Department Heads -- Sept. 29, 2008

Department Heads Meeting
September 29, 2008


Lalit Verma (Dean), Donna Graham (Associate Dean), Robert Bacon (CSES), Ron Buescher (FDSC), Ed Gbur (AGST), Steve Halbrook (AEAB), Doug Karcher (HORT), Keith Lusby (ANSC), George Wardlow (AEED), Mary Warnock (HESC)

Dr. Lalit Verma Notes

Executive Retreat

Chancellor Gearhart asked the participants to develop a list of issues and challenges for the University. The items submitted by Dr. Verma were:
• Space for teaching and research
• Funding for college recruitment, retention and graduation programs
• Emphasizing high quality instructional programs
• Facility maintenance (deferred and routine)
• Improving coordination between the colleges and central recruiting
• More affordability and need-based assistance
• In-state competition and program overlap with majors offered
• Promote University strengths

The retreat participants brainstormed ideas for revising the University vision statement, by first deciding if it needs changing and then what should be changed. The department heads added the following from Bumpers College:
• Quality student learning with a global perspective
• Relevant research, outreach and community engagement
• Providing programs that meet the needs of our stakeholders
• Serving the entire state of Arkansas, not just Northwest Arkansas.

Department heads may submit additional ideas for Dr. Verma to take to the follow-up retreat later in the semester. Please send in an e-mail to him, Dr. Graham and Carmen Alessi.

Karen Hodges, Interim Director of Admissions, discussed coordination efforts between central recruiting and admissions with Bumpers College being one of their pilot programs.

Other retreat topics that will have different levels of discussion and involvement were:
- Dean Collis Geren on graduate enrollment
- Dean Linda Beene on continuing education and academic outreach
- Chancellor G. David Gearhart on recruitment of the Hispanic population
- Transforming the undergraduate core curriculum. Interim Dean Bill Schwab will chair a committee. This will be a deliberate effort and will take some time.
- Transforming classrooms and labs to create a learning-centered environment
- Dean Carolyn Allen on transforming access to information
- Transforming the character of research
- Accountability and performance measures (the big one) –covering enrollment, graduation rates, funding, space, minority recruitment, technology-mediated enrollment and competition from programs like the University of Phoenix.
- Better positioning ourselves for public financing.

Dr. Verma challenged the department heads to get the faculty engaged in addressing some of the key issues directly impacting Bumpers College such as enrollment, course offerings and class sizes.

Dr. Verma is working on a matrix to present funding and faculty in comprehensive departments of Bumpers College for theProvost. He is including information about how the departments are supported, how the funding is distributed, and how we compare to other colleges. We have a total of about 50 FTEs in the college. Dr. Verma would like to show how our resources are used and find out what criteria are used for allocating resources across campus. Dr. Verma plans on gathering information on faculty, staff, and maintenance and operating (M&O) budgets to develop a campus strategy for funding our college better.

College Home Page

Dr. Verma has met with Howell Medders' staff, Ashley Harris and Diana Bisbee to explore the best ways to update the college home page for information and the best ways to being user friendly for navigation. He would like to see a few career opportunities or graduate school options highlighted for each major on the departmental pages.

Provost Search

Chancellor Gearhart is chairing the interviews for provost. Seven or eight off-campus interviews have been conducted and there will be four or five campus interviews scheduled in late October or early November.

The Dean of Education, Reed Greenwood, will be retiring next June and the provost would like to have a replacement by July 1, 2009. The searches for the deans of Arts and Sciences and Bumpers College will be next depending on the search for a new provost.

Faculty Awards Nominations

Faculty awards nominations are due October 1. If you would like to use previous nominations, please update their packets and let us know of your intention.

Dr. Donna Graham Notes

Census Enrollment Data (Maps)

The maps provide a snapshot from a college perspective and other information such as: out-of-state enrollment and diversity of international students. The data can be used for recruitment plans. The data reflects the 11th day enrollment. Counties for undergraduate students come from their high schools.

Recruiting, Advising and Retention

Academic policy 1550.10: "Recruiting, Advising and Retention" outlines the requirements for reporting by the college on October 15. Department heads need to submit their reports to Dr. Graham by October 10 and include your department's goals and objectives; the accomplishments towards those goals; the expenses associated with those accomplishments; and plans you have for the future.

(The discussion on recruiting picked up again at the end of the meeting.)

Dr. Verma asked that everyone look closely at targets for enrollment and transfer students and to identify ways to coordinate and complement recruiting efforts. He asked that the department heads respond to the data for enrollment.

• HORT – numbers are steady but a bit below target. A recruiting trip is planned this week to Fayetteville High School. Working with surrounding community colleges.
• HESC – holding their own on enrollment with 675 students and 708 at orientation. Incorporating service learning projects is doing well. The news media have filmed apparel studies and interior design papers were presented in Colorado. Unveiling plans for the Infant Development Center.
• AGST – enrollment steady for graduates. Seeing more honors students.
• CSES – numbers are steady. Environmental Science is doing well. Crop management is low. New strategies from summer retreat with some ideas with grassroots efforts and using alumni to recruit.
• AEAB – numbers are consistent with previous year. Faculty has a larger teaching load, which could cause some burnout. International degree program could increase international exposure. Incoming freshmen inquiring about "business" are funneled to the Walton College.
• ANSC – steady growth reaching maximum capacity. Concerned whether we are attracting students who do not want to be pre-vet and are we teaching them for appropriate careers. Has a survey for graduates for perceptions on careers possibilities.
• AEED – renewing their involvement with high school agriculture teachers and with extension agents, which is probably a three year process. Provide application activities to improve the quality of courses and attitudes of students. Updating the curriculum in all three concentrations.
• FDSC – close to meeting their graduation goals. Looking into targeting a different audience of high school teachers for their short courses. Looking at their curriculum now to tighten it up and make it friendlier to students. Have had some success with letters to students just before the winter holidays. Need to have more visibility and have more high schools including FDSC in their curriculum.

Other general comments:
• Synchronize students taking shared courses (e.g., CSES/HORT) for efficiency of instruction.
• Have 3-4 questions on graduate surveys common to all departments.
• Staying in touch with graduates can be a challenge with them losing their e-mail accounts after 6 months. This is a topic of discussion from several angles because of the required computer memory and the cost.
• Could use electronic newsletters to keep in touch.
• New test bank with Admissions will give the college access to live admission data, but will have to be respectful of how the data are used. Student ambassadors will be trained to call students and will be trained for data entry. Comments on the process are welcome.
• Work with admissions to train their staff on Bumpers College's programs. One result of the consultant review was a suggestion to fully integrate the recruitment and admissions efforts across the University.

Management Plan

Looking at the results of the two University study groups with recommendations merged. The areas Bumpers College should address first are retention and graduation. Looking at the college's retention and graduation plan and goals in the management plan, the department heads were asked if the goals are achievable. The college set a goal to be at 10 percent of the university student population and is slightly under that goal. A target of 66 percent was set for graduation rate and the college is approaching that goal. The college's overall retention rate is decent. ACT scores for incoming freshmen have been going down slightly for a couple of years. Are we spending more time on remediation?

Responses from various department heads regarding issues that contribute to lower retention:
• It is just a matter-of-fact that some students from across the state will have to take remedial courses. However, with limited resources across campus this could be a problem.
• Students must adjust to the change in size from high school to the University and become familiar with the campus.
• The University has admitted more provisionally admitted students, which involves more maintenance. Some universities have offered refresher courses in the summer.
• Disappointment expressed with quality of teaching in several of the core courses. There are tremendous failure rates. Recommend that the University as a whole pay attention to what is going on in courses like algebra, entry level chemistry and biology. There are very good students who are doing very poorly or even failing these courses. Many get discouraged and then transfer. Question as to how many students are being taught by a teaching assistant in place of faculty. There are not enough good instructors to spread around.
• Chemistry is the core course in which students hit the wall. Many students take chemistry at Northwest Arkansas Community College. The teachers are interesting and present the material on a level the students can understand. The difference could be research-based or teaching-based instruction. A partnership with NWACC might be part of the solution.
• Size of class is not an issue.
• When drill sessions were cancelled by class instructors, students faced having to hire tutors on their own.
• Class lectured material may not be what is tested.
• Financial support for continuing students is an issue at all levels.
• Housing may be an issue with freshmen ending up in the lower quality dormitories. This may be a retention issue.
University Task Force Recommendation #1 – First Year Experience Classes

Dr. Graham asked whether we should require attendance at orientation classes across the college. A decision will be made at the University level. The value of orientation is getting students together, addressing the common issues, helping with the 4-year plan and supporting advising.

The University emphasis on retention and managing the details of our individual plans can be overwhelming.

Issues to be addressed:
• Timing - one suggestion was that first year experience classes be offered during the second semester.
• Meeting the needs of transfer students rather than just putting them in with new freshmen.
• If we offered one college-wide program, how to integrate the departmental information.
• Incorporating issues that affect all students, such as time management.
• Assess the success of participation in the summer convocation.
• Building our networks with community colleges and out-of-state schools.
• Connecting with high school guidance counselors.


The college model of faculty advising is rated the highest across the university. With some departments providing professional advising rather than using faculty, the college is moving away from the model. One reason may be that with the limited FTE, there is more pressure on faculty to fulfill their job assignments. Dr. Verma mentioned that he would like to review the data regarding faculty time and analyze the information.

The group discussed the different aspects of advising, including the primary areas of helping the student with their academic plan and taking a personal interest in the student as an individual with personal interaction.

Dr. Graham mentioned that the tabulator includes time which should provide a way to get credit for advising. The tabulator can provide a fair assessment on how much time is spent with students.

Four Year Plan in Management Plan

Implemented in 2006 and ending in 2010. Department heads should review the goals and assess:
• whether they are still legitimate and achievable
• what progress has been made toward them
• whether they should be revised
• whether the measureables are inclusive enough

We will have a follow-up discussion at the next meeting. We have talked about recruiting. Department heads need to be ready to discuss the items above and specific topics mentioned, such as updating the curriculum, distance education and honors program.

Core Exemptions

On the program check sheets in your University core block, students may be exempt from English, Math or Biology credits. Exemption is not the same as getting credit. The colleges must then determine what the student must do. Department heads need to look at check sheets and document what the options are for getting alternative credit.


Carmen will be sending out an e-mail on undergraduate research awards. Research grant proposals are due October 21 and we are asking students to bring them in one day early on October 20.

Students will be given instruction on the RazAlert system for emergencies. They can enter their contact information in UAConnect to receive text messages.

Dr. Robert Bacon is now permanent department head for Crop, Soil and Environmental Science.

Dr. Walter Bottje has decided to step down as department head in Poultry Science and Dr. Lusby will be interim department head.

Two candidates for the Plant Pathology department head position have been interviewed. Dr. Hollier was here last week.

October 2 – Fall Faculty Reception

Meeting adjourned at 11:40 a.m.