From applauding accomplishments to affirming goals to looking ahead to university initiatives, the inaugural Academic Affairs Forum on Sept. 20 sought to funnel efforts in a “shared direction” on the eve of the 2016-17 academic year.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Sylvia A. Alva celebrated a milestone with faculty and staff members: a record 53 tenure-track faculty members were hired this year.
“Our academic programs are our hallmark, our bread and butter,” Alva said. “We must always work to support and elevate our academic programs.”
Alva also emphasized the division’s goals for the year:
- Offer high-quality academic programs that reflect the university’s polytechnic identity.
- Work to meet and exceed the CSU graduation rate and eliminate the achievement gap between minority and first-generation students and the general student population.
- Continue to transition academic programs, courses and policies from the quarter system to semester by fall 2018.
- Build a culture of strategic enrollment management that aligns with and supports the Graduation Initiative and the university’s commitment to access, inclusion and excellence.
- Cultivate the teacher-scholar model and student engagement.
- Build high-performing teams that contribute to strategic planning.
“We need to become much more strategic in our thinking,” Alva said. “When I think of strategic thinking, I think of being intentional. I think of being purposeful. I think of being integrated. I look forward to an effort that will move us forward and make us much more engaged, integrated, purposeful and intentional in our work.”
Alva also addressed the CSU’s Graduation Initiative 2025, which seeks to raise the freshman four-year graduation rate, raise the two-year transfer student graduation rate and close the achievement gap between underrepresented minority students and the general student population throughout the system.
In the most recent statistics for Cal Poly Pomona, 18 percent of freshmen graduate in four years; the university’s 2025 goal established by the CSU goal is 38 percent. About 63 percent of incoming freshmen graduate within six years; the 2025 goal is 73 percent. Among transfer students, 17 percent graduate in two years; the goal by 2025 is 29 percent. Nearly 75 percent of transfer students graduate in four years; the 2025 goal is 85 percent.
“There are 24,000 reasons why this is our main priority this year,” Alva said. “We owe it to those 24,000 students to help them achieve the goals that brought them here to Cal Poly Pomona.”
Academic Master Plan
She also cited the launch of the Academic Master Plan process in November and welcomed input and participation from faculty and staff.
“An Academic Master Plan is not a program prioritization process. It is also not a program elimination process. An Academic Master Plan is an expression of our selective mission of where we want to take our academic programs,” Alva said. “What programs do we want to grow, what programs do we want to expand on? And if we want to further express that polytechnic identity, what are the features, what are the elements of what we mean by a polytechnic identity?
“The Academic Master Plan will be a collective conversation that will help us frame these important decisions: Who we are, who we represent in terms of our student composition and our academic programs,” Alva said.
The forum also was an occasion to recognize new administrators and deans, faculty members who have achieved tenure and promotion, outstanding faculty advisors, outstanding staff advisors and outstanding advisory programs.
After the forum, three workshops were held for faculty and staff:
CSU Student Success Dashboard
New features of the CSU Student Success Dashboard were presented to faculty and staff during the all-division meeting, and faculty and staff had the opportunity to explore the dashboard in detail. The new tools allow an in-depth analysis of student demographics, persistence and graduation rates, achievement gaps, cohort progress toward graduation, and bottleneck courses with low grade outcomes.
Advising for Student Success
Staff advisors and faculty members were urged to encourage students to use the MyPlanner tool in BroncoDirect to map out their courses toward graduation and also get approval of their Individual Academic Plan.
Advisors also were urged to seek out “super seniors,” students who have more than enough credits to graduate but who continue to take classes and bog down the graduation rate. The objective is to guide super seniors through the graduation process and get them into the job market.
Enhancing Student Success with Quality Matters Course Design Framework
Quality Matters is an educational organization focused on best practices in both K-12 and higher education. Faculty learned about Quality Matters guidelines for course design and how to adapt their Blackboard sites to reflect those guidelines. The guidelines focused on making course objectives, requirements and materials clear to students, and giving faculty measureable course outcomes they can use to continuously improve their teaching.