March 24, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

I trust that you had refreshing spring break and are now energized to engage with the second half of the spring semester.  As usual, there is a lot happening on and around campus.  Below, I offer a few highlights.

Campus Space There are many recent, ongoing, and upcoming activities related to space.  At the Redfield Campus, recent renovations were completed to accommodate growth in Social Work and the new Physician's Assistant program that will launch next fall.  Thompson Hall has been completely renovated and will be home for Political Science, Core Humanities, Gender Race & Identity, and the CLA Advising Center.  Palmer Engineering is also in the midst of a complete renovation with expected occupancy this coming August.  At the March Board of Regents meeting, we received approval to secure construction bids for the new fine-arts building.  And of course, we are patiently waiting to see if the legislature approves Governor Sandoval's recommendation to provide state funding to cover half of the cost of a new engineering complex.

Campus Awards and Honors 'Tis the season for awards and honors; the Oscars pale in comparison to our own luminaries.  To wit, our faculty fared well in this year's Nevada System of Higher Education Regents awards.  Sarah Cummings (Chemistry) received the Teaching Award, Pamela Sandstrom (Biology) received the Undergraduate Advising Award, James Sedinger (Natural Resources and Environmental Science) received the Graduate Advising Award, John Cushman (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) received the Regents Researcher Award, and Sarah Blithe (Communication Studies) received the Rising Researcher Award.  This year's Undergraduate Regents Scholar is physics major Kirsten Casey.  Kirsten graduated in December 2016, and also had minors in mathematics and astronomy.  Angela Hornsby is the Graduate Regents Scholar.  Angela is a PhD grad of the Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology (EECB) program under the advisement of Marjorie Matocq, and is currently pursuing postdoctoral studies at Virginia Tech.  Finally, I'm pleased to announce this year's Foundation Professors, Jeffrey Harper (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology), Ahmad Itani (Civil and Environmental Engineering), and Scott Mensing (Geography).  Please join me in congratulating these outstanding faculty members and students for their exceptional accomplishments.

Campus Faculty We are in the process of negotiating terms with the Association for College and University Educators (ACUE) to provide a course in effective teaching practices for our academic faculty.  We will begin offering the course to faculty next academic year.  Participation in the ACUE course will now be an expectation for incoming full-time faculty (lecturers and tenure-track faculty), but we will also be able to offer the course to current faculty on a limited basis.  Participants in last fall's pilot program were enthusiastic about the course.  Deans and directors of our colleges and schools are also enthusiastic about the class and have offered to provide financial support to partially offset the cost of the program (which will be approximately $1,250 per faculty member).

We expect to be adding additional faculty, staff, and graduate-teaching assistant lines next year, but will not know the precise number of lines until the legislature has completed its deliberations and determined what our state funding will be for the next biennium.  In anticipation of these additional lines, an RFP for new faculty lines has been distributed to deans.  The RFP can be viewed here.  In short, we plan to honor commitments to cluster proposals that were made two years ago.  We will also continue to allocate a few positions for spouse/partner and impact hires.  Beyond that, we hope to have additional tenure-track and lecturer positions that we will be able to assign for searches in AY2017-18 and initial appointments in fall 2018.

With the leadership of Dr. Melanie Duckworth, a Faculty Senate committee, in cooperation with my office, has been working diligently on developing concrete recommendations that will facilitate the ongoing diversification of our faculty.  Their recommendations will include policies and best practices that facilitate both the recruitment and retention of a diverse faculty.  Toward that end, the committee has recommended that all search-committee members receive training to help them recognize implicit bias in the process of screening applicant pools.  Such training is rapidly becoming a national best practice at universities like ours.  The details of how this training will be provided is an active topic of discussion, and we hope to provide particulars later this semester.

Finally, you may have heard that we are exploring a potential joint venture with a private company that would allow us to expand the capacity of child care for our campus community.  Such a venture would potentially involve a new business model for the Child and Family Research Center (CFRC).  We have heard support for expanding child care, but also much concern about maintaining the integrity of the wonderful educational program that the CFRC provides.  Sheri Waugh (Director of the CFRC) and Melissa Burnham (Assoc. Dean of Education) are on the committee that is reviewing the proposal that we received.  Marian Berryhill (Associate Prof. in Psychology) has agreed to join the committee as a representative of parents who have children in the CFRC. Please be assured that we are committed to preserving the CFRC program and hopefully expanding it, and that we are committed to providing additional child-care capacity for our campus community.


Kevin C.