Dean's Newsletter

Volume 8, Issue 5

Volume 8, Issue 5

The cold and snow of this year’s harsh winter have not stopped our progress forward on CLASS strategic planning.  I am happy to report that, with the help of Linda Francis and Jill Rudd, we have already conducted valuable focus groups with students, staff, and faculty, and I would like to thank all those who participated.  On March 14, during the spring meeting of the CLASS Visiting Committee, we will conduct our final focus group with that group of community supporters. During the spring semester, I have benefitted from the advice of CLASS alumnus (Economics) Christopher Hendryx, who serves on our Visiting Committee.  Mr. Hendryx conducts strategic planning processes for his employer, Sherwin Williams.  In March Mr. Hendryx with Drs. Rudd and Francis will conduct two strategic planning exercise sessions with the CLASS Cabinet, comprised of all of our chairpersons and directors.  Armed with the feedback we get from all of these groups, we will then be in a strong position to actually begin writing a draft of the plan.

These parts of our process have worked smoothly, but there have been other complications.  When I refer to our CLASS strategic planning process, I should really use the plural, processes, because there are in fact two different planning process in motion simultaneously, one conducted on the level of the college and the other directed by the Provost’s Office.   You might recall that, in my December newsletter, I referred to a program prioritization draft that all deans were required to write and submit to the Provost’s Office, essentially placing all the college’s academic programs into one of three categories: programs for additional investment, programs to be maintained, and programs for disinvestment.  This document, shared with the chairpersons during our workload meetings, was supposed to have become public in early spring semester and to have played a role in the college’s strategic planning process.

In late January, however, we learned that the deans’ prioritization lists were not found to be acceptable and, therefore, will not play a role in any future university decisions. Instead, the Provost is conducting her own program prioritization process over the course of the spring semester. We are told that the results of this program prioritization will be linked to new authorizations for faculty hires, but we do not have a firm date as to when the results of the process will be made public. I have received spreadsheets showing the criteria, with some of the data prepopulated.  The criteria are:

  1. Student credit hour production trends (5-years)
  2. Department costs (Delaware Study)
  3. Alignment with University strategic priorities
  4. Faculty scholarship, research, and creative activity (by department)
  5. Department size in relation to others
  6. Degrees conferred and number of majors (by program)
  7. Internal demand for the program(s)
  8. External demand for the program(s), i.e., employment prospects of graduates
  9. Alignment with College strategic priorities
  10. Additional program-specific factors

The deans have been invited to provide narrative comments (no more than two pages each) on each department and submit those comments by March 21st.  I suspect that the process is moving quickly and that we will find out results sooner rather than later.

So how does this affect the strategic planning timeline I proposed in December?  Although I had hoped to draft and ratify our new strategic plan by the end of the spring semester, it makes little sense to complete the plan before we know the results of the Provost’s prioritization process.  After we complete our last focus group as well as the strategic planning exercises at the beginning of April, I will appoint a special task force to begin drafting the plan.  Working with our strategic planning experts, over the last month or so of the semester, the task force will incorporate the feedback we have received from our focus groups, strategic planning exercises, and the program prioritization process into a working document.  We will probably hold a retreat for the task force to help them move the process along.  Of course, the completed CLASS Strategic Plan, linked directly to the University’s Strategic Plan, will present a much fuller vision of the future of the college than just a list of prioritized programs. Nevertheless, the prioritized list will need to be taken into account.  CLASS faculty as a whole will have a chance to read and comment upon the draft strategic plan before it is revised and brought to the faculty for a vote early next fall.

I’d like to close with some recent faculty news that’s come across my desk.  I am aware of several faculty books that have been published recently.  Stephen Cory’s book, Reviving the Islamic Caliphate in Early Modern Morocco was recently published by Ashgate Press, and Bob Abelman’s book, A Theatre Criticism/Arts Journalism Primer: Refereeing the Muses, was published by Peter Lang. Samantha Baskind’s Jewish Artists and the Bible in Twentieth Century America was recently published by Penn State Press and was listed in the Religion in America History Blog as one of 35 recent noteworthy books.  Finally, Rick Perloff’s latest book, The Dynamics of Political Communication, was recently released by Routledge.  All of these attest to the high levels of faculty professional productivity.  I also note that Irina Koukhanova has been chosen 2014 Artist of the Year by Boxheart Gallery in Pittsburgh.  As a result, from March 18 through May 16, 2014, the gallery will feature a solo exhibition of her two- and three-dimensional works entitled “Panoptic Landscape.”

Several of our faculty received 2013-14 Mandel Civic Engagement Grants.  Lynn Deering received a grant to expand dance/movement classes for senior citizens with Parkinson’s Disease.  Michael Dover was supported in his efforts to add a service day component at the Garden Valley Neighborhood House for participants at this year’s annual Cuyahoga County Conference on Social Welfare.  Birch Browning received funding meant to help him develop an El Sistema after-school orchestra program at the Cleveland International School.  Rob Kleidman’s grant will help him assist Building One Ohio  in organizing a conference for Northeast Ohio mayors, particularly those from the inner-ring suburbs. Finally, Michael Williams received a grant to bring the “Truth Booth” to Cleveland’s Central neighborhood in order to support young African-American males.  All in all, these projects will help CLASS faculty members build engaged relationships with key community groups in our neighborhood, city, or region.

Finally, we recently learned that several of our faculty have been awarded 2014 Undergraduate Summer Research Awards.  Two projects were funded in History. These include a proposal by Mark Souther and Regennia Williams entitled “Oral History, Mobil Curation, and African American Memory in Cleveland’s Fairfax and Glenville Neighborhoods.” Shelley Rose’s proposal, “Connecting Historical Thinking and Technology in the Classroom,” was also funded.  Two projects were funded in Communication: Kim Neuendorf and Jill Rudd’s proposal entitled “FRAMES: Film Research—Advanced Methods for Empirical Study” and Cheryl Bracken’s “A Content Analysis of the Little Cigars and Cigarillos Social Media Milieu.”  One proposal was funded in Anthropology: Phil Wanyerka’s “The History and Archaeology of Cleveland’s Historic Central Market District.”  Finally, Russ Borksi, Terry Pieritz, and Lynn Deering, of our Department of Theatre and Dance, received funding for a grant entitled “Documentation and Development of Digital Resources for the Art of ‘Muppet’ Puppetry.”  Congratulations to all our award winners!  I was struck by how interesting and varied the topics of these proposals were.  The students lucky enough to be selected for these research projects will certainly experience a memorable summer of engaged scholarship.

Best wishes,

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