The University is committed to pursuing initiatives that will implement our current vision as described in our 2013-2018 Strategic Plan and in the refinement of a new vision; in particular what should be our vision for 2013, our Centennial Vision? One answer is to focus on quality. We need to create a clear and coherent vision of the future that includes identification of areas of focus for programs of distinction as well as identification of core undergraduate and master programs and core activities. This focus should lead to quality graduates, economic development, and serving the public interest. To achieve these aspirations requires us to balance our efforts for greater student success with strategic enhancement of research and graduate programs. In particular, we need to increase the number of tenure-track faculty. Improvements in programs will probably have to be made within current available resources since, at best, only a small amount of new funds will be available. The University will continue to invest in support of effective instructional and strategic research programs. In addition, the following areas should be given attention in 2013:
1. Recruitment & Retention of Students
• Enrollment Management
Various initiatives to enhance enrollment, including transfer student recruitment and retention and graduation initiatives, will be continued and their effectiveness assessed. There will be a balanced commitment to recruit and retain all students-freshmen, transfer, non-traditional, international, and graduate students -and to maintain or increase diversity and quality of the student body. Very large numbers of applications are processed each year in excess of 700. An analysis of the applications will be made to determine how many students are “stop-in/stop-out”. If the number is large then policies will be evaluated to minimize the amount of processing needed by the Admissions office and the student.
We will continue to attract a diverse group of students who have higher SAT and GPA qualifications than previous classes. A minimum Freshman Index of 500 will be used for recruitment of new freshmen, the same minimum as used for fall 2010. Starting with spring 2013, the minimum transfer GPA will be 2.5, increased from 2.3 in fall 2009. More effective allocation and increases in the number of presidential assistantships would assist in attracting highly talented students. We will continue to expand the community of scholars program housed in the Lofts. Transfer student recruitment will be focused in particular on programs where there is upper division capacity.
We will continue to focus on initiatives to increase retention for our diverse group of students. A goal is to increase first-year and second-year retention rates to 82.0% and 67.0% for the entering fall 2012 class. Benchmarks for year-to-year retention of transfer students will be established. We will analyze success rates of transfer students from various institutions and increase our interaction with faculty and programs of those institutions that provide us with the majority of our transfer students. Increased emphasis will be placed on departmental responsibility for retention of their majors, within available resources.
2. Undergraduate Experience
♦ Strengthening Student Learning
• Learning Communities
• Writing across the curriculum
Freshmen Learning Communities will continue to expand to serve 800 students for fall 2013. Analysis of retention data from fall 2009, 2010, and 2011 indicates that student in FLCs have six percentage point higher retention rates than non-FLC students. Also, this enhanced persistence extends through subsequent semesters.
• Course redesign
Some courses that serve large numbers of students will be piloted for redesign. We will learn from the success of a project, on learning and technology in 30 various courses. Examination of large-enrollment courses in which students historically have earned a high number of E, D, or F grades or A and B grades will continue. Various learning enhancement strategies will be piloted in some of these gatekeeper courses in order to transform them into gateway courses and hence increase retention rates.
One of the General Education outcomes involves written communication. Increasing the number of courses with writing intensive components will continue subject to availability of resources.
• Service Learning
Opportunities for service-learning programs that engage students in service that meets unmet community needs while enhancing their academic study, civic skills, and sense of social responsibility are being developed.
3. Graduate Experience & Research
• Research & Graduate Programs Infrastructure
Support for the Office of Research is in three broad categories: grants and contracts management and sponsored programs (pre-and post-award processes); support for research and creative activities of faculty; and research integrity and compliance activities. In order to reflect the growth in external funding and keep pace with such growth, we need to find ways to significantly increase funding for the Internal Grants Program and the budget for the Office of Research and Awards Administration.
• Internal grants program
Analyses of internal grants programs indicate that these programs provide a significant stimulus to research growth in the university. Attention should also be given to develop programs for underserved groups, especially those groups that do not traditionally attract significant external funds.
• Graduate programs
Analyses of graduate tuition waivers, graduate assistantships, and mechanisms supporting grants (pre- and post-awards) will be made to decide how best to financially support research and graduate programs to achieve institutional goals. At least partial health insurance is available for graduate students at many competing research universities. In order to recruit and retain high quality graduate assistants, we need to find ways to incorporate health insurance to at least the fifty-percent level for FY2014. Graduate student stipends will be analyzed and a strategy developed for improvement of stipend amounts. In order to enhance our status as a research university, we will complete the Enrollment Management strategic plan that includes a focus on graduate education.