July 27, 2011



Message from the provost

By Cheryl May

April Mason

Dear Colleagues,

As President Schulz and I reflected on next steps to launch the K-State 2025 plan, it became clear that I needed to better position the office of the provost to facilitate, support and address K-State 2025 directions and related issues. To that end, I reviewed the current responsibilities and staffing within the office. Foremost in my mind were the factors highlighted below.

  • The role of the office of the provost in supporting key K-State 2025 goals.
  •  The need to clarify and align key responsibilities in the provost's office to better communicate “who is doing what” while increasing focus on 2025 directions and improving operational efficiency.
  •  The need to reduce the number of individual programs reporting directly to the provost, allowing for more focus on strategic rather than daily operations.

As a result of this review and after discussions with the president, members of the cabinet, deans council, and provost staff and faculty senate and classified senate leadership, we are taking the following steps within the office of the provost. No changes in salary of current personnel are associated with these actions.

1. Creation of the position of vice provost of undergraduate studies. Recognizing the critical importance of undergraduate education in our vision for K-State, the position of vice provost for undergraduate studies is being created. Being a student-centered university has long been at the heart of Kansas State University and our work as a public land-grant research university. This new position is an investment that signifies we know we need to do even more to reach our goals for student success as envisioned in K-State 2025.

The new vice provost will be charged to advocate and work closely with the campus community to move the K-State 2025 vision forward for the undergraduate educational experience. Areas of focus will include student retention, course management, and transition programs (with the vice president of student life) as well as academic advising, general education/K-State 8, interdisciplinary programs, undergraduate research and service learning. The School of  Leadership Studies, the university honors program and the honor and integrity system will be reassigned from the provost to the vice provost for undergraduate studies when the position is filled. A national search will be conducted later this year.

2. Realignment and clarification of current responsibilities. The following realignments are effective August 2011.

As senior vice provost for academic affairs, Ruth Dyer will have overall responsibility for academic affairs, with a focus on academic planning, program development, policies, and personnel. The office of academic personnel will report to the senior vice provost for academic affairs and dual career services will be reassigned from the office of diversity and dual career development.

As associate provost for institutional effectiveness, Brian Niehoff will have overall responsibility for institutional accreditation, assessment and program review, as well as institutional research, data analysis, and reporting. He will also oversee faculty and academic administrator development, mentoring initiatives, and faculty awards and recognition.

The Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning (CATL), including its functions related to fostering improved undergraduate teaching, learning, and classroom instruction as well as evaluation/assessment, will report to the associate provost for institutional effectiveness. CATL responsibilities for general education/K-State 8 program coordination and the academic advising website and handbook will be transferred to the new vice provost for undergraduate studies when the position is filled.

Additional realignments have already taken place. International student admissions has been transferred from the office of admissions to the office of international programs, responsibility for the graduate programs at Fort Leavenworth has been reassigned from the provost to the dean of the graduate school, and the Center for the Advancement of Entrepreneurship has been reassigned from the provost to the dean of the College of Business Administration.

The office of diversity and dual career development will be renamed the office of diversity. This office as well as the Center for Engagement and Community Development, information technology services and the director of sustainability will continue to report directly to the provost.

3. Clarification of the roles of the vice president for research and the provost in research centers and institutes. The vice president for research has overall oversight responsibility for research centers and institutes. Nonresearch centers and institutes will continue to be the responsibility of the provost. A project to identify all centers and institutes will be undertaken this year to clarify missions and status as research and nonresearch centers.

4. Planning for the office of international programs. Marcelo Sabates began work as the interim associate provost for international programs on July 18. As many of you noted in your K-State 2025 comments, our engagement with the international community is critical to our university’s future and all our goals. That is why international is one of the common elements in K-State 2025. I plan to bring together a broadly representative group this fall, similar to the K-State 2025 theme committees, to propose specific directions for internationalization aligned with the final K-State 2025 goals. The work of this planning committee will be completed in November. I will then form a search committee and use the planning work to help direct a national search for permanent leadership of the office of international programs.

5. Review of current recruitment and hiring procedures. Effective, timely and legally-compliant recruitment and hiring procedures are critical to our university as we build the talented, diverse workforce envisioned in 2025. Given questions raised as a result of the recent search committee training, the introduction of new steps and suggested best practices associated with our hiring process this past spring, and recommendations of the unclassified professional task force related to recruitment of unclassified professionals, it’s time to pause and assess where we are. We will undertake a data collection effort to gather feedback on what’s working well and what could be improved in the future. Ten focus groups will be held from mid-August through September, including groups targeted to administrators, search committee chairs, administrative staff and diversity point people in colleges and departments, as well as affirmative action and HR staff. Focus groups will address hiring from the time the need for a position is identified through the various stages to final appointment. Lynn Carlin and the office of educational innovation and evaluation (OEIE) will undertake the effort to be completed by early October.

I believe these changes within my office and associated planning will enhance our capacity to support K-State 2025 and Kansas State University. Our future is exciting and I stand ready to work collaboratively with our faculty, staff and students as we advance together toward making K-State a Top 50 Public Research University. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at masona@k-state.edu. Enjoy the remaining days of your summer!

Go Cats!

April Mason