the template, all faculty advisors would need to generate a page on themselves as advisors, and not all faculty would know how to do this.  Help would be needed.
  • This would be yet another communication method with our students, with multiple methods possibly leading to lost messages.
  • How do we get students to actually use GoalQuest, because if they didn’t, it would be a wasted effort.
  • It wouldn’t be good to do anything that would reduce the amount of face-to-face contact between advisors and students.

We will be holding a demonstration/open forum on GoalQuest, so folks can see an example of how it works from another campus, as well as raise any concerns and make any suggestions as to what should be included.  I’ll announce the date and time when we schedule it.  In the meantime, if you want to see the template, if can be found at:

(new link = GoalQuest Advising Template)


Now for some new items:

ITEM:  Mechatronics Engineering.  I got a phone call from the System Office asking a few questions about the Mechatronics Engineering proposal that is currently downtown.  Nothing too serious—the questions were about giving more justification to the anticipated enrollment, a few technical curricular points, that sort of thing.  We’ve already submitted our answers.  If no other issues arise, the proposal should turn up on the October Board of Regents Agenda.


One broader issue that did come up is that the proposal specified courses (Physics, Math) to be taken in Area D of the core, and system rules don’t allow us to specify.  This is an ongoing problem in engineering and engineering technology programs.  I’ve asked the system office to give us a waiver of this rule, allowing us to specify Area D courses for engineering and ET programs.  I’ll let you know how this comes out.



ITEM:  Engineering and Engineering Technology.  And speaking of Engineering and Engineering Technology, conversations have started on how to move forward as we gain more degree granting authority in engineering.  Needless to say, there are lots of big issues embedded in this discussion, not least of which are:

  • What are the appropriate outcomes for our new engineering programs?  How about for the ET programs?  Since the programs are different, how do we clearly differentiate their requirements, goals and outcomes?
  • How much commonality should there be among engineering programs?  ET programs?
  • How should the ET curricula change when engineering programs come on-line? Will ET students take any engineering courses?  [Accreditation requirements would prevent our allowing engineering students to take ET courses.]
  • Will previous ET graduates be able to take a “conversion course sequence” to obtain an engineering degree?  How extensive does this sequence need to be?
  • Does adding engineering impact course content in math and physics? How?
  • What other issues do we need to look at (faculty, student, alumni…)?

Various working groups will be pulled together to look at all these issues, coordinated by Interim Dean Caudill.  More info as it develops.



ITEM:  Congratulations Time.

  • Congratulations to the Computer Science Dept. on their accreditation by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET, Inc.  The accreditation is retroactive to October 1, 2004, and was led by Venu Dasigi, Briana Morrison and Mike Murphy.
  • Congratulations to Carol Barnum on the publication of the paper “Chinese and American Technical Communication—A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Differences”, which appeared in the May 2006 issue of the journal Technical Communication.
  • Congratulations to Chih-Cheng Hung on the publication of the paper “Multi-spectral Image Classification Using the Water Level Model,” which appeared in Information: An International Interdisciplinary Journal (Vol.9, No.3, 2006).
  • Congratulations to Bernice Nuhfer-Halten on the publication of “Use of Blogs in L2 Instruction”, which appeared in Languages for Today's World: Dimension 2006 (ISBN 1-883640-20-2)
  • Congratulations to Frank Tsui and Orlando Karam on the publication of their book Essentials of Software Engineering, Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2006.
  • Congratulations to Venu Dasigi on the publication of the paper “Text Analysis of MEDLINE for Discovering Functional Relationships among Genes: Evaluation of Keyword Extraction Weighting Schemes” which appeared in the International Journal of Data Mining and Bioinformatics (1(1), 88-110, 2006).


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.