Provost Heather Norris' Remarks to Faculty Senate
Good afternoon. I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you today. As noted by Chancellor Everts in her message to campus last Friday, the focus of my report today is to provide you with an update of my latest meeting with the App State Faculty Hickory Task Force, with whom I met earlier this month.
While the App State Faculty Hickory Task Force is not a Faculty Senate Committee, several members of Faculty Senate are on the Task Force, representing their colleges.
The committee members are:
- Stefan Frisch of the Beaver College of Health Sciences and Faculty Senate
- Brooke Hofsess of the College of Fine and Applied Arts and the Council of Chairs
- Andy Koch of the College of Arts and Sciences and Faculty Senate
- Cathy McKinney of the Hayes School of Music. She is also a Graduate Program Director.
- Pam Shue of the Reich College of Education and Faculty Senate
- Jim Westerman of the Walker College of Business and Faculty Senate
Cathy and Pam were not able to attend our last meeting, but the rest of the committee members were in attendance.
The committee reviewed input from all of the Hickory listening sessions. This group has developed a report with recommendations after reviewing and synthesizing input from all of the Hickory listening sessions.
Key recommendations from the committee include:
1. The creation of a standing committee with representation from Faculty Senate, Council of Chairs and Dean’s Council.
- The creation of the standing committee is underway.
2. Offering a general degree program, to help meet the needs for those in the Hickory area who need to complete the requirements for a bachelor’s degree. A general degree program can be spun up quickly while specialized programs are developed. A general degree also allows for a greater range of courses to satisfy the requirements for a degree, using a greater range of substitutable courses.
- Plans to offer general degree courses at the Hickory campus are underway. It is important to note that there are no current plans to treat the Hickory campus as a satellite or branch campus. The Hickory campus will offer a localized delivery mode for students who wish to take courses at that location. There will not be separate applications or separate admissions processes for the different campuses. Students will apply for admission to App State, and then choose the programs/classes that meet their needs. Our goal is to make completing college as easy as possible by providing students with the delivery platform portfolio they need.
- Overall, applications are up by about 25%. We saw a surge in applications after College GameDay came to App State.
3. Creating anchor programs in Engineering. Among other justifications, the task force recognized the demand for engineering programs in the Hickory area, and industry needs that will support the development of engineering programs.
- Conversations regarding anchor programs in Engineering are underway. Of note, this would be a differentiated program from those offered at other UNC System institutions and responsive to current and projected market needs in the Hickory area.
The Task Force will reconvene in January, at which time it will be determined whether the committee should continue to exist, or if their recommendations will transition to the standing committee they recommended.
Last Tuesday, I reported much of this information to the Faculty Senate Chancellor’s Advisory Committee. I’ll summarize some of the questions that came up during that discussion now.
1. The process for teaching assignments came up.
- As I shared at the last meeting of this Senate, Department Chairs will continue to make teaching assignments, as per the Faculty Handbook. We will continue to follow this process.
2. Resources and funding for the Hickory campus were also discussed.
- The current property has 6 floors, 225,800 square feet, 16 acres, 700 parking spaces, all purchased for $1million. Legislators have publicly called this campus a good deal for taxpayers, and Hickory wants App State there. There is unmet need in that area and a desire to fund the Hickory Campus.
- We have $9 million in up-front funding. Chancellor Everts continues to advocate for continued funding. Allocations for student credit hour production are based upon actual, not projected, enrollments. Additions to the buildings in Hickory will be determined based on academic needs.
3. Other topics that will be discussed in future meetings include:
- Associated stipend around associated pay with working at a location other than the assigned duty station.
- Parking costs on the Hickory campus.
- Incorporating sustainability initiatives. Current renovations include work to the building’s roof and envelope. Once those are completed, we will conduct a sustainability audit of the building, to include an energy assessment.
We are very excited about the potential to serve more higher education needs for the people of North Carolina, and in particular in the Northwestern rural areas of our state. As Fall 2023 draws closer, we will continue to engage faculty and provide regular updates to this body.
In Chancellor Everts’ message on Friday, she also shared information about a legislatively mandated UNC System study of all System programs:
- The UNC System, through an RFP process, engaged a research partner to manage the implementation process.
- NC State, UNC-Greensboro and NC A&T, representing a cross-section of UNC System institutions, are beta testing ROI measurement categories to students, institutions and the state of North Carolina.
- Each UNC System institution is represented (other than NCSSM high school). Faculty Assembly is also represented by the Faculty Assembly chair. Q&A at each meeting of this committee allows continued input from institutions. Mike McKenzie is representing App State.
- UNC System Chief Academic Officers and leadership teams across the System have met with the research partners. To accommodate unique programs, the research partners have created “meta departments.” Creating these meta-categories was done to address what was identified as one of the biggest challenges: consistency for meaningful comparisons and application of metrics. As pointed out by Jim Westerman last week, it’s important to be sure cross-collaboration is valued and not disincentivized. Mike McKenzie will seek clarification on metrics.
- The project is still in process. There are no results yet.
- Constituencies often ask accountability questions. This may be a helpful measure in that regard. This can also help provide information that supports the investment the State of NC is making in higher education. NC is in the top 5 states in the nation for state funding of higher education.
- We expect App will perform very well. Our students graduate in a timely manner, we have good job placement, our overall costs are low.
This concludes my report today. Thank you.
About Faculty Merit Bonuses:
Last month, Chancellor Everts shared in her weekly campus message that she allocated $1 million from enrollment growth funds for Academic Affairs to award one-time, performance-based bonuses to meritorious faculty. Academic Affairs worked with Deans, who were encouraged to give special consideration to faculty members who were farthest from the 75th percentile of market data and were exceeding expectations.