Academic Futures Open Forum: Research and Creative Work

Moderator:      Jeff Cox


Points made and issues raised included:

  1. Engaging students
    1. There is a night-and-day difference in student experience and retention based on whether or not a student is engaged in a creative, meaningful way (vs. just sitting in lecture halls).
    2. We need to find and/or create creative opportunities for students and create an effective way to communicate about those opportunities so that those working with and advising students know what is available.  This is especially important for the ACO students.
    3. We need a common first-year seminar for students that helps set expectations and culture and provides information on how to connect with other students.  A weekly course helps reinforce these topics.
    4. Residence hall programs that are hands-on help build community and creates cohorts.
    5. We need to create a balance between curricular activity and creative, community-building activity.
    6. We need to find a way to welcome and engage transfer students as well.
    7. Creating ways to have conversations on interdisciplinary topics (e.g. climate change) helps engage students in a more meaningful way.
  2. Non-academic units (e.g., libraries, museums) are untapped resources
    1. Museums and libraries are willing to partner (e.g., exhibitions and discussion series) that can provide creative opportunities.
    2. Non-academic units would like to work collaboratively across campus, but funding, communication, and tenure-recognition barriers exist.
  3. Staff success
    1. Staff contribute and do research on best practices at a high, professional level, but these efforts are not recognized or appreciated.  For example, staff members speak at conferences as subject-matter experts, but this is usually not included in the current performance evaluation process.
    2. Staff are able to apply for and get large NSF grants, but not for local CU-sponsored seed grants.  Why?  We have to find faculty that are willing (and have bandwidth) to “sponsor” the grant, but then the dollars go to that faculty/department rather than the non-academic unit that is doing the research.  This prevents good ideas (and creative opportunities for students) from getting off the ground.
  4. Culture
    1. We seem to be silo’d between the “academic affairs” and “student affairs” sides of the university.  Both sides are trying to serve students, but are not communicating or working collaboratively. We need to break down these barriers.