Provost Norris’ Remarks to Faculty Senate – October 9, 2023
Good afternoon and thank you for the opportunity to provide my address today via this recording so I could attend Ken Peacock’s Celebration of Life Service.
In my remarks today, I will cover four main topics, including:
- Follow-up items from the Faculty Senate Agenda Committee meeting,
- The functional study of Academic Affairs,
- The Strategic Plan for Academic Programming, and
- The new Strategic Plan for Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities.
Faculty Handbook and AASOPs
The first follow-up item from the Faculty Senate Agenda Committee meeting relates to the Faculty Handbook and Academic Affairs Standard Operating Procedures, which we refer to as AASOPs.
As I shared most recently in an email to all faculty on September 27, App State’s Board of Trustees directed us to review and revise our Faculty Handbook for compliance with the UNC Policy Manual and Code last year. The revised handbook was approved by the Trustees on June 23, 2023, which Chancellor Everts shared in her newsletter that same day. In that message, the Chancellor also stated that my office would continue to work with faculty and department chairs on operating procedures, training and implementation.
My office developed and refined the AASOPs based upon our consultations with the Faculty Senate, the Office of Human Resources, the Office of General Counsel and the Council of Chairs. These AASOPs are posted on the Academic Affairs Resources and Forms webpage.
It’s important to note that nearly all of the recommendations that our faculty provided for the current faculty handbook earlier this year are reflected in either the 2023 Faculty Handbook or the AASOPs.
Throughout this process, the faculty invested their time, critical thinking, close collaboration and careful deliberation in developing recommendations. I would like to reiterate my thanks — particularly those who served on the Faculty Senate Governance Committee — for dedicating their expertise to this effort.
I also want to note that we have a collaborative process in place for any future efforts needed to develop or refine these operating procedures — as stated in AASOP 1, specifically 1.2 and 1.3.
UNC System Faculty Turnover
Questions about App State’s faculty turnover rates also came up in the recent Faculty Senate Agenda Meeting. So, I wanted to share this slide from the UNC System Office with you all. This information was presented in the April 2022 meeting of the UNC Board of Governors Committee on University Personnel. It shows the average rate of faculty turnover for UNC System institutions for the four fiscal years from 2017-18 through 2020-21 — as compared to the 3-year average CUPA median benchmark. You’ll note that it excludes non-voluntary turnover.
As you can see, App State’s numbers show the second lowest faculty turnover in the System during that time, at 3.5% — behind only North Carolina State University. And our faculty turnover is nearly 3 full percentage points below the 3-year average CUPA median of 6.3%.
Of course, we don’t take our strong faculty retention for granted.
Faculty Play Critical Role in Our Mission
We recognize that our faculty are absolutely critical to fulfilling App State’s educational mission and providing students with exceptional learning experiences. That’s why we offer a variety of tools and resources designed to help faculty:
- Thrive in their teaching, research and service activities,
- Grow professionally, and
- Develop their leadership skills.
This support includes:
- New faculty orientations,
- Consultations, workshops and programs offered by the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning for Students Success, and
- Leadership development programs, like the annual Chancellor's Chairs Summer Institute, just to highlight a few.
Senior Vice Provost Neva Specht will continue to work with academic administrators, faculty and campus partners like the Center of Excellence in Teaching and Learning for Student Success to enhance this support so our faculty can continue to grow and flourish.
We also recognize that competitive salaries are key to attracting and retaining outstanding faculty. Employee compensation has been a priority for Chancellor Everts since she arrived at App State in 2014. She remains dedicated to leveraging any authority granted by the legislature and the Board of Governors to increase compensation for our faculty.
In her September 22 budget update message, Chancellor Everts shared the good news that university employees will receive a 7% across-the-board, legislative salary increase. It will be broken down into a 4% increase for this fiscal year — which will be retroactive to July 1— followed by an additional 3% increase in the 2024-25 fiscal year.
Additionally, Chancellor Everts has increased the amount of promotion values for the tenure-track faculty members who were awarded promotions to Associate Professor or Full Professor in March 2023.
Faculty who were promoted to Associate Professor will receive a salary increase of $6,000 — up from $4,000 in previous years. Faculty promoted to Full Professor will receive a salary increase of $8,000 — up from $5,000 in previous years. These increases are also retroactive to July 1, and faculty can expect them reflected in their November pay.
Functional Study of Academic Affairs - Methodology
At the Provost’s Council on September 14, the consulting group presented its final report for the functional study of Academic Affairs. The Faculty Senate was represented, as Chair Anderson was in attendance.
In that meeting, the Huron team shared the process they used to collect data for the study along with the approach they used to ensure broad participation and input across the App State Community. This included:
- An online questionnaire available to all faculty and staff;
- One-on-one interviews with 19 of my direct reports; and
- Focus groups with the Chancellor’s Council, deans, department chairs, Faculty Senate officers, Academic Affairs staff, university staff working closely with Academic Affairs, non-tenure track faculty, and departmental business officers and administrative assistants.
In addition, the Huron team analyzed relevant information from 13 peer institutions and held interviews with Academic Affairs leaders at five of those peers.
Functional Study of Academic Affairs - Results
The Huron team presented their findings in terms of Academic Affairs’ strengths and opportunities. The strengths included:
- Strong partnership among divisional leaders,
- Strong support for faculty professional development,
- Engagement in strategic planning,
- A culture of collaboration and service, and
- Commitment to student success.
The areas of opportunity included:
- Communication within the division,
- Leadership and strategy, and
- Structure, staffing and resources.
Functional Study of Academic Affairs – Key Actions and Next Steps
Academic Affairs has started to take several actions in the four areas of opportunity. These include enhancements to the grants process and the travel approval and reimbursement process jointly developed by Academic Affairs and Finance and Operations, some of which have already started to roll out — along with some staffing and structural realignments in areas, including the Student Success unit and the Center of Excellence in Teaching and Learning for Student Success.
In terms of next steps, Academic Affairs has initiated an effort to develop a Strategic Plan for Academic Programming, which I will discuss in greater detail momentarily. We will also begin to implement the university’s new Strategic Plan for Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities, which was developed during the past year through an iterative and inclusive process involving significant input from faculty and staff. I will share more information on this effort later in the presentation.
As we learn more from these two strategic initiatives, Academic Affairs will define and implement additional staffing and operational enhancements necessary to position the university’s academic enterprise for future growth.
Strategic Plan for Academic Programming
As I mentioned in communications to campus on September 7 and September 19, the Office of the Provost is seeking faculty and staff participation in developing an ambitious vision for the future of our academic programming. Through this effort, we will further differentiate App State from other institutions and provide students and faculty with innovative educational experiences.
The academic programming strategic plan will guide the development of new and enhanced academic programs, as well as identify the resources and actions needed to deliver and sustain those programs, while advancing several of the priorities in App State’s Strategic Plan 2022-2027.
Dr. Neva Specht, senior vice provost of faculty policies and development, and Dr. Ashley Colquitt, associate vice provost and dean of the Graduate School, will lead the academic programming strategic planning process.
As a first step, they have planned 10 listening sessions for faculty and staff. These sessions are designed to allow our community members to share thoughts for the new plan in general — as well as ideas for specific academic programs that will distinguish App State in the years ahead.
Three of these sessions have already taken place and were well attended — with another 7 sessions planned between now and November 6.
Once the sessions are completed, Neva and Ashley will share highlights from them with the campus community, and this valuable feedback will be used to formulate the initial draft of the Strategic Plan for Academic Programming.
New Strategic Plan for Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities
The new Strategic Plan for Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities is final and posted on a new webpage, which you can see here. The plan was developed through an inclusive, iterative process that reflects the diverse perspectives of the App State Community.
The implementation committee for this effort is finalizing its approach to launch the plan — which will include opportunities for faculty and staff to engage in the rollout — and they will share it with the campus community this fall.
Interim Vice Provost of Research and Innovation Christine Hendren is leading the implementation, which will require active engagement of our campus community as we start to bring the new Strategic Plan for Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities to life this fall.
I hope the information I’ve shared today has been helpful. My leadership team and I look forward to continuing our work with the Faculty Senate to advance our shared successes throughout this academic year.
This concludes my remarks.