With the semester well underway, progress is being made on the various projects set forth in the Academic Futures report. Academic Futures continues to be committed to developing pathways for ongoing campus involvement as these efforts undergo further definition and development on route to being implemented.
Creating a student-centered campus
The provost and senior vice chancellor selected this section of the report as an initial focus for CU Boulder’s efforts. The Academic Futures report highlighted several important areas of work to support our students, many of which were already underway as part of other strategic efforts.
Under the auspices of Foundations of Excellence, Vice Provost Mary Kraus has convened working groups that focus on re-imagining and improving the undergraduate first-year experience and on creating coordinated approaches to student advising. In addition, within the next month, Senior Vice Provost Katherine Eggert will be rolling out a path for the development of a new Center for Teaching and Learning, as well as forming a task force that will focus on a unified common learning experience for undergraduates.
Interdisciplinary teaching, research and creative works
Interim Dean Jim White, College of Arts and Sciences, is leading a campus conversation this spring on how the campus can facilitate and incentivize interdisciplinary work, perhaps the most transformative of all of the Academic Futures initiatives.
The Academic Futures Interdisciplinarity Working Group is charged with defining more precisely what CU Boulder should be doing to support, incentivize and facilitate interdisciplinary teaching, research, scholarship and creative work, empowering teams of scholars with strong disciplinary backgrounds to mesh their approaches and solve core sets of looming and future social, cultural, scientific and technological problems. They will provide a framework to take up big questions, from climate change to the definition of a good life.
Look for an update in the coming weeks on the group’s membership and schedule of delivery of a report to the campus.
Online/distance/technology in education
Dean Robert McDonald, University Libraries, is forming an Academic Futures/Financial Futures Online Strategy Working Group that will integrate recommendations from the Academic Futures report and emergent work from the Financial Futures strategic initiative, seeking to define CU Boulder’s vision of what online and distance education should look like. McDonald is consulting with the Academic Futures Committee, the Council of Deans, the Boulder Faculty Assembly and chairs and directors about members and also is soliciting nominations via a form at the Academic Futures website.
Guided by the key idea of “Teaching excellence independent of modality,” the working group will outline a guiding campus philosophy for this important effort. McDonald will oversee a smart convergence of Academic Futures with Financial Futures efforts to look at how CU Boulder develops and implements a coordinated and comprehensive approach to online and distance education, supporting both residential and nonresidential students. The working group’s membership and a timeline of delivery for its findings will be announced in the coming weeks.
Integrating research impact and teaching excellence into faculty review, promotion
Dean Bobby Braun and the College of Engineering and Applied Science are undertaking a pilot project that looks at how faculty are evaluated in order to take into account research and creative impact (economic, societal, quality of life, etc.,) and to more accurately measure teaching excellence and innovation. Starting with the annual review process, CEAS will develop and test approaches that can then be shared with the rest of campus. This effort takes up several strands within the Academic Futures report.
Creating a global campus
Leadership-driven discussions on the elements of a coordinated global strategy for CU Boulder involving stakeholders that would include faculty, students, staff and alumni are ongoing, and initial projects and approaches derived from these discussions will be announced later in the spring semester.
Embracing the ‘public’ in public university
Over the spring semester, Academic Futures convener Jeff Cox and facilitator Emily CoBabe-Ammann will be crafting a campuswide program for faculty, staff and students that creates pathways for public engagement. The goal is to make real the Academic Futures report’s call that CU Boulder recommit to its status as a public research university.
The campus’s year-long conversation and the resulting report are bearing fruit. Check for updates on town halls and engagement opportunities for Academic Futures each week in CU Boulder Today; and on the first Tuesday of each month, visit CUBT for more extensive initiative updates that offer more information on progress and alignment of the initiatives. You can check on all the campus’s strategic initiatives here.