Provost Jayanth Banavar delivered these remarks to the University of Oregon Board of Trustees meeting on September 6, 2018
We have three new deans who came on board this summer. You already met Sabrina Madison-Cannon at the last BOT meeting. Today, I’d like to introduce you to Janet Woodruff-Borden and Gabe Paquette.
Janet is our Dean of the Graduate School and she comes to us from the University of Louisville where she was a professor of psychological and brain sciences. She also served as the associate dean for graduate education there. Janet has had several administrative roles, including director of the psychological services center and director of graduate studies for the clinical psychology doctoral program. Her energy, enthusiasm and track record in research make her an excellent addition to our university.
Gabe is our Dean of the Robert D. Clark Honors College and he comes to us from Johns Hopkins University. At Johns Hopkins, he was a professor of history, and has had stints in teaching at the University of Cambridge’s Trinity College, Harvard, and Wesleyan University. Gabe is a highly regarded teacher, academician, and mentor, and we are excited about the passion he has for undergraduate student success, and his deep appreciation for excellence in research and scholarship that he will bring to this role.
As an aside, I would like to mention that our deans come from a variety of backgrounds and are representative of the University of Oregon’s drive toward diversity, equity and inclusion. Of our 11 deans, five are women and four are people of color. I am very proud that we are leading by example in our leadership ranks.
Speaking of the deans, I want to acknowledge W. Andrew Marcus, the Tykeson Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, who is stepping down at the end of the calendar year. Andrew became acting dean of CAS in 2012 and was named dean in 2016. He has served the university broadly: as a faculty member, as Senate president, as a department head, as a member of the President’s Senior Leadership Team, the Space Advisory Group and the Budget Advisory Group.
Andrew leaves a grand legacy at the university. Perhaps what he will be remembered for most is being the driving force behind Willie and Donald Tykeson Hall, the new college and careers building that’s under construction next to Johnson Hall. Set to open in Fall 2019, the building will be the place where students will get help navigating their academic experience at the UO. Andrew steered us in creating the vision to have a space for students that combines academic advising, career guidance, and portfolio-building opportunities in one location. None of it would’ve happened without Andrew’s leadership.
At the end of the calendar year, Andrew will return to the faculty as a professor. I have been meeting with President Schill and we are exploring ways to fill Andrew’s position on an interim basis as we conduct a national search for his successor. We will keep the Board of Trustees apprised of any changes in leadership and how we will proceed in finding a permanent replacement.
I am pleased to announce that we have filled the position of Associate Vice Provost for Online and Distance Education. We conducted a lengthy search and found a great candidate in Carol Gering, who is the Executive Director of eLearning and Distance Education at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. She will start on October 29 and we will be making an announcement to the university community in the next week.
This is an important hire. While the university does offer online classes, we are late in the game on offering more significant online opportunities. In 2015, roughly 6,000 students took online courses. Last year, the number rose to about 8,000. We know that number can grow even more with a thoroughly integrated online education system. Carol’s job will be to develop such a system by working collaboratively with our academic disciplines. She will have strategic responsibility and accountability for both programmatic and operational matters related to online and distance education initiatives.
As you recall, this was a key position that we created in response to finding ways to promote more access to a UO academic experience. It falls into President Schill’s five-year strategic plan known as Excellence. The plan has four institutional priorities: promote and enhance student access, retention and success; enhance the impact of research, scholarship, creative inquiry, and graduate education; attract and retain high quality, diverse students, faculty, and staff; and enhance physical, administrative and IT infrastructure to ensure academic excellence. Hiring Carol fits in with all of these goals.
Carol will be responsible for developing a program that has a student-centered approach that is committed to serving diverse online learners. She will help us provide online and hybrid course options for our current students. Then she will help us develop a targeted masters online education system, along with online-only degree programs. It’s important to note that Carol will be working closely with the president and provost’s office to develop both an academic plan and a fiscal model for online education opportunities. We will continue to let the BOT know about our progress in this area.
On September 13, we will hold our 2018 Summit for Academic Leaders. This will include all Unit Heads, department heads, deans, associate deans, and institute and center directors. This will be the first of a series of regular trainings for them. We have also expanded the opportunities for new Unit Heads to undergo onboarding with continuous training for their first year.
The idea behind these opportunities focuses on three main objectives: Leadership; People Management; and Policy and Procedures. Trainings will run throughout the academic year, so we can provide the Board with updates on our progress.
I am pleased to report that we held our Academic Leadership Retreat over the course of a day and a half last week. Associate Vice Provost Sierra Dawson, who focuses on teaching and learning culture including training and development, organized the retreat and it was resoundingly successful. We had a lot of frank and honest conversations around ways to improve the ways we serve students, on how we communicate with each other, and overall how we work together as an academic team.
Classes have officially started with the Law School getting underway last week. All other classes begin on Sept. 24.
I am happy to answer any questions you might have.