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The Weekly Blab 2.1

The Weekly Blab

Vol. 2, Number 1—August 31, 2007


Dear Colleagues,


Here we go with the first issue of the Weekly Blab for the new academic year.  Just to remind everyone, I’ll try to keep everyone abreast of what’s going on, both with things that are now final and some things that are very preliminary.  Your comments are always invited.  Remember, preliminary items may disappear without a trace upon further consideration!



ITEM:  And How Was Your Summer?

This summer was unusually busy here.  I’ve read about places where things almost stop in the summertime, but SPSU isn’t one of them.  I did manage to get off to RACAA/RACSA meeting at St. Simons Island and to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities conference in Vancouver. 


RACAA was fine, with a lot of talk about the various system initiatives and strategic goals (We talked about the system strategic goals at the Fall Academic Affairs meeting).  The AASCU conference was also very good (you’ve heard me give a quick review of two of the talks given there at the first faculty meeting, and Vancouver is a beautiful city. 


After the conference, we went to Vancouver Island by ferry from Horseshoe Bay.  After checking in to our hotel in Nanaimo, I found out that there was a bomb scare 30 minutes after I left at the other ferry terminal (Vancouver has two—Horseshoe Bay and Tsawassen), which shut it down and stranded 10,000 people.   The island was great, with sunny skies and 70 degree temperatures.  We had a nice time going to Victoria, the beaches and the Pacific coast.  It was really tough leaving and coming back to the 100 degree Hot-lanta weather.   Hopefully, you all had a great summer and are all raring to go for this fall.



ITEM:  What’s New

By this point, I’m sure everyone has heard the bigger news items.  President Rossbacher has been down at the system office, as the Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer (Interim).  She’s due back to campus on or about October 1 (though she’s usually been on campus at least one day each week), and I’m sure will have interesting stories to tell.


The Facilities Master Planning process took up a lot of time this summer, as we all worked hard to put our final proposal in.  The good news is that in the first round of funding, for 2008-2009 (this is the first year of a six year cycle), the Board of Regents recommended $38 million for design and construction of Phase 1 of SPSU's new Engineering Technology Center.  We were one of three major projects.  This funding means that we’ll have to move pretty quickly this fall to hire a design and architectural firm, decide what facilities need to be in the building (with plenty of consultation with the relevant departments, of course).  If the legislature and governor approve and finalize the funding (and the project isn’t final until they do), construction will begin in Fall ‘08.  We’ll see what the other five years of the cycle bring us, but things look great so far.


Other good news is that our proposal for a new degree program in Chemistry was approved on August 14.  I’m told that the first Chemistry major has already signed up, and a proposal to approve a minor in Chemistry will be in front of the UCC at its first meeting.  Congratulations to the whole BCP team for their fine work.


Yet another piece of good news is that we were chosen as one of the educational partners (along with Kennesaw State U) in the state’s initiative to attract Wipro to Georgia.  In case you don’t know, Wipro is one of the major international information technology services companies.  They will be opening an office in metro Atlanta, and will be sending students/employees here and to KSU.  Our partnership with them definitely is an opportunity for our faculty and students, and helps put SPSU on the international map.  A big thanks to Venu Dasigi and Mike Murphy for all their hard work with this effort.


The fall enrollment looks healthy enough.  After dropping students for non-payment, the current enrollment is about 4400, which is a 4%+ increase from last year’s record number.  It will likely rise a bit more as students who were dropped re-enroll.  I’m sure you’ve all noticed the large increase in the first-year class.


Fall Kickoff went well, with a good session for the new faculty (you can see the updated New Faculty “Quick Start” Guide by clicking here. It’s a MS Word document.)  Mini bio’s of our new faculty can be seen by clicking here.  I appreciate all the kind comments people had about my presentation.  A copy of that powerpoint can be found by clicking here.  I hope everyone found the Kickoff to be worthwhile.


I’d also like to mention that the Deans Council and I had a retreat on August 9, where we did a lot of planning for the upcoming year.  While we’ll be talking about the various items in it at different Academic Planning, Faculty and ALC meetings, if you’d like an advanced peek at what’s coming, the minutes may be seen by clicking here.


Wow, that’s a lot of hyperlinks!  Stop me before I link again!



ITEM:  SACS and Other Accreditation Fun

One of the biggest challenges for the upcoming year will be to do all of our “normal” work, and also be able to do the necessary work for our upcoming SACS accreditation.  Becky Rutherfoord is doing a great job at coordinating it all, ably abetted by Liz Martin (Architecture).  The committees have all been set up and are starting to meet, the various “Must Statements” have been distributed, and our new coordinator is due to start on November 1.  The SACS re-accreditation is a really big deal, and we’ll need to count on each of you to do your parts, both by serving on committees and by doing the various paperwork and outcomes assessments that all faculty and many staff need to do.


As a heads up to the faculty (especially the new ones)—you need to have included outcomes goals in each of the course syllabi you are using this term.  If you didn’t, you’ll need to create a new one now and distribute it to your students.  Those who were here should have done this in the Spring and Summer syllabi as well. 


You also need to have assessed how well you reached the goals you had last Spring and Summer.  How many of your students reached the benchmarks you set for each of your outcome goals?  How did you measure this?  If they didn’t reach the goals, what changes did you make?  It is absolutely critical that you do this for every course you taught last Spring and Summer, and for every course you will teach this year and into the future.


As it turns out, I taught CHEM 1212K in the Spring, so I did an assessment of the course outcomes.  If you want to see it, click here.  You don’t have to do it the same way I did, but this is a relatively low impact way of doing it.


Three programs also had comprehensive program reviews to do this year (Architecture, Computer Science, Surveying and Mapping), and I’m pleased to say that all three got them in on time.  Thanks to all who helped do this.  All comprehensive program reviews are being posted on our website, and can be seen here.  The list of future review dates can be found here.


Finally, our ET programs will all be up for ABET review next year, and our Architecture program is up this year (if I’m remembering right).  So, it’s busy, busy, busy for us all.  I know I can count on all of your help in these efforts.


ITEM:  Stuff That’s Coming

As the semester progresses, you’re going to hear more about SPSU moving toward forming a regional educational partnership, through which we will fulfilling our state-wide mission and giving more students opportunities to take our courses.  Venu Dasigi suggested the name REAP—Regional Educational Advancement Partnership, so that our partners and students will REAP benefits by working with us.  I like it.  If you have another name to suggest, put it in.


We’ve also obtained a grant from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ($197K!) to develop curriculum for 4 courses in Nuclear Engineering Technology field.  The plan is to combine these courses into a certificate, and work to develop a degree program in Nuclear Engineering Technology.


Lots of other programs are under consideration in one place or another.  The full list (to this point anyway) is located in the Deans Council Retreat minutes, here.



ITEM:  Who’s Driving That Hearse?

Two weeks ago, I got rear-ended while waiting to make the turn onto my own street, a block from my house.  So, the Matrix I was driving got slammed and I had to get a loaner from the insurance folks while my car was being looked at.  The Enterprise rental people gave me a Chevrolet HHR (no, I don’t know what that stands for) which looks like a small hearse—black in color with tinted back windows to boot!  So, what I’ll be doing on Labor Day Weekend is getting a new car.  What will it be?  Probably another Matrix.  Stay tuned.


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.  I’ll try to get a Blab out every week or two.  Let’s see if I succeed!