Letter from the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies

December 20, 2016

 

Dear colleagues,

I write to offer a tardy first quarterly update from the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies for the 2016-2017 academic year. So tardy am I, in fact, that it is probably more honest to consider this the first, second, as well as the special holiday quarterly update combined!

Let me focus on the work of three important committees.

The University Advising Committee, or UAC, co-chaired by Stephanie Bannister, Office of Student Life, met three times this fall. The UAC helped examine EAB's "Guide," a student-facing academic orientation platform (and the University ultimately passed on adopting it); formally adopted a universitywide academic advising syllabus (many thanks to the advisors who created it!); distributed professional development grants to five faculty and staff; heard a report from the new Transfer Student Advising Subcommittee as well as reports from units across the university about exciting new developments in advising; welcomed new members, including SGA student representatives; planned for next year's Winter and Summer Advising Institutes; and offered updates on NACADA and other student success-oriented conferences as well as on exciting developments across campus, including development of the Student Success Collaborative Campus-led "coordinated care network." With new advising positions forthcoming, new technologies, and proactive, data-guided approaches more and more commonplace, K-State's advising community is moving forward and, one might say, leading the way!

Special thanks are due to Jessica Van Ranken, SGA president, and Trenton Kennedy, SGA vice president, for their participation in NACADA's annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia. We benefit so much from our student leaders' thoughtful and informed role in supporting excellent advising and cutting-edge student success efforts. Special thanks are also due to NACADA and its executive director, Charlie Nutt. A forward-looking organization, NACADA makes so much that is good available to K-Staters. Finally, special thanks to Brad Cunningham, College of Business, and to all the other volunteers from K-State's advising community who have worked so hard, and so carefully, to implement Student Success Collaborative Campus.

The Undergraduate Programs Council, or UPC, met four times this fall and most of the members also participated in the daylong EAB@KSU university leadership seminar in November. The UPC established an Intercampus Programs Subcommittee; discussed strategic policy issues, including those addressed in EAB's "The Evolving Role of Faculty in Student Success"; examined student success data; benefited from reports by Chris Urban, Office of Assessment; and Steve Starrett, Honor and Integrity System; and shared experience across K-State's undergraduate-serving units.

Special thanks to Don Boggs, Gary Clark and Joe Aistrup, now of Auburn University, for their idea several years ago to form this committee. I'm sure all members agree that the UPC is a great forum for thinking through how best to build on K-State's tradition of student-centeredness and undergraduate excellence. Thanks, too, to Anne Stearns, Office of Planning and Analysis, for her helpful research on K-State student success.

The K-State 8 Council participated in the Institute for Student Learning Assessment/Diversity Summit and recently met with Fred Burrack, Office of Assessment, to consider how best to support instruction in our eight general education areas. In light of recent campus incidents and urgent and understandable calls for renewed attention to diversity and inclusion, focus has been given to "Human Diversity within the U.S." in the hope of better understanding how this requirement is currently being met and, more importantly, how we can support faculty and students as we, together, engage this topical and often especially challenging area. 

Special thanks are due to Burrack, whose award-winning Office of Assessment is an invaluable guide to the council's efforts, and to Information Technology Services for support of the council's requests for research. The learning enshrined in K-State 8 is foundational. Along with competency in English composition, public speaking and mathematics, undergraduates must also engage Aesthetic Interpretation, Empirical and Quantitative Reasoning, Ethical Reasoning and Responsibility, Global Issues and Perspectives, Historical Perspectives, Human Diversity within the U.S., Natural and Physical Sciences and Social Sciences. A combination of these and one's chosen college and major specialization(s) prepares one for a lifetime of learning, self-reflection, citizenship, as well as career and professional achievement. It's called "higher education," not "additional education," for a reason.

Finally, I want to thank colleagues who joined me this fall to help represent K-State at three major conferences. In addition to Jessica and Trenton, Dean Debbie Mercer and Dean Sue Maes, as well as a good many K-State faculty and advisors, were on-hand for the NACADA meeting in Atlanta. Likewise, Loren Wilson, Information Systems Office, joined me at EAB's Connected Summit and Zelia Wiley, Office of Diversity; Kimathi Choma, College of Arts and Sciences; Stephanie Bannister, Office of Student Life; Charlie Nutt and Wendy Troxel, NACADA, attended the Reinvention Collaborative Biennial National Conference, both in Washington, D.C. Wendy's keynote address was a highlight. From such meetings come new ideas as well as confirmation that K-State is already in so many ways a national and international leader.

On behalf of all those who work in Undergraduate Studies — Office of Undergraduate Research & Creative Inquiry, K-State First, Pre-Law Advising, Honor and Integrity System, Nationally Competitive Scholarships, University Honors Program, as well as Alexandra Boyd, business manager — I want to wish everyone a safe and pleasant holiday break. May 2017 be a bright year for our nearly 20,000 undergraduate students as well as for our faculty and staff whose dedication to their education and growth means so much.

Very best,

Steven P. Dandaneau, Ph.D.

Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies