Thursday, October 20, 2016
This week, I have the honor of congratulating nine faculty members who were selected to to participate in the 2016-17 SEC Faculty Travel Program.
This national recognition is a true example of the academic excellence that exists across our campus.
More than 100 faculty members from all 14 Southeastern Conference (SEC) universities will take part in the 2016-17 SEC Faculty Travel Program. The program, in its fifth year, provides support for selected individuals to collaborate with colleagues at other SEC member institutions.
The SEC Faculty Travel Program is part of SECU, the academic initiative of the Southeastern Conference. The SEC supports and promotes the endeavors and achievements of the students and faculty at its 14 member universities.
The SECU program believes collaboration is key to the success and advancement of research. Through the program, the SEC provides financial assistance for its faculty members to travel to other SEC universities to exchange ideas, develop grant proposals, conduct research and deliver lectures or performances.
The nine chosen from UK to participate in the SEC Faculty Travel Program are:
- Sunday "Tayo" Adedokun, an assistant professor of animal and food sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment;
- Melinda Ickes, associate professor of kinesiology and health promotion in the College of Education;
- Yang Jiang, an associate professor in behavioral science in the College of Medicine;
- Youngseek Kim, assistant professor of library and information science in the College of Communication and Information;
- Yoko Kusunose, assistant professor of agricultural economics in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment;
- Rebekah Radtke, assistant professor of interiors in the College of Design;
- Monica Visona, associate professor of art history in the College of Fine Arts;
- Irina Voro, professor of piano in the College of Fine Arts; and
- Jonathan Wenk, assistant professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering.
Once again, congratulations! We look forward to seeing the impressive work that is sure to come from this program.
Visit the SECU online at www.thesecu.com/programs/sec-faculty-travel-program/2016-2017-sec-facult... for a full list of 2016-17 SEC Faculty Travel Program participants.
Thursday, October 6, 2016
Homecoming is one of our institution’s richest traditions. It is a time for our campus community—our students, faculty, staff, alumni and fans—to come together and celebrate the University of Kentucky and what it means to us.
Homecoming also marks the time when the fall academic semester is in full swing; it’s nearly time for midterms, which begin on Oct. 17, a week from Monday.
In the midst of midterm preparation, I hope students take the time to enjoy all that this weekend has to offer, which includes supporting their classmates.
This year, our juniors and seniors who represent UK’s Homecoming Royalty are outstanding examples of both student success and academic excellence.
Evan Adams, a Lexington native and son to Doug and Stephanie Adams, is a Singletary Scholar at the University of Kentucky, majoring in Psychology. He is the current President of Sigma Chi Fraternity, where he has also served as Chaplain and Philanthropy and Service Chairman. Over his tenure at the University of Kentucky, he has served on the executive committees of DanceBlue, Wrap Up America, and GreekWide, and has been involved with other campus organizations such as FUSION Day of Service and Campus Student Fellowship. After graduation, Evan will pursue a Master’s in Education, with aspirations of teaching and preparing the next generation. Evan is sponsored by Alpha Delta Pi Sorority.
Tommy Daley is a senior from Springboro, Ohio. Majoring in Biology and Philosophy, he hopes to move on to medical school next year. In his time at UK, he has been a brother of Alpha Tau Omega, president and founder of MEDLIFE, president of the Student Wellness Ambassadors, a member of Phi Delta Epsilon, and an active member of the Christian Student Fellowship. He is currently a chair for DanceBlue, a senator-at-large for the Student Government Association, and works at Magee’s Bakery. He is the son of Lee and Megan Daley. Tommy is sponsored by Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity.
Richie Simpson is a senior from Lexington, Kentucky. He has always dreamed of attending the University of Kentucky, and is a senior who is studying Economics. His parents are Carol and David Simpson, from Lebanon, Kentucky, and Lexington, Kentucky, respectively. In his time at the University of Kentucky, he has been involved in a variety of organizations engaged in helping new students’ transition to life in Lexington at UK. In his final year at UK, he is serving as the Overall Chair of DanceBlue, a student organization at UK that supports children in their battle against cancer. Richie is sponsored by Chi Omega Sorority.
Patrick Smith, Jr. is the son of Patrick Sr. and Crystal Smith. Patrick is currently a senior from Belleville, Illinois and double majors in Marketing and Business Management. He is involved in leadership with the National Panhellenic Council and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and has been earned many awards through regional, provincial, and national levels. In the past, he has also been involved with SGA, the Black Student Union, and the National Association of Black Accountants. After graduation, Patrick plans on attending law school in hopes of becoming an attorney. Patrick is sponsored by the National Panhellenic Council.
Zhizhi Wit Wang is currently a senior student majoring in Business Management in the Gatton College of Business and Economics. He is originally from China, and has been studying in the United States for a little over six years. At the age of sixteen, his father Qi Wang and mother Miao Li decided on sending him for a better education in the United States. He is well plugged-in in several organizations on campus and in the community. He is passionate about helping other people and promoting diversity and inclusion. He truly believes that everyone can change the world. A quote from his favorite TedTalk: “We have branded love about changing the world, but there is no world, just 7.4 billion understandings. If we can influence one person at a time, we are already making a positive change.” Wit is sponsored by Leadership Exchange.
DeAnna Duffy is the daughter of Brian and Carolyn Duffy. She is from Elk Grove Village, Illinois. She is a senior Psychology major with a History minor. She is on the Board of Directors with the Leadership Exchange, the Scholarship Chair for Alpha Delta Pi Sorority, and a Student Peer Coordinator with Transformative Learning. She also loves to volunteer with Wildcat Service Dogs, the Ronald McDonald House, and Wolf Run Wildlife Refuge. She is also a member of the Developmental Psychology Research Lab at the University, working under Dr. Christina Brown. DeAnna is currently applying to graduate school to become a high school teacher and hopes to someday teach abroad. DeAnna is sponsored by Leadership Exchange.
Elizabeth Foster is a junior from Owensboro, Kentucky studying Electrical Engineering with a minor in Mathematics. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Foster. Elizabeth is a Patterson Scholar and member of the Honors College. Currently, she serves as Chief of Staff for the Student Government Association and Membership Education Vice-President for Alpha Delta Pi Sorority. In addition, she serves on the Family Relations Committee for DanceBlue and is a member of the Society of Women Engineers. Elizabeth also works at both the University of Kentucky Visitor Center and Schneider Electric. Elizabeth is sponsored by Beta Theta Pi Fraternity.
Willow Kreutzer is a University of Kentucky senior studying Political Science with a double minor in International Relations and Gender and Women’s Studies with a certificate in Global Studies. She is from Lake Orion, Michigan, and the daughter of Gigi Kreutzer. Willow is the founding president of her sorority, Alpha Chi Omega, and Vice President of her Political Science honors fraternity, Pi Sigma Alpha. She hopes to attend graduate school to continue her studies in International Relations, and pursue a career in government helping women in developing countries gain more rights. She is sponsored by Alpha Chi Omega Sorority.
Rowan Reid, a senior from Louisville, Kentucky, is a double degree candidate in Economics and Management. She is the daughter of Michael and Therese Reid, and has two other siblings attending UK, Halle and Nathaniel. She currently serves as the President of Student Government, and as the student trustee on UK’s Board of Trustees. She also is a member of the Student Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion and the Internal Recruitment chair for her sorority, Chi Omega. Rowan has dedicated her time at the University to bettering the student experience for her peers, and hopes to continue bettering the state of Kentucky in her professional career as a public attorney. Rowan is sponsored by Chi Omega Sorority.
Savanah Faith Sellars, from Lexington, Kentucky, is a senior Integrated Strategic Communications major and Philosophy minor. On campus, she is a member of Air Force ROTC Flying Wildcats, Student Government Association, Arnold Air Society, club swimming, and is a Pi Beta Phi Alumna. Savanah works as an intern speechwriter and communications strategist for the President, Provost and EVPFA of UK. Off campus, Savanah teaches Jobs for Life to women at the Fayette County Detention Center. After graduation, she will serve as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force. Her parents are Melinda and Thom Sellars of Lexington, Kentucky. Savanah is sponsored by Air Force ROTC Flying Wildcats.
Please join me in congratulating these students on their selection to UK Homecoming Royalty. Their commitments to academics, community service and to the University of Kentucky are outstanding.
Have a great weekend.
Timothy S. Tracy
Thursday, September 29, 2016
Last week, we held the most recent in a series of Academic Excellence town halls. Throughout this meeting, several of our colleagues who are leading the realignment provided updates, next steps and specific components of our shared vision:
- Adrienne McMahan, Interim Assistant Provost for Student and Academic Support provided an update on advising.
- Nick Kehrwald, Interim Dean of Students, provided an update on academic alerts
- Kathi Kern, Director of the Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching, provided an update on tutoring services and initiatives.
- Mary Bolin, Director of the UK Counseling Center, provided an update on the center and the important work in which her staff engages every day.
Career and Academic Advising
As Adrienne emphasized at the town hall, our commitment to supporting academic success spans across many areas. We must take a collaborative, integrated approach to ensure we are creating the best possible environment for student academic success.
To that end, we are transitioning undeclared, exploratory, non-degree & APP students to the colleges. Our vision is to create a highly-coordinated and integrated professional advising system that reflects discipline-specific norms but stresses consistent, shared outcomes. We also aim to leverage technology and facilitate common practices, procedures and communication so students have a seamless advising experience regardless of which college they choose, move into or leave. While we have an immediate focus on the first- year transition, this initiative includes a highly integrated plan for all four years.
We are also working to develop a better advisor-to-student ratio. All undergraduate advisors will have a maximum caseload of 285-1, a ratio based on national averages and best practices.
This will require us to invest in hiring additional advisors, and is another example of us investing more—and more strategically—in our students.
Nick Kerhwald discussed a central initiative in our shared goal to increase retention and graduation rates—academic alerts.
Academic alerts are supplemental to communication from the faculty to the student about expectations and issues with class performance. Importantly, alerts are not a replacement for student-faculty communication; however, they provide another means for us to recognize and address instances in which students begin to struggle.
Once an academic alert is submitted, an email is instantaneously sent to the student and the academic advisor. The student is instructed to contact both his/her advisor and his/her instructor to resolve the academic issue in question. The academic advisor contacts the student promptly to discuss the issue. Concerns that would prompt an alert include missed classes; habitual lateness; un-submitted homework; poor homework quality; poor test performance or quizzes; risk of failing a course; and/or plans to leave UK.
We are currently piloting a system that will enhance the efforts even further. Launched last week, a group of 10-12 advisors across seven colleges are using it. Features of the new system include a communication platform that allows for automated communication templates, a share feature and a better note-taking system. The new system also provides better tracking of actions taken by advisors, which allows us to better collect data on the most important interventions.
We will continue to incorporate additional features throughout the semester, based on the important feedback we receive from our advisors and students.
Kathi Kern described at the town hall our commitment to coordinating a cohesive set of tutoring services on campus. We must ensure that students receive the same high quality tutoring assistance at all service points. To do so, Kathi and her team are working to heighten faculty involvement in the hiring and continuing education of tutors. She is also developing a plan that focuses on courses with high DEW rates and will roll out a pilot program next semester targeting those courses.
Over the course of the next several months, Kathi’s team will also meet with department chairs and associate deans to incorporate their feedback and ideas, while establishing a priority list and timetable for next steps in the on-going campus conversation about tutoring. We are also working to identify appropriate spaces for tutoring, particularly the relocation of The Study South.
Dr. Mary Bolin provided an update on the important work occurring in the UK Counseling Center. The Counseling Center offers groups, workshops and short-term counseling to support student's growth and assist with mental health, academic and/or other personal concerns that might interfere with academic performance or a sense of personal well-being while at UK. We know that emotional wellness plays a crucial role in student success; we want to continue to build upon these efforts and services.
As a part of this process, we have expanded—and will continue to expand—the capacity of the Counseling Center. The center will employ 17 licensed clinicians on-site by mid-October. In addition, we plan to hire two more clinicians within the next year: a coordinator for inclusive excellence and a licensed psychologist. We are also working to expand services by extending hours at Frazee Hall.
We will continue to host these community town halls throughout the realignment process. I’d like to extend my gratitude to each and every one of you who contributes to our most important shared goal: serving our students.
Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016
President Capilouto recently wrote to the campus about the decision UK made to uncover the Memorial Hall mural, while also taking significant steps to cultivate an environment of inclusivity and belonging for everyone in the UK community. He also addressed this topic through a campus video message.
This is, without doubt, an important step.
Our campus must be a place where everyone — regardless of race, gender, background, religion, ethnicity, identity, and any other human characteristics — feels a sense of safety and belonging.
Plans for accomplishing this goal are infused throughout our strategic plan. It will serve as a guidepost throughout our efforts to achieve the environment we desire with respect to diversity and inclusion.
But, of course, the most important guideposts for this important undertaking are our people—the students, faculty and staff that make up the UK family.
We have been fortunate over the past several months to engage in constructive dialogue with a wide range of UK community members from our underrepresented populations. President Capilouto, Interim Vice President for Institutional Diversity Terry Allen, and I—among others—are anxious for that dialogue to continue in the consistent spirit of transparency, honesty, and respect.
Through these conversations a broad consensus emerged that progress needs to be made in a number of areas. In particular, our students presented us with five core pillars upon which we should focus with respect to people, resources, curriculum and performance measurements. Those five areas include:
- Accessibility to resources and funding for organizations, scholarships and programming
- Restructuring of the Office of Institutional Diversity
- Measurable benchmarks for diversity and accountability
- Increasing the number of African-American professors and staff and increasing retention
- A class on race and ethnicity that is part of the core curriculum
- These concerns are real. And we’re grateful to our community members for highlighting them .
So, while more progress undoubtedly must be made, I’d like to highlight some of the things we are doing to address these important issues. In the spirit of openness and collaboration, we will continue to provide updates on the progress we’re making in these crucial areas.
Accessibility to resources and funding for organizations, scholarships and programming
Last year, we initiated the Provost Persistence Grant program— a program which provides grants to students with financial holds due to small sums of money. In the 2015-2016 academic year 209 students were awarded this grant. More than half of those students were from underrepresented populations. Having analyzed the data from past efforts with this program, we want to continue and expand it.
We’ve also increased funding for both the William C. Parker scholarship, an undergraduate scholarship, and the Lyman T. Johnson Fellowship program, a graduate scholarship. Both of these programs contribute significantly to diversity and inclusion efforts, as well as recruitment of underrepresented minority students.
Restructuring of the Office of Institutional Diversity
Last spring, President Capilouto spoke individually with more than 60 members of the campus and broader community about the Office for Institutional Diversity and its direction. He appointed Terry Allen to serve as interim vice president for institutional diversity and to begin the work of restructuring and reinvigorating efforts to support inclusivity throughout campus.
The Office for Institutional Diversity has contacted other institutions to gather information on best practices for this type of work. Internally, a survey instrument was created and distributed to 3,000 students and 1,500 faculty and staff to gather feedback.
The university will continue to look at the structure of the office with input from students, faculty and staff.
Measurable benchmarks for diversity and accountability
Last October, our Board of Trustees adopted the 2015-2020 strategic plan, which entails ambitious plans for closing retention and graduation gaps for underrepresented student populations.
One of the plan’s five objectives focuses entirely upon creating the kind of environment we all desire with respect to diversity and inclusion. Our goal is to “enhance the diversity and inclusivity of our University community through recruitment, retention and promotion of an increasingly diverse population of faculty, administrators, staff, and students, and by implementing initiatives that provide rich diversity-related experiences for all to help ensure their success in an interconnected world.”
Importantly, this emphasis is not only reflected through this objective. Our ambitions to become a more diverse, welcoming campus are suffused throughout the strategic plan, in each objective and every iteration of our shared vision.
Transparent communication of outcomes and mechanisms of meeting strategic plan benchmarks will be ongoing.
Increasing the number of African-American professors and staff and increasing retention
After declining or remaining flat over the last four years, UK has seen an increased number of female, underrepresented minority (all groups), and, specifically, African Americans, among faculty and executive/administrative/managerial staff in the last year. Of course, we want to continue and improve upon this progress.
We’ve begun to develop and implement plans, in line with our strategic plan, to provide formal inclusiveness and diversity professional development for all faculty, staff, managers, and supervisors.
One example is the Unconscious Bias initiative. This 3-5 year campus-wide initiative provides a sustainable road map for impacting awareness on campus for all members of the community beginning with leaders. Among the initiatives are faculty search committee trainings, along with trainings for community members, speakers, and scholarly research activities.
A class on race and ethnicity that is part of the core curriculum
The university is working with elected faculty representatives to examine whether a class that more holistically focuses on these diversity-related issues can become part of core curriculum. In the meantime, as this important process proceeds, programs that foster diversity and inclusion during K-Week have been enhanced. In addition, we have added a second diversity module in the UK 101/201 curriculum. This took effect this fall.
Again, I would like to thank those who are working with us, bringing these concerns to the forefront of the conversation.
After the tragic violence that took place across the nation this summer, Interim Vice President for Institutional Diversity Terry Allen wrote:
“As an institution of higher learning, that call for reflection, the thirst for understanding, the seeking of knowledge in the midst of the seemingly unknowable, is what makes us and our community special.
It is also the burden we must carry together. We have a distinct responsibility, in this place and at this time, to ask tough questions of ourselves, of society, and of those in power.
We have a right – and there is a responsibility we share too – to expect that all of us, regardless of our position or prominence, are held accountable for our actions, individually and collectively.”
As an institution, we know we must continue to nurture diversity, inclusion, safety and belonging on our campus. We share a responsibility to do so.
At the same time, I’m proud of the steps we’ve begun to take—in partnership—to undertake this work. I look forward to continuing those efforts together.
Thank you for your role in our shared vision.
Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016
This morning, we will begin two days of meetings with our Board of Trustees in Bowling Green, KY. It will be an opportunity to showcase progress that we continue to make, under its leadership, toward our shared vision.
We aim to be the University of choice for aspiring undergraduate students within the Commonwealth and beyond. One week ago, we took another important step in that journey. As we have announced previously, on Sept. 1 the newly formed unit, Student and Academic Life, began operating under the new organizational structure.
This realignment supports our commitment to support student success in an integrated, collaborative way—one that blends the curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular. We are realigning our resources to create the best organization—structurally—to accomplish this important goal.
A merging of the critical efforts within the Division of Student Affairs and Undergraduate Education to form the unit of Student and Academic Life will provide a more integrated support structure to guide students through their academic journeys at UK. The new structure reallocates more resources from administration to front-line staff working with and directly supporting our students on a regular basis.
We are investing more – and more strategically – in our students. They are, and they must be, at the center of everything that we do.
As part of this process, we are also committed to transparency and openness. We will continue to keep the campus updated as we work to realign the other units that comprise academic excellence.
Below is an email that I sent to all Student and Academic Life employees last week:
(Sept. 2, 2016)
I’d like to thank you for your efforts, good faith and patience as we’ve undergone the first step in our Academic Excellence transformation. As we have announced previously, yesterday —Sept. 1—Student and Academic Life will began operating under the new organizational structure.
For the past several weeks, unit leaders have been working collaboratively to hand off responsibilities and ensure business continuity. We want this process to be as seamless as possible, especially as it relates to our interactions with students, so we appreciate your efforts to help us be successful.
Transitions are not easy. We understand that some anxiety still exists, and that we must continue working together to nurture a divisional culture that reflects our shared vision. To that end, we will begin scheduling workshops, retreats and meetings to discuss what that will look like, and how it can best serve our students.
We will also continue to meet in a town hall setting, as we have since April, to provide updates, answer questions and discuss the progress we’ve made. In the last town hall, a participant suggested that staff members submit questions or topics for us to address ahead of time. If you have any input on what we should cover in the next town hall, in addition to the regular updates and progress, please contact us at AETransform@uky.edu.
Naturally, many questions have arisen as we’ve gotten closer to this stage of the realignment. I would like to address some recurring questions we’ve heard so far. Those are below. Of course, if you have any additional questions or comments, please feel free to email us at the same address, AETransform@uky.edu
Thank you for everything you do.
Will I have a different assigned work space?
The timeline for physical relocations within all Academic Excellence units will vary by unit and subunit over the next year. Unit leaders and managers will have more information on these timelines in the coming weeks.
Where do I go for my IT/UKAT needs?
For all Information Technology needs (desktop support, server support, etc.) please contact Kellie Etheridge (firstname.lastname@example.org) or 218-HELP. For all analytics/data requests please contact Craig Rudick (Craig.Rudick@uky.edu).
Will I receive a merit raises on my September paycheck?
The 2 percent merit raise allocated for the 2016-2017 fiscal year is based upon merit related to previous responsibilities and efforts—just as the institution has done for the last four years. Therefore, all employees will receive a raise commensurate with their most recent performance evaluation. Merit raise letters for Student & Academic Life employees will be distributed this week.
When will I know the status of my operating budget?
Employees who perform budget-related duties have been meeting with the Provost Budget Office team over the past several weeks. Units should receive FY17 operating budgets in the coming days.
What changes will occur on my website, and who will oversee web maintenance?
The Student and Academic Life unit leaders have been working with staff in UKPR and UK University Relations on all websites that fall under Student and Academic Life. These staff are creating new websites that reflect the new organizational structure and moving existing content into the new websites. If you have any questions about this process or the status of a website you help maintain, please communicate with your unit leader.
My new supervisor’s position is still open. What do I do in the interim?
The interim assistant provosts have been communicating with people in their units about the changes going into effect. If your supervisor’s position is currently vacant and you are unsure who to go to for questions, time approval, etc., contact the interim assistant provost for your areas. If you have any additional questions regarding the organizational structure, please contact AETransform@uky.edu
What should I tell students, if they have questions about the new structure?
Any member of the UK family is welcome to ask questions at AETransform@uky.edu. Again, our goal is to make the transition into the new structure particularly seamless for students, so please contact us if you foresee any recurring questions or need guidance on how to communicate these changes with students.
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Yesterday morning, I had another thoughtful and engaging conversation with the staff in Academic Excellence—the support units that focus on our top priority, student success. It was another meeting in a series of town halls I’ve held with this group since the spring, when we began the Office of the Provost realignment in earnest.
We spent the majority of our time discussing the realignment of the new division, Student and Academic Life (SAL), as the first phase of the realignment focused on this area. And, while we have made progress in integrating the organizational structure of Student Affairs and Undergraduate Education into the new division, Student and Academic Life, we still have work to do.
We’re continuing to evaluate how we can best match money with mission and ensure that we’re creating the best organization—structurally—to support student success.
To that end, we have begun posting new positions within Student and Academic Life, and will continue to post more in the coming weeks. You can see the breakdown of these types of positions in the presentation linked above.
At the town hall in July, I announced the interim Student and Academic Life leaders who have already begun working to build the new organizational structure, while also maintaining business continuity as we welcome a new incoming class of students.
- Victor Hazard will serve as the interim associate provost for student and academic life.
- Nick Kehrwald will serve as the interim dean of students.
- Phil Kraemer will serve as the interim assistant provost for academic enrichment.
- Adrienne McMahan will serve as the interim assistant provost for student and academic services.
- Drew Smith will serve as the interim assistant provost for health and wellness.
We are also forming a search committee for the permanent associate provost for Student and Academic Life. We will begin conducting stakeholder interviews, as a part of this proccess, later this month.
Next month, we will begin bringing the entire Student and Academic Life division together, through a series of retreats and workshops, to continue developing a divisional culture. We’ve begun this process already, through meetings with teams, leaders and individual colleagues.
And as we continue to move forward, it is important to remind ourselves of why we’re undergoing this realignment. It underscores our ultimate vision: creating the best possible environment to support student success. We are aligning our resources to accomplish this important goal.
We are investing more – and more strategically – in our students.
Furthermore, we aim to create a truly integrated, holistic model: one that aligns functionality of the Academic Excellence units with the efforts of the colleges.
We believe that these changes are necessary to meet our ambitious objectives outlined in our Strategic Plan. The plan charts our course to become one of the country’s leading public, residential research universities, envisioning retention rates of 90 percent; graduation rates at 70 percent; and a significant closure of the gap in retention and graduation rates that exist for underrepresented student populations.
We know that making this kind of swift and dramatic progress will require a more seamless and integrated approach to our efforts. To reach these goals, we must think and act differently. And we must make dramatic change now.
Over the course of the fall, we will begin working with Enrollment Management, another crucial unit supporting student success. EM’s role is critical to the financial health, mission and vision of the institution. As with all areas, we want to maximize its strengths while looking for opportunities to improve.
We’ll also announce realignment efforts within the UK International Center and the UK Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching later this academic year. Sue Roberts recently assumed the role of associate provost for internationalization. She will be working with our team as a crucial partner.
I would like to thank each and every employee in the Academic Excellence organization for your patience, counsel and good faith as we continue to move through this process together. While this process has involved very difficult decisions—which were certainly not taken lightly—I’ve seen touching demonstrations of your commitment to our students and their experiences.
I’ve heard you, throughout this process, express your deep convictions and desire for our shared vision. I’m grateful for everything you do.
Thursday, July 21, 2016
This week, we implemented steps in our efforts to realign resources in the newly formed unit reporting to the Office of the Provost, Student and Academic Life (SAL).
There’s no putting it lightly; this week was a difficult one for our university family.
As we have announced previously, the realignment includes position eliminations, as well as the reclassification of existing positions and creation of new ones.
Transitions like this one are not a numbers game to anyone involved in this process. Real people are involved—people who have made valued contributions to our campus community. Therefore, it was and is crucial that we approach any decision of this magnitude with consideration and compassion.
I would ask that we all work together, and with a sense of compassion and humanity, to work with those affected by these moves and to be mindful of the impact on everyone across these critical areas of student support.
At the same time, I believe it is important to remind ourselves, as a community, why we’ve chosen this path.
This realignment underscores our ultimate vision: creating the best possible environment to support student success. We are realigning our resources to create the best organization—structurally—to accomplish this important goal.
A merging of the critical efforts within the Division of Student Affairs and Undergraduate Education to form the unit of Student and Academic Life will provide a more integrated, collaborative support structure to guide students through their academic journey at UK. The new structure reallocates more resources from administration to frontline staff working with and directly supporting our students on a regular basis.
We are investing more – and investing more strategically – in our students. They are, and they must be, at the center of everything that we do.
For example, over time we are creating eight additional counseling positions in the UK Counseling Center, significantly expanding the center’s capacity to support the health and well-being of our students. That is in addition to the more than $5 million spent in recent years on safety measures, including more police, counselors, and technology.
Our goal in creating this new structure—for Student and Academic Life as well as for other units reporting to the Office of the Provost—is to better function as a seamless team, rather than as islands of effort. From the students’ perspective, their educational experiences should be integrated as one experiential process. Yet, far too often despite the best efforts of so many of us, the educational services and support we provide our students can be segregated and fragmented at times, especially with respect to how central Provost Office units connect to, and work in support of, the colleges.
Against that backdrop, our goal is to create a truly integrated, holistic model: one that aligns functionality of the Provost Office units with the efforts of the colleges. Our new approach will further expand our efforts to support students and underscore our commitment to put them first in everything we do.
Over the last several weeks we’ve had meaningful discussions with college leadership, including the deans and associate deans, as the new Student and Academic Life organizational structure has taken shape. We’re very grateful for this invaluable input.
As we head into the beginning of a new academic year, we are reminded of our ambitious objectives outlined in our Strategic Plan. The plan charts our course to become one of the country’s leading public, residential research universities, envisioning retention rates of 90 percent; graduation rates at 70 percent; and a significant closure of the gap in retention and graduation rates that exist for underrepresented student populations.
We know that making this kind of swift and dramatic progress will require a more seamless and integrated approach to our efforts. To reach these goals, we must think and act differently. And we must make dramatic change now.
The steps we are taking are focused entirely on aligning our resources to support those efforts and priorities—matching money to mission.
I know we can get there. I believe deeply in our shared vision and priorities.
And while this process involved very difficult decisions—that were not taken lightly—I’m hopeful that our UK family will work humanely and collaboratively with our ultimate goal in mind: our promise to the students we serve.
Thank you for everything you do.