UO Board of Trustees December Meeting Remarks

Provost Jayanth Banavar delivered these remarks to the University of Oregon Board of Trustees meeting on December 3, 2018.

It has been a very busy fall at the university. We are working hard to elevate the standards of our teaching and instruction to benefit all students. We have made significant movement on changing the way our university evaluates and improves teaching.

The Provost’s Office has been working closely with the University Senate to revise our toolkit. In several schools and colleges, we are piloting a midterm student experience survey so instructors can check student experience against faculty expectations. It gives teachers a way to gauge early on a sense of class climate, which allows the instructor to consider adjustments on how a class may be led.

We are also test driving an end-of-term student experience survey. Both surveys ask students to answer a series of questions and write out their thoughts about the class, rather than applying a numerical grade.

The final piece we are testing is called the 10-minute instructor reflection. This tool makes it easier for instructors to archive what went well and what might be improved in future courses. Sierra Dawson, associate vice provost for academic affairs, Senate President Bill Harbaugh and others have worked diligently on this project.

Last week, Ginger Clark, the assistant vice provost for academic and faculty affairs at USC, a peer AAU university, visited our campus and gave two presentations. Dr. Clark is one of the nation’s leading experts on best practices of evaluating instruction.

We are roughly halfway through the first year of our inaugural Leadership Academy program, where a diverse set of more than 30 academic and administrative leaders from across the university participate in workshops, discussions and other events. This program is set up to develop a broad understanding of what makes a great leader and has been organized by Sierra Dawson, Chris Ruiz de Esparza, and Jennifer Espinola. Chris and Jennifer are in our Law School – Chris is the Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Leadership Development, and Jennifer is the Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Law School Dean of Students.

Participants learn the concepts, values, and behaviors of transformational leadership. We want to build a pipeline of leadership on our campus and grow the next generation of leaders. The cohorts gather once-a-month during the academic year.

Consider the words of one of the Leadership Academy participants – Nancy Cheng, the architecture department head of the College of Design: “I have enjoyed this unusual blend of leadership skill-building, self-actualization, and networking. The workshops reinforce research-based concepts through hands-on activities about applying them locally. Brainstorming with peers who play varied roles across the university has been especially valuable.”

We are in the midst of recruiting for the 2019-20 Leadership Academy class. The application process closes next month and the second group will start in May 2019.

In the last board meeting, I announced that the university had hired Carol Gering as our associate vice provost for Online and Distance Education. She came to us from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks where she served with distinction as the Executive Director of eLearning and Distance Education. She has a vast array of experience partnering with academic schools and colleges to deliver quality online courses and programs. She will tell you more about her plans later this morning.

I know the board is interested in metrics, so I have an update on that for you. This year’s operational metrics – for enrollment, student faculty ratios, and number of majors and minors, among other things – are complete and ready to be used in the 2019 Institutional Hiring Plan process. Proposals for that process are due on February 8.

Undergraduate and graduate student success metrics are under development and will be available in the next IHP round. Research metrics, which represent the work of individual departments and schools, are in the process of being developed. The deans have reviewed the first drafts of the unit-level data definitions, and they will go back to the academic units this week for faculty review. Final data definitions are due February 15.

The next phase of the project is data collection, which we hope to start in the summer. The final phase of the project will be the production of unit-level annual research reports that will include year-over-year information about publications, grants, awards, and other markers of successful research, scholarship and creative activity. We hope to receive the first unit reports in time to use them for the 2021 IHP.

From now on, I would like to use each Academic and Student Affairs committee report to share a brief story with you highlighting diversity and equity at our university, and how it is foundational to the academic and scholarly work we do on campus. Last month, Dr. Virginia Beavert of the UO’s Northwest Indian Language Institute (we affectionately call it NILI) was honored in an all-day 97th birthday celebration.

The event included a ceremony, a traditional meal, and testimonials of her influence on the lives of students. Dr. Beavert is – among other things – an award-winning educator, an author, and a recipient of our university’s Distinguished Service Award for her significant contributions to the cultural development of our community and region. She earned her PhD in linguistics from the UO in 2012 – when she was 90 years young.

She is a member of the Yakama Nation who serves as a highly respected elder and teacher of the Sahaptin language. She is among a handful of faculty and staff at the institute who work very hard to preserve the dialects of Native American people. She is a leader, a treasured teacher, and a force on our campus.

On a personal and a personnel note, I must offer you a debt of gratitude and an apology at the same time. I am happy to announce that we have completed a key recruitment for the provost’s office and we are fortunate to have Tim Inman join my team as the chief of staff. Tim is currently the chief of staff for House Speaker Tina Kotek of the Oregon Legislature, and he will bring a wealth of experience to the position.

I am grateful to all of you because the Board has been very kind in allowing me to share Angela Wilhelms as my interim chief of staff, and she has been invaluable in that role. My apology is because Tim cannot start in UO until August 2019 after the upcoming legislative session ends, so I will need to borrow Angela a bit longer. I hope this will not prompt you to cancel my Provost remarks at future board meetings.

One other personnel note of importance: Brad Shelton, our executive Vice Provost in charge of academic operations, has announced his retirement in January. Brad has been at UO since 1985 as a mathematics professor. He served as math department head from 2001-08, and was the interim vice president of research and innovation from 2014-16.

Brad has a great intellect, a solid and everlasting commitment to improving our university, and he is deeply knowledgeable about the University of Oregon. Among his other contributions, he is the lead architect of the budget allocation system, the operational metrics, and the institutional hiring plan.

He has been a very special friend and mentor to me. The delightful news is that after his retirement, Brad will work half time in his role and will continue to be heavily involved in budget matters. Let us give Brad a round of applause for all that he has done for us.