Provost's Perspective

Get the latest updates on campus activities and initiatives from the Provost through the quarterly Provost's Perspective.

  • Provost's Perspective: May 15, 2019

    Dear Colleagues,

    There is no mistaking where you are or the time of year when you see students taking photos around campus in their cap and gown, and the beauty of campus shines brighter than normal. Thank you for the amazing work by all who prepare to welcome thousands of visitors to our campus for Commencement. Our projections are that 3,201 degrees (551 graduate, 63 Med School and 2,587 undergraduate) will be awarded during the four ceremonies - now being held in Lawlor Events Center - beginning Thursday evening and ending Saturday morning. That is slightly more than last year’s record graduation of 3,137.

    I apologize in advance for the long letter that follows...but you have all summer to read it.

    We have made the decision to move the Department of Psychology to the College of Science. The move will become official on July 1, 2019. This decision was based primarily on the overwhelming sentiment from Psychology faculty that their research and educational programs align best with the College of Science. Deans Debra Moddelmog and Jeff Thompson and their respective team members have done an excellent job working together to assure a transition that is minimally disruptive to students and faculty. Please be assured that this move in no way impacts our commitment to support and grow the outstanding College of Liberal Arts programs in humanities, social sciences, and the arts. These programs are and will continue to be fundamental to the University’s collective mission of learning, discovery, and engagement.

    Following a January 2019 NSHE summit focused on student success, Chancellor Reilly and the Board of Regents have directed NSHE institutions to take action in two strategic areas. First, NSHE institutions have been charged with implementing co-requisite math and English classes for all new freshmen beginning in Fall 2021. There are abundant and compelling data from Complete College America that students who enroll in remedial math and/or English classes have a very low probability of completing a degree, regardless of whether they successfully complete the remedial classes. The success of these students increases significantly if they enroll in co-requisite classes, which are college-level math and/or English classes combined with additional remedial instruction. Dr. Chris Herald has been recognized nationally for his innovative leadership in developing co-requisite math classes, and the University currently offers co-requisite math and English classes. Last fall, more than 550 University students were enrolled in co-requisite math classes and approximately 300 were enrolled in co-requisite English. However, more than 900 students were enrolled in remedial math classes and approximately 200 were enrolled in remedial English. Beginning in Fall 2021, students who do not place into college-level math or English will be enrolled in co-requisite classes. Remedial math and English will no longer be offered. As you can imagine, this represents a significant challenge for us and other NSHE institutions. However, given our experience and leadership in co-requisite classes, I am confident that we will be successful in this transition.

    The second directive that came out of the January NSHE meeting on student success was a mandate to focus on student success at the program level. Chancellor Reilly has asked all NSHE institutions to prepare a report on program-level student success and outline program-specific plans to improve retention and graduation. Student-success metrics are typically discussed at the institution level (e.g., our current Fall-Fall retention rate for new freshmen is 81% and our current 6-year graduation rate is 57%). However, it should come as a surprise to no one that student success varies significantly among different degree programs. In response to Chancellor Reilly’s request, we are compiling program-specific retention and graduation rates and will be communicating them to deans. While the primary emphasis is on undergraduates, we will be generating comparable data for graduate programs. Deans will be asked to work with department chairs and faculty to discuss how student success can be improved. I expect this to be a significant topic of discussion in the 2019-20 academic year.

    On a related topic, the University has been participating in the APLU “Powered by Publics: Scaling Student Success” initiative, the goal of which is to share best practices among comparable institutions to promote student success. We are in the “Western Land-Grants” cluster, which includes Colorado State Univ., Langston Univ., Montana State Univ., New Mexico State Univ., North Dakota State Univ., Oklahoma State Univ., South Dakota State Univ., Univ. of Idaho, Utah State Univ., and Univ. of Wyoming. We are currently exploring the use of a Curricular Analytics (CA) program developed by the Univ. of Wyoming to identify curricular bottlenecks that impact time to degree. As an initial test, all member institutions entered four-year curricular plans for four majors: Agriculture Sciences, Psychology, Mechanical Engineering, and Music Education. The software produces a Curricular Complexity score for each major, which takes into account “delay factors” (number of prerequisites required for a course) and “blocking factors” (the number of courses for which enrollment depends upon completion of an individual prerequisite course). A higher composite score represents greater complexity. Our complexity scores ranged from 71 for Psychology to 394 for Mechanical Engineering. While the analytics tool doesn’t include other factors such as GPA requirements that might contribute to program complexity, we found that it stimulates some very useful conversations around the rationale for curriculum design. Accordingly, we are going to ask all programs to enter their curricula into the CA software over the summer. We think that this will provide a useful talking point in our broader discussion of how to improve student success at our University.

    We recently wrapped up our third cohort of ACUE completers. I am very pleased to report that 83 faculty (out of 87 who started) and 27 graduate students (out of 28 who started) completed the course. General responses from participants were very positive. Our Office of Assessment is currently working with ACUE to quantitatively evaluate the impact of the ACUE course on student performance and course evaluations. Several briefing papers on the impact of ACUE at other institutions can be found on the ACUE website (scroll down on the landing page to find links to the reports). Going forward, there is enthusiasm for creating an ACUE Fellows program that would promote ongoing dialogue on best practices in teaching and would form an integral component of a broader initiative to support and promote excellence in teaching. Stay tuned.

    We have several new colleagues in leadership positions that have or will soon be joining us:

    • Dr. Donald Easton-Brooks will be the next Dean of the College of Education. Dr. Easton-Brooks is currently Professor and Dean of the School of Education at South Dakota State University and has an impressive record of leadership in education. Donald will assume the deanship on July 1, 2019.
    • Dr. Eloisa Gordon-Mora will begin her appointment as the University Diversity and Inclusion Officer on June 15, 2019. Dr. Gordon-Mora has a rich history of experience in higher education administration in general and in diversity and inclusion in particular. She comes to us from the Universidad Ana G. Mendez in Puerto Rico where she holds the title of Director of Special Projects in the Office of the Vice Chancellor.
    • Dr. Matthew Means will be joining us in June as the new Director of the Honors Program. Matt is an accomplished violist and comes to us from Fort Hays State University, where he developed and launched their honors program.
    • Dr. Clark Whitehorn will be the next Director of the University of Nevada Press. Dr. Whitehorn has more than 20 years of experience in academic publishing and is currently the Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor of the University of New Mexico Press. He will begin his appointment on June 20, 2019.
    • Dr. Jimmie Manning assumed his duties as Chair of Communication Studies in January of this year. He was previously at the University of Northern Illinois.
    • Finally, several new department chairs include K.D. Joshi, Chair of Information Systems (Washington State University); Joseph Squier, Art (University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana), and Carolyn Warner, Political Science (Arizona State University).

    I would like to congratulate Neuroscience Academic Advisor Lindsey Forbes for being honored as an  Outstanding New Advisor Award Winner , selected by NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising

    Audrey Casey holds a retirement plaque and stands between Marc Johnson and Kevin Carman.

    And finally, after 18 years of extraordinary service in the Office of the  Provost, Audrey Casey will be retiring later this month. She and her husband are anticipating some serious road trips in their travel trailer, but primarily Audrey is looking forward to spending more time with her granddaughter in Oklahoma.

    Best wishes, Audrey!

    Wishing you all the best for a relaxing and productive summer.

    Sincerely,
    Kevin C.

  • Provost's Perspective: April 4, 2019

    Dear Colleagues,

    I am pleased to announce that Dr. Donald Easton-Brooks has accepted our offer to serve as the next dean of the College of Education. He begins his new post at the University on July 1, 2019. Dr. Easton-Brooks comes to the University following a very successful tenure as dean of the School of Education at the University of South Dakota. He succeeds Dr. Ken Coll, who has served as College of Education dean since July 2013. In the summer of 2018 Dean Coll announced he would be returning to the College of Education’s faculty.

    Dr. Easton-Brooks brings extensive experience as dean and associate dean and has a strong record of promoting collaboration across the disciplines. He has served in numerous leadership roles in national and international education organizations and is highly regarded by his colleagues across the country. He has a strong record of promoting research productivity, both in terms extramural funding and scholarly publications. He leads by example through his excellent record of scholarly productivity and is an internationally recognized authority in equity and inclusion within the discipline of education.

    Dr. Easton-Brooks has been dean of the School of Education at the University of South Dakota since 2015. He was dean of the Colleges of Business and Education at Eastern Oregon University from 2013-2015, and was an associate dean in the School of Education from 2010-2013 at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. He has also held administrative and faculty positions at the University of North Texas and the University of Connecticut.

    Under Dr. Easton-Brooks’ direction, South Dakota’s School of Education has implemented a strategic plan that has led to national recognition of the school’s teacher residency program. This has in turn led to an increase in enrollment of 31% in undergraduate students and 11% in graduate students. After having never been previously ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings, the school is now ranked 43rd in Online Education Programs and in the top third in Graduate Education.

    Dr. Easton-Brooks has extensive experience in budget management, overseeing major construction projects, developing relationships with businesses and communities, creating higher-education access programs for diverse student groups, planning in order to support a diverse university community, developing student-success systems, engaging in alumni relations and developing strategies for enrollment management. He has also excelled as a nationally and internationally recognized leader in the areas of diversity and equity.

    Dr. Easton-Brooks’ research agenda has helped shape policies both in the United States and in African countries as well as in New Zealand, Germany and Australia. He is a section editor on “The Handbook of Teachers of Color” through the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and through his help in the introduction of the concept of “ethnic matching” to the field of education, has promoted the creation of a more diverse workforce in education. He is author of the just-released book, “Ethnic Matching: Academic Success of Students of Color”.

    While at South Dakota, Dr. Easton-Brooks has helped create campus-wide collaborations and partnerships that have furthered the School of Education’s reach. For example, he established new opportunities with the institution’s School of Medicine and School of Health in developing a Health Education and Medical Education doctoral degree. Fourteen of his school’s faculty members applied for national grants with schools and colleges across campus on topics such as biomechanics, neuroscience, STEM, learning science and mental health.

    Dr. Easton-Brooks received a B.A. degree in Sociology from Greenville University, his master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education from the University of Colorado at Denver, and his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Colorado at Denver.

    I wish to express my sincere appreciation to Dean Ken Coll for his excellent leadership. Since 2013, Ken has led the College of Education through a period that has seen sustained growth in its enrollment and research portfolio. He has been instrumental in establishing new innovate programs such as Nevada Teach and Pack Teach. Ken has implemented important structural changes that position the college for future growth. Dean Coll has developed strong partnerships with local and rural school districts, and has been strong leader and advocate for education throughout the state of Nevada. I hope you will join me in thanking Dr. Coll for his exceptional service and in offering Dr. Easton-Brooks a very warm welcome to the University of Nevada, Reno and the northern Nevada community.

    Sincerely,
    Kevin C.

  • Provost's Perspective: February 27, 2019

    Dear Colleagues,

    Congratulations to all on the University of Nevada, Reno’s recent designation as an R1 university! This recognition is the product of many years of dedication by our University faculty, students and staff. It is an affirmation of our commitment to world-class research and scholarly activity and of our overall growth and maturation as a university. While it is appropriate that we pause and celebrate this recognition, the R1 designation should be thought of as a milestone on our continuous journey toward excellence in Learning, Discovery and Engagement. Onward and upward!

    Campus Climate Survey

    As you hopefully are aware, the University is participating in a Campus Climate Survey. The survey is open now through March 15. It will require about 20-30 minutes of your time and it must be completed in one sitting (it took me 25 minutes to complete it). Your participation in this survey is absolutely critical in order for us to accurately assess and understand our campus community. Your response will go directly to Rankin and Associates (the consultant who is assisting us with the Campus Climate Study) and will be completely confidential. Please accept my gratitude in advance for your participation in this wonderful opportunity to make our campus an even more welcoming and inclusive community.

    Testing Center

    I’m pleased to announce that Justin Kavanaugh has been hired to lead our new testing center. The testing center will be located on the first floor of William J. Raggio building and will provide computerized testing in support of University classes. The testing center is being established as a collaborative effort between Academic Affairs and 365 Learning. For those who wish to make use of it, the testing center will allow faculty an opportunity to administer computerized exams in a secure environment. This will allow faculty to devote more class time to instruction and it will provide students flexibility in scheduling exams within a time frame prescribed by faculty. Justin will be reaching out to deans and departments in the coming weeks to promote understanding of what the testing center will offer and develop an appreciation of how the center can best serve the needs of faculty.

    Honors Program

    I am pleased to announce that Dr. Matthew (Matt) Means has accepted our offer to be the next Director of the Honors Program. Matt established a new honors program at Fort Hays State University, where he is an associate professor of music (Matt is a violinist). Matt will join the University this summer. If you would like to contact him, he can be reached at sigep1@hotmail.com.

    Education Dean

    Four finalists for the next Dean of the College of Education have been identified. They will be participating in on-campus interviews from Feb. 25 through March 7. The four finalists are (1) Dr. Donald Easton-Brooks, professor and dean of the School of Education at South Dakota State University; (2) Dr. Melissa Burnham, professor and associate dean of the University of Nevada, Reno College of Education; (3) Dr. Daniel Robinson, professor and chair of the curriculum and instruction department at the University of Texas, Arlington; and (4) Dr. Dale Niederhauser, professor and associate dean of the College of Education, West Virginia University.

    Diversity and Inclusion Officer

    Four finalists for the University Diversity and Inclusion Officer will be visiting campus during the next couple of weeks. They are (1) Dr. Melanie Duckworth, associate dean of diversity and inclusion, College of Liberal Arts, University of Nevada, Reno: public forum was Feb. 26, 1 p.m., JCSU Theatre; (2) Dwight Hamilton, J.D., Inclusion in Action, L.L.C. and former associate vice president for Equity and Title IX Coordinator, Northwestern University, public forum March 4, 1 p.m., DMSC 110; (3) Dr. Eloisa Gordon-Mora, director of special projects, Office of the Vice-Chancellor, Ana G. Mendez University, public forum March 5, 1 p.m., MIKC Rotunda; and (4) Dr. Carolyn Dunn, associate vice president for Institutional Diversity, Central Michigan University, public forum March 6, 1 p.m., DMSC 110.

    New unr.edu

    On February 20, the Office of Marketing & Communications successfully started the rollout of our new University website, including new resource pages for Faculty & Staff and Students. More information about the site migration will be available on the Website Redesign page.

    Accessibility update

    Our digital infrastructure is undergoing a transformation similar to the transformation that made buildings accessible following ADA guidelines in the 1990s. For years, online content and the software used to build and access that content was created without consideration of accessibility to all. Now, it is becoming a standard and necessary part of making the ever-present digital world available to everyone.

    The University is dedicated to ensuring our online content and software is inclusive and accessible. We are making significant progress, but there are miles (or should we say gigabytes) to go. Tools are available at no cost to create or remediate online content in accessible formats. Training is offered through Teaching and Learning Technologies on how to use those tools, and annual training is required by policy for everyone who creates online content at the University.

    The new University website strives to meet the internationally recognized standard – Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A and AA) – for web accessibility that is common across higher education. Anyone who needs public-facing University-related web pages should contact the Office of Marketing & Communications. The University is required to ensure that all web content created by or on behalf of the University meets the web accessibility standards mentioned above. Additionally, procedures are in place to validate all software used throughout the University for meeting software accessibility standards. Those procedures include the allowance for exceptions when warranted. You can learn more on the Software Accessibility Procurement website.

    Over time, using the tools and following the processes will become second nature for everyone. There is a campus-wide Information and Communications Technology Accessibility Committee, chaired by Vice Provost Steve Smith, that works to make sure an inclusive university means an accessible university for all things digital.

    In closing

    As a closing note, I was saddened to learn that Wallace (Wally) Broecker passed away last week. Wally was an extraordinarily accomplished geochemist and oceanographer who is credited with coining the term “global warming.” His fascination with climate change was sparked when, while Wally was a graduate student in the 1950s, an anthropologist in Los Angeles convinced him to take a road trip to Pyramid Lake. The anthropologist was looking for helping in dating Native American artifacts at Pyramid Lake and Broecker was developing the then-new 14C dating technique. His findings suggested that Pyramid Lake was much deeper 10-15,000 years ago. He devoted his 65-year career to understanding the mechanisms that drive global climate change. If you are interested in a good read that provides a historical context for how our scientific understanding of global changed has evolved, I encourage you to read his book “Fixing Climate.”

    Sincerely,
    Kevin C.

  • Provost's Perspective: December 17, 2018

    Dear Colleagues,

    I hope you have had a productive semester. As you wrap up your final exams and grade reports, I’m sure that you are looking forward to a relaxing holiday break. I hope you have one!

    Here are updates on several important searches that are currently underway:

    • The search committee for the University Diversity and Inclusion Officer, co-chaired by Vice President for Student Services Shannon Ellis and Dr. Daniel Perez, will be conducting Skype interviews of a shortlist of candidates in January of 2019 and expect to conduct on-campus interviews of finalists early in Spring 2019 semester.
    • The search committee for the new Director of the Honors Program, chaired by Dean Greg Mosier, has identified four finalists who will be interviewing before the holiday break. Finalists will be interviewed on campus early in 2019.
    • Finalists for the Coordinator of the new Testing Center were interviewed last week and we hope to have the search completed very soon.
    • Finally, the search for the new Director of the University of Nevada Press is underway and we hope to have a candidate selected early in 2019.

    Summer Session funding model

    You may recall that the NSHE Board of Regents’ budget proposal included a recommendation to provide formula funding for STEM classes that are taught during the summer session. I have appointed an ad hoc committee to evaluate the potential implications of this revised funding model. The committee’s work has taken on added importance given that Gov. Sandoval has recommended the summer formula funding in his proposed budget. I met with the committee in late November to hear their preliminary assessment. During the Spring 2019 semester, the committee will be developing a set of recommendations on how to address three scenarios:

    1. impact of the summer 2019 implementation of a tuition-and-fee schedule that is the same as the regular academic year;
    2. a model for how to manage the approximately $2.85M in additional formula funds that would be generated based on the courses currently taught during the summer; and
    3. the HR, academic and fiscal implications of a significant expansion of summer course offerings.

    We will keep you posted as the committee’s recommendations come forward.

    Faculty Academic Leadership Program

    I was very pleased with the strong interest we received for faculty participation in the Faculty Academic Leadership Program (FALP). Twenty-two faculty members from across the spectrum of colleges and schools will participate in FALP next spring. I am grateful to Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Jill S. Heaton for enthusiastically agreeing to serve as the facilitator for FALP.

    Advanced Manufacturing Research Initiative

    I am also very pleased that we have successfully completed a process of identifying 35 positions that would be supported by new state funds if the legislature funds the Advanced Manufacturing Research Initiative (AMRI). While most positions would be in Engineering (16) and Science (8), most UNR academic units would also be allocated positions, i.e.: Community Health Sciences (3), Liberal Arts (2), Business (2), Journalism (2), CABNR (1) and Education (1). Governor Sandoval has included the full amount requested for the AMRI in his proposed budget, which is an important first step. If we are ultimately successful in securing this new funding, it will be transformative for the University and dramatically impact our ability to contribute to the rapidly evolving economy of Northern Nevada. We have authorized colleges/schools to initiate searches on 15 positions.

    University Arts Building

    Finally, I had the privilege of getting a sneak preview of the new Arts building one evening last week with President Johnson, Dean Moddelmog, Vice President John Carothers and a small group of donors who generously supported the project. While there is finishing work to be done, the building will clearly be an extraordinary new addition in support of our visual and performing arts programs. It will provide state-of-the-art facilities that will allow students and faculty to realize their full potential and will no doubt be a tremendous magnet for new talent. The evening was made extra special by a virtuoso cello performance from Dmitri Atapine.

    I wish you and your loved ones every happiness during the holiday season and throughout the New Year.

    Sincerely,
    Kevin C.

  • Provost's Perspective: October 12, 2018

    Dear Colleagues,

    It seems like just the other day that we launched the fall semester, and here we are almost at the midpoint. Fall is distinctly in the air and daylight savings time will soon retire for the season. “The painted ponies go up and down…”

    Searches

    The search committee for the new dean of the College of Education has been appointed. School of Community Health Sciences Dean Trudy Larson will be serving as chair of the committee. The ad will be posted in November with an expectation of interviewing candidates in early 2019. The search committee for the new Director of the Honors Program has also been formed and is being chaired by College of Business Dean Greg Mosier. We have a strong pool of applicants and hope to be interviewing candidates in November.

    Testing Center

    The University has plans to open a Testing Center and is in the process of searching for the inaugural coordinator of the center. The Testing Center will be located on the first floor of Raggio (where the Math Center used to be). Its primary purpose will be to serve as a resource for our University faculty who wish to have their exams administered by computer outside of normal class times, allowing them to devote more class time to instruction. More details on how to make use of the Testing Center will be forthcoming.

    Formula-funding for Summer School

    As I mentioned in my previous letter, NSHE is proposing that the legislature provide formula funding for STEM classes taught in the summer. This would propel our University toward something resembling a three-semester model, which would have significant implications for virtually every aspect of our university operations. Accordingly, I have appointed a task force that will identify and recommend solutions for operations and standard practices that would be impacted. The committee will complete its work by May of 2019.

    Faculty Administrative Leadership Program

    During the spring semester of 2019 we will be offering a Faculty Administrative Leadership Program (FALP) that will provide guidance to academic faculty who are interested in pursuing administrative leadership opportunities (e.g., department chair, dean, provost, etc.). Details of FALP are being worked out but it will be modeled after the semester-long program conducted by Dean Jeff Thompson for College of Science faculty in 2014. Deans will nominate faculty from their colleges/schools and up to 20 total individuals will participate.

    Online education

    In addition to the 100 faculty and 25 graduate students who are participating in the full ACUE course, approximately 160 more faculty and graduate students are participating in the ACUE module “Embracing Diversity in Your Classroom.” My hope is that the dialogue among these ~285 educators will be a productive step forward in our ongoing commitment to promote scholarly discussions in an inclusive environment at the University.

    We have established a standing committee that is being charged with examining best practices in online education, both individual classes and degree programs. The committee is comprised of representatives from the many online degree programs across campus, Faculty Senate, 365 Learning and TLT. The committee will review our various offerings and make recommendations on issues such as testing to assure that we are maintaining high standards while also maximizing our potential for enrollment.

    Best wishes for a productive and rewarding semester.

    Advanced Manufacturing Research Initiative

    We received preliminary proposals from virtually all schools and colleges for tenure-track positions that would be made available if the 2019 legislature supports our Advanced Manufacturing Research initiative. The preliminary proposals requested approximately 60 positions. The review committee offered comments on the preliminary proposals, which I communicated to deans on Sept. 21. Final proposals will be due on Oct. 15. The review committee will make recommendations on the allocation of the anticipated 35 positions by Nov. 1. After discussing these recommendations with President Johnson, we will finalize a plan and use it to inform a narrative for the Advanced Manufacturing Research initiative, which will be shared with the University community and with legislators who are considering our proposal.

    Online accessibility forum update

    Mark your calendars, also, for Wednesday, Nov. 28 from 4-5:30 p.m. The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Committee is hosting a campus community forum in the Joe Crowley Student Union Theatre to present a summary of actions and continuing efforts with online accessibility. As chair of the ICT committee, Steve Smith will present an overview of the University’s external audit, the resolution agreement between the University and the Office of Civil Rights, and then have members of the committee talk about work toward software, web and instruction content accessibility. The committee will be available for questions after the Online Accessibility Update Forum.

    Innovation and Entrepreneurship

    Finally, if you’re interested in connecting your research or scholarly activity to industry or exploring commercialization, a number of resources and opportunities are available through Research & Innovation. The Nevada Center for Applied Research (NCAR) and the University of Nevada, Reno Innevation Center—Powered By Switch are tangibly contributing to regional economic development and connecting to campus. Within NCAR, the Shared Research Facilities is a particularly applicable program. As the name implies, this program facilitates access to a number of our high-end laboratories and specialized equipment to faculty and students across the University, and to industry as well. At the Innevation Center, nearly half of the meetings are booked by faculty and staff and nearly half of the Makerspace usage is by University students. The Innevation Center desires to grow campus connections. Its programs and resources are free to faculty, staff and students. Enhanced support for commercialization and technology transfer is also available for those wishing to explore these opportunities for business partnership while also protecting discoveries. Please access the websites for these services to learn more.

    Best wishes for a successful second half of the semester.

    Sincerely,
    Kevin C.

  • Provost's Perspective: August 27, 2018

    Dear Colleagues,

    As Joni Mitchell sang, “The seasons go ‘round and ‘round…”… and here we are launching another academic year. I often tell friends that one reason I love my job is that I never get older so long as I don’t look in the mirror! Every year I am surrounded by another wonderful group of young scholars.

    Leadership changes

    Several leadership changes have taken place over the past few months and there are more to come. Dave Shintani started his appointment as Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education on July 1, and Jill Heaton began her appointment as Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs earlier this month. Additional changes over the summer include Debera Thomas starting her appointment as Dean of the Orvis School of Nursing and Shadi Martin assuming her role as Director of the School of Social Work. Please join us for a reception to meet Dr. Martin Monday, Sept. 17 at 3:30 p.m. in the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center Reading Room. On Sept. 18, we formally welcome Dr. Thomas at the Center for Molecular Medicine lobby at 4:30 p.m. Please join us for both receptions.

    Leadership searches

    Two significant leadership searches will be conducted this year. Ken Coll will return to the faculty on June 30, 2019, and thus we will search for a new dean of the College of Education. Tammie Valentine will be stepping down as Director of the Honors Program after 14 years of service and we will be searching for her successor this year as well.

    New scholarly entities

    At the June 2018 Board of Regents meeting, two new scholarly entities were formally approved. The Institute for Neuroscience will provide a nexus of research and collaboration for faculty across the University. Credit goes to Mike Webster, Psychology, for promoting the establishment of this institute.

    The Ozmen Center for Global Studies will provide structure for scholarly studies that address a broad range of research issues that have…well…global significance. The center is supported by a generous gift from Fatih and Eren Ozmen. Berch Berberoglu, Sociology, has worked tirelessly for many years promoting the concept of a global studies center.

    Summer registration fees

    In the summer of 2019, we will begin charging registration fees and tuition for summer sessions that are equivalent to what is charged during the regular academic year. We currently charge the equivalent of in-state registration fees in the summer, so this will have no impact on in-state students. Non-resident students will be paying the same tuition that they pay in fall and spring semesters. This transition is an important transitional step in anticipation of proposed legislation that would provide formula funding from the state for summer classes beginning in the summer of 2021. Over the coming year, we will be working with 365 Learning and the University budgeting team to modify our budgeting structure to accommodate this change.

    ACUE

    Approximately 100 University faculty are participating in ACUE, the Association of College and University Educators' online Course in Effective Teaching Practices. The program is designed to provide faculty with resources and techniques to be excellent educators. The course has been modified from last year and is now spread out over the entire academic year. This change was made based on feedback from faculty with the goal of allowing faculty more time to complete and reflect on the modules that make up the course. Under the leadership of David Zeh, we are also offering the ACUE course to 25 graduate students. We conducted a pilot program for graduate students last year, and the course was enthusiastically endorsed by the students. Finally, please note that we will be offering one of the ACUE modules - “Embracing Diversity in Your Classroom” - to all faculty this fall. More information will be forthcoming, but faculty will be able to sign up for the course during the week of Oct. 1, and then participate in the module from Oct. 8-22. Please put this on your calendar and plan to join the University community in this important opportunity.

    International students

    We have reengaged in our goal of recruiting more international students to the University of Nevada, Reno. We have a promising agreement with USAC that would potentially bring several undergraduate students from China, and we are renewing discussions with possible “pathway provider” companies that would recruit undergraduate and graduate students from around the world.

    Advanced Manufacturing Research

    Last week, we issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to deans for tenure-track faculty positions in the broad area of Advanced Manufacturing Research. This RFP is in anticipation of an enhancement proposal that will be submitted to the Nevada legislature for consideration in the 2019 session. The enhancement proposal requests 15 faculty positions in the coming biennium and an additional 20 positions in the FY22-23 biennium. The proposal also requests funding for 55 graduate research assistantships and 10 administrative and technical staff positions. Preliminary proposals will be due from the deans on Sep. 14 and final proposals on Oct. 15. Our goal is to have searches launched before the end of 2018.

    I wish you all the best for a rewarding and productive year.

    Sincerely,
    Kevin C.

  • Provost's Perspective: April 10, 2018

    Dear Colleagues,

    It is that wonderful time of year when we have the opportunity to recognize outstanding members of our faculty. I’m pleased to announce that four faculty members have been named Foundation Professors. They are George Bebis (Computer Science and Engineering), Michael Branch (English) Wendy Calvin (Geology and Sciences and Engineering), and Peter Weisberg (Natural Resources and Environmental Science). All four of these individuals have truly distinguished records of scholarship, teaching and service to the University of Nevada, Reno and their profession.

    The F. Donald Tibbitts Award is a long-standing tradition at the University that recognizes faculty for excellence in teaching. Faculty are nominated for this award by their peers and recipients are recommended by a faculty committee after an extensive review process. This year’s recipients are Dianna Townsend (Education) and Shannon Richard (Nursing). We also have a new teaching award this year, the Judy and Paul Bible Excellence in Teaching Award. Students nominate faculty for this award, and nominees are reviewed by a committee comprised of faculty and students. The inaugural recipient of this award is Candice Bauer (Engineering).

    All of these outstanding faculty will be recognized at this year’s Honor the Best ceremony, held Tuesday, May 15, from 3-5 p.m. in the Joe Crowley Student Union Milt Glick Ballrooms.

    Orvis School of Nursing Dean

    After many years of distinguished service, Patsy Ruchala will be retiring as Dean of the Orvis School of Nursing. She leaves the school in excellent shape and poised for even greater things to come. I'm pleased to announce that Dr. Debera Thomas will be the next Dean of the OSN. She comes to us from Northern Arizona University and has a distinguished record of leadership, scholarship and teaching. She will begin her appointment July 1, 2018.

    Classified Employee Family Opportunity Program

    The University is pleased to announce The Classified Employee Family Opportunity Program for spouses, domestic partners and dependents of our classified staff. This program, which will pay a portion of the base registration fee for University courses, will begin in the fall 2018 semester. It is the culmination of a long effort by University and the leadership of the Staff Employees Council (SEC) to broaden educational opportunities for the families of the University’s classified staff. For specific questions related to this benefit, visit the Human Resources website.

    Changes in the Provost's Office

    As you have probably heard by now, both Vice Provost Stacy Burton and Vice Provost Joseph Cline have announced their plans to retire from the University at the end of this summer. Their contributions to the institution have been enormous, and they will be missed greatly. We are now in the process of identifying their replacements. Read the position descriptions to find out more. A search committee consisting of a broadly representative group of administrative and academic faculty will begin reviewing applicants for these positions next week. I’m grateful to Fred Holman for chairing the search committee.

    Nevada State Undergraduate Journal

    Earlier this spring, I met with undergraduate student leadership from the University and UNLV regarding our aspirations to be recognized as Carnegie R-1 universities. These impressive young scholars are fully committed to this goal and want to be sure that undergraduate students have an active role in achieving it. University of Nevada, Reno and UNLV students collaboratively manage the Nevada State Undergraduate Research Journal, a peer-reviewed annual publication. If you are mentoring an undergraduate who is conducting scholarly research, please encourage them to consider submitting a manuscript of their work to the NSURJ.

    Accessibility

    Accessibility is a top priority across the University of Nevada, Reno on many fronts. One of those fronts is accessibility of online content and services for all students, employees and the public. This is a constant struggle, as older material may be in a digital format inaccessible to all. Newer technologies offer innovative ways to present content but may not accommodate access by every person regardless of ability.

    Over a year ago, the University came to a resolution agreement with the Office for Civil Rights as a result of an anonymous complaint of inaccessible online content. A large cross section of University staff has been working diligently since that agreement to improve access for all. An external audit revealed specific areas in need of attention. From that audit, a Corrective Action Plan was developed. It was approved by the University Information and Communication Technology Accessibility Committee and approved by the Office for Civil Rights in March 2018. The plan is now being implemented. It includes, among other aspects, training, remediation of inaccessible content, compliance guidelines for new content and timelines to complete the corrective actions. Regular reports on progress are to be submitted to the Office for Civil Rights.

    It is important that every faculty and staff member become familiar with the new policy and procedures in place to make the University’s online environment accessible to all. Information concerning this can be found on the Accessibility and Technology web pages.

    I hope you are enjoying the beautiful spring weather!

    Sincerely,
    Kevin C.

  • Provost's Perspective: January 29, 2018

    Dear Colleagues,

    I hope you had a restful and enjoyable break and are recharged for a great semester. Below, I offer some news and updates on what is happening at the University.

    Enrollment

    We won’t have final enrollment numbers until census day (Feb. 2) but our spring enrollment is looking strong and bit above projections. Freshman Fall-Spring retention rates are particularly strong (~93%). Retention of the 1337 freshmen who participated in NevadaFIT is 95% while retention for students who didn’t participate in NevadaFIT is 91%. I’m particularly encouraged that Ph.D. enrollment is up approximately 4% compared to spring 2017. This is an important leading indicator toward our goal of achieving R1 classification.

    Student Success Collaborative

    Derek Furukawa recently hosted a half-day retreat during which academic advisors from several colleges and schools provided examples of how they are using the Student Success Collaborative (SSC) advising software to improve undergraduate student outcomes. I was impressed by the creative and impactful ways that SSC is being employed. It was noted that early interventions could be greatly improved if we had the ability to capture mid-term exams and grades in SSC. Further discussion revealed that we do not have a clear mechanism for reporting mid-term grades or for routing them to SSC if they were reported. We feel that the challenges can be overcome and we have established an ad hoc committee consisting of folks from IT, TLT, Records and Registration, and Mathematics and Statistics Faculty to work on the problem. Stay tuned for further developments.

    First-generation students

    In an effort to bolster our recruitment and retention of first-generation students, Student Services is looking to launch an initiative to identify faculty members who were also first-generation students. We define “first-generation” as a student whose parent or guardian never graduated from a college or university. First-generation faculty could serve as inspiring role models for students who are navigating the path of being the first in their family to obtain a college education. Here’s a great example at the University of California system of what we hope to accomplish. I believe this program will give us an opportunity to strengthen our relationships with these students and increase their chances of success at the University of Nevada, Reno. If you were a first-generation student and would like to be involved in some manner through our expanding diversity initiatives, please respond directly to Dr. Shannon Ellis, VP Student Services. There will be opportunities for engagement through print and digital formats. The level of your engagement will be an individual choice, but I believe there’s value in compiling this list and sharing your stories with our students.

    Merit raise survey

    A recent survey conducted by the Faculty Senate revealed that a majority of faculty would like to see a change to the current University system of awarding merit raises. About half of those who voted for a change preferred awarding merit based on a simple percentage rather than a fixed-value merit step, and about half preferred a system that was a “hybrid” that included a combination of a fixed-value raise with a percentage raise. Thus, over half of the respondents expressed a desire for a merit-raise system that was based partially or entirely on a percentage basis. Accordingly, I have submitted to the Faculty Senate a plan for revising how merit is awarded. The proposed plan would be a hybrid model that would use fixed merit-step values to determine 45% of the raise (essentially the same as the University's current policy), 45% of the raise would be determined based on a percentage of each unit’s salary pool, and 10% of the raise pool would be allocated to unit leaders (e.g., deans or vice presidents) to be used at their discretion to address issues such as exceptional performance, equity, compression and retention. The plan would eliminate the need to for each unit to have an average merit score of 2.5. I look forward to getting input from the Faculty Senate on the proposed modifications.

    International student recruitment

    Many of you know that we have committed to increasing our enrollment of international students and have been negotiating with INTO, a “pathway provider” company, over the past year to assist us in that effort. Much has changed during the last 12 months and universities across the nation are seeing significant declines in enrollment by students from other countries. International enrollments in Canada and Australia are soaring. The tragic shootings in Las Vegas earlier this year tarnished the reputation of the state of Nevada with many international students. As a result of these changes in the market, INTO informed us early this month that they would not be further pursuing a partnership with the University of Nevada, Reno. While this is disappointing, we remain committed to enhancing our recruitment of international students and will be charting a new path over the coming weeks. Through our discussions with INTO, we learned a lot about the landscape of recruiting international students and how pathway-provider companies are structured. We have developed pathway curricula for several undergraduate and graduate degree programs and have identified and addressed several institutional challenges associated with recruitment of international students. In short, we are now much better prepared to move forward with recruitment and retention of international students. We are looking into a possible partnership with USAC to recruit international students and in the coming weeks will make decisions on if and how we want to engage with a different pathway provider. I am grateful to the many faculty and staff who have worked hard on this initiative – you have my assurance that your efforts will not be wasted.

    Best wishes for a productive and rewarding semester.

    Sincerely,
    Kevin C.

  • Provost's Perspective: October 25, 2017

    Dear Colleagues,

    We are midway through the fall semester, and as always, we wonder how it has gone so quickly. This has been a particularly challenging semester as we have faced and dealt with many social challenges at the local, state, and national level. I’ve been pleased to see how our students, faculty, and staff have embraced these challenges with constructive dialogue and meaningful actions. It is a process that is never finished, but we are stronger and better for regular reaffirmation of our core values and principles.

    I offer a few updates on select initiatives that we are working on during this academic year:

    The Silver Core

    The Silver Core originated from the deliberations of the General Education Task Force, which then-Provost Johnson created in Fall 2010. In Spring 2012, the GETF proposed two alternative general education programs (Silver and Blue). Those were refined in Fall 2012 under the direction of Provost Hardy. In Spring 2013, following two votes of the faculty, the University chose to change its general education program and selected the Silver Core proposal. Then the hard work began to make it happen. Elliott Parker came in as Core Director in summer 2013, and he oversaw the Core through the transitional period leading to the launch of the Silver Core in Fall 2016. The Silver Core includes 14 “Core Objectives” that describe the attributes and competencies that all University of Nevada, Reno graduates should possess when they graduate.

    At President Johnson’s President's Council retreat this past August, we reviewed the Silver Core and discussed its value and significance. Everyone came away impressed and inspired by the thoughtfulness and thoroughness of the Silver Core. This enthusiasm prompted us to feature the Silver Core in the Opening Ceremony for new freshmen. Students, faculty, and regents took turns reading aloud each of the core objectives. It was wonderful way of communicating to new students and to the entire University community our commitment to comprehensive liberal-arts education.

    When the Silver Core was drafted, it included an explicit understanding that it would be a living document, one that could and should be updated and modified as appropriate to remain relevant to evolving societal and economic conditions. Core Objective 10 specifies that “Students will demonstrate an understanding of diversity through courses that focus on topics such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, physical ability, language, and/or social class with an emphasis on the analysis of equity.” Largely in response to ongoing dialogue with students, we have come to appreciate that meeting CO-10 doesn’t necessarily assure that students are exposed to issues that address contemporary issues of diversity. Further, many CO-10 courses that addresses contemporary diversity issues are 300- or 400-level courses that have prerequisites and are thus not readily available to all students. Accordingly, the Core Board – currently chaired by Dr. Sarah Cummings – is addressing this issue.

    This fall, we commissioned a special Core Diversity Task Force to develop Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) that articulate “Contemporary and US-focused Diversity and Equity. he task force (Ed Keppelmann, Jen Hill, Albert Lee, Deborah Boehm, and ASUN representative Precious Gbenjo) has completed its work, and its recommendations will be used as criteria to evaluate course proposals for mini-grants for faculty who wish to modify existing courses, or create new courses, that address current diversity topics. The expectation is that these courses will be taught during the 2018-19 academic year and going forward. The goal is to provide opportunities for all students to satisfy CO-10 requirements with courses that address contemporary topics of diversity and equity. Further, we are also in the process of hiring four new faculty who will have appointments with the Gender, Race, and Identify (GRI) Program

    The Core Board is also reviewing our policies for meeting the Quantitative Reasoning (CO-2) requirement. This discussion is in line with a national dialogue, led be the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas, Austin, which advocates that colleges and universities should more closely align mathematics and quantitative skills with a student’s chosen field of study. For most STEM disciplines, college algebra leading to calculus is appropriate. However, social sciences, humanities and some professional disciplines may be better served by other quantitative competencies, such as statistical analysis.

    Finally, the Core Board is exploring potential options for elevating the status of and rebranding the Silver Core into a comprehensive “contract” that describes a University of Nevada, Reno graduate. It could be a useful document for engaging with employers and stakeholders to facilitate ongoing dialogue of how our curriculum can and should continuously evolve to meet the needs of rapidly changing socio-economic conditions and career opportunities. To assist in this endeavor, Reynolds School of Journalism’s Bob Felton’s Marketing class will use the Silver Core as a case study in the spring semester. We look forward to seeing what his students come up with!

    Accessibility update

    On July 1, 2017, new accessibility compliance policy and procedures went into effect. The policy and procedures are designed to ensure our information and communication technology (ICT) is accessible for all individuals. ICT broadly applies to all equipment and technology, from websites to PDFs, software to instructional content. Every division and college is responsible for monitoring, maintaining and resolving accessibility issues.

    Please be on the lookout in the next few weeks for more detailed information that will be shared campus-wide, as well as informational forums that will be scheduled to explain the support and resources available, as well as provide a forum to ask questions.

    Child care

    After a thorough process of exploring potential options for expanding child-care capacity on campus, it has become clear that partnering with a third-party provider is not a viable option. Such a partnership would not be financially viable and it would not be conducive to expansion of capacity by the Child and Family Research Center. I would like to thank Tom Judy, Ron Zurek, Sheri Waugh and Melissa Burnham for their investment of time in energy in helping us explore possibilities. We remain committed to finding a way to expand child-care capacity for our campus community and will be considering other options to achieve this goal.

    Contrary to persistent rumors, it’s important to reemphasize the University has never considered or intended to close or negatively impact the CFRC. There are no changes intended for the program, as we truly understand and recognize how vital this program is to our campus and the community.

    Pack Provisions

    The University community values all of its students, faculty, staff, and their families. We know that some of them face chronic or transient challenges with simply having sufficient food and other necessities. In the response to this need, the ASUN Center for Student Engagement has established and runs the Pack Provisions program, which seeks to support all members of this learning community and their families. The program offers short-term assistance with food, daily hygiene items and school supplies free of charge so that no one has to go without.

    However, some feel uncomfortable, ashamed or afraid of coming in to request assistance. Since people must self-identify and request assistance from Pack Provisions, many instead end up skipping meals or going without daily essentials. In fact, the 2016 Wolf Pack Civic Community Assessment found that while 26% of University of Nevada, Reno students experience food insecurity sometimes or often, only 14% of respondents answered affirmatively that they would be the type of student to accept assistance. We hope to eliminate this stigma.

    Please encourage any University students, faculty, or staff who are experiencing challenges related to food, clothing, school supplies or other everyday items to contact Pack Provision at packprovisions@asun.unr.edu or visit Pack Provisions in the ASUN Center for Student Engagement, 3rd floor of the Joe Crowley Student Union. For more information on Pack Provisions including hours and how to get involved, visit the Student Engagement website.

    INTO

    We are engaged with active discussions with INTO (an independent organization focused on expanding higher education opportunities for students worldwide) as a partner to enhance enrollment of international students in undergraduate and graduate programs. This is a complex, long-term relationship that involves virtually every segment of the University. We are making good progress and are hopeful bring the contract to the Board of Regents for approval in February 2018.

    Sincerely,
    Kevin C.

  • Provost's Perspective: August 30, 2017

    Dear Colleagues,

    I hope you had an enjoyable and productive summer and are energized for another great year at the University of Nevada, Reno. As we embark on a new academic year, it is appropriate to reflect on our guiding principles as described in our strategic plan. Below, I have copied the Vision and Mission statements, as well as the Values that are in our strategic plan:

    Vision

    The University of Nevada, Reno’s vision is to educate and graduate the best prepared, confident leaders for the state, national, and global community; to be a nexus for research and creativity that focuses on the vital issues of our time; and to serve as a catalyst for the betterment of our society.

    Mission

    Inspired by its land-grant foundation, the University of Nevada, Reno provides outstanding learning, discovery, and engagement programs that serve the economic, social, environmental, and cultural needs of the citizens of Nevada, the nation, and the world. The University recognizes and embraces the critical importance of diversity in preparing students for global citizenship and is committed to a culture of excellence, inclusion, and accessibility.

    Values

    In all of its activities, the University is guided by the following values:

    • Excellence in all of our endeavors.
    • Integrity in all our actions.
    • Inclusiveness of diverse cultures and identities.
    • Collaboration between disciplines and programs and with community partners and stakeholders.

    Given the challenges that we have faced as a nation and as a university in the wake of the tragic events in Charlottesville, it is appropriate that we remind ourselves of our deep and fundamental commitment to being a university that celebrates and embraces diversity and provides a welcoming and nurturing environment for people of every race, ethnicity, sexual identity, and national origin. This is who we are and what we are about.

    Below are some updates on happenings around campus.

    International students

    We informed you last year that we were pursuing a possible partnership with a private company to assist us in recruiting international students. After talking with three companies, we decided to pursue a partnership with INTO. INTO representatives have made several visits to the University over the past few months to meet with administrative and academic faculty and we are in the process of detailed discussions with other INTO partners (e.g., Oregon State, Washington State, Colorado State, and the University of Alabama, Birmingham) to learn from their experiences. I believe that this partnership will bring much-needed international diversity to both undergraduate and graduate programs, and it has the potential for significantly enhancing revenue to support our growth and evolution as a research university. I’ll be discussing this venture with the Faculty Senate on Aug. 31, and hope to host an open forum on the INTO partnership sometime in September.

    ACUE

    This fall, approximately 50 faculty are participating in the ACUE course, which is “a high-quality, research-based, comprehensive, and scalable program to credential faculty in the evidence-based teaching practices necessary for student success.” Another 50 faculty will participate in the course in spring 2018, and we anticipate that approximately 100 faculty will take the course on an annual basis going forward. A special thanks to Prof. Beth Ledger, and Prof. Lynda Weist for serving as facilitators this fall. Dean David Zeh has also worked with ACUE and put together condensed version of the course that will be offered to approximately 50 graduate teaching assistants this fall.

    Electronic textbooks

    The business of textbook publishing is rapidly changing. Many University faculty have for some time been using textbooks that include supplemental online materials. Last year, we were successful in obtaining changes to NSHE policy that allow faculty to use digital textbooks that are directly linked to their classes through Canvas. Students have the opportunity to opt-out of digital text and obtain a printed text if that is their preference. The digital textbooks are substantially less expensive than traditional printed textbooks. The Nevada Wolf Shop successfully piloted the implementation of digital textbooks last spring and summer. Nine University faculty have opted to use digital course material for fall 2017. If you have an interest in learning more about digital textbooks and teaching materials, please contact Steve Dubey in the Wolf Shop.

    Sincerely,
    Kevin C.