Provost's Remarks to Faculty Senate - Monday, February 13, 2023

Provost Heather Norris' Remarks to Faculty Senate


Good afternoon,

In response to your requests, my remarks today will provide an update on the Hickory Campus, and I’ll also discuss the metrics that the UNC System will use to assess our performance as a university.

My remarks to this Senate and from the Faculty and Staff meeting are posted on the Academic Affairs website, so I’ll address a few items that have been specifically requested:

Hickory Campus Advertising

Marketing materials we have launched to promote the new campus include print advertising, radio advertising, billboards, direct mail, digital advertising, social media advertising efforts underway.

Hickory Campus Enrollment

Applications are steadily increasing, and we are on track to meet our target for fall enrollment for the Hickory campus of 300 to 500 students. We have set some preliminary targets based on capacity and demand for upcoming years, which are on this slide. Our best-case scenario projections would double enrollment on the Hickory campus — including students taking online courses utilizing resources and support offered at the Hickory campus — each year for the first five years.

Hickory Campus Scholarships

Students who attend App State on the Hickory campus can live at home and realize significant savings on room and board costs, utilizing the same option that has been available for students who reside at home and live within 30 miles of Boone.

Students on the Hickory campus will also now have the same opportunity to offset the cost of their App State education as students on the Boone campus for their first year. On Friday, Chancellor Everts announced a new Hickory First Scholarship for the first 500 students who meet academic requirements and enroll on the Hickory campus.

This is a non-recurring scholarship for the 2023-24 academic year, for students who are enrolled on the Hickory Campus as first-year or transfer students, funded by non-recurring funds allocated from the Finance and Operations division.

We will manage this scholarship using the same staffing, resources and support we use to manage all other first-year and transfer scholarships.

Hickory Campus Classrooms

We have planned for adequate classroom space for 500 students for fall and have the flexibility to adjust as needed.  Currently, our plan calls for nine classrooms, and a Monday-Friday class schedule. We have the capacity to add evening and Saturday classes as needed. I’d like to thank Vice Chancellor Dan Layzell and Associate Vice Chancellor Nick Katers, and their teams, for all their work in preparing the Hickory Campus. I am working from that campus at least one day a week right now, and every time I go there, I see significant progress!

Hickory Campus Faculty Assignments

As Chancellor Everts and I have shared, Academic Affairs will soon begin hiring faculty members to teach on the Hickory campus. I have been meeting with Deans regarding faculty positions, and for fall 2023, we will hire 23 all new full-time-equivalency faculty positions to meet the needs for the Hickory campus. These are not re-assigned positions from the Boone Campus — they are all new positions.

We have begun offering on-site services and will focus heavily on meeting prospective and current students where they are, in order to ensure their success. Admissions, Enrollment Management and Student Affairs team members are on site now, and services are expanding to include Advising, Career Services, Financial Aid, Transfer Student Support and Tutoring, and more.

The Hickory campus is staffed Monday through Friday, and we have open house and information session events scheduled through April. As the building progresses, we are providing tours, including model classrooms and a sneak preview of the on-site library facilities to come. We are also planning for a student health services clinic, a student lounge, a campus store, a testing center and faculty offices, including “touchdown” spaces for faculty and parking accommodations for employees whose duty stations are at the Hickory Campus as well as those who will be traveling between the two campuses.

Hickory Campus Website

At the end of last semester, we launched a webpage that lists more than 100 undergraduate majors that will be available for students who wish to begin or continue their 4-year degrees at App State. This extensive breadth of programs represents all of our degree-granting colleges. Some students may need to take courses in Boone or online as needed to complete their degrees on time. We are working individually with each student as they apply and enroll so they understand the quickest and most efficient path to degree completion.

The page is linked directly from the university homepage. Since the new page launched on December 21, it’s the fifth most visited page on the domain. There are several information sessions coming up over the next few months, in addition to outreach events planned for area high school counselors and teachers, and community college advisors.

Faculty Hickory Campus Task Force

The Faculty Hickory Task Force has been critical to ensuring we have planned the right mix of programs and majors. Last fall, they synthesized the feedback we collected and made recommendations based on that input.

This group has continued to work and provide guidance. They met again earlier this month and will continue to meet monthly.

The committee has representation from this body, from Drs. Stefan Frisch, Andy Koch and Jim Westerman. Additional representation includes: Dr. Brooke Hofsess of the College of Fine and Applied Arts and the Council of Chairs (representing department chairs); Dr. Cathy McKinney of the Hayes School of Music who is also a Graduate Program Director; Dr. Pam Shue of the Reich College of Education and Faculty Senate; and Dr. Sandy Vannoy, representing the college deans.

Performance Metrics and Institutional Assessment

On Friday, I also shared progress on our campus-based performance metrics. App State’s performance will be assessed using:

  • The institutional four-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time bachelor’s degree-seeking students;
  • Undergraduate degree efficiency — the number of undergraduate degrees awarded by an institution per 100 full-time equivalent (or FTE) undergraduates;
  • First-time students’ debt at graduation;
  • Transfer students’ debt at graduation;
  • Education and related expenses per degree; and
  • Four-year graduation rate for Hispanic/Latine students. This last metric was the one we chose from a list of options for institution-selected metrics.

Each of these metrics reflects our commitment to increase access to a high-quality, cost-effective App State education, and we are performing well. For each metric, we have:

  • A baseline, which is derived from our historical performance;
  • A threshold goal, which is our minimum expected performance; and
  • A stretch goal.

 We are performing very well overall.

  • For the first metric, the institutional four-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time bachelor’s degree-seeking students, we have surpassed our 2022 threshold goal.
  • For undergraduate degree efficiency — the number of undergraduate degrees awarded by an institution per 100 full-time equivalent (or FTE) undergraduates — we did not meet our threshold goal, which in part is due to our growth, coupled with the effects of the global pandemic.
  • For first-time students’ debt at graduation and transfer students’ debt at graduation, we have surpassed our stretch goals.
  • For education and related expenses per degree, we have surpassed our threshold goal.
  • For the four-year graduation rate for Hispanic/Latine students, we have surpassed our stretch goal.

 In addition to indicating how well App State is fulfilling our mission, our performance in these areas determines the performance funding we receive from the UNC System. Simply put, the better we perform in these areas, the more funding we will receive the next year.

At the Spring Faculty Staff meeting, I shared that it’s important for each of us to consider how we can help boost App State’s performance in these important areas to make a positive impact on our students and, in turn, the university’s overall performance.

Board of Governors Policy Discussion

In January, I shared with this body some perspective on the Board of Governors’ discussion regarding a revision to the Employee Political Activities section of the system’s policy manual.

The UNC System has shared that the revision to Section 300.5.1 of the UNC Policy manual codifies the University of North Carolina’s commitment to free expression and restricts vague or ideologically motivated statement requirements in admissions or hiring.

The policy revision is designed to protect the staff, faculty, and students of UNC system institutions, ensuring they are not denied opportunities for employment, advancement, or admission on the basis of sociological or political viewpoints. This policy protects the right to exercise speech, or to refrain from exercising speech.

The amendment is designed to protect prospective students and employees from being denied opportunity on the basis of their beliefs.

The amendment does NOT mean UNC faculty and staff can’t endorse an ideological statement. The policy does not prevent or suppress any form of voluntary speech, opinion, or expression. The UNC System encourages employees to exercise fully and freely their right to participate, or to refrain from participating, in political processes and other forms of speech or expression without fear of penalty or reprisal.

Constitutional issues arise when universities or university systems — especially public institutions — require current and/or prospective faculty and staff to demonstrate their commitment to certain ideals, political issues, or principles. This policy revision is designed to protect the individual rights of our faculty, staff, and students, and to preserve their right to participate in, or to refrain from participating in, political processes and other forms of speech.

As you know, the revision has not been passed at this time, and President Hans has also stated publicly that if faculty, staff and students choose to offer an expression of their beliefs on any given topic, they’re within their rights to do so.

Before I close, I would like to thank the members of the Faculty Senate’s Faculty Governance Committee for the work they are doing on proposed changes to the faculty handbook.

Thank you all for your time today. This concludes my remarks. I’m happy to discuss this, or any of the other topics I’ve covered today, with you and the Faculty Senate leadership in a small group setting.

Published: Feb 14, 2023 1:23pm