Monday, February 15, 2010

Strategic Plan Performance Measures

Visit the NAU PAIR's website to review the most up-to date performance measures. Developing a meaningful set of progress indicators is an ongoing task and your comments are greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

2010 Strategic Plan Revision

Every 2-3 years the university strategic plan undergoes a thorough review. The Strategic Planning and Budget Council has already reviewed and revised the most recent, published strategic plan from 2007. The many standing committees, taskforces, and other established groups at NAU have also had an opportunity to weigh in on the 2010 draft put together by the SPBC. To complete the revision process and craft a well-rounded plan, it is important that individual faculty and staff members as well as students voice their opinions and provide directions.

The university-level strategic plan provides a map for divisional planning. Some of the statements may seem vague but the plan is intended to be more directional than prescriptive. This allows the divisions and the units within the divisions to identify the most appropriate strategies that contribute to the university goals.

Please comment on individual goals either on this blog or use this survey-like online form. More information about the strategic planning efforts, including strategic plan performance measures are available on the university strategic planning pages.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Research and Scholarship

Northern Arizona University is classified as a high research activity institution according to the Carnegie Classification. This national system to categorize colleges and universities is based on the level of research activity using indicators such as R&D expenditures in science/engineering and non-science/non-engineering fields, research staffing levels, and doctoral conferrals. This classification does not differentiate institutions with respect to research quality or importance. Institutions with more extensive research activities (e.g. ASU and UA) are classified as very high research activity institutions.

When considering the direction of the university, how do we cultivate one of the key components of our mission—scholarship and research? The Strategic Planning Council is interested in learning your opinions. The following items should guide this online discussion:

  1. What does it mean to be a highly successful institution in our “high research” category? How do we define success in the context of different fields (engineering, natural sciences, social sciences, art etc.)?
  2. How do we better integrate teaching and research/scholarly activities? How can undergraduate students become more involved in research activities, and/or non-funded scholarship? How do “public service” and “instructional” funding/activities fit into the picture? How does being a research campus benefit student education?
  3. How do we attract private funds to advance our research and other scholarly activities?
  4. When we say that the Flagstaff campus is a “research” campus, what implications does this have for NAU’s other campuses/sites across Arizona?
  5. What recruitment strategies could colleges and departments employ to balance a teaching-focused and research-focused faculty? What reward mechanisms should be in place to reward both teaching and research?
  6. Should we focus on a few already successful areas of research to achieve even greater recognition or fund new projects that would expand the portfolio of the university’s research activities? What are the implications of selecting one strategy over another?

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Financially Sustainable Deep Learning Approach

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Student learning and undergraduate education have been NAU’s key mission components since the institution became a university in 1966. Over time we have developed and maintained a reputation as a school where professors know students’ names, where most instruction is delivered through small classes, and where the students participate in a variety of co-curricular programs. This deep learning, high encounter approach permeates the campus community culture, and we rightfully take pride in it.

In today’s challenging economic situation, how do we maintain NAU’s signature experience of deep learning and high encounters with faculty for our undergraduates?
Some ideas related to this topic to consider:

  • How do we know that our students are truly acquiring or experiencing a rich education? Is it an index of what is taught or what is learned?
  • Research shows that very little information in a traditional classroom lecture is retained by students. When the information is made active, through some sort of experience or ‘hands on’ encounter, retention of the information is quite high. How can we make learning more active in a single course that we teach?
  • How can we (or should we?) integrate co-curricular learning experiences as part or a compliment to (and not a substitute for) learning experiences in the major?
    How can faculty take the next step to more effectively mentor undergraduates

How can we financially sustain delivering this deep learning student experience? A few more questions to consider:

  • How important is class size in the learning process? Are we making wise decisions about which classes to keep small? How do we assess their effectiveness?
  • Do the costs associated with NAU’s deep learning strategy impact our ability to offer more competitive salaries for faculty and staff?
  • Can we use technology to help make this learning strategy more cost-efficient?

We are hoping that this month’s topic will trigger an interesting and lively discussion.