Where has the time gone?

By Ian D.C. Newbould

As we begin the new academic year, I wonder, as I am sure you do, what happened to the past three months!  Whether conducting research, vacationing or working on assignments, your time probably seemed to fly by as quickly as it has for me.   When I arrived at Mary Washington nearly four months ago, President Hurley and I discussed a number of initiatives for me to concentrate on during my fifteen-month assignment.  Each concerns the strengthening of our academic programs, of our student body, and of our student support services.  I’d like to report to you on four initiatives that are underway.

Reaffirmation of SACS accreditation.  In late July, Dr. Rudolph Jackson, the SACS Vice-President overseeing our reaffirmation, visited campus to meet with Tim O’Donnell and a group working on the Principles report.  Dr. Jackson also met with Alan Griffith and several persons involved with the preparation of the QEP.  The QEP plan has been looked at by outside persons very experienced with the SACS QEP requirements, and Alan and Teresa Kennedy, who is drafting the final report, have been helped by their guidance in tailoring the wider proposal into a more manageable plan that will pass muster with SACS.  Earlier in July, Tim, Taiwo Ande, Alan, and Terry traveled to Tampa to meet with Dr. Margaret Sullivan, Chancellor of the University of South Florida at St. Petersburg (and the former lead consultant for SACS) and her accreditation team at the university.  They came away with a great deal of good advice on how to proceed.  At the end of his visit to Mary Washington, Dr. Jackson was very complimentary of the progress made to date on both components of our reporting and made further valuable suggestions.

Program Initiatives.  As I know that many of you are aware, new program initiatives are underway.  As I reported to the Board of Visitors at the annual retreat in July, program initiatives take the form of both new program development as well as new program delivery methods.

During my year here, I will do everything possible to see new program initiatives developed.  To this end, I spoke with the President and Cabinet to have development funds set aside that can be used for new initiatives, and I am happy to report that unused funds from this past year are being set aside for this purpose as I work with the Deans on new program proposals.  One of the presentations I made to the Board of Visitors at their recent retreat directly addressed the question of potential new program initiatives that might be explored – here is a copy of that presentation.

I have some additional comments about the Board Retreat in the final section of this newsletter item.  Boarddocs, in case you aren’t familiar with it, is the online repository for Board of Visitors’ agendas, meeting minutes, and policies.  Materials for every Board meeting will be posted there.

Student Recruitment.  Much of the summer has been taken up with studying our admissions systems and investigating ways and means of reversing the growing achievement gap in our incoming student body and the reduction of out-of-state students.  We have had two external reviews of Admissions.  During the coming months, it is imperative that we become, as one of the external reviewers described it, hunters rather than gatherers.  New recruitment processes and strategies are being developed, and an increased emphasis on international recruitment is being implemented as well.  Student recruiting has become increasingly competitive, and it is important that Mary Washington implement strategic initiatives to recruit desired students in aggressive up-to-date methods.

Board of Visitors’ Retreat.  The annual Retreat was led by President Hurley, who informed the Board about the initiatives in the Strategic Plan that had been accomplished – a lot! – and of his plans for the coming year(s). The Cabinet members’ presentations were similar in that they described what had been done to further the Strategic Plan goals, and plans for the future.  I made a number of presentations that can be viewed under the following link at Boarddocs.  You’ll need to scroll down to item 7B on the agenda (Academic Directions) to get to these presentations.

 

At the retreat, the President indicated that it was now time to develop a new strategic plan that would set out the University’s near to mid-term future.  The Board is of the same view.  The retreat was very successful, with a great deal of discussion and work (too busy to allow us to do much else!).  The incoming Rector, Judge White, said that President Hurley “rocked”.

 

Finally, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all of you who have welcomed me to the University and community.  I feel very fortunate to be given the opportunity to be part of Mary Washington and to do whatever I can to advance the cause of a wonderful institution.

One Response to “Where has the time gone?”

  1. Jim Gaines, MDFL says:

    Someone has proabably already suggested this idea with regard to enrolling international students, in which case please pass on to other new initiatives, but it may be something new to consider. Years ago, when I was department head at Southeastern Louisiana University, we were approached by the University of Linz, Austria, a private institution, about facilitating mutual exchange of students. They were particularly keen on giving their students in Business access to American-style MBA-level courses. SLU at the time had very limited resources for dealing with foreign students (other than athletes) and did not follow up. I was thinking that now, with the development of education particularly in Eastern Europe, it may be worthwhile to tap in to such demand. With our new College of Business, this could be a beneficial direction, and I am thinking particularly about private institutions that are usually less regulation-bound than national universities. Maybe our existing links with Western European institutions such as the Universite Catholique de Paris, Universidad de Bilbao Spain, Universita di Milan, and Universitat Erfurt Germany, as well as the University of Beijing China, could provide some links. Just something to consider, but it might be easier than starting from scratch with a shotgun array of other institutions. Hope this helps. JG

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