Finding Our Success

Posted on 2/9/2015 3:24:47 PM

President Announces Reorganization to Help Achieve the Vision for IUP’s Future

A review of IUP by any objective observer would conclude that IUP is a great university, doing the right things to educate innovative leaders for the future and serving the needs of Pennsylvania and the world.

My own, admittedly biased, evaluation agrees. We are a premier university because of your dedication to and passion for our shared work and mission.

There are, however, several potential challenges to our future success. These have been identified by our continual evaluation of key performance metrics and leading indicators and have been affirmed by the ongoing work of strategic planning and the self-study being conducted as part of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education review of IUP’s accreditation.

We have already taken steps to address the challenges. But in an increasingly difficult environment for public higher education, time is of the essence, and we must do more now to ensure our future success. I have thus instructed my cabinet, in particular vice presidents Moerland, Wooten, and Begany, to work with you and IUP partners to implement a functional realignment to stabilize undergraduate and graduate enrollment, to expand the range of students we serve, and to better support scholarship and funded research.

Stabilizing Undergraduate and Graduate Enrollment

As you already know, stabilizing and increasing enrollment are key to meeting our mission to serve Pennsylvania—and to our continued financial viability. To this end, we have greatly increased carefully focused efforts in online recruiting, traditional marketing, and outreach to potential students in new areas. Strategic initiative funds are being used to update department websites to increase their effectiveness. We have increased the amount of need- and merit-based financial aid. (With the help of the Foundation for IUP and donors, by next academic year we will have added at least $7 million in annual aid since my arrival in 2012.) Deans’ offices and academic departments, faculty and staff members, and students and alumni are doing more recruiting to augment the work already being done by the Office of Admissions. We have implemented significant new programs to help students stay enrolled and succeed. These include the Military Resource Center, the Academic Success Center (ASC@IUP), and new pilots in technology-supported developmental mathematics and data-analytics-based early intervention.

But the market for students is getting ever more competitive, and early signs show that we are facing additional challenges in recruiting good undergraduate students. We also foresee significant declines in graduate enrollment. We must step up our game. To this end, undergraduate and graduate recruiting and admissions will be combined in the Office of Admissions in the Division of Enrollment Management and Communications. Undergraduate and graduate admissions will benefit from a synergy created through shared services and expertise. Academic departments and graduate coordinators still will play a pivotal role in graduate recruiting, but the realignment will provide more direct access to the Office of Admissions’ staff and infrastructure.

Expanding the Range of Students We Serve

For generations, IUP has done an excellent job in preparing traditional, residential undergraduate students for their lives and careers. In recent years, we have been serving more underrepresented, military-related, and international students. In addition, the Office of Continuing Education has been expanding our noncredit training for nontraditional students. We have grown our efforts in distance learning, and departments are providing more outside-the-classroom learning experiences.

Changes in western Pennsylvania’s economy have greatly increased demand from individuals and businesses for noncredit training. Unfortunately, just at the time when we must be more agile to meet this need, increased regulation of things like distance education, internships, and state authorization makes it difficult for our excellent faculty to do what it does best—teach students.

We must better support departments and faculty members who are stepping up to serve the market and give their students educational experiences outside of the classroom. To provide this support, the Office of Continuing Education will be renamed the Office of Extended Studies and will be the central point for colleges, centers, departments, and faculty members who need help connecting their expertise with training needs or navigating the regulatory environment. Staff members with expertise in these areas will be moved to the office. In addition, the office will be provided with one-time start-up funds to seed its work with faculty members to develop and offer new revenue-generating programs. The office will be expected to repay the seed funding and bring additional revenue back to partner departments and to the university as a whole.

Supporting Scholarship and Funded Research

IUP rightly prides itself on its teacher-scholar faculty and is recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a doctoral/research university. We know that active involvement in scholarship enriches the undergraduate learning experience and is a prerequisite for competitive and excellent graduate programs. We also know that funded research brings additional resources and enhances reputation. For too long, faculty members have faced obstacles to good scholarship, including multiple offices being responsible for overlapping portions of the research process, restrictive state regulations, lack of clear authority, and challenging workloads.

As a first step toward encouraging and supporting scholarship and funded research, responsibility for leading, managing, and supporting the research process, including pre- and post-award processing, will be placed under the dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research, who will work with the Research Institute to remove barriers, simplify processes, and provide the support and resources faculty members need to be successful. To further clarify the responsibilities, the dean will work to revise the agreement with the RI to more precisely define provided services and expected results and to pay the RI appropriately for the services it provides.

Overall, the changes described above will provide the effective support needed to achieve the Vision for IUP’s Future. As first steps in the realignment, effective March 9, Timothy Mack will become director of the Office of Extended Studies, Mike Husenits will join him in Extended Studies with responsibilities for non-degree course work and noncredit programming, and Vice President Begany will play a more direct role in leading the Office of Admissions. Provost Moerland is working to identify in the near future the next dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research.

Implementing the realignment will require many specific changes, and vice presidents Moerland, Wooten, and Begany will work together with you to complete the transition.

Mike Driscoll