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The Weekly Blab 1.9

The Weekly Blab

Vol. 1, Number 9—October 20, 2006

Dear Colleagues,


Here we go with the ninth 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!



Follow-ups on Previous Items


Outcomes Assessment

Just to remind everyone, all departments will need to develop a set of outcomes goals for each of their degree programs, including graduate programs.  Remember—outcomes goals must be measurable, since we will be expected to show our progress in meeting them, and what we have done to improve things if we haven’t met our goals. 


Further, all faculty will be required to include a set of outcomes goals (five is typical) in the syllabus for each course taught, from this spring semester forward.  Again, each goal should be measurable.  While there are lots of different ways one can measure how well course goals have been met, the most typical is by having some questions on the final exam associated with each outcome goal, and then determining how well the students did on that subset of questions (in addition to how they did on the exam overall).  Similar processes can be followed on final papers or projects. 


This effort is absolutely vital to support our SACS accreditation effort.  Becky Rutherfoord, Ron Koger and I will be going around to the departments to help them accomplish these tasks.  Also, workshops will be scheduled in the near future to provide additional help.




Relatively little in additional comments has come in on the advisement program proposed by the ad-hoc Advising Committee.  The overall sentiment was strongly positive, so the Committee is proceeding to work out plans to implement the “courses” that were discussed in the last BLAB.  Steve Hamrick will be working up a course on Core Requirements, which we’ll do a dry run on with members of the committee critiquing.  The revised version will then be posted for the faculty and staff to look at and critique, probably in February or March.  Once we arrive at a final format, we’ll move forward with developing four courses over the rest of the spring and the summer, for first implementation in Fall 2007.




There have been enough questions asked and email discussion of potential restructuring that it is probably worth restating where things currently are.  We have decided to move forward with having a Coordinator of Planning for Engineering.  A job description has been written, with main points of providing vision and coordination for implementing a full engineering program at SPSU; of developing a philosophy statement delineating the differences between engineering and engineering technology (both for ourselves and for our students, present and potential); to develop an integrated curriculum for engineering; and to identify attributes for engineering faculty, and to identify which current faculty meet them.  Prof. Tom Currin has agreed to take on this role.


The other main question that arose was whether we should split out Business Administration as a separate school.  There was strong agreement at the ALC that this might be appropriate for Business Administration (and some argued, maybe also for Architecture) once particular benchmarks having to do with enrollment, outside support, and development of a strategic plan had been met.  We’re in the process of looking at this issue further.  Many of you will have also seen an email exchange talking about what policy changes might be necessary, depending on how we move forward.  Obviously, there will be more to come on this subject.  I’ll try to keep everyone informed as discussions continue.


In the meanwhile, there seems to be no reason not to go forward with the Deans search.  I will be meeting with the CSE school in the near future to discuss some issues related to their future needs and growth plan, and we’ll probably place an ad for the two Deans in late November or early December.



Systems Engineering

We will likely go forward with a full proposal for offering a B.S. in Engineering—Concentration in Systems Engineering, rather than doing a letter of intent first.  The proposal will be shared with the UCC and the Senate at the appropriate points.



New Issues


Compensation Task Force

The Compensation Task Force met last week, and agreed on plans for implementing the “Credit for Prior Experience” model it developed last year.  You will recall that an open forum was held on this issue last spring.  If you’ve forgotten about all this, an email summarizing the method and providing a copy of the model will be coming to you soon. 


The next step in the process is that the Task Force will ask for volunteers to submit their “prior experience cases” for evaluation.  The Task Force will then use those “cases” to do a beta test on the model, to ensure that different evaluators get similar results.  Assuming all is well, we’ll submit the methodology to the Senate for their concurrence, and if all is well there, move forward to implement the model for all faculty.





Computer Plan

There have been a number of discussions as of late on developing an overall computer replacement plan for the campus.  Bill Gruszka and I had a discussion on this subject, and Bill came forward with a draft proposal for the Senior Staff and the Deans to look at.  The major elements in the proposal were:

  • About $350,000 is needed to fund a reasonable plan, which would consist of a replacement component (replacing computers every four years, projectors every six years, etc.) and to bring all smart classrooms to a consistent level (which would be updated periodically).
  • The “standard configuration” for faculty computers and for smart classrooms would be developed by IUTAC.  About 5% of the overall budget would be set aside for special needs.
  • Various plans for funding this were discussed.
  • It was emphatically mentioned that the academic departments need to have considerable say regarding their own configuration needs.

I hope you will agree that such a plan is very much needed.  We will be proceeding to work on this issue as the year progresses.  Your input is very much invited.



SPSU Outreach

Thanks for all the feedback relating to our K-12 and DTAE outreach efforts.  Many of the submissions were things I already knew about, but many were new to me as well.  It’s clear that a large segment of our faculty are involved in various projects that improve education in the community:

  • Many are involved in outreach activities, such as Georgia BEST Robotics, Science Olympiad and Future Cities.
  • Many serve on school boards, do career fairs, and otherwise donate their time into the schools.
  • Some take on high school students in research projects
  • Many are involved in offering programs that improve instruction in the schools, or that offer tutoring and support to middle and high school students in STEM areas.

Congratulations and thanks to all involved in these important activities.



Congratulations Time

Congratulations to Prof. Larry Wang (Mathematics), who just had a paper published in the journal Advances in Computational Mathematics (Vol. 24, Nos. 1-4, p. 297-309, 2006) entitled “Generation of Finite Tight Frames by Householder Transforms”.  His co-authors are De-Jun Feng at Tsinghua University and Yang Wang at Georgia Tech.



Another Way to Look at Enrollment

To go along with last week’s analysis of enrollment and who grew the most, I got a request to look at this from a “number of credits delivered” perspective.  This approach highlights the contributions of the departments teaching core courses—in terms of credits delivered, SPSU’s biggest department is mathematics, followed by ETCMA and SIS.  The biggest percentage increase came (drum roll, please) in BCP, with a whopping 26.3% increase.  What this tells me is that all of our departments are critical to the University’s future and mission.  It also tells me that if we offer more sections of core courses (especially in the sciences), students will come to fill them.  Overall, looking at both approaches, Construction Management is probably SPSU’s fastest growing department.




Fall 2005

Fall 2006

% change

Architecture (incl. Pre-)








Business Administration




CET (incl. Survey + Cert)




Computer Science




Construction Mgt








English + TCOM



































That’s it for this week.  Your opinions on these and other matters are always valued and invited.