Memo Header "Message from Provost Storrs"

Date:  August 8, 2022

To:  UNCG Faculty

From:  Debbie Storrs, Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor

RE:  Fall 2022 Welcome Message

Welcome to the start of the fall semester. I hope you had a wonderful summer with time to rest, reflect, and re-energize. This year promises to bring additional change, opportunities, and challenges. I’m committed to working with you to support our students and one another and to help ensure that UNCG continues to thrive. Here I offer some updates meant to inform your work as we launch the new academic year.

Legislative Outcomes: In the recently concluded session of the NC General Assembly, House Bill 103 was officially signed into law by Governor Cooper. We are pleased that eligible state workers, including UNCG employees, will receive a 1% raise on top of the 2.5% they were slated to receive in the 2021 budget.  Along with last year’s 2.5% increase, this is a total two year increase of 6%.

Leadership Searches: The Office of the Provost will launch three searches this fall: Ombuds (national search), Dean of University Libraries (UNC System search), and Dean of the Graduate School (UNCG internal search). Dean Randy Penfield will chair the Dean of University Libraries search committee, Professor L. DiAnne Borders will chair the Dean of the Graduate School Search Committee, and Professor Laurie Kennedy-Malone and Lisa Pluff will co-chair the Ombuds search committee. More details on timelines and how you can engage in the searches will be forthcoming from the search chairs.

Budget Updates: While the fall census (August 29, 2022) will confirm our actual enrollment, we now anticipate a larger budget gap than planned for the coming academic year due to decreased production of student credit hours. Contributing factors include a decrease in retention rates across all continuing student cohorts, the impact of cohort drag on the continuing undergraduate population due to previous new student enrollment declines, and an expected slight decrease in new undergraduate student enrollment. The Chancellor is considering ways to meet that budgetary gap by finding and using institutional funds rather than asking units across campus to make further reductions.

Faculty Affinity Groups: The Office of the Provost is pleased to announce a new initiative to support affinity groups at UNCG. Affinity groups, defined as “formations of faculty and/or staff around a shared identity with goals that include building community, fostering inclusion, and providing support to members who have been historically marginalized in academia” are long-standing at UNCG. The Office of the Provost has committed support over a three-year period to assist in the development of a sustainable infrastructure for these groups. Please contact Provost Fellow Dr. Tracy Nichols at trnicho2@uncg.edu for more information.

“Thrive at the G” QEP: Several excellent topics were proposed for UNCG’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). Thrive at the G: Holistic Well-Being and Health was selected. It aims to enhance students’ holistic well-being across multiple dimensions of health, which, in turn, should improve their resiliency and support their academic success. A committee co-chaired by Associate Vice Provost for Student Success and Retention Regina McCoy and Director of Recreation and Wellness Jill Beville will design the QEP, with significant opportunities for you to engage in the program’s development. We will continue to update the campus through our news outlets and the QEP website.

Faculty and Staff Well-Being: While our QEP focuses on students’ holistic well-being, faculty and staff also need support for their holistic well-being. I am pleased that Provost Fellow Dr. Connie Jones will curate and lead a number of opportunities for faculty and staff to promote and engage in activities dedicated to their holistic wellness. As a kick off, please join us for Faculty & Staff Wellness Chats with Provost Fellow Connie Jones. Come enjoy refreshments on Tuesday, September 13th between 10:00-11:30am or 4:00-5:30pm in the Faculty Center to connect with colleagues, meet Provost Fellow Connie Jones, and offer your important feedback about the types of holistic wellness programming you think would be most beneficial to our faculty and staff community. There will be an opportunity to enter a drawing to receive a free membership to UNCG’s Leonard J. Kaplan Center for Wellness. This will be a drop-in event. We look forward to seeing you there! Please RSVP here.

Student Success at the Course Level: Instructors play a critical role in student success. I thank the many faculty who engaged in the Summer Reboot, where they collectively supported one another to revise fall courses to enhance student engagement. This fall, all instructors will be asked to submit midterm grades, sending an important and clear message to students regarding their performance. Instructors are also asked to continue to use Starfish, as it helps advisors and others identify which students may need support, when we should initiate outreach to them, and what services they need. Together, Starfish and midterm grades provide a safety net that can lead to higher levels of course completion.

Organizational and Leadership Changes: Last spring, the Office of the Provost engaged a consultant to review the Division of Student Success and data on student retention. This assessment informed plans for internal leadership changes designed to enhance our student success efforts. Dr. Andrew Hamilton will continue to serve as Dean of Undergraduate Studies and will provide support to academic schools and colleges in his role as Associate Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. In addition to continuing to implement and provide administrative oversight for the MAC (our general education curriculum), Dr. Hamilton will provide data analysis, support, and recommendations to academic units, departments, and Faculty Senate to improve key student success metrics tied to our new funding model. In addition, Dave Teachout, who leads the UTLC, Maria Anastasiou, who leads the International Programs Center, and Melissa Johnson, our liaison to the Middle College will report to Dean Hamilton. Professor Regina McCoy has been appointed to serve as Associate Vice Provost for Student Success and Retention. She will lead the Students First Office, New Student Transitions and the First Year Experience, the Academic Achievement Center, the Writing Center, Speaking Center, and the TRIO program. Professor McCoy and Dean Hamilton will continue to collaborate in building an integrated approach to student success that involves the entire campus.

Maxient Accommodation Letters:  Many of you have raised concerns about accommodation letters that show in your email as coming from Maxient and may even appear in your spam file. Thank you for your due diligence in verifying that these emails and attachments are legitimate prior to opening them. Maxient is a secure data management program licensed to UNCG and our Office of Accessibility Resources and Services (OARS) utilizes the software for sending accommodation letters to students and copying their instructors. Please open and review these important documents and reach out to OARS if you have concerns about implementation and/or if you believe an accommodation may be a fundamental alteration of your course or program. OARS professionals may be reached via oars@uncg.edu or 336.334.5440. Your accommodation efforts ensure UNCG is an accessible and inclusive campus.


COVID and Monkeypox:
 While COVID is an ongoing presence in the world, access to vaccinations and continued monitoring at the county and state level continues. UNCG will maintain in-person teaching and work operations. While face-coverings are optional in most areas on campus including classrooms, labs, and recital halls, individuals are encouraged to wear masks. N95 masks are available for faculty, staff, and students, at designated locations across campus.  Beyond COVID, monkeypox is a virus that UNCG is monitoring in collaboration and consultation with the Guilford County Health Department, CDC, and NC DHHS. To learn more about monkeypox, and to stay informed on UNCG’s guidance, please visit the Student Health Services website.

The beginning of a new term and a new academic year always brings excitement, renewed energy, and fresh opportunities. It also provides me an occasion to pause and reflect on the previous year and why I continue to be honored to be part of the UNCG community.  I want to thank you for sharing your perspective and helping me learn more about your scholarship, teaching, and overall experience during my first year as provost. I recognize that what makes UNCG special is its people, their commitment to our mission, their discipline, and our students. Your work in engaging and mentoring students in and outside the classroom, your significant accomplishments in research, scholarship and creative activity, and your impactful work that enhances the health and welfare of our communities is inspiring. As I start my second year, you have my commitment to continue to listen, learn, and engage with you and others as we embrace the opportunities and challenges of a new year together.

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