On Course Archives
On Course - May /June 2000
I want to thank the University community for their time, energy and effort throughout the 1999-2000 academic year. Our campuses have been critical partners in many exciting office developments during the past nine months — from responsiveness to our enhanced campus liaison efforts to tireless work in the implementation of key academic initiatives. At the same time, more broadly, this has been a period of change and progress for the University. Together, we welcomed a new Chancellor and under his leadership, and with the continued hard work and support of the University as a whole, we saw new state-wide activity that will have a positive impact on SUNY, including increased outreach and support to New York industry. Enrollments have increased, sponsored research commitments are on the rise and the list goes on. Good things are happening at the University and I look forward to the progress to come.
As we head into what I hope will be a happy, healthy and productive summer for us all, this issue of On Course provides a look at some of the ongoing work of the Provost’s office. We begin with the announcement of those proposals recommended to receive Mission Funding Awards — money designated to support innovative and measurable campus projects to enhance academic quality. The announcement of these awards marks yet another important milestone in the University-wide Mission Review process. I have to note that the high quality of submitted proposals — coupled with a limited amount of available funding — made the decision process a very difficult one. My congratulations go out to those campuses with selected proposals. Also featured in this issue is our work in the areas of assessment and general education, and an overview of research activity at the University at Albany.
And finally, you will notice that, in select instances, the office website is listed as a resource for additional information. I encourage you to continue to sign-on to www.sysadm.suny.edu/provost in the coming months as we begin to implement a series of revisions to make the site as informative a resource as possible.
"The good news coming out of the University-wide Mission Review process has reached another high-point," said University Chancellor Robert L. King. "I recently had the pleasure of notifying more than 20 State University campuses that they had been nominated to receive Mission Review Funding — providing support for a series of projects that will benefit not only individual campuses, but groups of campuses, the broader University community and the state of New York."
Mission Review is a planning process dedicated to enhancing academic quality throughout the University. Managed by the Office of the Provost, Mission Review has been driven by iterative communication between System Administration and all 64 campuses in key areas of operation: from research and faculty development, to enrollment and graduation rates. Mission Funding, one of the few remaining components to the first cycle of Mission Review, will provide campuses with additional resources to support new goals and aspirations as enhanced and documented throughout the process.
Sixty campuses responded to a request for proposals with projects totaling over $45 million. "With approximately $12 million in available funding, the evaluation process was clearly difficult," said Senior Associate Provost Steven Poskanzer. "Knowing that we could not meet all requests, we set about establishing a competitive review process that was inclusive and based entirely on academic merit." Proposals underwent rigorous review by a 10-person System Administration committee with representatives from: the Office of Finance and Business; the Campus Liaison group; Institutional Research; Academic Planning, Policy and Evaluation; and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges. Each proposal was evaluated for:
"Awards are contingent upon a signed Memorandum of Understanding with the designated campus and further dialogue with our office to finalize details on implementation of the designated projects," said Poskanzer. Of particular note, Mission Funding awards include more than $1.8 million for faculty development, and more than $2 million to support new academic programs.
Mission Funding Awards
The Provost’s Advisory Task Force on the Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes has worked throughout the academic year on the development of a "SUNY Assessment Initiative," a process for assessing student learning outcomes and intellectual growth in general education and the major. Their work and recommendations are detailed in an Interim Report submitted recently to the Provost, and subsequently distributed to the University community for review. It is anticipated that comments on the Report will be taken through the summer and early fall — affording all faculty and campus constituencies an opportunity to be involved in the process and to offer feedback.
According to Associate Provost Donald Steven — who co-chairs the Task Force with Patricia Francis, Professor of Psychology and Executive Assistant to the President, College at Cortland — the group has been guided by a series of key principles in its work. "We have come to understand and acknowledge that assessment has a dual function: it is both an agent for the improvement of student learning and a means whereby we can fulfill our responsibility to be accountable to the many stakeholders of the University. As well, we recognize that any effort SUNY undertakes must consciously respect the diversity of State University institutions and their unique missions."
Further, emphasizing that assessment should be a partnership between State University faculty, campus academic leadership, and System Administration, the Task Force recommended that activities carried out as part of the initiative should incorporate existing governance and curriculum processes. The Task Force also identified the need for resource support from the System.
Having defined these parameters, the Task Force made recommendations in the following key areas: campus-based assessment of general education; University-wide assessment of general education; assessing the major; utilization and reporting of assessment results; and incentives for engaging in assessment activity.
The Interim Report of the Task Force can be downloaded at:
The Provost’s Advisory Council on General Education (PACGE) has strived to ensure collaborative implementation of Board Resolution 98-241 — requiring 30 credit hours of general education coursework for all baccalaureate candidates within the University. PACGE Co-Chair, Barbara Dixon, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the State University College at Geneseo, recently described the process established for the review of campus General Education Proposals (campuses were asked to submit these Proposals, summarizing planned general education programs, for review by the Provost). "Our predecessors in this effort, the Task Force on General Education, identified a series of learning outcomes for each of the 10 subject areas and two learning competencies required in the Resolution," said Dixon. "Providing the appropriate specificity to the Outcomes and addressing related problem areas were our first challenges," said Dixon. Once appropriate guidelines had been established, the PACGE was divided into four teams of three, with a single liaison designated for each campus. PACGE liaisons were given responsibility for guiding each campus to an approvable program — a process involving extensive communication with the campuses, and ultimately, creation of a report to the Provost detailing special features of the campus program and courses approved or not approved for each subject and competency area. As of this writing, 36 reports have been received from PACGE liaisons, with the remainder expected shortly. Reports are reviewed for consistency by Provost’s Office staff and then given to Provost Salins for final review and issuance of a formal communication to campuses. "My thanks go out to our campuses and members of the PACGE — this has been an enormous undertaking and I appreciate the time and thoughtful effort that has gone into bringing us this far," said Provost Salins. All campuses are expected to have a general education program, consistent with the letter and spirit of the Resolution, by fall 2000. The PACGE will continue its work into the 2000-2001 academic year with the following priorities: continuing to review campus programs as they revise and refine their offerings; examining System-wide implementation and making appropriate recommendations for refinements and even greater consistency; and exploring "alternative" general education curricula as highlighted in the Board Resolution.
Additional background information is available in the Initiatives section of the Provost’s website, http://www.suny.edu/provost
"Our goal is to become a one-stop resource that anyone, anywhere in the world, can rely on for expertise in microelectronics-based information technologies," said Alain Kaloyeros, Executive Director of the Institute for Materials Research and Applied Sciences at the University at Albany.
The Institute was created in 1999 as an umbrella organization to oversee Albany’s multi-layered efforts in the area of advanced materials. The Institute’s emphasis is on the science and technology of enabling thin film material, as applied to microelectronics, optoelectronics, bioelectronics, telecommunications, refractory coating, the environment and energy. In the simplest of terms, thin films are atomically engineered materials that act as building blocks of the information superhighway — providing the basis for the fabrication of computer chips, solar cells, lasers, high resolution displays, and sensors. Thin films are also becoming a major driver in a broad range of applications, from medical prosthetics to aircraft engines.
"The creation of the Institute took us one step closer to achieving our broader goals," said Kaloyeros. "We wanted to give New York State students the best education possible, positioning New York as a location of choice for high-tech education and career opportunities. At the same time, we wanted to meet our responsibilities to New York industry by providing companies with cutting edge support, and working with them to attract new business into the area."
According to Kaloyeros, achieving Albany’s goals has meant working to remain state-of-the-art in an industry that evolves in "web years," i.e., about every three months. "The cost of high tech science research has become prohibitive for everyone, large and small, and the end result is that high tech success now requires interdisciplinary, vertically and horizontally integrated research operations. The expansive infrastructure of the Institute allows us to offer just that." The Institute comprises five centers or major initiatives:
The Institute also includes a conventional small business incubator, collaborates with the Center for Advanced Technology in Sensors at the State University at Stony Brook and is a participant in the SUNY Strategic Partnership for Industrial Resurgence (SPIR) program, providing assistance to New York industry. The Institute is home to an interdisciplinary research team that includes physicists, chemists, materials scientists, biologists and computer scientists.
The Institute is further strengthened by scientists whose primary appointments are at the University at Albany but who work closely with Institute researchers and the many undergraduate and graduate students who have critical roles in the operation of the facility. The Institute also maintains relationships with more than 100 U.S. and international corporate partners. "Companies from IBM to Plug Power come to us to test new material and/or processes, saving them an incredible amount of time and expense," said Michael Fancher, Institute Director of Economic Outreach. "This environment provides our students with experience in solving real-life problems under real time constraints. Students have the responsibility of communicating progress to the contracting vendor and/or working with that vendor’s staff on given projects."
The Institute is currently working on new initiatives designed to develop micro- and non-scale sensors for biotechnology — devices that might be used in the future to rapidly analyze blood, diagnose disease or serve as a biological/chemical laboratory on a chip. Ultimately, the University at Albany is working to build the kind of infrastructure that helped to create high-tech industry hubs in places like the Silicon Valley in California and the Research Triangle in North Carolina. In keeping with that spirit, the Institute will soon break ground on a 300mm computer-chip pilot manufacturing and workforce training facility. The new facility will fabricate prototypes of 12-inch computer chips, the next generation of wafers to be used by the semiconductor industry.
"The University at Albany will be the first to provide the resource of a 300mm facility to the industry, placing New York State as a front runner for future expansion," said Kaloyeros. "The broader educational and strategic goals of the University at Albany and, ultimately, the State University of New York, are well-served by the Institute. We are dedicated to ongoing enhancement at all levels and look forward to continued progress."