Letter from the Provost
This year, we celebrated the 140th anniversary of higher education on our campus. We have moved from being a normal school to a teacher’s college, and now a public comprehensive university within the Wisconsin system. Given the political chaos and the talk of splitting apart our system this past spring, I am extremely proud of the chancellor and others on this campus and across the state who have fought so passionately and eloquently to preserve a higher educational system in Wisconsin that has proven its excellence over the years.
Speaking not only as the provost, but as a historian and someone who (years ago) earned a degree in teaching, let me also say how pleased I am to inform you of the positive academic changes on the horizon at UW Oshkosh. Thanks to the long hours and frank dialogues of LERT, the Summer General Education Working Group and the Gen Ed Leadership Team, we have made great strides toward reforming general education on this campus. October’s Teaching and Learning Summit, which focused on “Collaborating for a Change” and provided an update on the progress of general education reform, proved to be the most stimulating and fruitful summit to date. Our target is to have a general education reform plan to present to faculty governance by Spring 2012.
There will also be significant changes in the structuring of Graduate Studies as we move ahead. Based upon the recommendations of a year-long study by the Graduate Education Development Team, as of Spring 2012, the graduate program will be headed by a half-time dean’s position. The dean, who will be selected from among senior faculty on campus, will focus on: increasing the visibility of graduate education on campus; promoting our expertise to our disciplines and to the region; enhancing external relationships; expanding the delivery of graduate education across the state; and strengthening graduate enrollment through the use the marketing plan generated by the team. As we prepare to mark next year’s 50th anniversary of graduate studies on our campus, we are optimistic about the changes we see on the horizon.
In other news out of Academic Affairs, the Colleges and the Center for New Learning (CNL) all achieved significant milestones over the course of the past year. To mention just a few of the accomplishments, the College of Business received official confirmation of its national re-accreditation, the College of Nursing received accreditation for its new Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), the College of Education and Human Services received DPI approval to offer its principal licensure for educational leadership, and the College of Letters and Science saw its collaborative Masters of Social Work (MSW) program (with UW-Green Bay) re-accredited and its new collaborative Japanese Studies major (with UW-Whitewater) approved. Furthermore, CNL expanded its relationship with area two-year colleges by completing a series of transfer articulation agreements.
UW Oshkosh continues to address the obstacles to success for its students, especially its students of color. Specialized mentoring and academic success programs are being enhanced and developed to address the needs of our traditionally underserved student population.
Sustainability also remains an important priority of the University. To that end, a Leadership Fellow has been working closely with the Office of Academic Affairs in an attempt to better infuse sustainability into the classroom.
In addition, a new Veterans Resource Center was established on campus in the fall. The Center houses a Veterans Benefits Counselor and a Veterans Resource Coordinator, as well as a peer mentoring program. It also serves as a study lounge for veterans and a location for veterans to meet with various service providers and campus advisors, counselors and career service officials.
The University also received two grants from UW System to help promote change on campus. One supported the development of a Titan Transfer Center. The main goal of the center is to assist students in their integration into the University through an augmented student transfer advising process. At the same time, it will allow transfer students to become better aware of campus academic and student support services and the availability of high impact practices at the University. The campus was also awarded a Closing the Achievement Gap grant in order to increase training for tutors and mentors in the Center for Academic Resources. Additionally, the grant provided for expanded Supplemental Instruction offerings, as well as professional development for all learning support services personnel.
There is no denying that this was a challenging year for our campus, the System and the state – one filled with dramatic budget cuts and political chaos. The nation’s eyes were upon us, and we acquitted ourselves quite well. As educators and state employees, we have taken some large hits, but, in retrospect, we should be proud of ourselves for taking the high road and continuing to perform our responsibilities professionally and productively. In the end, we have reminded everyone of what the Wisconsin Idea looks like in practice. As a state and as an institution of higher learning, we still face a difficult fiscal situation ahead, but our first new academic building in forty years is open, a new residence hall is well underway, and we’re 140 years old. Let us look forward to the promise of a new general education program and the hope of a healthy and productive year.