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The Weekly Blab 1.8

The Weekly Blab

Vol. 1, Number 8—October 13, 2006

Dear Colleagues,


Here we go with the eighth issue of the Weekly Blab. Some of the items that may appear here are preliminary, and may later disappear without a trace upon further consideration!




As mentioned in the last WEEKLY BLAB, here is a reminder of what came out of the last ad-hoc Advising Committee meeting.  The committee is looking at ways of building a stronger advising program at SPSU.  One tentative idea we had, which we'd like your comments on, is presented here. 

We are thinking of offering an advising curriculum to our faculty and staff, consisting of a number of “courses”, which will be delivered both live or on-line or both.  Each course would have an assessment component.  Faculty and staff would be able to take the courses, or exempt them by satisfactory performance on the assessment.  Each “course” is intended to be about one hour in length.  New faculty might be required to complete the eight required courses, perhaps four each semester.  Ongoing faculty might be given a longer time (say, 2 years) to complete the basic eight.  Remember—each course could be exempted by passing a brief assessment, which could be taken on line. 

Other courses might be developed later as “electives”, focused on areas that faculty and staff were interested in.  By completing them, faculty would earn certificates of completion, which could be used as evidence in annual, promotion, tenure and post-tenure reviews.  The committee arrived at the following curriculum outline:
Required Courses--First Semester Topics

  • Tools available (Banner, etc.)
  • Core curriculum areas A and E including prerequisites and eCore
  • Major requirements, including core areas A, D and F and prerequisites
  • Other graduation requirements

Required Courses--Second Semester Topics

  • Academic standing
  • Catalog rules, including double majors, minors, and changing majors
  • Mentoring
  • Advising transfer students

Some possible Electives--Subsequent Terms

  • Common errors in advising
  • FERPA / right-to-know / legal issues
  • Disruptive students
  • Non-traditional students
  • Etc.

The comments received thus far have been predominantly positive.  Here are some of the pithier ones (edited a little for brevity):

“Looks like a good idea. Since good advising is part of good teaching I would hope we could run this through the CTE. Y’all are, of course, circling around the major problem with advising, which is getting the students and advisors to connect with one another. Getting the advisors better trained is going to help, since it won't be such a pain in the butt for the advisors. I encourage you to give some thought to trying a WebCT “course” for connecting specific students to specific advisors (and background experts).”


“I like the information that one would learn from the proposed online courses.  Would it be possible to allow the content of the courses to be shared during kick-off week as professional development certificate credit rather than taking online courses for assessment credit? The first year, all advising faculty would be encouraged to attend a session or sessions. After the first year, it could become part of orientation for new faculty who will have advising responsibilities.”


“I think it will be very important that there is an online component for each course so that we can do this at our convenience.”


“How about an advising workshop during kick-off week followed by posting (on SPSU web site) the “advising information” learned in the workshops and updating that information whenever there are changes. Include a list of “frequently asked advising questions/answers” for the advisor and for the student.”


“I like the general advising curriculum. It's well thought out and quite comprehensive. I would like propose an additional core topic on very basic counseling. I feel a bit over my head when advising a student with personal problems that have insinuated themselves heavily into their school life. I believe in such situations that it's proper to suggest counseling, but, nonetheless, I still must assist them in advising, schedule help, etc.”


“Here is the veteran perspective....Basic management principles are a reality—If you reward for performance A and ask performance B, then you will get A. I try to do a good job of advising students, but there is nothing in it for me from an organizational perspective (or any other).  Until we find out how to reward advising (not punish the lack of it), all the training and good ideas are of little value. The training idea is, in my estimation, not likely to make any progress. Goofy idea to follow... Perhaps we should think of structuring "contact" that leads to conversation that leads to advisement.  Our current system is totally ineffective and unless we go way outside the box, no “fix” is possible. The training idea is completely and depressingly within the box.”


So—get your ideas in and I’ll share them with the committee.






Mechatronics Engineering and What’s Next in Engineering

As I trust you all know by now, our Mechatronics Engineering proposal was approved by the Board of Regents at its meeting last Wednesday.  This is our second “core” engineering program, with more to come. 


We’re also currently working on a B.S. in Engineering—concentration in Systems Engineering (to go with our M.S. in Systems Engineering).  The letter of intent will be sent to the Faculty Senate at the soonest opportunity.  There is also a committee that’s looking at developing a common core for all our engineering programs.


One interesting set of conversations that I’ve been having with various faculty relates to what happens to the ET curriculum as we add engineering.  On the one hand, the ET curriculum clearly can’t be identical to that in engineering, else who would take it?  On the other hand, we have an excellent ET “product” that is known in the “marketplace”, and we don’t want to mess with it to its detriment.  One possible answer came up at the Engineering Task Force meeting last Thursday.  If we gain authority to offer Civil Engineering, the need for CET to prepare students for the professional engineering exam goes away.  Courses related to that outcome goal can be removed from the program, and other courses that were removed when we went from quarters to semesters could come back in.  Since ECET and MET are much less focused on the professional engineering exam, perhaps they would change less, since they are already substantially different than what might be offered in an EE or ME program.  I’d be interested in hearing from more people on this important issue.



Equipment Budgets

In case you haven’t heard, we’re collecting proposals for equipment for the funds in this year’s budget ($395,000).  This is in addition to the lab fees (about $170,000) and the academic share of the Tech Fees.  Is this where we need to be in terms of equipment funding?  No.  Is this a good start at addressing the situation?  Yes.



New Faculty

This is also the time when we ask departments to let us know their faculty needs for next year, so that we can start advertising them.  Given our unusual growth this year, and the changes taking place in the budgeting process by the BoR, it will be an unusually difficult to be able to gauge exactly where we will need to be for next year in the hiring process.  Nonetheless, we have to do our best and move forward.  If you haven’t done so already, let your chair and dean know your hiring needs.



Annual Report

We’re working to prepare a draft of the Annual Report to the BoR, and need your input as to “What were the major accomplishments in your area in 2005-2006?”  If you haven’t sent this in yet, please do so.  I will need this information no later than this Friday (the 20th).



Congratulations Time—SPSU in the News

Congratulations to the Construction Department on the publication of “Southern Polytechnic and the Construction Industry—One Step, Many Benefits” in Georgia Construction Today, Third Quarter Issue, p. 18.  A pdf of the article is at the link below.

(new link = FIERY331.pdf)



Enrollments by Department

A faculty member requested current enrollment numbers by department.  Here they are for Fall 2006, with numbers for Fall 2005 for comparison.  The biggest % increase (drum roll, please) for an undergraduate program was in SIS—57.7%!



Fall 2005

Fall 2006

% Change

Architecture (incl. Pre-Arch)








Business Administration




Business Admin MBA








Construction Engineering




CS (incl. Grad + Cert)




Construction Mgt. (incl. Cert)












English + TCOM (incl. Grad)




General Studies




IET (incl. Fashion Design)




IT (incl. Grad + Cert)
















Quality Assurance (incl. Cert)








SWE (incl. Grad + Cert.)




Systems Eng. (incl. Cert)





That’s it for this week.  Your comments, as always, are welcomed!