The Provost's digest: An Occasional Communiquea

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December 2006
New Semester Edition

First and Second Week Activities Spring 2007

There are several events that you may find particularly useful as you begin the new semester. The first is the Chancellor's All-University Address and Chili Luncheon. These events allow all of us a chance to reflect on our goals as a university, and to reconnect with colleagues and friends.  In addition, the 12th Annual Research Day will be held on Tuesday, January 16. As many of you are aware, the Research Day will now be held in January, changing places with the Teaching Day which will now be held before Fall semester. For details on these and other events, please visit the First and Second Week Calendar.

Administrative Changes

UW-L’s new chancellor, Joe Gow, will start his position here on February 1, 2007. Liz Hitch will resume her role as provost at that time. Ron Rada will serve as provost until the end of January and may continue with some projects to facilitate the transition.

Growth and Access

As noted in the December 18, 2006 email from the chancellor, there will be an all-campus open forum regarding Growth and Access on Friday, February 2, 2007, in 260 Graff Main Hall (Auditorium) from 2:30-4:30 p.m. The teams who have been working on the plan will present their current ideas and there will be time for questions and answers.

Spellings Report

One important national issue that many of you may be interested in following or learning more about is the recent release of the “Spellings Report.”  Education Secretary Margaret Spellings released the report this fall and a full accounting can be found at Inside Higher Ed. Generally speaking, the report contains a rather negative view on higher education. There are five major thrusts to the report in terms of short term changes.  

  1. Expanding “No Child Left Behind;”
  2. Streamlining the process by which students apply for financial aid;
  3. Work toward a national level data base regarding higher education students;
  4. Providing matching funds to colleges, universities and states that collect and publicly report student learning outcomes;
  5. Work on moving college accreditation system away from its emphasis on inputs “toward measures that place more emphasis on learning.” 

On the last point Spelling writes, “Currently, institutions are asked ‘Are you measuring student learning?’ and they check yes or no. That must change. Whether students are learning is not a yes or no question — it’s how? How much? And to what effect?”  UW System has not released a response to the report, but we should all expect a lively discussion about its implications over the coming months. 

This newsletter is provided in the spirit of on-going communication. It is for informational purposes only and does not represent official policy statements or administrative positions.