Provost wraps up meetings regarding university priorities

Derek Lenehan

Provost Paul Gaston outlined the present and future state of the university Friday, wrapping up three days of meetings concerning the university’s priorities.

Professors and administrators from various sections of the university presented their school, college and program priorities during the meetings.

Gaston himself presented 10 ideas for where the university could be in 2010, and how to get them done. Some of the ideas were:

• Active learning will become the rule in classrooms, not the exception. This will be accomplished by giving preference to technology-competent faculty.

• The restoration of teaching and advising to student rations will be consistent with “high educational quality.” This could be accomplished by adding students to large-enrollment classes, freeing instructors for classes requiring more interaction.

• Secured funding and adequate space for learning resources, including the library. Two ways to achieve the goal are endowing and naming the library after an individual or company, and a possible library/arts fee for students.

The provost also mentioned a possible faculty club to be formed by 2010, to be funded by what he said will be his future winning of the Powerball lottery.

Gaston’s wrap-up presentation addressed four other questions, aside from the ideas for 2010:

• Where are we?

• Where are we headed?

• What are our guideposts?

• Who are our partners?

“Strapped for resources, most conspicuous when programs are compared with peers,” was one of several items touched on during the “Where are we?” portion. The university is also, according to the presentation, making gains in diversity while aspiring to make more and considering a $100 million bond issue.

The university is headed toward increasing challenges to keep enrollment figures steady, the provost said. The challenge stems from competition, raised tuition, federal aid reduction and “discouraging demographics.”

Some university guideposts for the future included strategic priorities, which have been in the process of definition throughout the near week of meetings, and strategic enrollment plans.

A few of the more than 20 university partners mentioned were students and their families, other higher education institutions, the state and federal governments, donors and “one another: All disciplines, all colleges, all campuses, including NEOUCOM.”

“The deans, in very positive ways, embraced the many challenges and opportunities for institutional growth,” Gaston said, regarding the meetings as a whole.

While attendees of the presentation filed past Gaston at the exit, nearly all had congratulations or kind words for him, concerning his presentation and the coordination of the meetings.

“You’re an inspiration,” one attendee said, while shaking the Provost’s hand.

Contact academic affairs reporter Derek Lenehan at [email protected].