Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Welcome to a new year!
I hope that you had a restful holiday and were able to spend quality time with your families and friends. We’ve made a lot of progress on various initiatives in the last several months. As we begin this spring semester, we are looking ahead to further improving our instructional infrastructure, support and services for students and faculty. I will be sharing more detailed information about many of these efforts over the next several months, but I wanted to highlight some here.
Our biggest news surrounds personnel changes in the Office of Instruction. Stephen Balfour is our new director of Online Learning beginning Feb. 1. He has held teaching, research and administrative positions at Texas A&M University for the last 13 years, most recently as the director of Instructional and Research Computing in their College of Liberal Arts. His experience in providing strategic planning and management of new online programs and courses and incorporating the latest technology will help take UGA to the next level in online learning.
The Office of the Registrar is in the very capable hands of Rosemary Segreti, who is serving as the Interim Registrar following the retirement of Jan Hathcote. The Registrar’s office continues to provide its full set of services, and we have started to explore additional ways for this office to serve you better. We hope that a new registrar will be appointed in the near future and further add to the portfolio of services provided by this office.
We are also looking to hire a new director of Academic Honesty and Integrity, as our current director Debbie Bell is retiring at the end of February. Debbie has worked tirelessly with thousands of students (and their families) and faculty over her 26-year career at UGA. She has been instrumental in developing an impartial, supportive and highly responsive Office of Academic Honesty. Those of you who know her will appreciate the calm and professional demeanor she has brought to this position, and the utmost respect she maintains for every individual with whom she works. Debbie will most certainly be missed in this office. However, she will be leaving behind a smooth-running operation for the next director. If you or someone you know have an interest in serving in this role, please consider applying for this position.
There are a couple of ongoing technology initiatives in which we’re making progress. Later this month the pilot phase of Go4UGA will launch with a select group of advising offices across campus. This online advising tool allows advisors to interact more frequently and easily with students, pushing out messages and reminders to students and help advisors aid students towards successful degree completion. The new technology will be implemented campus-wide in the fall. We also have implemented DegreeWorks Plans, a tool that allows students and advisors to plan a four-year program of study for each student for on-time degree completion. We are urging all advisors to move to DegreeWorks Plans as soon as possible, first to help us predict the number of seats needed for courses and allow us to plan for course sections, and secondly to allow student records to move between colleges when a student changes majors.
Also in the pilot stage is a new system to support various experiential learning activities, including a number of non-credit student activities (software developed by GivePulse, which is customizing it for UGA’s experiential learning initiative). Primarily designed to connect students, faculty, and community partners involved in service-learning courses or community volunteer activities, this system will also facilitate the approval and tracking of non-credit activities that are approved for UGA’s experiential transcripts, which are slated to launch in the coming academic year. The campus-wide rollout of the system—with a new, UGA name—will offer unprecedented opportunities for interaction and engagement among students, faculty, staff, and community partners in Athens and beyond.
This spring our Office of Curriculum Systems is looking at ways to address issues caused by cross-listed courses—courses that have more than one prefix representing more than one discipline. While cross-listing courses serves some purposes, it creates several other downstream impacts on students and on our ability to effectively use student information systems. Later this semester, we hope to identify and address these issues with appropriate solutions.
I am also excited to announce that our OVPI Faculty Advisory Board is getting started in a couple of weeks. We have about 10 faculty representing several schools and colleges and in different stages of their careers who have agreed to serve on the inaugural advisory board. I look forward to working closely with them to explore ways to support instruction at UGA.
The Spring semester is also a time when we identify and honor the winners of the 2017 Creative Teaching Awards. Stay tuned to see who are our most creative instructors and the innovation they are bringing to our classrooms and students!
I will be sharing more details about each of these initiatives in future editions of Engage. But, I am always eager to hear your suggestions as well. If you have any ideas that impact instruction, please share these with us.
Wishing you the best for a very happy and successful 2017!
Vice President for Instruction