December 20, 2016

Dear Colleagues,

Congratulations on completing another semester! 

Before you get completely immersed in the holiday spirit, I wanted to offer a few updates on happenings over the past few weeks.

As you may know, this year, in partnership with Pearson/Embanet, we have launched online master's programs in Social Work and Public Health.  Both programs are off to good starts, with enrollments exceeding expectations.  During the week of December 12, the Pearson team returned to campus and met separately with representatives from each college and school to discuss the possibility of online undergraduate- and graduate-degree programs.  The discussions were quite positive and, I believe, educational for deans and department chairs as well as for Pearson.  I think there is tremendous potential for us in offering strategically identified online programs, and I look forward to further discussions toward that end.

Last year I initiated a series of meetings (roughly monthly) with small groups of assistant professorsAlissa sends out a note to assistant profs and the first ten to respond are invited to an informal brown-bag-lunch meeting.  The response has been wonderful.  I have continued the meetings this fall and plan to keep them going as long as there is interest.  The meetings give me a chance to put names and faces together and to get to know our amazing young faculty.  It is useful for me to hear what is working and where there are challenges or misunderstandings.  The gatherings are also a great opportunity for faculty to meet other assistant profs from across the university.  The future of UNR is bright!

I also initiated similar meetings with associate professors this fall.  They have been instructive for me, and I believe our discussions have been productive and meaningful.  I am particularly interested in encouraging associate profs to pursue and accumulate the scholarly credentials consistent with their promotion to full professor, and that topic has dominated our discussions. I plan to continue hosting one or two such meetings per semester going forward.

I convened for the first time a meeting of department chairs this fall.  I think that being a department chair may be the toughest and most important administrative position at a university.  We had a very good discussion of challenges that chairs are facing and it was very instructive for me to learn more about what is happening in the trenches, and for chairs to have the opportunity ask questions about university-wide initiatives.  Vice Provosts Stacy Burton, Joe Cline, Steve Smith, and David Zeh joined me for the meeting and expertly responded to many good questions from the chairs. I plan to continue such meetings at least once a semester.

The medical-school transition ("UNR Med" is our new name!) continues to move along.  At the December Board of Regents meeting we received approval for establishing departments of Surgery, ObGyn, and Emergency medicine in Reno.  These departments all represent partnerships with Renown.  Also, the new Physician's Assistant program is off to a great start.  We had a very positive site visit from an accreditation team this fall.  Over 800 applications have been received for the inaugural class of 24 students that will begin in the fall of 2017 in newly renovated space on the Redfield campus.

As I mentioned in my previous letter, this fall, with the cooperation of deans, chairs, and search committees, we made a concerted effort to launch faculty searches in August or September, with the goal of having many of them completed before the holiday break, or poised for completion shortly after the break.  As of today 55/87 searches have been completed or are at the offer or interview stage.  Most other searches are well along and should be completed early in 2017.  Congratulations to all involved in these searches for moving them along expeditiously.

I have enjoyed participating with a wonderful group of faculty who are rolling up their sleeves and looking for meaningful ways to attract and retain a more diverse faculty.  Melanie Duckworth (Psychology) is chairing this committee and great progress is being made under her leadership.  The committee will soon deliver concrete guidance on how to provide training to search-committee members regarding implicit bias.  We expect this training to be in place for next-year's round of searches.  Stay tuned!

I hope that you are able to spend quality time with friends and family over the break.  I look forward to seeing you in 2017, refreshed, renewed, and ready to engage in another exciting chapter of the wonderful scholarly enterprise through which I am privileged to be associated with you.

Happy holidays!

Kevin C.