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The following is Provost Hartman’s speech from the Opening Day faculty/staff assembly, Sept. 2:

It is a privilege for me to participate in the 2008 Opening Day convocation. I am sharing with you a report from Provost Earns, who is now the interim chancellor at UW-Parkside.  I will also share our plans for the 2008/2009 academic year. We will continue the work of academic affairs, such that when Provost Earns returns next summer, we will be proud of our accomplishments.

Last year, UW Oshkosh made substantial progress in terms of its Liberal Education initiative. Most importantly, the Liberal Education Reform Team (LERT) worked with campus governance groups to adopt a framework for new University-wide learning outcomes for 21st century college education.

Over the course of the next academic year, LERT workgroups will examine the University’s assessment processes and the tools needed to support the learning outcomes. The Liberal Education Reform Team also will collaborate with units across campus to align curriculum and general education courses to the learning outcomes.

Other academic endeavors that fall under the umbrella of the Liberal Education initiative are the First Year Experience Program, the Sustainability Initiative, the American Democracy Project, and the Provost’s Teaching and Learning Summit.

The Sustainability Initiative continues our university’s commitment to being a green campus. As part of the Liberal Education Reform initiative we will review new and current offerings for sustainability themes.

The American Democracy Project will include a Constitution Day program including the campus Constitution Day quiz, voter registration on campus and election-day activities.

To support Liberal Education Reform Team’s attention to communication outcomes there will be the Provost’s Summit on Teaching and Learning — “Sharing Expectations for Student Writing and Speaking.” It is scheduled for Oct. 27 to 31. We invite all faculty and academic staff to participate in a variety of events including speakers, panels, and workshops to create and use evaluations. More about this will be forthcoming, but please set aside those dates in October.

While Liberal Education Reform was a key focus this last year, we have several other accomplishments. We increased campus support for retention through increasing tutoring sections for Supplemental Instruction; we just completed the first Summer Titan Advantage program — a bridge program to assist students to transition from high school to college — and this summer we had an external reviewer visit the campus to examine our retention activities.

The University also made considerable progress toward addressing concerns from the Higher Learning Commission report in the areas of curriculum and assessment. The academic program review process started up again after a short hiatus brought on by budget shortfalls. Beginning this year, programs will be asked to review their assessment plans to ensure viability prior to beginning the next program review process.

The Voluntary System of Accountability initiative has made significant progress toward finalizing a design and establishing a Web presence. Beginning this year, the University will pilot assessments of our performance to determine the best selection to measure accountability for the last segment of the Voluntary System of Accountability.

This also marks the first year of a program to increase the number of external grants by providing support to select faculty members based on competitive proposals. Five University Research Professors were selected. As I read your name please stand: Michael Briley, Charles Gibson, Eric Hiatt, Michelle Michalski, Dana Vaughan and Jennifer Wenner. One University Research Associate was selected: Katherine Short-Meyerson.  Please join me in congratulating these University Research Professors.

A major priority this year will be new program development and expansion of existing programs supported by the Growth Agenda. Under this agenda, at least 30 new faculty members are expected to be hired over the next couple of years. The College of Nursing is creating a proposal for authorization of a Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree in collaboration with UW-Eau Claire. In addition, considerable growth of outreach and nontraditional student programming through the New ERA collaborative, articulation agreements and transfer agreements will continue to expand the programmatic inventory and geographic service area of the institution.

This year also will be an important year for diversity and inclusivity at UW Oshkosh.  Discussions will continue on the results of the Equity Scorecard Project that were released last spring. A new program being piloted by the Center for Academic Support and Diversity, called the Emerging Scholars Program, is designed to help African-American students achieve academic, intellectual, personal and professional success at the University. Faculty from across campus will be contacted to seek their involvement as mentors to offer guidance, support and a connection for students to campus resources.

The LGBTQ Center will open in October in the Center for Academic Support and Diversity. That same month, the results of the Campus Climate Survey will be unveiled.  This will be followed in the first week of November by a visit from Dr. Susan Rankin, the creator of the survey. This visit will help us focus on the results of the survey and create a process to address issues identified by these results.

Also taking place this year will be three important searches. We will be hiring a new Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Support and Diversity, a new Director of Sustainability and lastly a new College of Business Dean.

Since this is the only opportunity I will have to address all of the faculty and staff of our university, I am going to share some personal observations.

I recognize that UW Oshkosh is not an Ivy League or a Big Ten university, but in many ways we are more important. Universities like ours educate the majority of college students in our country; we educate the first generation to go to college; and we provide key resources to our communities. We are globally connected and regionally focused.

Our University is the dominant university in northeastern Wisconsin and most respected among the comprehensive universities in the UW System — more interim chancellors were leaders here first, and we have the most-respected chancellor among the UW comprehensive universities.

Thirty-two years ago, I sat in my first opening day convocation at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. I am sure many of the new faculty and staff members here today, and possibly some longer term faculty and staff as well, are feeling what I did then.

Excited about a new opportunity.

Confused about expectations — how should I spend my time outside the basics of my job?

Apprehensive about what the future — will I be able to make a good career here? Will I have good colleagues with whom to work?

Some of you are now wondering, “Will I end up looking like that interim provost?”

Now you should not be concerned. I looked a lot better a week ago before starting as interim Provost. You are not necessarily destined for this fate, but I hope you are destined to have as wonderful a career here as I have.

Our University is dramatically better today than it was 32 years ago. It is your collective responsibility to make us even better than we are today — be great teachers, be active scholars, be good colleagues by doing your share of service, be great staff members by helping students and faculty be their best. It is an honor to serve you these next 10 months as interim provost.

Thank you, and I wish you all a great year.