Academic Affairs

Text: Provost's Perspectivies, An Update from Provost Sheerer

August 19, 2016

Dear Colleagues,

So begins my first edition of a monthly newsletter to the University community. My purpose in writing this communique is simply to inform you of current operations, directions and goals of Academic Affairs as we move through the year.  

I invite any and all responses to items in the update as I hope it might serve as a communications vehicle. One of my goals from the beginning of my appointment as Provost has been to improve interactions and transparency between Alderman and faculty and staff on our campus.

Organization of the Office of the Provost

Throughout the year, we have been engaged in a number of conversations about the most effective way to organize the office to better serve the entire academic community. Below I have listed my direct reports and their primary responsibilities. The two unfinished pieces of the organizational chart are enrollment management and the position now titled Vice Provost. With the departure of Terry Curran as Associate Provost for Enrollment Management, I have assigned additional responsibilities to Marcio Moreno until a search begins this fall. In addition, we are reviewing the job description of the Vice Provost, and changes are expected to be made.

Budget

Now that the UNC budget is finalized, discussions on the allocation of growth money will begin. The Cabinet will focus on this topic in mid-August followed by discussions in Academic Affairs. I plan to involve the Chair of the Faculty Senate Budget Committee as well as the president of Faculty Senate and members of the Faculty Senate Steering Committee in these discussions. By September, we should be able to push positions and operating money out to the colleges. 

Feedback from the Summer

During the summer months, I have enjoyed talking with a variety of small groups on campus to solicit  feedback on Academic Affairs and broader campus issues. These sessions have proven to be very helpful to me as the participants have provided excellent examples of things that go well and things that need improvement.

Below is a summary of some of the key issues presented to me during these discussions. 

Overall Positives:

  • UNCW remains a wonderful place to work. The People are collaborative, friendly and helpful. And students remain our focus!
  • The Strategic Plan is energizing!

Issues:

  • There is a need for more frequent social functions that bring the different parts of the university community together.
  • Several faculty have brought the subject of grade inflation to my attention. It is recommended that each dean lead a discussion on this issue at the department level so that faculty are more aware of grade distributions in each program area.
  • Many business practices need to be reviewed and updated. As the university grew, not enough attention was paid to making changes in policies and procedures.
  • Additional training/professional development should be made available to new administrative assistants throughout campus. 
  • The main service award ceremony should be open to everyone. In previous years, this was the case.
  • We need to find ways to give more “kudos” to employees.
  • It would be nice to have the whole week off around July 4th and to be able to receive basketball tickets now and then.
  • There needs to be much more transparency around the budget. Deans and supervisors should communicate more frequently about budget decisions and priorities.
  • Current faculty could be used instead of consultants for particular projects.
  • One-time money needs to be distributed earlier each year so that it can be spent more judiciously.
  • If employees are not going to use tuition waivers, could they be used for their children?
  • New faculty and staff need to hear clearly that they are becoming part of a university environment that expects collegiality.
  • There is a need for additional resources for professional travel and faculty research reassignments.
  • Additional support is needed in the grants office (SPARC).
  • We need to explore more creative models for UNI 101.
  • A delineation of clinical track faculty versus tenure track faculty is needed.
  • We need to purchase the current upgrade for Blackboard. 

As we kick off the fall semester, please know how thankful I am to be serving in the role of Provost. I continue to be impressed with the high quality of our faculty and staff and the collective commitment we have to our students and this institution. We have a wonderful university; let's continue to work together to make it the best it can be.

Sincerely,

Marilyn Sheerer signature

Marilyn Sheerer
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs 
provost@uncw.edu