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CAS Strategic Plan

Executive Summary–College of Arts and Sciences Strategic Action Plan 2014

Posted: September 27th, 2014 by acepeda


In September 2013 Dean Antonio Cepeda-Benito appointed three subcommittees of CAS faculty, staff, and undergraduate students to address distinct but overlapping strategic planning issues pertaining to: (a) Climate & Diversity, (b) Student Experience, and (c) Faculty Success. Subcommittees met biweekly throughout the academic year, researched relevant literature, practices, and data from UVM and other colleges and universities, conducted on- and off-campus interviews and online surveys, and communicated with CAS faculty, students, and staff via a blog, faculty meetings, and open forum. Based upon this work, each subcommittee identified strategic planning Priorities, Goals, Recommended Action Strategies, Metrics and elements of a College Vision pertaining to its domain; Priorities, Goals, and Overall Conclusions are summarized below.


PRIORITY A: Ensure faculty, students, and staff members from underrepresented and marginalized populations are an integral part of the life and governance of the institution.

Goal: Make climate and diversity issues a living, acted-upon priority. 

Priority B: Improve recruitment and retention of historically underrepresented and marginalized populations.

Goal: Change the demographics of the college by increasing the numbers of individuals from historically underrepresented and marginalized populations.

PRIORITY C: Engage all students, faculty, staff, and community members in rich curricular and co-curricular experiences that enhance understanding and appreciation of people of diverse personal and group histories, identities, and perspectives.

Goal 1: Ensure that faculty and staff have high levels of cultural competency.

Goal 2: Ensure that the college is recognized nationally as an institution that values the intellectual pursuit and understanding of diversity.

CLIMATE AND DIVERSITY CONCLUSIONS:  Training in cultural competency for faculty and staff is essential to progress, as is, in particular, training in cultural competency for all instructors who teach D1 and D2 courses. It is also important to conduct a thorough evaluation of the ways in which bias incidents are reported in CAS and to identify and implement best practices for reporting such incidences in ways that provide safe, unintimidating, confidential methods.


Priority A: Ensure the curriculum is innovative, engaging, meaningful, and rigorous.

Goal 1: Enrich High-Impact Practice (HIP) offerings: First-Year Seminars and Experiences; Common Intellectual Experiences; Learning Communities; Writing-Intensive Courses; Undergraduate Research; Collaborative Assignments and Projects; Diversity and Global Learning; Service-Learning and Community-Based Learning; Academic Internships; Capstone Courses and Projects.

Goal 2: Identify and encourage experiential learning (much of which occurs through HIPs), such as undergraduate research, academic internships, performances and productions, service-learning courses, and travel/study experiences. Different forms and levels of experiential learning will suit the educational missions and resources of different departments and programs.

Goal 3: Create mechanisms to identify and meet diverse student needs at each stage of student UVM education: first year, sophomore, junior, senior; and explore extended/accelerated degree programs.

Goal 4: Identify and encourage innovative pedagogical practices and methods; encourage department-level conversations about providing discipline-specific, challenging educational experiences.

Priority B: Provide effective, rewarding advising and mentoring to all students.

Goal 1: Ensure that all students have access to advising resources (Informational Advising).

Goal 2: Provide effective, rewarding mentoring opportunities to all students.

STUDENT EXPERIENCE CONCLUSIONS: Student experience can benefit from CAS embracing the diversity of our departments and programs that, in turn, provides opportunities to address the varied interests and needs of our student body. Thus we should emphasize department- and program-centered review and decision-making with assistance and guidance from CAS and UVM. We recommend a new Annual Department Activity Report that identifies and tracks on-going efforts to offer High Impact Practices (HIPs), department-level pedagogical developments and new programs, inter-disciplinary connections, advising strategies, and faculty training. We must develop improved and up-dated department websites that better inform current and potential students, support student success, and encourage departments to reflect on their own curricular, teaching, and advising practices. CAS should also implement regular and systematic assessments to gather high quality student and curricular data to inform policy- and decision-making.


Priority A: Help all faculty achieve and sustain national stature of their creative and scholarly programs as well as accomplished and engaging teaching and professional practice (as appropriate to their faculty appointment) by providing resources for the recruitment and retention of faculty, production of scholarship, and/or excellence in teaching. 

Goal 1:  Invest in funding for scholarship, teaching, and professional development.

Goal 2:  Ensure all faculty have time to concentrate on and excel at scholarship, teaching, and professional development.

Goal 3:  Maintain and deepen collegial academic communities of departments, the college, and the university.

Priority B:  Mentor and evaluate faculty using guidelines and criteria that foster faculty success.

Goal 1: Recognize excellence through RPT and Annual Faculty Evaluation processes.

Goal 2: Ensure that faculty are mentored at all stages of their career development.

Understanding Student Experiences

Posted: January 6th, 2014 by mcope

The Student Experience Committee had two very productive meetings in December in which we first examined the exit survey data from recent alumnae and then, based in part on insights from those data, began designing a short survey to submit to current students. We hope to implement this survey during the second week of classes and use the results to inform the priorities that will go into our report later this spring.

Two key issues that have repeatedly come up are the quality and form of academic advising and the value of ‘high-impact learning practices’. We welcome any feedback on these topics, or regarding student experience more broadly. Please comment here or email Meghan Cope (mcope@uvm.edu) directly.


The Faculty Success Subcommittee is making progress

Posted: December 20th, 2013 by lbond

The Faculty Success subcommittee had a very productive meeting on 12/11/13. As we head into the semester break, this subcommittee has: (a) conducted (primarily through telephone interviews) and nearly completed its reviews of practices of peer institutions that are related to fostering faculty success, (b) nearly completed its inventory of UVM’s own resources, programs, and policies that are most relevant to promoting faculty success, and (c) reviewed some UVM survey data relevant to the subcommittee’s charge. Subcommittee members are now in the process of developing a brief survey to gather UVM faculty input regarding their experiences; we hope to disseminate the survey at the beginning of the spring semester.

Climate and Diversity Subcommittee Update from 11.20 Meeting

Posted: November 30th, 2013 by gramos

The subcommittee on climate and diversity met on November 20. At that time we shared information that we had gathered through speaking to various persons on campus since our previous meeting. The persons that subcommittee members met with represent a wide variety of individuals (faculty, staff and students) who work, teach or learn at UVM. Our goal in speaking to these persons was to gain insight on the types of situations being experienced and what we as a college might do to improve climate and diversity. The subcommittee is in the process of comparing these findings to our current resources, other institution’s resources, innovative practices, and creative thought that will inform our future recommendations. Lynne Bond has provided the committee with a starting point worksheet based on our charge from the Dean. The worksheet document is a productive starting point for us to align our goals, priorities and future recommendations. The committee began working through this document at our last meeting and will continue to share ideas through emails leading up to our next meeting. We will continue to connect with individuals on campus who will provide more information on experiences in climate and diversity areas and we will continue to discuss and align our findings at goals at our upcoming meetings in December.

Faculty Success Subcommittee Marches On

Posted: November 13th, 2013 by jvanhout

November 13, 2013
The Faculty Success Subcommittee had a very productive meeting today. Once again, we returned to the elements that go into faculty success for tenure track and lecturer faculty. We developed a set of questions that we will ask of colleagues at peer and aspirant institutions that are a mixture of public, land grant, and private institutions. We will report on our communications with colleagues in the December 11 meeting.
There are many variables that must be considered in order to understand faculty success at the pre- and post-tenure career stages, from the individual and institution perspectives. In our college, the impacts of resources, teaching load, critical mass, graduate programs, spousal hires, research facilities and libraries, mentoring, and much more are not uniform across our many disciplines and departments.
We will keep you posted as we continue to meet. Our next meeting is November 20.

Surveying the Field

Posted: November 11th, 2013 by mcope

The Student Experience Committee had a great second meeting Oct. 31 in which members reported on their research of peer/aspirant peer colleges and universities. Each member selected one institution from the administration’s list and chose one additional institution, then collected data on what kinds of strategies these places use to engage, inspire, and educate students. The strategies ranged from investing heavily in STEM to rejecting the STEM paradigm in favor of ‘knowledge for knowledge’s sake’, from targeting the sophomore experience to senior capstones, and from engaging the local community to encouraging every student to study abroad. The committee agreed that having a sense of the ‘big picture’ is very helpful to now turn our attention to what we do at UVM. Our next task is to identify and catalog the many strategies currently in place to engage, inspire, and educate UVM — and particularly CAS — students, and link those to our strategic goals and action plan. We have a great start thanks to Lynne Bond and some work she’s done using previous assessments and we hope to flesh this out further at our next meeting, Thursday, Nov. 14.

We welcome comments and suggestions on approaches currently in place in CAS (or maybe just your department/program?) that you feel are particularly effective for improving student experience, or perhaps you have an idea you’d like to submit that would lead to improvement? Feel free to post here or email Meghan Cope (mcope@uvm.edu) directly.

Climate and Diversity Subcommittee Moving Forward

Posted: November 8th, 2013 by gramos

The Subcommittee for Climate and Diversity met on Wednesday 11/6. At that time we discussed our responses to reviewing the following materials.
• The 2011 UVM Campus Climate Survey
• Dr. Wanda Heading Grant’s Diversity and Multicultural Affairs Update to the Board of Trustees (10/25/13)
• The CAS Commitment to Diversity Statement (Faculty Recruiting) 2012 Document.
We also shared reports on the numerous peer and aspirant universities that committee members had researched since our first meeting. Our goal was to compare our programs and resources here at UVM to other institutions. Our findings will be reflected in our final report to the Dean and may include recommendations that we view as positive and productive at other institutions.
Our next steps include meeting in person with various groups and individuals on campus. Some committee members will meet with students and others will pair off to speak to other constituents on campus before our next meeting later in November. Lynne Bond has provided us with a worksheet that lists priorities and goals. At our next meeting we’ll be using that worksheet as a starting point to align our findings, current assessment and recommendations for the CAS strategic plan.

Climate and Diversity Committee Report 10.28.13

Posted: October 27th, 2013 by gramos

The Subcommittee on Climate and Diversity met with Lynne Bond on October 16, 2013. At that time we reviewed suggestions from Dean Cepeda-Benito to address the topic of Climate and Diversity as it relates to the creation of the College’s Strategic Action Plan.  The committee agreed to begin by reviewing a list of all existing college and university diversity related programs, initiatives and resources. We will also be reviewing the 2012 CAS Commitment to Diversity Report and the 2011 UVM Campus Climate Survey. Committee members agreed to conduct research on diversity programs and initiatives at peer and aspirant colleges and universities. In addition to the peer and aspirant institutions, some committee members will research institutions of their choice that share our similar demographics. Since the October 16th meeting, we learned that Dr. Wanda Heading-Grant, Vice President for Human Resources, Diversity and Multicultural Affairs recently provided a report to the University’s Board of Directors. In that report she indicates current diversity initiatives and a university wide diversity plan titled Inclusive Excellence at The University of Vermont: A Framework for Building a More Diverse, Inclusive and Multiculturally Competent Campus. Tenets and principles of  “inclusive excellence” for the plan are outlined by the Association of American Colleges and Universities. The committee has access to two documents created by this body: “Toward a Model of Excellence and Change in Postsecondary Institutions” and “Making Excellence Inclusive.” Committee members can also refer to two other documents created by The American Council on Education that provide measures to support an inclusive campus climate: “Gender Equity in Higher Education” and “A Matter of Excellence: A Guide to Strategic Diversity Leadership and Accountability in Higher Education.” At our next meeting we will share findings and discuss groups on campus that we feel will be valuable to meet with. By doing so we can delve deeper into current campus climate issues toward the goal of assessing where we are succeeding and determining recommendations for progress. The next committee meeting will take place on November 6, 2013.

Faculty Success Subcommittee Gets Down to Work

Posted: October 25th, 2013 by jvanhout

The Faculty Success subcommittee met for the first time on October 16. We received a charge to the committee from Lynne Bond and proceeded to discuss all the variables that can be considered around faculty success at the individual and college levels. We decided that our first homework assignment is for each member to define faculty success for discussion at our next meeting on Oct. 30. There is a literature on the topic of faculty career development, much of which has to do with teaching effectiveness. While we are benefiting from these readings, we also must consider development of scholarship throughout a faculty member’s career, the role of RPT guidelines in retention, resources for faculty at the college and university level, and more.
Also in anticipation of our next meeting, we will look at the list of aspirant and peer institutions for possible contacts that we can make with their faculty or administrators.
In the near future, we hope to talk with department chairs, who are the front line of faculty recruitment and retention. We are interested in any comments that CAS members wish to send to us on this blog.

Thank You Message from Antonio

Posted: October 18th, 2013 by acepeda

October 18, 2013

Dear members of the CAS Strategic Action Planning Committee,

By now you are about to start, or have already started, to meet with a group of highly accomplished colleagues to assist the college in the development of our strategic action plan. I want to thank you for having agreed to participate, and to impress upon you my sense of urgency for and the importance of this process. I believe that your recommendations will become instrumental in setting the stage for the future success of the College of Arts and Sciences at UVM.

I have high hopes for CAS and I need you to help me set high, clear expectations for ourselves. The first step in the process is to identify the context and to assess where we stand now in relation to that context. Then you’ll need to set high but attainable goals and objectives, and also determine the indicators that will help us describe and benchmark where we stand and assess progress toward achieving our vision and goals.

Your task won’t be easy. We are a complex unit that houses small and large departments, with different strengths and approaches to undergraduate and graduate education, not to mention diversity in disciplines and methods of inquiry. I believe we are clear, and there is reasonable consensus, about what our values are; but I question whether we can easily demonstrate whether we live by our values. We say we believe in the teacher-scholar model, in academic excellence and rigor, in transparency and equity. We believe we are multidisciplinary; care about culture, society and the natural world; welcome diversity and respect; and value both individualism and collaboration. First and foremost, we believe in the benefits of a liberal arts education.  How well are we doing on all of those fronts? How well can we explain to outsiders what we do and accomplish, to convince them we deliver a value added education?

We are all too well aware of the limits and constraints of using numbers and metrics to assess academic quality. We also realize the world is changing rapidly, and with change comes the inconvenience and the challenge of replacing mastered skills with new, unfamiliar behaviors and practices. What’s worse, how do we know that changing will pay off? If those thoughts cross your mind, STOP them! They’ll immobilize you.

We live in a world used to measuring success with numbers and figures; where change is unavoidable but at the same time provides us with the opportunity to grow and improve, to make a difference in ways we couldn’t before. Please, use this opportunity to embrace change and to envision and work toward a bright future for CAS and UVM.

Thank you,


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