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Dec. 19, 2019 - Message from the Provost

December 19, 2019

When I sent my first message of the semester in September, campus was whirring back to life after the long summer break. In these seemingly shorter days before winter break, we can all see things winding down again. Students and faculty are taking and grading finals, and staff prepare to suspend most operations for the holidays. I hope that you have plans for a restful winter break and take the opportunity to recharge for the spring. I also thank those of you who will remain in Laramie to keep our campus safe and secure over the break.

This has been an eventful and productive fall semester. The most significant highlight is the University’s successful site visit with the Higher Learning Commission as we pursue reaccreditation. We are currently reviewing the site visit team’s draft report and expect the full report later this month. The draft report from the site visit team is very positive, and I want to thank every one of you for the roles you have played in ensuring the University of Wyoming works to realize its mission for our students, community and state every day. This outcome is the direct result of your hard work and commitment.

In collaboration and consultation with colleagues in the Faculty Senate and others, we worked with the Board of Trustees to pass two new regulations: 2-16: Sabbatical and Professional Development Leave and 2-9: Workload Policy. Regulations 2-2: Academic Personnel Dispute Resolution and UW 2-15: Academic Freedom are currently under review by board committees and expected to be reviewed by the full board in January and March, respectively. Additional UW Regulations and SAPPs are currently moving through the review process with Faculty Senate, committees and the administration and will be advanced in the coming months.

The Board of Trustees also approved new academic programs in American Sign Language and Computer Science Education, and notices of intent were presented for programs in Neuroscience and Early Childhood Education. An International Advisory Council that I appointed in the spring, which is co-chaired by AVP Anthony Ogden and Dean David Sprott, has been working to develop a new strategic framework for prioritizing UW’s global engagement investments, examining the intersection of UW and Wyoming interests by world region, themes of interaction, and current or prospective partners across the globe.

The spring semester is already shaping up to be as momentous as the fall. I wanted to take a moment to share some news with you as we look ahead to the semester to come.

 

Next Gen University Studies Program

I am excited to begin a discussion about the next generation of general education for UW students in the spring. Our current University Studies Program (USP) 2015 general education program had its beginnings in a similar exercise that began in 2011. Given accelerating disruption in workplaces and society, it’s time to think again about the way we prepare all UW students for full participation as citizens in an increasingly complex world. You will begin to see information from our office in the coming months about beginning this conversation.

 

WyoVita

WyoVita is the second module in a suite of online platforms that help faculty, academic units, colleges and the university maximize the quality and accessibility of faculty data, while eliminating outdated redundancies. The first module, WyoFolio, was launched last year. This new module allows faculty to create and customize their CVs and biosketches for a variety of purposes without having to enter data multiple times in multiple platforms. WyoVita has flexible and time-saving tools that can be used for data input and data output, such as integrating citation data and other analytics from bibliographic databases and reference management software and transferring data from other software applications (e.g., course evaluation systems and grant databases).

WyoVita will launch by the end of December. Since WyoVita and WyoFolio are part of the same online platform, CVs and other reports required for reappointment, tenure and promotion reviews, sabbatical reviews, and annual reviews can be generated directly from WyoVita and transferred to WyoFolio. And, the platform will be utilized to conduct annual reviews for calendar year 2019, which will begin February 1, 2020. Each faculty member will be asked to verify and update information for calendar year 2019 no later than January 31, 2020. Virtual training sessions will be available in the Employee Learn Center starting January 2, 2020. There will also be in-person and zoom training sessions open to all faculty and staff in Health Sciences 205. Dates, times and additional details will be provided in a forthcoming email.

 

Interviewing the Next Class of Trustee Scholars

Shortly after the spring semester begins, we will welcome more than 100 of Wyoming’s best and brightest students to campus to participate in the selection process for Trustees’ Scholars Awards. The Trustees’ Scholars Award is the top academic award and recognition given by the University of Wyoming. This fall, students selected earned an average high school GPA of 3.92 and an average ACT score of 32.

We are seeking faculty members to participate in interviews to select the next class of Trustees’ Scholars. Interviews will take place on Friday, January 31, and Friday, February 7, from 10 a.m.-noon at the Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center. Faculty members who are interested in participating can sign up for timeslots by going to: survey.uwyo.edu/TakeSurvey.aspx?SurveyID=76LHml41H. Questions can be directed to Shelley Dodd, Director of Admissions, at shelley@uwyo.edu or 6-4273.

 

Statewide Common Course Numbering Work Continues

Work will continue on common course numbering. As part of the statewide initiative to enhance Wyoming’s educational attainment, a working group from the state’s higher education institutions has been collaborating on a common course numbering project. The goal is to harmonize course numbering protocols between UW and the seven community colleges, and to make certain that transferrable courses are easier to transcript across the state. Since mid-November, a group of UW faculty and staff, along with a statewide group with representation from each community college, has validated nearly half of the courses that are most commonly taught, have well-articulated learning outcomes, and are transferred frequently. Both the University Course Committee and USP Committee chairs are facilitating this process, along with AVP Alexander and Registrar King, and they’ve been consulting with the affected departmental faculty at each turn. Our goal is to have around 65% of all courses completed for the fall 2020 catalog, and the balance done in time for the fall 2021 catalog.

 

Graduate Teaching Assistant Allocations

Over the course of the current academic year, the Office of Graduate Education and the Graduate Council are reviewing the allocations of Graduate Teaching Assistantship funding to colleges and departments. The end goal of this process is to develop transparent criteria for making GTA allocations in the future. During the spring semester, both Graduate Council and the Office of Graduate Education will be seeking input from faculty, students, staff and administrators. AVP Ahern will meet with department heads at their February workshop, and additional opportunities for input will be announced once scheduled.

 

Transitions in Academic Affairs Leadership

Before I close this message, I also want to acknowledge two transitions in the leadership of the Office of Academic Affairs.

Dr. Anne Alexander has announced that she will step down from her role as Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education in May 2020 after five years leading one of the largest units of the Division of Academic Affairs. Over the last several months, she also led efforts to secure the reaccreditation of the University of Wyoming with the Higher Learning Commission. Anne will join the College of Business as Associate Dean and Director of the Center for Business and Economic Analysis.

Special Assistant to the Provost for Strategic Initiatives Dr. Dan Maxey has accepted an appointment as Chief of Staff at the University of Northern Colorado and will begin his new role in the new year. Among the many tasks he was responsible for, Dan has been helping me to develop a plan to grow our capacity to service distance education and offer additional online programs. We will launch a search for a new director to carry those plans forward in the spring.

Anne and Dan have brought so much energy and enthusiasm to their work with the Division of Academic Affairs, and they have provided exemplary leadership to the University community. Please join me in thanking them both for their service and congratulating them on their new assignments.

In closing, thank you all for your contributions you make to our university -- your ideas, your effort, your energy and your commitment to our students, university and state. Wherever you find yourself this holiday season, I hope that you find time to reflect on all the good works we do every day -- to provide accessible and affordable higher education of the highest quality; carry out rigorous scholarship that we share with the world and seek to apply toward its improvement; promote economic and community development; and in service as responsible stewards of our cultural, historical and natural resources. And, I hope that with the dawn of a new year, you will come back reinvigorated and refreshed, with your sights set on all that we will accomplish in the spring semester.

 

Happy Holidays! And, GO POKES!

 

Kate C. Miller, Ph.D.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

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