Strategic Plan for Academic Affairs (1996)
The Recommendations, Their Justifications, and Suggestions For Their Implementation
(I) THE EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE OF BOULDER'S STUDENTS
Recommendation I.1. CU-Boulder should develop a more personalized
undergraduate educational experience, particularly for its first-year students
(both freshmen and transfers). Each beginning student should choose an
``Academic Neighborhood" that will provide both a small-class experience in a
course of value and interest and an ongoing opportunity for academic and career
Rationale: Effective student learning depends on more than simply access
to interesting subject matter that is well presented. Real intellectual
development requires a social context in which to discuss, question, and apply
important concepts as they are being learned and understood. The term Academic
Neighborhood is used here to mean a small-class environment that covers a
subject of interest to the student in which there is enough opportunity for
discussion that the student comes to feel free to share opinions and to ask
hard questions. This class would also serve as a forum for advising about both
curricular issues (e.g., what is required to graduate in four years) and
career matters (e.g., the preparation required for a professional school). Such
an environment for first-year students would foster development and provide
students with a sense of belonging that should help with their survival in a
large institution like ours. The result should be not only a better education
for our students but a better rate of retention for the University's freshmen
and transfer students.
Implementation: Neighborhoods can be built by using small courses to
provide both instruction and advising. We should begin with the successful
programs that already reach some 40% of freshmen: the Academic Access
Institute, Honors, Fall-Fest, Residential Academic Programs, Presidents'
Leadership Class, Minority Arts and Sciences Program (MASP), Minority
Engineering Program (MEP), and First Generation Scholars. To provide this
experience for every first-year student, such programs must be expanded and/or
supplemented. For example, there are now Residence Hall Programs for students
interested in the Humanities, American Studies, Environmental Studies, Music,
Engineering, and Diversity. These could be developed to help meet the stated
goals, and other programs could be added for students interested in Foreign
Languages, Mathematics, or the Physical or Biological Sciences. These courses
should not be ``tacked on" to existing requirements but rather should be
developed as an integral part of major or core course requirements. Each
academic department should be encouraged to develop or participate in at least
one course of this type so that all students will be able to find classes of
interest, whether they have identified a major or not.
Improved advising is essential to the goal of personalized education.
Students need access to advising by professional staff to ensure that course
scheduling decisions, etc., are appropriate and efficient. They also need
to talk with members of the faculty about broader academic issues and careers.
If advising were provided by both faculty mentors and staff in conjunction with
small-class ``home rooms," students would have the opportunity regularly to
receive and discuss practical information about the University. While all this
information is already available, it often is not accessed by students. For
example, the impact on four-year graduation of continuing without a major, or
of changing a major, should be brought more clearly to students' attention.
Implementation of this recommendation will require a significant
investment in faculty time to provide small courses for all first-year
students. Some economies can probably be realized through the use of
Post-doctoral Research Associates, who in many cases would profit from the
teaching experience. With the appropriate organization, faculty mentoring,
and control for teaching quality, the additional costs should be smaller
than the improved tuition income we anticipate, given the likely
improvement in student retention.
Recommendation I.2. To facilitate the implementation of
Recommendation I.1, we suggest a reorganization of existing University
employees to allow the appointment of a campus administrative officer for
first-year students who will report to the Vice Chancellor for Academic
Affairs. The University should also consider the possible benefits of
administrative rearrangements across the offices of the Vice Chancellors for
Academic Affairs and for Student Affairs.
Rationale: The education and acculturation that CU-Boulder can now
provide to first-year students are compromised by the academic and logistic
complexity of our campus structure. Someone with both budgetary and
administrative responsibility should be ``at the table" (e.g., the
Council of Deans) to speak for the needs of first-year students. Since all of
our colleges admit students, this problem is not confined to the College of
Arts and Sciences; the relevant administrator should therefore have a
Implementation: We suggest that the appointment of this administrative
officer, as well as of advising and support staff, should be accomplished
through a rearrangement of existing personnel, rather than through an increase
in their current number. At a time when our campus faces significant financial
constraints, an investment in additional administrators seems inappropriate.
It should be possible to solve this problem in a manner that is essentially
revenue-neutral. Any new resources available should be directed toward
assisting departments to offer new courses for first-year students and toward
forming related programs that will improve the first-year experience.
Our committee is not in a position to specify all the responsibilities
appropriate to this position, but during the course of our discussions some
relevant issues have emerged. The top two priorities for this administrative
officer should be: (1) to coordinate the activities of departments in
developing the small courses that will provide first-year students with a wide
variety of Academic Neighborhoods from which to choose; and (2) to provide
guidance and financial assistance to departments and colleges in improving
their overall programs for first-year students. Additional important items
include: (3) examining opportunities to enhance the academic experiences
available through residence halls; (4) identifying ways to provide more
information to ``open-option'' students about how to choose a major; and (5)
expanding the ways in which information technology is made available to
incoming students, which will mean integrating activities in the Offices of
Admissions and of Financial Aid to help provide computer access for every
The plan for this administrative rearrangement is beyond our committee's
charge. In our view, the problem extends beyond Academic Affairs to include
some issues that are currently under the aegis of other CU-Boulder
administrators. The Chancellor's office should study this issue to design a
rearrangement of the existing structure that might achieve the goals of our
recommendation without losing the virtues of the current system.
Our committee's discussions of these issues have identified the
following points that merit attention by the group that ultimately tackles the
issue: (1) A first-year or undergraduate college with rostered faculty is to
be avoided, because it is likely to foster two tiers within our faculty, an
inappropriate structure for any major research university. Moreover, such a
structure has been thoroughly tested in several state universities, e.g.
Minnesota, and is now being abandoned. Although we can imagine some
educational value in an undergraduate college structure, we think that its
costs outweigh its benefits. (2) An administrative office that is focused on
the needs of first-year students and that can legitimately address both
academic and personal issues is likely to enhance the campus' performance in
areas that overlap the responsibilities of the Vice Chancellors for Academic
and for Student Affairs. (3) Information from the Office of Admissions could
be used to identify first-year students with special needs or challenges. An
administrator for first-year students could help these students to get the
support from CU that would enhance their retention and improve the diversity of
Recommendation I.3. The personalized education of more advanced
undergraduates should be enhanced by further investments in existing programs
that provide opportunities for individual or small-class instruction, such as
the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP), the Honors Program, the
Minority Arts and Sciences Program (MASP), the Minority Engineering Program
(MEP), the Summer Minority Access to Research Training (SMART) program, and
programs for service-learning.
Rationale: A significant educational value of research universities is
the opportunities that the faculty can offer students for participation in
original research. This is one of the features that will always distinguish
CU-Boulder from both undergraduate colleges and open universities based on
modern communications technology. We must nurture this strength to retain our
CU-Boulder has other venues that provide small-class instruction for
upper-level students. Many departments offer independent study and critical
thinking courses that provide considerable personalized instruction. Some
organizations that are not housed in any one department, like MASP and MEP,
give additional opportunities for students to deal with faculty, one-on-one.
Service learning has great potential for providing the hands-on experiences
that can make learning come alive. Just as with improvements in information
technology, however, departments need help in conceptualizing personalized
courses and in making the necessary logistical arrangements.
Implementation: This is an area where a modest investment of the
University's resources is likely to pay big dividends, both for the faculty and
for the students. Moreover, it is likely that some resources to support and
enhance personalized undergraduate experiences can be obtained either from
granting agencies, like the National Science Foundation and the Howard
Hughes Medical Institute, or from donations brought in through the CU
Recommendation I.4. The plans now under development to establish
five-year academic programs leading to combined Bachelor's/Master's degrees
should be encouraged and brought to fruition.
Rationale: Many current and potential CU students see their university
experience as training for future jobs and careers. While the value of a
liberal education is still great, one cannot deny the need for specialized
career training in our technologically oriented society. A program that leaves
intact our well-conceived undergraduate education but supplements it with
Master's level instruction and workplace-focused projects would seem to be an
ideal combination. If done well, this program should both improve our
offerings to existing students and increase our ability to recruit and retain
top high school students from Colorado and the nation.
Implementation: Rules to facilitate this dual-degree program are now
being designed by the Graduate School. Our recommendation is simply to
encourage this project and to suggest that University departments consider how
best to implement such programs within their own disciplines.
Recommendation I.5. Departments that train graduate students should
evaluate the breadth and size of their educational programs to ensure that
there is a good match between the substance and level of the training offered
and the job opportunities available to their graduates.
Rationale: The professional situation in many academic fields is evolving
rather rapidly. Social, demographic, technological, and knowledge-based
changes can alter the opportunities that recent degree recipients can enjoy and
the challenges that they must face. All departments that train graduate
students should be aware of these changes and let them influence the design of
their training programs. For example, some fields that were expanding only a
decade ago are now rather stagnant, while areas that were recently on the
fringe of a discipline are now seeking well-trained professionals.
Implementation: Departments that train graduate students should work
with the Graduate School, employing self-studies and reports from the Program
Review Panel or its equivalent to evaluate the success of their programs in
placing all or most of their graduates in the academy, industry, or the public
sector. Departments should tailor the size of their programs and the
structure of their training to suit the needs of their students, not to fulfill
an outmoded idea of professional strength or a pedagogic need of the faculty
itself. For example, they should ask whether their graduates are successful in
finding professional positions for which the research-based degree was the
appropriate preparation. If too many Ph.D.s are being produced, would an
enhanced Master's or a certificate program provide a better match between
specialized training and the employment opportunities available?
Graduate programs should also be encouraged to look at both their
curriculum and the ``apprentice" aspects of their training to evaluate their
efficacy in educating students for the important research of tomorrow.
Interdisciplinary possibilities should be considered and nurtured, where
appropriate, to ensure that our graduate programs are providing truly
(II) INTERACTION BETWEEN CU AND THE COMMUNITIES IT SERVES
Recommendation II.1. Develop the University's programs for
service-learning and teaching- or research-outreach. Existing programs that
help students, staff, and faculty to work outside the University on issues
related to their areas of professional expertise should be supported and
publicized. Other campus units should be encouraged to articulate their own
definitions of service-outreach and service-teaching to help broaden the
utility of the University to the State of Colorado in particular and to our
society at large.
Rationale: Modern universities developed and expanded during a time when
the results of basic research and the fruits of a liberal education were widely
valued by citizens of our society. Times are changing, and universities can no
longer assume that their contributions are appreciated. The students whom we
teach, their parents, Colorado legislators, and other citizens of the State and
of society at large now need experiences that will help them to appreciate the
value of the new knowledge that results from research and the power of a
well-trained mind. We must also help our students to see the relationships
between their recent learning and the problems that society must solve. Such
work will help to erase the erroneous image of CU-Boulder as elitist and
irrelevant to the life and fabric of society.
Implementation: The activities of a university are by definition diverse,
so no single plan for service/outreach can be right for all academic
disciplines. Each campus unit should be encouraged to consider ways in which
its strengths and specialties can be of interest or service to communities
outside of academe. For example, departments in the social sciences can reach
out to schools and businesses that would profit from CU students and/or faculty
who would undertake a project in teaching or research that has been tailored
for their needs. Humanities departments can help teachers and students in K -
12 to learn new ways of looking at literature, history, and art, as was
recently done in a CU project sponsored by the American Counsel of Learned
Societies. Science departments too can help with educational outreach, as is
now being done with support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. They also
can provide services and knowledge to companies with specific technical needs.
University staff should be partners in many aspects of such outreach, for it is
often they who have the practical knowledge and skills that are of particular
value for these endeavors.
The organization of service-outreach will require hard work and, for
many of our University community, a change in point of view. Service has
traditionally been defined as work for our scholarly disciplines (e.g.,
grant reviewing or manuscript editing), or as work for the University (
e.g., department, college, or campus committees). Here, we are talking about
something different: (1) service combined with teaching that brings our
pedagogic skills out of the university classroom and provides opportunities for
both faculty and their traditional students to help with community education;
(2) service combined with research in which academic skills and training are
used to solve problems that require the specialized knowledge characteristic of
university professors; or (3) service combined with outreach to help with
recruiting the best students to the Boulder Campus.
The President's office is deeply interested in service activities
like these and can probably provide some of the resources to make such
programs thrive. To help the Boulder Campus organize this work, we envision
an office akin to the Faculty Teaching Excellence Program. A high-level
staff person could collect information about projects already underway,
compile a useful data base, serve as a contact for outside organizations
that are seeking help from the University, and enhance the publicity that
all such worthwhile activities should receive. This office could also
facilitate the recruitment of additional faculty to existing outreach programs.
Teaching and research-outreach efforts will probably be initiated by
individuals and/or departments. Here again, an Outreach Office could help to
conceptualize, coordinate, and implement the efforts. For example, time spent
teaching teachers may be better spent than time in K - 12 classrooms, so a
knowledge of the programs that teachers want could help make the efforts of CU
faculty bear fruit.
Recommendation II.2. Improve the utility and accessibility of our
academic facilities to both existing students and the public at large through
invigorated Summer School and Extension programs, through proactive efforts to
recruit students, and through the use of new University capabilities in
Information Technology (IT).
Rationale: A university community is enriched by the talent and
diversity of its members. We can best serve the students of Colorado, as well
as those from out of state, by attracting a wide range of talented students and
giving them the courses they need to complete their education in a timely
fashion. Enhanced Summer School and Extension programs can provide courses
that will help with four-year degree completion by our regular undergraduate
students, as well as courses that will allow a greater diversity of students to
profit from the University's offerings. In the first category, we need courses
that duplicate or complement the offerings of our regular terms. In the
second, we need courses that will serve non-traditional students, such as
people already established in a business or profession. By offering mature
students the instruction they need to enhance their career development, we will
extend the range and utility of our campus.
Proactive efforts to recruit regular undergraduates can also
enhance the quality of our University, especially if we can attract the
Colorado students who are the most interesting, diverse, and bright. Such
efforts can be helped by the appropriate use of recent advances in IT,
which will serve both to attract competitive students and to provide new
modes of instruction for students who want to study from afar.
Implementation: A new dean of Continuing Education has now been
selected, and this administrator will have responsibility for the Summer School.
An individual who is energetic, imaginative, and effective will be
essential for improving the depth and breadth of the Summer School and
Extension program offerings. Given the additional credit hours offered,
especially to constituents like members of the K - 12 teaching profession and
the business community, these enhancements should be revenue-neutral or, even
better, should provide some increase in campus income.
Improved access to the University is also enhanced by more
effective work in student recruitment. Some improvement should be possible
with little additional expense by involving academic departments in the
recruitment of undergraduates who have shown interest and promise in a
particular discipline. Certainly departments help with graduate student
recruitment, and it is of parallel interest for them to attract the best
undergraduates to their classes. Improved communication between the Office
of Admissions and the relevant academic units should help to get university
faculty in touch with talented students of all races and ethnicities.
Improved campus facilities for IT should help to draw better
students to the Boulder Campus and to provide some educational
opportunities for those who wish to partake of our academic offerings but
cannot come to the campus. The important issue of enhancing our
capabilities in IT is treated in more detail below (see § III.5).
(III) SUPPORT FOR TEACHING, RESEARCH, AND CREATIVE WORK
Recommendation III.1. Recognize and reward the scholarship of
Rationale: Good teaching is a complex, individualistic, and human mix of
solid information and rational organization with intellectual sparkle, humor,
imagination, whimsy, showmanship, and an enticement to enjoy the academic
process. Most university faculty take their teaching seriously and work at
doing it better. It is nonetheless important, especially at a competitive
research university, to nurture the culture of good teaching and to reward its
practice. Often this will involve encouraging members of the faculty to
continue to learn new things and to rethink the ways they present the material
they have known for years. This ``scholarship of teaching" is important for
maintaining a healthy balance between teaching and research, both across the
departments of a university and over the career of an individual.
Implementation: A good balance between teaching and research will require
that each academic unit formulate clear definitions of good teaching and an
explicit statement of the methods by which teaching quality will be assessed.
Consistent with the mechanisms for evaluating research and creative work,
discussed below (§ III.2), departments should develop criteria for the
evaluation of teaching that address rigor of the course content, effectiveness
of the pedagogy, involvement in program and curriculum development, and student
advising and mentoring. Major personnel decisions should require a thorough
evaluation of teaching, including the assessment of a ``teaching portfolio''.
Successful programs, such as the Faculty Teaching Excellence Program and the
Graduate Teacher Program, should be at the center of continued efforts to
improve both the quality and the stature of teaching on this campus.
The goal of providing more small-course opportunities (Recommendation I.1) may
be addressed in part by hiring and retaining an increased number of full-time
and part-time Instructors who are excellent teachers and in part by engaging
Research Associates in teaching. Instructors with long-term records of
outstanding contributions to teaching should be rewarded with non-exploitative
wages and benefits. We must emphasize, however, that the University's
appreciation of teaching will not be enhanced by allowing a two-track system to
develop for its faculty. It is therefore important to make investments in the
efforts of research-active faculty to improve the quality (if not the quantity)
of their teaching and to enhance the teaching mission of their department. For
example, the culture of teaching in a department can be strengthened by the
senior faculty's attention to teaching quality when evaluating a junior person
for reappointment or promotion. Departments should be encouraged to discuss
difficult teaching problems or innovative teaching approaches as a part of
their colloquia. New courses or course revisions can be enhanced by faculty
Senior faculty members should be encouraged to design flexible
workloads for teaching/learning, research/creative work, and service/outreach
that accurately reflect their developing interests and capabilities over the
course of a career. The standard 40/40/20 distribution is an appropriate
guideline for the faculty in aggregate, but it may be wrong for individual
faculty members after they have attained tenure and/or reached the rank of
professor. Senior faculty members should be allowed to negotiate
differentiated workloads to emphasize and be rewarded for their scholarship of
teaching. Student advising and service/outreach should be evaluated and
compensated as part of this work.
One legitimate test of a department's commitment to teaching is whether
conceptual teaching issues are included as part of the intellectual discourse
among faculty (e.g., how to provide hands-on experiences for students or
how to engage students in more critical dialogue). Another test is the manner
in which a department evaluates teaching as part of its assessment for faculty
performance. The vice chancellors and deans should seek ways to encourage
constructive attitudes toward teaching, for example by performance-based
budgeting (see § V below).
Recommendation III.2. Require each academic unit to articulate broad
definitions of teaching/learning and research/creative work that are
appropriate for its faculty's breadth of interests and that will recognize the
value of good interdisciplinary work.
Rationale: The breadth of interests and activities appropriate for a
major research university invalidate any narrow definition of
teaching/learning, research/creative work or service/outreach. To encourage the
best in every member of our community, it is important to let appropriate
diversity flourish. Because each academic discipline is the best informed about
its legitimate range of activities, departments and units are the most
appropriate forums for discussion about the forms of teaching scholarship and
service/outreach that should be encouraged and rewarded. The decisions of
individual units should, however, be informed by the goals of the University of
Colorado and by the careful thought that has already been devoted to this
subject, such as Scholarship Reconsidered by Ernest L. Boyer (Carnegie
It is also important to recognize that existing academic units are necessarily
a reflection of yesterday's scholarship. Tomorrow's will grow in part from
syntheses that emerge from the interdisciplinary work of today. CU Boulder
should therefore nurture cross-cutting programs and efforts that bring real
intellectual novelty and growth to the campus, particularly in programs for
graduate instruction. On the other hand, programs that break the boundaries of
a discipline for no legitimate purpose should not be encouraged.
Implementation: Each department or unit should consider its own
definition of teaching/learning. For units where students participate in
research, these descriptions should acknowledge the many forms of non-classroom
teaching. Plans for assessing teaching should include an evaluation of
quality, not simply quantity. We encourage a campus-wide redesign of the
Faculty Course Questionnaire (FCQ), so that this potentially useful source of
information could provide more constructive feedback to faculty and become a
better measure of teaching quality. Additional ways of assessing teaching
should also be employed, such as evaluation of syllabi and reading materials
and class visitation by colleagues.
Each department or program should also define and periodically
review its ideas about research, scholarship, and creative work. Such
definitions are important, not only for a healthy intellectual environment,
but also for fair and accountable faculty compensation, as discussed below
(§ IV.4). To facilitate evaluation, each faculty member should
develop a research/creative work portfolio. If the work described therein
is outside the expertise of the existing departmental review structure,
outside experts should be consulted for periodic criticism and evaluation.
Recommendation III.3. Promote a diverse Boulder campus faculty,
staff, and student body.
Rationale: Diversity is fundamental to both a healthy, pluralistic
democracy and a lively academic environment; a wide range of perspectives and
experiences promotes excellence in research/creative work, teaching/learning,
and service/outreach. As the world becomes more interconnected and as the
populations of our nation and state become more varied, the Boulder Campus must
lead in ensuring that the importance of diversity is articulated and made a
central feature of our culture. Achieving a diverse community of scholars,
teachers, and learners requires both an effort to hire or enroll a broad range
of people and an effort to keep them. In this period of economic retrenchment,
political constraint, and legal challenges to traditional methods of
affirmative action, it is essential that the campus reaffirm its commitment to
diversity, and that it assess and modify as necessary its procedures for
working toward that goal. Support for diversity must be rooted in all of our
policies and procedures. For example, both staff and faculty must know that
the University community will recognize them as more creative on the job and as
better mentors for our undergraduate and graduate students if they incorporate
aspects of their own backgrounds and experiences into their working lives.
Implementation: Specific action must reflect the two essential parts of
becoming a diverse community: (1) the efforts necessary to achieve diversity
through recruitment of students, staff, and faculty; and (2) the support and
measures necessary to improve the campus climate for individuals from many
backgrounds. The latter issue is treated both here and in § IV.1 below.
To enhance the recruitment of a diverse faculty, staff, and student body, the
existing Diversity Plan Committee, appointed by the Vice Chancellor for
Academic Affairs, should continue and accelerate its work. This Committee
should examine current University and Boulder Campus goals and procedures and
should recommend modifications in specific measures as needed, considering
particularly the currently changing legal positions on affirmative action.
In the context of this review, existing departmental plans for recruiting
students, staff, and faculty from diverse backgrounds should be reviewed by the
Diversity Plan Committee, and modifications made where necessary. Money must
be sought to implement sincere recruiting efforts, recognizing that some of our
best opportunities for increased diversity may come unexpectedly and require
flexible access to funds and positions. Units that train graduate students
should develop plans that include active recruitment of students who will
expand campus diversity. The Minority Development Program of the Graduate
School can be helpful in these efforts. These units should also consider, as
potential graduate students, their own undergraduate students with diverse
To enhance the retention of a diverse faculty, staff, and student body, the
Diversity Plan Committee should provide ongoing guidance to academic units on
supporting and retaining their members. The Committee should work with
academic units to insure that program reviews and the annual reports that
follow them track the unit's progress in accomplishing its diversity
goals. A campus-wide goal is that diversity will become part of our regular
academic activities, not just a part of a few special programs.
Departments should supplement their normal advising programs for undergraduate
students from under-represented groups to make sure that women and students
from ethnic pluralities are regularly informed about opportunities for
undergraduate research, independent study, honors, other specialized course
offerings, and opportunities for graduate and post-doctoral study. These
students are more likely than most to be ``out of the loop" in hearing about
career-enhancing opportunities. Departments should also work to expand the
availability of academic opportunities that provide practical and/or
hands-on experiences. Like other undergraduates, individuals from diverse
backgrounds generally profit when classes include an experience-based component
and when academic concerns are integrated with other aspects of their lives.
Units that train graduate students should develop procedures that will help to
retain students from diverse backgrounds and socialize them into the
professional cultures of their respective fields, while at the same time
valuing the new perspectives that these students bring to ongoing scholarship.
These procedures should include encouragement for students who feel isolated by
their background or ethnicity and appropriate follow-up meetings to provide
mentoring and assessment of the student's professional progress.
To improve the campus mood with respect to diversity, the Faculty Teaching
Excellence Program should be encouraged to expand its well-regarded symposium
series on issues of learning and teaching styles, educating the university
community about the multiple ways to teach and learn. The already successful
IMPART program that helps faculty to enrich course content by including
features of diversity should be supported. Faculty and staff should also be
encouraged to assist in programs, such as those in many residence halls, which
help all students to become aware of the merits of diversity within a
Finally, a specially designated committee or task force should be appointed
in a few years to monitor and assess our progress in modifying the campus
culture with respect to diversity. The use of informed, neutral, and respected
evaluators, including some from outside the University, would bring credibility
to the resulting reports.
Recommendation III.4. Improve the University's resources for the
support of scholarship and creative work through improved coordination between
officers of the Boulder Campus, the CU Foundation, and the University
Technology Corporation. The University should consider a direct reporting
structure between the CU Foundation (Boulder Campus) and the Chancellor.
Rationale: Over the last two decades, CU-Boulder has made great progress
as a center for research and creative work in a wide variety of disciplines.
These gains have enhanced not only the intellectual life of the Boulder campus
but the quality of instruction we can offer. Knowledge developed at the
University has flowed from our campus to the State of Colorado and beyond. Such
advances must be protected and extended, wherever possible. Like all research
universities, however, CU-Boulder must now confront a rapidly changing climate
for the support of its research. The severe constraints being imposed by
reduced government funding through the National Endowments for the Humanities
and for the Arts have altered the availability of grants in many fields. The
National Science Foundation, NASA, Department of Energy, and other sources of
funds for basic scientific research have also suffered. For CU-Boulder to
continue as a strong research university, we must seek alternative sources of
research funding and support for our academic infrastructure.
Implementation: With uncertain and vulnerable federal and state support
for research and teaching programs, the University must turn increasingly to
the private sector and to philanthropy. The Office of Contracts and Grants
should be able to help with improved interactions between University research
and the business community. Meanwhile, the CU Foundation will need to play an
increasingly important role in our obtaining private donations and grants from
individuals and philanthropic organizations.
While the CU Foundation has been increasingly successful at raising
funds for the University, we believe that the focus of the Foundation's current
efforts may not be optimal for the difficult tasks that lie ahead. We recommend
that the Boulder Campus establish closer ties with the Boulder branch of the
Foundation. A task force with broad faculty participation should be
established to make a thorough evaluation of CU Foundation fund raising for the
core academic and research activities of the University. Department chairs and
deans should assess the areas of critical need at their unit's level; these
items should be conveyed by the deans to the appropriate Foundation development
officers. This would allow the Foundation to work together with the faculty,
the chairs, and the deans in essential fund raising efforts.
The University should also consider a direct reporting structure
between the CU Foundation and the Chancellor of the Boulder Campus. The
activities of the Foundation might also be expanded to establish and enhance
communication between members of the Boulder faculty and businesses with which
they might constructively interact. Given the financial structure of the
Foundation, such changes should not take additional resources and might yield
significant benefit to the campus.
Some of the resources that these activities bring to the campus should
be used to nurture and expand existing structures that provide general,
competitive support for the faculty's research and creative work. For example,
the campus should enhance the Faculty Fellowship Program, the Graduate
Committee on Arts and Humanities, and the Humanities Special Purchase Fund for
library collections. We should especially support research that crosses
disciplines and creative work where outside resources are particularly
difficult to get. Additional funds to help support the University's research
infrastructure may be available through a rational revision of our current
policies for indirect cost recovery. We should ask whether a uniform rate
across the campus is advantageous and whether the current policies for the
investment of these dollars are optimal.
Recommendation III.5. Provide access to the Internet for all members
of the Boulder Campus community.
Rationale: Following several decades of aspirations and more than ten
years of significant institutional investment, information technology (IT) has
emerged as a permanent, respected, and increasingly important component of the
University experience. Many members of the faculty rely on the Internet as an
source of information and as a medium for efficient communication. An
increasing number of our students are profiting from some form of instructional
experience with IT resources and technology-based learning activities. These
experiences go well beyond the routine use of word processing or specific
computer programs. They extend to the content of the syllabus, enriched
classroom discourse, improved communication among class participants and
faculty, and enhanced learning opportunities and research.
In spite of all this value, however, there are problems and
limitations with IT that encourage caution in following its banner. For
example, some of the faculty who have adopted IT in their teaching have
questioned its ability to help real learning. Currently available IT is
costly, and the technology is developing so fast that a major investment in the
instruments of today may become useless in only a few years. These factors
lead us to suggest a modest but significant investment in providing Internet
access for all members of our community, with an eye to appropriate upgrades as
Implementation: We should invest now in Internet hookups for all faculty
offices, for centers of staff activity, and for students' on-campus residences.
To pay for this development and to provide the instruments that will realize
its value, we should work with all possible sources of State funding, with
private sector assistance through the CU Foundation, with the President's
Office, with user fees, and with the Office of Financial Aid to obtain and
distribute resources, so that each member of our community can have access to a
computer that is Internet-compatible. We must also invest in personnel who can
help newcomers to learn the use and the value of this technology, and we must
work to establish a stream of resources that will allow this structure to be
improved and updated as it proves itself and as the technology advances.
Prudent investment in a rapidly evolving technology is difficult.
To this end, the Boulder Campus should reorganize its various programs in
communication and IT into a more rational structure. The Chancellor's
Policy Board on Information Technology and the recently appointed ``Chief
Information Officer" constitute good first steps in this direction, and we
hope that this beginning will evolve into an office that coordinates our
current activities in library use, telecommunications, the storage and
deployment of academic media, the maintenance of computer network services,
the utilization of IT, and other efforts that emerge in the immediate
future. The recommendations found in the report from the Working Group on
IT will form a useful starting point in considering these issues. It is
clear that the Boulder Campus must consider these issues carefully, and the
Academic Planning Committee can simply draw attention to the need to do so.
(IV) CLIMATE AMONG THE FACULTY, STAFF, AND STUDENTS
Recommendation IV.1. Implement procedures that encourage civility
among all the members of the Boulder Campus community.
Rationale: A university community depends upon the free flow of ideas.
Confidence in this freedom is essential for creative inquiry and effective
teaching. Such confidence is shaken when an individual or group seeks to
diminish or intimidate any member of our community. This leads to a difficult
paradox: for a university to encourage the free exchange of ideas and
information, it must restrict certain forms of behavior. Actions, including
both conduct and speech, that would severely restrict the speech and thought of
others are not acceptable in our community.
The mechanisms by which to accomplish this protection of freedom are
difficult to identify and define. It is not possible in a free society to
specify rules about what the members of that community may or may not say. We
can encourage civility, tolerance, and diversity, and we can prohibit
harassment, prejudice, and violence, but to go between these extremes and
identify the limits of free speech is neither ethical nor legal. There are,
however, campus procedures already in place that pertain to important issues of
behavior and civility, e.g., grievances over treatment, improper conduct,
and harassment. Many of these procedures are addressed to some degree in
student conduct handouts, the Faculty Handbook, the Sexual Harassment Policy,
the Boulder Campus Professional Standards Document, and in various
administrative policies, but at present they are not collated in a readily
accessible form. Moreover, our community might well profit from additional
attention to education about the relevant issues.
Implementation: We support the efforts of the newly constituted Chancellor's Task Force on Civil Conduct, concerning its charge to assess and recommend to the chancellor campus-wide strategies for creating a community at CU-Boulder that is characterized by respect, civility, collegiality, and by intolerance for abuse and harassment. In particular, we encourage work on the following issues:
- Preparing an inventory of existing policies and resources that will help to prevent and/or eliminate inequities and abusive behaviors, such as racism and sexism. The university policies should also be examined for consistency.
- Developing appropriate institutional responses to and policies for specific acts of abuse.
- Recommending ways to improve communication and coordination among the many campus units and individuals who are concerned with educating the campus community about civil conduct or are affected by abusive behaviors.
- Encouraging departments and units to provide appropriate education and
mentoring, so that new members of each sub-unit in our larger community are
acculturated in modes of behavior and speech that are consistent with the
Recommendation IV.2 Encourage consultation with the faculty, staff,
and students in administrative decision-making processes.
Rationale: Important decisions must not be made by administrators alone;
important decisions wil almost always be improved by consultation with
various campus groups. Such consultation can take into account the needs and
goals of various campus constituencies. This is especially important now, at a
time of increasing faculty involvement in governance.
Implementation: Administrators should seek input from institutions of
faculty, staff, and student governance when appointing committees for specific
issues, and they should consult standing governance committees as appropriate.
Administrators should also consult faculty, staff, and students outside of
governance structures to ensure broad input of ideas and points of view.
Recommendation IV.3. Encourage all departments to adopt flexible
procedures to foster legitimate faculty productivity over the course of an
Rationale: The diverse ways in which individual members of the faculty
can contribute to the mission of the University must be respected, particularly
during the later stages of an academic career. By acknowledging the many forms
of legitimate scholarly activity and quality, our campus should bring out the
best in all its members and produce a community of the greatest possible value.
Implementation: Individual members of the senior faculty should
negotiate with their chairs to form a specific plan for teaching and research
or creative work that is appropriate for them as individuals. For example, the
balance of research and teaching might change over the course of a career (see
§ III.1 above). These specifics can then be used to help with decisions about
department budgets and faculty compensation (see § IV.4 below).
Recommendation IV.4. Establish a structure for faculty compensation
that is fair, accountable, efficient, and stable.
Rationale: Most communities thrive on a legitimate recognition of merit,
and a university is no exception. Our community confronts a special challenge,
however, because of the diversity of the activities that contribute to a
university's value. The university culture that has emerged over the past
several decades is strongly oriented towards research/creative work, because
productivity in this sphere has largely defined a faculty member's value to the
rest of the academic world. In short, market forces have driven an emphasis on
research productivity. Given the importance of other faculty roles, however,
this focus is insufficient for a legitimate system to assess faculty merit.
The criteria called for above that will help in a fair evaluation of
teaching/learning and of service/outreach must also be considered. Once a
department or unit has agreed on how these factors should be considered, a
structure must then be established that can apply the criteria in a fair and
reproducible way. To this end, we propose a structure for faculty assessment.
Implementation: All units should be required to establish clear criteria
and procedures for faculty evaluation and for the determination of faculty
compensation. Given the great variation in the cultures and procedures of our
colleges, schools and their subunits, considerable latitude in the development
of these criteria and procedures should be allowed. Nonetheless, each
evaluation and compensation system should have a second-level review
accomplished by a committee that is representative of the disciplines being
evaluated and reflective of the local structures for faculty governance. This
committee will be charged with reviewing the criteria for compensation, the
procedures used, and their application by each unit or department. The
committee will make recommendations to the relevant dean on appeals. The
committee will also recommend to the dean the allocation of a separate pool of
funds, held at the college level and to be used only in cases beyond
departmental control, such as inter-unit equity, external offers, or
extraordinary career merit. In considering such equity adjustments, this
committee and the dean should consider the department's efforts to address
equity problems in the past, using its own resources.
(V) THE BUDGET PROCESS BY WHICH CU ALLOCATES RESOURCES
Recommendation V.1. The Boulder Campus should establish a budget
process that is timely, open, and interactive. The units receiving allocations
should participate in the budget process.
Rationale: The advantages of this recommendation for establishing good
budgets and for improving community involvement in these important issues are
Implementation: This change is already underway. The process should
simply be encouraged.
Recommendation V.2. The Boulder Campus should explore the use of its
existing mechanisms for evaluation and program review to inform a budget
process that is based more upon performance.
Rationale: In an environment where faculty, staff, and students are all
assessed on their performance, it only makes sense to do the same for
administrative units as well. In times of increasing resources, a yearly
budget based upon its predecessor, plus an increment that acknowledges
performance, defines a workable system. When resources are constant or
diminishing, however, there is no leeway with which to innovate, adapt, and
capitalize on new opportunities. To obtain such resources, each administrative
unit must negotiate its goals, consistent with the goals of the University as a
whole, and should be evaluated on the extent to which these goals have actually
Implementation: There are several elements to initiating a system of performance-based budgets, including a process for evaluation and a mechanism for connecting these evaluations with the process of forming a yearly budget. We recommend that the goals and criteria for performance be negotiated between each administrative officer and the units for which s/he has budgetary responsibility. This flexibility should, however, be guided by the following principles and ideas.
- Performance must be assessed by more than simple quantitative measures. For example, the evaluation of a unit's teaching contribution can include the number of student credit hours generated per faculty FTE, but it must not be limited to this. Measures of teaching quality, agreed upon in advance, must also be used. These could include, but would certainly not be limited to: the number of small classes offered; the number of majors taught; the number of students advised by faculty; the FCQs of the unit (particularly if these have been improved, as suggested above); the ways in which a unit promotes the discussion of good teaching; recent teaching innovations; and the quality of graduate education.
- Performance in research/creative work should be assessed by measures that are consistent with the culture of the unit and standards of the discipline. If the principal form of scholarly work is books, then the number and quality of these publications should be examined and assessed. In disciplines where outside funding is common, reasonable measures of performance quality would include, but not be limited to: the amount of external support; the number and quality of its faculty's scholarly publications; and the effectiveness and impact of this research and scholarship. If the unit's creative work is based on artistic endeavors or public performances, then analogous criteria should be sought. The point is to encourage each unit to identify reasonable criteria by which its own work should be evaluated.
- Performance in conventional service or in faculty service/outreach should also be evaluated with criteria established by negotiation, consistent with the goals defined for this category above. The balance between these two kinds of service can be expected to vary from one unit to another, but over the coming few years, all units should be expected to develop an outreach program of some sort.
- Performance evaluations should be based upon contributions by the unit to the University over the course of several years.
- Performance assessment should include issues of behavior that are key to the University's mission. For example, the success of the unit in fostering the professional development of its younger faculty, the diversity of its own community, and the equality of treatment for its members, regardless of gender, race, or ethnicity, should all be considered.
- Budgetary allocations should also consider the importance of basic curricular issues that are not simply assigned to any one unit or do not fall within a single major degree program. For example, the success of a unit in nurturing critical thinking, good writing, effective verbal exchange, quantitative literacy, foreign language skills, or good standards of scholarship could all be considered.
- The budget process should reward fiscal responsibility on the parts of units that succeed in working within their budgets.