Good Morning Red Wolves:
I want to take a minute to share the comments I presented to the ASU System Board of Trustees on Friday, and to update you with the great news that the board approved a resolution endorsing our plans for the A-State College of Veterinary Medicine. Along with the creation of our CVM curriculum and its submission to our Graduate Council, this is another important step. In case you missed the livestream of the board meeting, here’s a recap of my comments:
There has been a lot happening in the past few months and I was excited to share these notes with the board.
Men’s and women’s track and field won the SBC indoor championships for the fourth time in a row! Coach Jim Patchell and these incredible athletes have achieved 11 men’s and 8 women’s titles, making them one of the most successful programs in conference indoor track and field history.
One of our outstanding researchers, Jay Xu, conducts research across disciplines at A-State. He’s a member of our College of Agriculture, doing cutting edge research in bioengineering and its potential for renewable energy and pharmaceuticals at the Arkansas Biosciences Institute – for example, he is working on how to use Arkansas beets and switch grass to create bio-ethanol. I think you’ll begin to hear a lot more about him in the near future.
Marybeth Byrd is an undergraduate at Arkansas State University, previously she appeared on The Voice. She is currently competing on American Idol and she just received her “Golden Ticket,” which sends her to the next stage of competition known as “Hollywood” week. Marybeth recently filmed a video with us describing how A-State Online has enabled her to chase her dreams in the music industry. Please keep watching and voting for her.
- Speaking of the music industry, alumna Ashley McBryde won a Grammy Award this past February for best country duo performance.
I am also excited about the recent progress we've made on several campus programs and projects:
We are in discussions with our architectural firm regarding designs for the Windgate Hall of Arts and Innovation. I’m very excited about the fusion that will happen inside this space as art, engineering, graphic design and computer science will teach classes, work on projects, and meet at the intersections of these interdisciplinary programs. We are also working on minors and certificates related to what our industry leaders are telling us they need the most.
As I mentioned above, we are making great progress on the College of Veterinary Medicine. Our first step, developing the curriculum, has been turned over to our Graduate Council for review. We also have already received approval for a Dean of Veterinary Medicine as well as other positions we need to help get this school off the ground. With the Board of Trustees' endorsement and pending curriculum approval on campus, our next step is to file a Letter of Intent with the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. I want to thank Len Frey, Mickey LaTour, Jennifer Bouldin, Will McLean, Melanie Wicincki, Tiffany Keb, and many others for their enormous efforts to put together the curriculum in record time.
And speaking of Dean LaTour, the A-State Meat Lab received its approval inspection last week. Our campus meat lab is among the first facilities licensed by the Arkansas Meat Inspection Program. In this effort, students will work to create new products and become entrepreneurs in the agriculture/food industry. In fact, they are in discussions with Jeffrey Higgins, owner of J-Town Grill, The Social and a proud A-State alum, to potentially put A-State Meat Market Sausage in his restaurants. Soon, they will be picking up 2,000 pounds of pork from Tyson Foods. Students will not only create new products, but will make them available for purchase online, drop ship to homes, and then reinvest revenues into future experiences for other students.
We are also making great progress creating a Women’s Leadership Collaborative. This is an expanded initiative built on the success of the Women’s Business Leadership Center that started with efforts from our generous alumna Kathy Loyd and the Neil Griffin College of Business. This January, we received an anonymous gift of $1 million to expand their mentoring program with the goals of “Step Up, Reach Back, and Expand Out” to other areas of campus. We also received $250,000 from former Governor Asa Hutchinson to expand the program to women across the Delta as a part of the ongoing work of our Delta Center for Economic Development in conjunction with the Delta Regional Authority. Look for more details about the Women’ Leadership Collaborative in coming weeks.
- Our Red Wolves for St. Jude announced a fund-raising total of more than $77,000 this past weekend. We remain one of the top universities in the nation in support of St. Jude’s mission.
Spring enrollment remained steady, and as noted in our board report, our admissions for fall 2023 are up. I don’t want to count chickens before they hatch, but this is a much better place than the the alternative. We are aggressively following up with admitted students on a very regular basis and hope to have a high number of these admitted students attend A-State this fall.
In regard to our program viability report, we are working with the ASU System Office to include financial information and data to our program viability study. Data is being added to the study to make sure we meet the needs of programs that are growing, and that we can afford to continue to grow in various areas. While some of our programs are bursting at the seams and need additional faculty and staff, we have other programs that have declining enrollment and student demand. We want to work with these programs to help maintain viability and find ways, whenever possible, to help strengthen them. We are working to reallocate and redeploy faculty and staff into areas where we need them most and where student demand is greatest.
- We recently finished interviewing three finalists for provost. Following preliminary Zoom interviews with a short list of candidates, we hosted three on-campus interviews over the past three weeks. Afterward, the advisory committee met to review feedback from campus. It is my hope that we will have an offer out soon and a new provost named in the very near future.
Finally, at the last Board of Trustees meeting, we were asked to take a look at our admission standards. I reported back to them that since then, I have had great discussions with the Shared Governance Oversight Committee and with Faculty Senate. I reported to the Board of Trustees that what we have decided to do is instead of immediately rejecting students if they don’t automatically meet the existing admission requirements, we are going to create an ad-hoc committee that will look at a student’s entire academic career.
The ad-hoc committee will work with the current appeals committee to take a holistic view of the student’s entire academic record. For example, if someone has an overall low GPA, but if we look at their entire academic record, we see that their sophomore year was abysmal, but they have done extremely well in their junior and senior years, then they show promise that they can be successful at A-State. Perhaps this hypothetical student had medical or family issues during their sophomore year that caused them to do poorly and that one bad year anchors their overall GPA. The ad-hoc committee will also work with faculty across the campus, the shared governance committee, and the appeals committee to create holistic standards that future committees will use to help guide the admission process. This way, we avoid the year-to-year changes that come when new members are annually appointed to the appeals committee.
We will evaluate this approach for success and make sure these students have the support they need to be successful at A-State. This will allow us to be more competitive with our peers, and with R1 institutions, who continue to admit students who may have otherwise chosen to attend A-State. While there have been some concerns expressed about students being successful if they don’t fully meet the current admission requirements, we are working on student success initiatives that will help ensure that all students have the opportunity to succeed at A-State. We have watched student success initiatives work at many other institutions and we know we can do the same here. It is our goal that every admitted student has the support they need to do well at A-State and I am confident we will make that happen.
I know that’s a lot of information in one email, but I want each of you to know what I emphasized with our board. I’m very excited about what lies ahead of us at A-State. If you’ve got ideas or questions after reading through today’s notes, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
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