Academic Affairs

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

January 12, 2018                                       NEWSLETTER ARCHIVE

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome back to the spring semester! Expect to see more new student faces as we welcome additional transfer students—about 380, and new freshmen—about 140. UNCW continues to grow and be the place of choice for quality and opportunity.

Distance Education

We continue to explore options for growing our distance education programs which include online, blended or hybrid programs; face-to-face programs offered off-site (e.g., Coastal Community College and Camp Lejeune); and online accelerated programs (Nursing RN-to-BSN.) We will be presenting the design and scope of our DE programs at the Board of Trustees meeting January 18-19.

The most frequent question I get around this topic is whether the Chancellor and I are trying to drive the campus into an online university. The answer is, of course, an emphatic no! We are seeking to develop DE courses and programs that meet the needs of our off-campus students and for which we see a market need. Not all faculty, by any means, will opt to teach online; but for those who do, we will provide summer stipends to develop the courses as well as ongoing technical support to deliver them.

An outside vendor, Academic Partners, will be used in some selected cases to help us market and recruit the off-campus students. Please be assured that AP does in no way direct the design nor content of our courses and programs. Obviously, this responsibility falls to faculty. AP serves a recruitment function and provides some support to the enrolled students.

Search for VCBA

Chancellor Sartarelli provided an update on our search for a new Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs.  

After much deliberation, he determined it’s in the best interest of the university to refresh the pool of candidates for the search committee's consideration as we proceed with the search process. This is such a critical position for UNCW’s present and future, and we remain focused on finding the right person, with your thoughtful participation and input. Stay tuned for an update as the semester progresses.

Shifting How We Think About Faculty Work

The Association of American Colleges and Universities Faculty Collaborative initiatives advocates shifting how we think about faculty work. Below is an excerpt from an article on this topic by Anne Kelsch of the University of North Dakota. It was published in AACU’s Peer Review magazine, Summer 2017.

“Faculty Collaboratives seek to create an environment in which every student benefits from the full potential of a liberal education, ultimately to work toward a healthier democracy and future. Society needs higher education to undertake this practical experimentation. But how do we build support for educators to accomplish the broader change we need?

Participants in the Faculty Collaboratives generated energy and shared ideas for a cultural shift. The project itself arose from an acknowledgment that longstanding and proven approaches, referred to by an alphabet soup of acronyms, have yet to fundamentally change the conversation or bring participation of growing numbers of educators. If the potential of evidence-based practices within LEAP and the DQP is to be reached on a broad scale, institutions need to confront fundamental “misalignments.” It is no secret that the relationship between what we know works and what institutions choose to invest in and reward is off kilter. Shamefully, we have yet to effectively address this reality. Institutions spend millions of dollars competing for students but put a fraction of that into faculty development or learning initiatives that will ensure those students succeed. Resources that support sound pedagogical and curricular practices have greater potential than most institutional investments to reap significant learning, retention, and on-time graduation gains.

Much of what has been successful in the Faculty Collaboratives comes back to supporting faculty in exploring and developing genuine solutions that are responsive to their students, their classrooms, and their community.”

This work by AACU parallels the applied learning emphasis at UNCW. ETEAL’s grant program has supported a number of inquiries into high-impact practices. Our model has made a difference for student learning at our institution.

Accolades & Department News

Below are noted a number of faculty accomplishments. These successes remind us of our strong faculty and high-quality academic programs. 

  • The Department of Computer Science reported on the 2017 UNCW Hackathon. During the weekend of November 17-19, 32 students and mentors gathered at UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to participate in the 2017 UNCW IoT Hackathon. The participants selected four projects from a variety of pre-identified problems generally focused in the areas of marine science and aquaculture. Mentors from UNCW, GE Hitachi, nCino, Live Oak, Apiture, PPD and Brilliant Sole worked alongside the students to develop some impressive solutions for 24 hours of work. The event sponsors were Live Oak Bank; GE Hitachi; NC Biotechnology; David Cummings Real Estate Team; and UNCW’s Computer Science Department, CIE and UNCW Graduate School.
  • Women’s Studies Resource Center noted that Julie-Ann Scott received the Top Paper Award for the Disability Issues Caucus from the National Communication Association.
  • Sociology & Criminology research contract awards totaled over $155KDeVall, K. & Lanier, C. Evaluation of Mecklenberg County Problem-Solving Courts ($95,191), and Evaluation of the Wake County Recovery Court Program ($60,007)
  • World Languages & Cultures reported that students in Dr. Boomershine’s Spanish Service-Learning course (SPN 490) completed over 900 hours of community engagement with local agencies during Fall 2017.
  • The NC State Engineering 2+2 Transfer Program hosted the 5th Annual Engineering Design Day & Showcase on Monday, Nov. 20 in Fisher University Union. Over 40 local engineers, faculty and staff attended the event to preview the EGN 101 student design projects.
  • Dr. Dan Johnson and students from recreation therapy; nursing; recreation; exercise science; Cameron School of Business; UNCW Athletics (baseball, softball, women’s soccer, women’s golf); and the Sea Belles were involved in another season of Miracle League Baseball. The Miracle League held 32 games over eight Saturdays during the fall semester. There were more than 2,300 volunteer hours from UNCW students.
  • WCE Education Leadership reports that Tamara Walser is providing pro bono evaluation services to The Grassroot Project in Washington, D.C. The Grassroot Project is a community organization that provides health literacy and social empowerment programs to teens.
  • Randall Library had another very busy semester with a total of 469,312 visits to the library and will be expanding library hours for the spring semester by another three hours for a total of 135 open hours per week.
  • CSB’s Department of Management announced that Steve Harper received the ‘Emergent Leader Fellow’ recognition at the Cucalorus Connect Conference in November 2017.
  • The UNCW Department of Music was recently rated 3rd on a list of “5 Best Colleges for Music Majors in North Carolina” by Zippia. Zippia rated universities in terms of which offered the best music programs and career opportunities for graduates, considering mean earnings and employment data; and general academic factors including admissions selectivity, graduation rate, cost and student debt, among others.
  • The Center for Marine Science reports two grants and contracts totaling over $2M. Dylan McNamara was awarded $1.5M from the National Science Foundation to investigate ways public policies will affect both economic decisions and the coastal environment. Heather Koopman, Ann Pabst and Andrew Westgate, with collaborators Bill McLellan, Alex Costidis and Dave Rostein, received $528K from the Office of Naval Research for a three-year project entitled ‘Lipid composition and nitrogen solubility of the spinal cord and brain: comparisons between diving and terrestrial mammals to provide insight into Type II DCS.’ These are just two from several on a partial list of faculty submissions in 4th quarter. 
  • Communication Studies 431-001 students participated significantly in the Zephyr Project under the direction of Dr. Jeanne Persuit and Dr. Bill Bolduc. They role-played students and went to UNCG to help walk through the evacuation steps while creating several reports and videos along the way to assist with documentation of the process. Another COM student, Lindy Shoenborn, had an article on the project accepted by the StarNews.
  • A financial review of the public/private Marine Biotechnology (MARBIONC) Building indicates that the rents received from seven current tenants will exceed operating expenses in FY18 by $89,400. They have recently hired a leasing agent to assist with filling the remaining five wet lab spaces.

Best wishes for the start of a new year and a new academic semester!


Marilyn Sheerer signature

Marilyn Sheerer
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

The content of this publication was created by the Office of the Provost, Academic Affairs Division. Questions? Contact Paula Cameron at