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October 11, 2013

Inauguration and Presidential Task Forces

President Alison Byerly emailed this message to faculty today:

Dear Colleagues,

It was a pleasure to see so many of you at last weekend’s Inauguration festivities. I appreciate your willingness to don heavy regalia on what turned out to be a fairly steamy October afternoon!  It was good for the 60+ delegates from other colleges and universities, as well as students, trustees, alumni, and other members of the Lafayette community, to see a strong academic presence and show of support from our own faculty.

Special thanks are due to Acting Clerk of the Faculty Rosie Bukics for the warm and thoughtful greetings she offered on behalf of the faculty, to the colleagues who represented their departments and programs, to Jennifer Kelly and Kirk O’Riordan for their work with the students whose lovely music enhanced the ceremony greatly, and to the additional faculty colleagues who also served on the Inauguration Committee : Chawne Kimber, Ilan Peleg, Larry Stockton, Robin Rinehart, and Scott Hummel.

I am glad that many of you were able to attend the afternoon session, New Models in Higher Education, skillfully moderated by Provost Wendy Hill.  If you missed it, there is a nice write-up on the web, along with a video of the entire panel.: http://www.lafayette.edu/about/?p=37874

Many of the delegates mentioned that they, or the presidents they were representing, also enjoyed the presidential commentaries gathered as part of our Virtual Conference of Liberal Arts College Presidentshttp://www.lafayette.edu/inauguration/category/virtual-conference/

In my own inaugural address, A Tradition of Change (http://www.lafayette.edu/about/?p=37869#speech) , I spoke about the challenges facing the world of higher ed, and liberal arts colleges in particular, noting that Lafayette’s history of successfully confronting change gives me confidence that the College is well positioned to become a leader in thinking creatively about what the residential college of the future should look like.

To initiate that effort, I am convening three Presidential Task Forces I described at the October faculty meeting. The charges of these groups will be as follows:

(1)   Task Force on Curricular Innovation and Technology:  This task force would be charged with looking at existing and potential structures for promoting innovative thinking among faculty with regard to emerging pedagogies and technological opportunities.  Recognizing that many such conversations have taken place through CITLS and elsewhere, the task force would provide additional venues for faculty conversation on topics ranging from online learning to interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary engagement, social justice education and community-based learning. In addition to identifying promising pedagogical approaches and areas for development, they would offer suggestions for ways in which our administrative structures (for example, our review processes; our use of interim) can best promote ongoing faculty-led innovation.

(2)   Task Force on Enrollment Size and Program Capacity: This task force would be charged with looking at the enrollment size of the College, in the context of some general consideration of other aspects of the college’s programmatic capacity, including admissions pool, facilities, and calendar. The committee would be asked to consider costs and benefits of expanding, maintaining, or reducing the size of the student body, particularly in relation to other programmatic changes (for example, new interim or summer programs) that might affect the college’s overall capacity.

(3)   Task Force on the Integrated Student Experience: This task force would build on the excellent work of the Laf360 initiative, following up on suggestions and insights of their final August 2013 report to develop concrete recommendations for ways to better connect and integrate different components of the student experience, and different stages in the student pathway from entry through graduation and beyond.  Areas to consider would include strengthening and connecting academic and career advising; defining a residential platform or organizational structure that would promote the goals of community, affinity, and responsibility identified in last year’s “values” discussion; thinking about ways to extend academic interests and intellectual community beyond the classroom.

My hope is that these task forces could concentrate their efforts in the fall and early spring, so that their ideas and recommendations could be incorporated into Board of Trustee discussions and my own thinking about redefined goals for the planned Capital Campaign.

I am seeking volunteers to serve as at-large members of each task force. Working with the Governance Committee, we have outlined task forces that are composed primarily of faculty drawn from elected committees in relevant areas, with some additional staff to be selected by the administration. Two additional faculty members on each task force will be at-large members, who will be selected, with input from the Governance Committee, through a process of self-nomination. I expect that these task forces will not constitute insular decision-making bodies, but will be discussion leaders who could engage a wide range of faculty and appropriate staff in considering these issues.

The planned membership for these groups is as follows:

Task Force on Curricular Innovation and Technology

  • 2 members from Faculty Academic Policy
  • 1 member from Information Technology & Library Advisory
  • 1 member from Teaching & Learning
  • 1 member from Curriculum & Educational Policy
  • 2 at-large members of the Faculty, self-nominated & appointed by the President
  • 1 Instructional Technologist from Information technology Services
  • The Director of the Center for the Integration of Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship
  • The Associate Provost for Faculty Development and Research Services

Task Force on Enrollment Size and Program Capacity

  • 3 members from Faculty Academic Policy
  • 3 members from Enrollment Planning
  • 2 at-large members of the Faculty, self-nominated & appointed by the President
  • The Associate Provost for Academic Operations
  • The Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid
  • The Associate Vice President of Finance and Business Operations

Task Force on the Integrated Student Experience

  • 2 members from Faculty Academic Policy
  • 2 members from Student Life
  • 1 member from Curriculum & Educational Policy
  • 1 member from Diversity
  • 2 at-large members of the Faculty, self-nominated & appointed by the President
  • The Dean of Students
  • The Dean of Academic Advising

You will shortly receive a note from the Governance Committee inviting you to submit your name if you are interested in serving on any of these groups. The limited number of available slots is likely to preclude the selection of all who are interested in serving. However, those who express interest and are not appointed will be invited to constitute a larger group of advisors who may be asked to constitute focus groups, to participate in meetings, or to help plan public events or  lectures related to these topics.

Thanks to all of you for your willingness to engage in these discussions, which will be important not only to me, by helping me to learn more about faculty views on these issues, but to the future of the College.

All best,

Alison Byerly

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