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K-State Today

December 14, 2023

New operational excellence framework for academic innovation and Office of the Provost

Submitted by Richard Linton and Charles Taber

Dear Colleagues,

Our Next-Gen K-State strategic plan is heavily focused on accelerating academic innovation across the university. This is particularly crucial as we innovate and deliver programs to learners that are aligned with what they want and need and help us reach our strategic imperative goals — including growing our traditional and nontraditional enrollment to 30,000 by 2030. Our plan also calls on us to create more integrated, less siloed environments to drive operational excellence, efficiencies, collaboration and optimized use of our resources as "One K-State."

This past summer, we announced a new strategic enrollment management structure designed to drive operational excellence and transformational change in the areas of strategic enrollment management, recruitment and retention of undergraduate students, academic success, and student affairs. Building on this momentum and recognizing the need to have a clear focus on academic innovation, we are excited to announce a new academic innovation framework that positions our academic enterprise to help us meet our strategic goals and achieve our vision of leading the nation as a next-generation land-grant university. 

This new framework integrates and realigns functions and resources currently within Global Campus and the Office of the Provost. It has been designed to infuse innovation across the work of the Office of the Provost and establish a clear and well-defined structure to:

  • Better support growing enrollment across all student and learner populations. 
  • Meet the needs of students and lifelong learners — in-person, online and hybrid.
  • Drive academic innovation and excellence across all academic programs, regardless of modality.
  • Better support faculty in innovating and developing courses and programs — credit-bearing and alternative credentials — that meet learner needs and market demands. 
  • Build capacity in the areas of faculty affairs and academic affairs in the Office of the Provost to better support faculty, academic departments, colleges and campuses across our academic organization. 

Key elements of the new provost's office academic innovation framework

This restructuring is focused on modernizing and building capacity within our academic organization — optimizing resources, breaking down siloes that prevent us from being as effective and impactful as we can be, and amplifying the value and impact of the work our K-State community does each day in serving our learners and communities.

In this new framework, once fully implemented, Global Campus will no longer exist as a separate organization within K-State. Instead, its functions, teams and resources will be distributed across the Office of the Provost. This restructuring will lift up the expertise and best practices of the Global Campus staff as universitywide resources and amplify our broader work in the areas of academic innovation, recruitment, and retention and student success in a more integrated, holistic way.

In addition, the university's faculty affairs and academic affairs functions currently performed in the Office of the Provost under Institutional Effectiveness will be reallocated and strengthened in this new structure.

The new framework includes the following changes and realignments.

  • Establishes a new Office of Academic Affairs and Innovation, reporting to a vice provost, with responsibility for a portfolio focused on academic affairs, academic innovation, faculty affairs and a reimagined Teaching and Learning Center.
  • Other changes and investments within this new Office of Academic Affairs and Innovation include the following:
    • Establishes a faculty director role for academic affairs, responsible for working on all matters involving academic policy at K-State.
    • Establishes a faculty director role for faculty affairs, responsible for overseeing the processing of faculty actions, including promotion and tenure and hiring and leave, managing faculty award programs, and providing faculty with professional development opportunities and other resources.
    • Repositions the university's Teaching and Learning Center with additional resources to grow and enhance its historical function in becoming a hub for driving innovation in faculty practices, curricular design and program development.
    • Creates an Academic Innovation unit, reporting to an associate vice provost for academic innovation, with a focus on:
      • Curriculum and program development for all modalities, including instructional design — credit and non-credit learning.
      • Digital learning, including the K-State Online platform.
      • Market intelligence and analysis support as a university resource for campuses, colleges, departments and faculty to leverage as they align their programs with what our learners, markets and communities need.
      • Oversight of continuing education and noncredit learning functions, moving this work into a more integrated institutional structure.
    • Global Campus online advising will shift to the Division of Academic Success and Student Affairs, or DASSA, continuing to serve learners throughout the transition. This shift builds on recent efforts to establish more integrated, coordinated university central advising. The military student advising functions focused on serving learners at Fort Riley, currently in Global Campus, and Fort Leavenworth, currently in the Graduate School, will also move to the Military Affiliated Resource Center, the university's new one-stop military learner support unit within DASSA.
    • Creates a more comprehensive, integrated approach to strategic enrollment management by consolidating resources and staff within Enrollment Management, Global Campus, and the Graduate School into one environment with a focus on driving recruitment for all prospective learners.
      • Online recruitment will shift to Enrollment Management, along with graduate recruitment, to form a true center of excellence for K-State when it comes to recruitment, matriculation and enrollment — regardless of modality. Enrollment Management will continue coordinating with all colleges and campuses to execute integrated, synergistic recruitment activities across the university and K-State's recruitment centers in Salina, Olathe and Manhattan.
      • Enrollment Management, Global Campus and Graduate School marketing and communications functions will be consolidated within a new enrollment focused marketing and communications team, which will coordinate with the Division of Communications and Marketing, or DCM, and all campuses and colleges to ensure comprehensive and consistent marketing activities targeting all prospective learners and the learning environment or program they are seeking. The team will work closely with DCM to ensure alignment with university brand guidelines, marketing and advertising activities, and general university marketing and communications strategies.
      • The Graduate School will continue to oversee graduate admissions while focusing on student success for all graduate learners as we work to significantly grow and retain our graduate student population in alignment with the Next-Gen K-State strategic plan.

In addition to the above changes, we will also work with UFM, Inc. to clarify our partnership moving forward in coordination with our expanded approach to community engagement and to plan for the transition of credit coursework back to university operations.

You can see these changes outlined in these PDF charts. These charts outline a functional redesign of the provost's office structure with new and highlighted functions and realignments. More detailed organizational charts will be developed in the coming months as plans are developed to move from this framework to detailed organizational charts that will be implemented by July 2024. To learn more about the new framework, timeline for implementation and next steps, please visit the Next-Gen K-State operational excellence webpage, where you can find more detailed information, including a slide presentation and FAQ

Why are these changes being made now?

Many members of our K-State community have been engaged in discussions about academic innovation and the functions and services of Global Campus for several years, beginning in 2019 as part of the K-State 2025 Refresh discussions. Task force recommendations were submitted in March 2020, but any actions on these recommendations were paused as the university responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and implemented our first strategic enrollment management structure. Discussions throughout the Next-Gen K-State strategic planning process raised and reinforced the concept of accelerating academic innovation as critical to the future of our university. Now is the right time to act as we work to implement our strategic plan to help meet our aggressive goals for enrollment growth and academic innovation in our curriculum and program development.

While we are announcing these changes today, we know the real work will be in the transition planning that will take place over the next six months — and it is vital that we begin this transition process now to have our new structure fully operational in advance of the 2024-2025 academic year. A transition team is being put in place that will report for now to Interim Provost Debbie Mercer, then to our new provost. We expect a new provost will take an active role in reviewing and refining aspects of this reorganization as part of the transition planning that will take place in the spring.

When will the new structure go into effect?

In-depth reviews, discussions, planning and diligence will take place to support the transition to the new structure during spring 2024. While all changes may not be made at the same time, the new structure will fully go into effect in June 2024, in coordination with the university's new fiscal year.

Next steps

Detailed, intentional transition planning will take place beginning now through June 2024. The transition work will be coordinated by Lynn Carlin, provost's office; Karen Goos, enrollment management; Thomas Lane, academic success and student affairs; and Karen Pedersen, Global Campus, with support from Shanna Legleiter and Marci Ritter, Human Resources; Becca Zecha, budget office; Heather Mills, space planning; Ashley Bourne and Cindy Hollingsworth, communications and marketing; and Sandra Brase and Craig Bourne, provost's office. The transition team will work together and with employees in the units impacted by this restructuring. They will also hold monthly joint meetings with the Global Campus, DASSA, enrollment management and provost's office leadership teams to identify issues and processes that need to be worked through, provide updates on the transition project work, and maintain open flow of communications with and from leaders to units and their employees.

As decisions and changes are made, they will be communicated through updates to this webpage, unit-level staff meetings, and other communications with staff in the impacted units. In addition, the university community will receive updates through articles in K-State Today.

We encourage you to submit ideas, suggestions or thoughts about this restructuring to the transition team at provostplanning@k-state.edu. Messages sent to this address will be directed to the appropriate members of the transition planning team.

In closing, we felt it was fitting to include this excerpt from our Next-Gen K-State strategic plan:

"Like many higher education institutions, K-State is often challenged in how quickly it can adapt to meet the demands of the world around it, particularly when it comes to aligning educational programs with what employers and communities are expressing in real-time as key areas of need and ensuring graduates are uniquely positioned for immediate success. We now have an opportunity to think differently from other universities in how we more rapidly meet these needs, building an internal culture of innovation and disruption and leaning into our status as a land grant institution that prioritizes external engagement at all levels. To do so, we will reimagine our structures, systems, processes, facilities, campuses and even credentials and degrees with an underlying focus on championing academic innovation and ensuring students remain at the cutting edge of their respective disciplines."

Today's announcement is an important and exciting step as we challenge ourselves to move beyond our traditional approaches, accelerate academic innovation across K-State, and position our broader academic enterprise to meet the needs all of our learners in the coming years — regardless of modality and together as One K-State.

Go 'Cats!

Richard Linton

Chuck Taber
Provost and executive vice president