Interim Provost Heather Norris' report to Faculty Senate

Interim Provost Heather Norris' Faculty Senate comments

September 14, 2020


Greetings from the Provost’s Office. I hope that your fall semester is off to a good start. I shared in my July 20 Provost Report that I would be bringing two items to this, the September, meeting of the Faculty Senate:

        (1) Gen Ed Review and
        (2) Strategic Planning update

I regret that I cannot be there in person with you today; I thank Jacqui for sharing this report with you. I also thank Mark Ginn, whom I’ve asked to respond to any questions related to the Gen Ed review and Lee Ball, whom I’ve asked to respond to any questions related to Strategic Planning.

First, Gen Ed Review

I had announced at the June 22 Faculty Senate meeting that Mark Ginn would be initiating a review of Gen Ed, and I shared that he would soon be putting together a steering committee to gather input from campus constituents on our Gen Ed review.

The steering committee, composed of nine faculty colleagues representing each of our colleges and schools, along with representation from the Student Government Association, and the General Education Program, will gather input this fall, and then submit a report from which another representative group can develop recommendations in the spring.
The Steering Committee has developed this statement for the fall General Education Listening Sessions:

The General Education Program at Appalachian seeks to provide students with a first-rate liberal education. Our goal is well-rounded students with the knowledge and skills important for professional and personal success at Appalachian and after graduation: abilities to think critically and creatively, communicate effectively, make local-to-global connections, and understand the responsibilities of community membership.

As an experience shared by our undergraduate students and our faculty, it is important that the General Education program represents Appalachian's identity. It is also important for our General Education program to adapt and evolve in response to emerging challenges, changes, and opportunities. This fall semester, a group including nine faculty colleagues representing each of our colleges and schools, along with representation from the Student Government Association, and the General Education Program, will be hosting campus-wide listening sessions to hear perspectives from the campus community on a range of topics related to the General Education Program, and to help plan for its future. The first two topics of discussion have been determined (additional topics will be announced later in the semester).

        Session 1: Social Justice and Inclusive Excellence in General Education

        Session 2: Sustainability and Climate Literacy in General Education

Please look for times and dates coming out soon and make plans to join us during these sessions to help us think about our General Education Program.

Second, Strategic Planning

During the 2019-20 academic year, the University Planning and Priorities Council (UPPC) worked with the campus community on developing our next five-year strategic plan. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the timeline for completion of the strategic plan was delayed. It is evident that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to influence our campus for the immediate future and for perhaps years to come. As a result, we are planning to create a Bridge Plan to help guide us until our next five-year strategic plan is approved.

The proposed start date for the Bridge Plan is January 2021. The Bridge Plan will carry us through the 2021-22 academic year, at which point it will expire, making way for our next five-year Strategic Plan to take effect. The UPPC will continue to work on the five-year strategic plan concurrently during the Bridge Plan period.

The UPPC will work closely with a Bridge Planning Committee to make sure that key elements of their work and university priorities are included. To help ensure this, the Bridge Plan Committee will include members of the UPPC. We also want to make sure that we seize upon opportunities and lessons learned during this pandemic and time of social change.

It is critical that we work together to support the needs of faculty, staff and students. The goal of the Bridge Plan to help navigate us through these difficult times so we can address these immediate needs.

I truly believe it is because we are all tied to and believe in our common goal of academic excellence that we have once again been recognized in the 2021 U.S. News Best Colleges Rankings:

  • #6 for Best Regional Universities in the South
  • #3 Best for Vets among Southern Regional Universities     
  • #2 for Commitment to Undergraduate Teaching among Southern Regional Universities                                                                                                                                                                             
  • #1 Most Innovative School among Southern Regional Universities

In closing, I invite your participation during the campus-wide listening sessions for both the Gen Ed review and the continued development of our Strategic Plan. Both are vital to our continued success.

Published: Sep 18, 2020 8:34am