"Census Day" occurs on the 20th class day of each fall semester. This is the day when higher education institutions take a snapshot of enrollment for reporting to various constituents. These numbers then
become "official" measurements of enrollment for a given year. The snapshot for this year occurred at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 18, with reporting released Tuesday, the following day. One aspect of this snapshot is a measure of our freshman to sophomore retention rate.
I have no doubt all faculty, staff, students, and administrators remember the announcement last year when the institution set a retention rate goal of 80%. This number was an ambitious, but I believe realistic, goal since Southeast never had a freshman retention rate over 75%. As I said to each department, given our focus on student success and excellence in teaching, why can't we be stellar in retaining students?
As you probably heard at the recent State of the University address from President Vargas, and as is illustrated in the graphic below, our retention rate this year is 75.1%, up from 74% in fall 2016 and continuing a trend of increasing numbers dating back to fall 2012.
First-Time, Full-Time, Degree Seeking Freshman to Sophomore Retention Rates
Increasing retention over these years can be attributed to efforts by many people on our campus, including faculty and staff in Academic Affairs. I met with each academic department last fall, discussed the University retention goal and reasons why retention is vital for a student-centered higher education institution, and conversed about ideas for how to move the needle toward our goal.
As a result, I asked each dean to work with departments to formulate and implement college and department level retention plans. I have no doubt these individual efforts by departments and faculty contribute to an ongoing retention increase. In addition, Academic Affairs partnered with Enrollment Management and Student Affairs to enhance tutoring and student assistance, support an already very strong first-year experience program, streamline University Studies requirements, and create a Master Advising program, among various initiatives. While all of these efforts certainly contribute to increasing student retention, I still believe advising plays a central role. My hope for the Master Advisor program was to have 10% of our 400 full-time faculty (40 faculty) complete this professional development opportunity in the first year. However, I was very impressed to see 110 faculty become certified as Master Advisors last year. All of these efforts certainly contribute to our freshman retention rate trending in the right direction, and I want to thank, and congratulate, the faculty and staff for their role in this success.
However, we need to keep in mind 75.1% is not our goal of 80%. It is vital we continue and expand the efforts that have made us successful over the past several years, keeping our "foot on the accelerator" as we strive to enhance the success of more and more students. Further, we need to focus on student persistence, students continuing to make progress towards their degrees, and graduation/completion rates. Student success is a central aspect of our University mission and a common purpose binding us together.
As always, thank you for all you do for our students and University through your daily work and professional effort. It is special to be a Redhawk!
Karl Kunkel, Provost
All-Faculty and Staff Forum on Academic Reorganization
Provost Karl Kunkel will facilitate a presentation and discussion of college and department reorganization models for consideration contributing to budget reductions at the University. This forum will be held on Wednesday, October 25, from 12:00 - 1:30, in Academic Auditorium. All faculty and staff in Academic Affairs are encouraged to attend.
College of Education Recognized as Apple Distinguished School
On October 10, it was announced that the College of Education has been selected as an Apple Distinguished School for 2017-2019 (a two-year designation). This recognition reflects the College's commitment to continuous innovation in learning, teaching, and the school environment. Please congratulate these colleagues on this prestigious award!
Faculty Showcase for Teaching Excellence
Dr. McAlister Brings History to Life
Among other topics, Dr. Vicky McAlister teaches medieval history. Her students engage in role-playing games set in medieval times, create 3D printer models of castles and churches, and participate in fake jousting sessions. "
I want students to leave my classes understanding that people from history were people just like them and that their world and culture, as with other world cultures, is still in many ways familiar to today."
Dr. McAlister's pedagogical techniques have caught the attention of many faculty around campus. So much so that she leads role-playing sessions for other faculty and students. Dr. Toni Alexander, chairperson of the Department of History explains "undergraduate and graduate students alike sing the praises of Dr. McAlister's classes and her enthusiasm for teaching."
Dr. McAlister's research on medieval castles is published in top journals and is extramurally funded, which is an impressive feat. She works as the graduate director of the Department of History, a role that involves supporting students and faculty. Dr. Alexander describes Dr. McAlister as a "dynamic faculty member who excels in her teaching, research, and service: I want to take her class!"
Read more about Dr. McAlister's approach to engaged teaching and learning here
News from the Provost's Office
Provost's Awards for Teaching Excellence
To help us identify and celebrate examples of exceptional teaching, the Provost's Office has introduced annual awards for teaching excellence. Faculty can be nominated or apply directly for recognition across a range of categories. Examples of categories include:
- UI100 Teaching
- University Studies Teaching
- Online Teaching
- Teaching for Student Success
- Supporting Undergraduate Research
- Advancing Our Learning Communities
- Using Open Educational Resources
- Blended Teaching
- Assessment of Student Learning
- Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
A call for nominations will open in November. Award winners will be announced in March 2018. More information will be provided to all faculty via email.
Provost's Office Hosts Assessment Speaker Series
The Provost's Fall Speaker Series focuses on assessment of student learning. All faculty and staff are invited to join the following speaker sessions. More information will be available by email.
FALL 2017 PROVOST'S SPEAKER SERIES
MAKING LEARNING VISIBLE: BYU'S LEARNING OUTCOMES WEBSITE
Tom Mallory, Lead Programmer and Web Architect
Brigham Young University
Tuesday, October 24, 3.30 - 4.30 p.m.
UC Heritage Room [Webinar]
E-PORTFOLIO ASSESSMENT AS A HIGH IMPACT PRACTICE
Emily Dibble, ePortfolio Coordinator
Salt Lake Community College
Tuesday, November 7, 10 - 11.30 a.m.
UC Redhawks Room [Webinar]
WEIGH PIG, FEED PIG, WEIGH PIG: A MODEL FOR LEARNING IMPROVEMENT
Keston Fulcher, Executive Director of the Center for Assessment and Research Studies
James Madison University [2017 Winner of the NILOA Excellence in Assessment Award]
Thursday, December 7, 3 - 4.30 p.m.
UC Ballroom B [Webinar]
Focus on Student Retention
Mass Media Opens Doors to Students
Nearly 75 students, faculty, and staff attended a September 21 Open House, sponsored by the Department of Mass Media and held at the Rust Media Center on Broadway.
"This was the first time the department held an event in which the students could see the fully-equipped, state-of-the-art multimedia center," said Dr. Pam Parry, who is the new department chairperson. "We are so pleased with our partnership with Rust Communications, and we were glad to have an opportunity to showcase it."
The Department of Mass Media invited its majors and undecided students as part of its recruitment and retention efforts. Faculty and staff were on hand to engage students in a conversation about their education and futures.
Cameron Ellington, a senior TV/film student, said, "I went to the Open House because I thought it was a good opportunity to interact with my fellow students, not just the seniors, but also the incoming students. What I got out of it was a chance to pass some of my knowledge I have learned at SEMO onto incoming students and to help get them comfortable with the department."
Mike Simmons, an advertising instructor, added, "It was an opportunity for students to meet and talk with their instructors about their major and even their professional development. After the event, I was impressed with the caliber of students and their interest in the field, and it reminded me of the really dynamic environment in which we can teach our students."
The Open House is one aspect of the department's multi-faceted recruitment and retention plan to increase its number of majors.
Calling All Faculty!
Student Research Conference: Call to Action
The 26th Annual Student Research Conference is scheduled for April 18-19, 2018. We encourage you to start working with your students on their research, which they can present at the conference. Submissions will close on April 1, 2018. The Student Research Conference is a multidisciplinary, campus-wide conference, for both undergraduate and graduate students. For more information, please visit
or contact one of the faculty advisors: Scott Brandhorst at
or Laura Delgado at
AQIP Action Projects: Call for Proposals
All faculty, staff, and students are invited to submit proposals for AQIP Action Projects. As part of the University's participation in the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) with the Higher Learning Commission, it maintains a portfolio of at least three Action Projects at any given time. An Action Projects is generally a project of one to two years in length that addresses a current problem, issue, or opportunity for the University. Action Projects can be proposed at the unit level but typically are designed to address an institutional topic. For more information on Action Projects and how to submit a proposal, please visit
. The deadline for proposals is October 31, 2017.
Upcoming Faculty Development Opportunities
CSTL to host upcoming Take-Away Fridays
- October 20: Ask HR
- October 27: Ask Verona
- November 3: Dear Faculty: You are not alone
- November 10: Facilities Management Talks About Campus
All Take-Away Fridays are held at noon in Towers Complex Room 110. For more information and to register, visit the Take-Away Fridays
Department Training for New Course Evaluation Software
The CSTL will provide training on SmartEvals, the new course evaluation software. At least two delegates from each academic department are encouraged to participate in one of the following training sessions. However, everyone is welcome.
- November 6: 11 a.m., Kent Library 311
- November 6: Noon, Kent Library 311
- November 7: 10 a.m., Kent Library 311
- November 7: 4 p.m., Kent Library 311
- November 8: Noon, Kent Library 311
- November 8: 1 p.m., Kent Library 311
- November 9: 9 a.m., Kent Library 311
- November 9: 2 p.m., Kent Library 311
- November 10: 8 a.m., Kent Library 311
- November 10: 3 p.m., Kent Library 311
Meet a Chairperson
Dr. Kevin Hampton
Dr. Kevin Hampton is professor of music and chairperson of the Department of Music at Southeast. He maintains a fast-paced schedule to support the myriad functions and dynamic individuals within his department. He takes time out of his busy day for an interview.