Strengthening School Structures Charge
September 7, 2021
Ed Buendía, Dean, School of Educational Studies
Leslie Cornick, Dean, School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
Shari Dworkin, Dean, School of Nursing and Health Studies
Sandeep Krishnamurthy, Dean, School of Business
Brinda Sarathy, Dean, School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences
Re: Strengthening School Structures Charge
Dear Deans Buendia, Cornick, Dworkin, Krishnamurthy, and Sarathy:
This past academic year was very challenging due to the pandemic and associated crises that affected our campus. Despite those challenges, your schools and our campus not only maintained instructional continuity, we also addressed many issues that will strengthen our institutional infrastructure.
In particular, thank you for your efforts to help your schools move forward with the focus areas that I outlined in last year’s charge letter to schools (develop school-specific fiscal operating guidelines, formalize an inclusive definition of scholarship as part of your school’s P&T guidelines along with an overall review of each school’s P&T guidelines, and identify opportunities for all of your majors to meet the latest undergraduate learning goal regarding community engagement). While it was impossible to complete all of these focus areas, all schools made significant progress within a shared governance context. Thank you!
As we look forward to starting a new academic year, I am using this opportunity to present the focus areas for the 2021-22 charge for you and your school communities. These focus areas aim to complete the efforts started in 2020-21, as well as engage with several additional areas that will further strengthen our school and our campus-wide infrastructure. These efforts will require active collaboration with your elected faculty councils and should align with your ongoing efforts to strengthen school structures. Some of these efforts may also require close collaboration with other school councils along with various campus-wide offices and governance bodies. I will prioritize my schedule to provide you with feedback and support as needed.
Below, I’ve listed the various focus areas along with the primary group(s) who made the recommendation/request, the expected final deliverable, and the suggested timeline. Note that some efforts have already been completed by certain schools. Please reach out to me as you determine timelines that may work better for your schools. Please also reach out to me regarding any support that we can provide centrally to help your efforts.
The 2021-22 focus areas for Schools are as follows:
- Campus-wide Community Engagement Undergraduate Learning Goal (continued from 2020-21): Based on the background provided in the fact sheet, the campus voted in favor of a sixth learning goal: Application of theory and skills that contribute to the public good through mutually beneficial engagement with community. Each school should review its requirements at the school-level and/or for each major and identify and/or create opportunities for all undergraduate students to meet this learning goal. GFO & Carnegie Community Engagement Classification. Memo to VCAA. Complete by June 1, 2022. Note that SNHS completed this effort.
- Promotion & Tenure Guidelines (continued from 2020-21): Revisit and ensure that your school has clear guidelines for promotion to each rank that align with the expectations of the Faculty Code, Executive Order 45, CAD, the VCAA, the Chancellor, and the Provost. These guidelines should address all of the following: scholarship/research expectations including the criteria used to determine if expectations are met with particular emphasis on scholarship that may not be viewed as traditional by the Academy (e.g., public scholarship), teaching expectations including how teaching effectiveness is assessed, expectations for contributions towards diversity and equity and how this is included and considered among the other expectations, and expectations for professional and public service including efforts to promote diversity and address the professional advancement of underrepresented groups in the faculty member’s discipline. GFO CCPT & CCAL. Link to guidelines for VCAA website. Complete by June 1, 2022. Note that STEM and IAS completed this effort. Also note that per Faculty Code, P&T guidelines should be accessible to the public starting in FY22.
- Transfer Admissions Empowered Process: The challenges presented by the pandemic led to several changes regarding admissions processes with many of these changes resulting in more equitable practices e.g., removing SAT/ACT/GRE requirements from the holistic review of applications. While standardized tests are not an issue for transfer students, it seems prudent to also review our transfer admissions processes within an equity context.
Currently, our UW Bothell transfer admissions process is uniform across all schools with the exception of STEM (CSSE, ME, EE, CE) and the joint IAS/STEM IMD program. With the uniform process (empowered admissions), our Office of Admissions is empowered by faculty governance to make admit or deny decisions for each program using a holistic review that incorporates minimum admissions criteria when requested by the school. These minimum admissions criteria form one part of the holistic admissions review process.
With the empowered admissions process, a student typically receives a decision within two weeks from completing their application. An exception to this timeframe is when the application decision is not clear (gray area) after a first review and the file is sent by the Office of Admissions to a designated committee with the relevant school for final review. In those cases, the student typically receives a decision within three to four weeks. For those programs that do not use the empowered admissions process, a student typically does not receive a decision until five to eight weeks after the admissions deadline.
Starting with the FY23 admissions cycle, UW Bothell would like to use the empowered admissions process for all campus programs that accept transfer students. The primary reason for this shift is that standardizing the process will improve application turnaround times while optimizing our ability to provide a review process that follows best practices for equity/diversity. The timeframe for decisions is important given the needs of this student population and the increased competition as community college enrollment continues to decline. Our admissions staff are also specifically trained on how to review student files with a diversity/equity lens. Having faculty review all admissions files may result in unintentional inconsistency from year to year, along with a lack of transparency. Finally, varying processes across campus increase workloads for our admissions staff and for those faculty in schools that do not use the empowered admissions process.
Each school should provide a formal written response to this charge to the VCAA & VCEMSA that indicates a) approval to proceed with empowered admissions, b) if desired, minimum admissions criteria to be used by the Office of Admissions as part of the holistic review process, and c) a contact that the Office of Admissions should use for each program when the decision is not clear and the school needs to do a final review. We encourage schools to engage staff from the Office of Admissions in conversations about minimum criteria so that everyone understands the possible impacts along with the rationale. We also encourage schools to consider reducing the number of prerequisites that must be completed before an application is considered complete since this is a practice that may delay a student’s degree progress.
In situations where schools remain uncertain about switching to the empowered admissions process, we encourage you to include the VCAA and the VCEMSA in substantive discussions so that we may collaboratively consider solutions. VCAA & VCEMSA. Formal written response. Complete by December 31, 2021.
- Assessment of Undergraduate Learning Goals: UW Bothell has not formally assessed the six campus-wide learning goals as part of a continuous improvement cycle. Assessment of learning remains an issue that the NWCCU accreditors would like the entire tri-campus to focus on. With the support from schools, the academic affairs division and the campus council for assessment and learning (CCAL) completed a learning exercise during FY21 to test ways to advance campus-wide assessment. We also recently hired an assessment specialist to support the campus-wide assessment of learning goals. As such, we expect increased activity in this area starting in FY22. While there isn’t a specific action item/milestone associated with this focus area, each school should be prepared to support and contribute to the assessment efforts as they unfold. VCAA & CCAL. Assessment support. Ongoing.
I would like quarterly (5th week) updates regarding each of the four focus areas from each dean in the form of a short memorandum/e-mail. And, we should discuss these updates in our 1:1 meetings throughout the year.
I look forward to continuing our collaborative work to strengthen our support structures for our faculty, staff, and students. Please reach out as needed so that we can ensure success.
Sharon A. Jones, Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (VCAA)
Carolyn Brennan, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Office of Research/Office of Connected Learning
Shauna Carlisle, Associate Professor, Chair, GFO Executive Council
Cinnamon Hillyard, Associate Vice Chancellor of Student Success
Scott James, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management & Student Affairs (VCEMSA)
Sarah Leadley, Associate Dean of University Libraries
Jason Naranjo, Chair, GFO
Adrian Sinkler, Director, Institutional Research (IR)