December 2019

I’m sure that all of you have by now read the president’s message from Monday, November 25. Although the president’s message speaks for itself, a key takeaway from my perspective is that the University must take urgent action now to solve an unsustainable financial situation that could result in a critical budget emergency in coming years. The president asked that everyone constructively engage the immediate challenges to avoid those more dire future possibilities and to strengthen the university’s commitment to outstanding educational opportunities for students.

At this stage, University administration is gathering information, data, and recommendations for possible actions that can be taken to create a more sustainable financial future for the institution. No decisions have been made, but we are being asked to analyze possibilities using the best available data. In our college, we have taken the following steps in response to this phase.

  1. As I mentioned in the last newsletter, a combined committee involving the school directors and faculty advisory committee has been meeting to discuss potential paths forward to become more efficient throughout the college. I am thankful for the work already done by that group. We have conducted initial brainstorming and plan to meet again to determine how best to use that initial discussion to invite input from across the college. My objective is to obtain as much input as possible while the University is still in data-gathering and analysis phases of planning.
  2. The provost asked all colleges to submit very preliminary analysis showing how college workload documents will be brought into line with expectations in the University Workload policy. We were also asked to identify reasonable “targets” for course enrollment that maximize possible efficiencies and to report on how all administrative staff are used in the college; all of these items were discussed with school directors. That process resulted in a draft planning document which we were required to submit to the provost. I should note that the revised workload document will take effect starting August 2020, but other aspects of the planning document are still part of the ongoing conversations we are having with school directors, leadership, and others. The most up-to-date draft is available at As we continue gathering data for submission to the provost’s office, I will involve school directors and the faculty advisory committee to solicit input on prudent courses of action. Please know that this is an iterative process. The provost’s office is asking colleges to provide information that can eventually be used to identify areas in which efficiency gains can be realized, academic collaborations can occur, and budget savings can be realized. Any documents created by our college or any other college at this point are preliminary and should not be interpreted as anything more than evolving possibilities.
  3. One item that has emerged across several recent dean’s meetings is the topic of curriculum efficiency. In short, we are being asked to examine curricula in each program for areas that have substantive duplication with other units and to examine areas where major programs offer multiple options for students and to determine whether those options have the effect of disaggregating enrollments across multiple sections. For instance, some major requirements provide students with options to take two or three courses within a larger menu of options. We also offer special topics courses that often count as elective credit within majors. Are there areas such as these where we could maintain clear pathways to meet all graduation requirements while offering fewer sections? Are there other areas of the curriculum where course offerings could become more efficient through new instructional models? These are the types of questions we will need to address quickly given the most recent data requests from the provost’s office. I urge faculty in each school to be proactive in discussing these issues.

Last, we had scheduled a “Money Matters” forum with VP Deb Shaffer for Thursday, December 5. The intent of that forum was to provide a college-specific opportunity to ask Deb questions about the University’s financial situation. No questions were submitted to her. As a result, we will re-schedule the “Money Matters” forum for sometime after the start of spring semester. I encourage faculty and staff to submit questions to her in preparation for that forum. Please keep an eye out for an announcement of when the forum will be re-scheduled, and the date by which you should submit questions.

I know that these conversations are hard and force consideration of change. If we keep our focus on creating the best possible future for our students, I truly believe that the college, its programs, and our work as individuals will remain vibrant. I wish everyone well as you prepare for the end of the fall semester and start to the winter break.

The Harris Center is still in full academic advising mode and has already seen 1,141 students this semester, surpassing fall 2018 traffic by 27 students! We appreciate the opportunity to assist these students and want to thank faculty and staff members for encouraging students to use our services.
On November 12, we held our third annual Etiquette Dinner in Nelson Commons. Twenty-seven students attended and learned the proper etiquette for dining on French onion soup, pasta, peas and sushi. Alex Haskell presented and students came away with a lot of valuable knowledge about professional behavior.
As fall semester comes to a close, there are some important dates and deadlines to keep on your radar. December 6 is the last day for students to completely withdraw (drop all classes) from Ohio University. Students MUST stop by the Harris Student Support Center to initiate the withdrawal process. If a student has already left Ohio University, then they need to reach out to Greg Moeller immediately. Fall semester grades are due to the University Registrar by noon on December 18. If grades are not submitted by the deadline, instructors will have to fill out special grade report forms for each student in their class. Students will be able to view their fall semester grades on December 19. 
Please join us in the Schoonover Center lobby on December 14 for the commencement reception from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Scripps graduates and their family members are invited, and we hope to see you there.
Season’s greetings!
Thanks to everybody who has stopped by one or more of my casual Friday office hours this fall. I wasn’t sure if this little experiment would work, but I’ve been very pleased with the response so far. There’s one more before the end of the semester: December 6, 9 - 10 a.m., at Court Street Coffee. Stay tuned for the spring semester dates and times, in the January edition of Inside Scripps! If there are some other locations you’d like me to include in the rotation, let me know.
Speaking of January, there are several research and creative activity funding opportunity deadlines or window openings shortly after the first of the year that you might want to start working on this month.
For faculty:
  • The Presidential Global Engagement Fund (PGE Fund) offers grants of $5,000 to $20,000 to increase Ohio University’s global engagement to advance academic excellence and innovation in regions of the world and with selected partners of strategic interest to the University. Award categories include International Research & Creative Activity; International Institutional Partners; Selected Regions and Countries; and Excellence and Innovation. Email questions.
  • Ohio University Research Committee competitive awards up to $8,000 in seed money for new research and creative activity projects, with priority to new faculty or shifts to new lines of research for senior faculty (January 30). Contact Carma West.
  • Baker Fund awards up to $12,000 to support research and creative activity near completion (February 6). Contact Carma West.
  • 1804 Fund, categories for Undergraduate Learning, and Faculty Research & Graduate Studies (February 17 deadline for preliminary discussion with the Dean of University College or VP-Research & Creative Activity; March 16 proposal deadline). The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs will offer an application workshop on January 30 (9 to 10 a.m.) in Alden 301U.

For undergraduate and graduate students:
  • Student Enhancement Awards up to $6,000 to support research, creative activities, and professional meeting travel to present results (January 23 deadline). Contact Dr. Amy Chadwick.

  • Original Work Grant: Up to $750 to used between April 1 and October 31, 2020.
  • Travel Awards: Up to $500 for trips beginning by April 1 and ending by September 30 (Deadline March 30).
  • DEADLINE EXTENDED: The Scripps College Diversity Committee is extending the deadline for TAD grants. All grad students can submit applications for their masters thesis/project or dissertation by January 13. GRAD DIRECTORS: please share this with your students! More information about the Graduate Thesis, Master’s Project, and Dissertation Grant Award

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