Memo Header "Message from Provost Storrs"

September 6, 2022

To:  UNCG Faculty

From:  Debbie Storrs, Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor

RE: Monthly Faculty Small Group Meetings Announcement

With the many changes and challenges occurring across higher education and in our university, it is more important than ever to remain in dialogue with one another. Towards this end, the Provost is introducing a new “Talk with the Provost” series. Once a month, Provost Storrs will host an in-person or virtual meeting with a small group of faculty to share experiences and brainstorm ideas for the road ahead.

There will be no specific agenda. Instead this will be an opportunity for you to share with the Provost what is happening in your classes, with your students, as well as with your research and/or community practice and service activities. It also provides an opportunity for you to learn more about what is going on across campus and to ask questions about the direction of higher education generally and about UNCG specifically.

To help facilitate a lively and engaged discussion, the meetings will be capped at 10-12 faculty per session. The meeting dates are listed below (and on the Provost’s website). To register, please use this form to sign up for up to three meetings that work well for you to attend. This will allow us to try to best accommodate everyone’s busy schedules for one of the meetings. You will receive a calendar invitation with zoom or physical location confirmation for one of these meetings.

Thursday, Sept. 15th from 1:00-2:00pm
virtual

Tuesday, Oct. 18th from 4:00-5:00pm
in-person

Monday, Nov. 7th from 10:00-11:00am
virtual

Friday, Dec. 2nd from 9:00-10:00am
in-person

Wed., Jan. 11th from 11:00am-12:00pm
in-person

Tuesday, Feb. 14th from 3:00-4:00pm
virtual

Thursday, March 23rd from 9:00-10:00am
in-person

Wed., April 26th from 1:00-2:00pm
virtual

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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Required UNCG Syllabus Language for Fall 2022

As we return for Fall 2022, all students, faculty, and staff and all visitors to campus are required to uphold UNCG’s culture of care by actively engaging in behaviors that limit the spread of COVID-19. While face-coverings are optional in most areas on campus, individuals are encouraged to wear masks. All individuals and visitors to campus are asked to follow the following actions: 

  • Engaging in proper hand-washing hygiene. 
  • Self-monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Staying home when ill.
  • Complying with directions from health care providers or public health officials to quarantine or isolate if ill or exposed to someone who is ill.
  • Completing a self-report when experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, testing positive for COVID-19, or being identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive.
  • Staying informed about the University’s policies and announcements via the COVID-19 website. 

Students who are ill, quarantining, or isolating should not attend in-person class meetings, but should instead contact their instructor(s) so alternative arrangements for learning and the submission of assignments can be made where possible. 

As we continue to manage COVID-19 on our campus, we are following the lead of the local health department and we will adjust our plans to balance student success, instructional requirements, and the hallmarks of the collegiate experience with the safety and wellbeing of our campus community.

Researchers picture in a creek conducting research.

Greensboro, known as the Gate City, is a hub for transportation, culture, and ideas. It’s also uniquely situated in the headwaters of the Cape Fear River.

So, it’s fitting that UNC Greensboro is also the nexus for a recently funded National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant that focuses on the Cape Fear Watershed. The project is titled “Watersheds for Place-Based Experiential Education” and commonly referred to as the Cape Fear Watershed Project (CFWP).

Aaron Allen is the principal investigator on the CFWP, director of the Environment and Sustainability Program, and an associate professor in the School of Music. The co-principal investigator on the project is Karen Kilcup, who is the Elizabeth Rosenthal Excellence Professor of English, Environmental & Sustainability Studies, and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. Allen and Kilcup brought together scholars from over 10 disciplines for this project across multiple universities.

Following the Cape Fear River’s path, which winds its way toward the coast, UNCG is collaborating closely with faculty from UNC Wilmington.

“We managed to pull all of these threads together – or channel all of these tributaries into a kind of mainstream – and the NEH funded the project,” Allen said.

Aaron Allen head shot
Allen is the principal investigator on the recently NEH funded Cape Fear Watershed Project. Photo credit: Martin Kane.

These disciplinary tributaries are joining forces in the CFWP for the shared goals of creating engaging curricula about the Cape Fear Watershed for students in UNCG’s online master’s degree in Sustainability and Environment and fostering connections among scholars. UNCG students in this graduate program will have the opportunity to engage with this experiential, interdisciplinary content through modules, an optional field school program, and targeted topic courses.

Throughout the curricula, the humanities serve to anchor students’ understanding of and connection to the social, natural, and life science topics surrounding the watershed.

“The CFWP uses the humanities to connect natural- and social-science approaches to understanding a major bioregion of central North Carolina,” according to the grant proposal.

The project leverages the humanities both in students’ education and faculty’s creation of new curricula.

Scholars will attend development workshops through the CFWP to learn about humanistic approaches, create their modules and courses, and collaborate with one another. Kilcup said the “degree of passion and buy-in” among faculty at their first workshop, which was held via Zoom this summer, was palpable.

“It seems to me that this is why we got the grant, because everyone bore down hard and made important contributions to the grant proposal,” she said.

Behind-the-Scenes of Forging an Interdisciplinary Collaboration

These “important contributions” originated from faculty who are from wide-ranging disciplines and across universities. Scholars participating in the CFWP have disciplinary homes in a variety of fields, including biology, philosophy, geography, and communication studies.

Each faculty member will contribute their unique expertise to designing some aspect of the curriculum. For example, Sarah Praskievicz, an associate professor in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Sustainability, will spearhead students’ scientific inquiry for the field school program where students will travel and camp along the length of the river.

“I am excited by the opportunity the CFWP provides to explore our local watershed and share it with students,” Praskievicz said. “I hope that this project will help our students and the UNCG community build meaningful connections to place and to think about how rivers connect us all.”

Karen Kilcup headshop
Kilcup is the co-principal investigator on the CFWP project. Photo credit: A. Chachich, copyright 2022

Reaching across fields requires the ability to think and work outside of narrow disciplinary norms. When the CFWP project leads were asked what advice they would give to other scholars working to propose this type of cross-disciplinary grant, Kilcup mentioned the importance of thinking beyond narrow disciplinary norms.

“I would say try to form partnerships across disciplines, across departments,” Kilcup said. “You have to break down those walls.”

Both Allen and Kilcup emphasized how friendship fosters collaboration. Kilcup described an earlier partnership in which she met weekly with a colleague to share scholarly insights and cook Thai food. Friendship extends to Kilcup and Allen’s partnership, as well. These two scholars met through the Environmental Studies Program. After noticing they were of a “similar mind, similar bent,” they started sharing ideas and getting to know one another.

Allen also emphasized the importance of being willing to fail when forging collaborations. As is the case for many projects, it took this team multiple iterations to find the balance that would fit both their project goals and interest of a funding agency.

“Being open to that possibility of failure and learning from it is really key,” Allen said.

This alchemy of failure, friendship, respect, and hard work led to a NEH-funded grant that has the potential to bolster students’ education in the online master’s program in Sustainability and Environment for years to come. This program will serve as the foundation for further undergraduate offerings that will animate our place in the watershed for even more students.

“It’s a beautiful thing to bring these people together to do something that’s more than the sum of its parts for the benefit of our students, our communities, and our environments here in North Carolina,” Allen said.

 

Story by Rachel Damiani
This entry was posted in Editors PicksNFeedResearchSpotlight. Bookmark the permalink.

Students at Commencement!

This week, UNC Greensboro’s 2022 May Commencement and Doctoral Hooding Ceremony welcomed 2,838 new graduates into the Spartan alumni family at the Greensboro Coliseum and UNCG Auditorium.

2,137 bachelor’s degrees, 598 master’s degrees, and 103 doctoral degrees were conferred, including 78 to international students.

Their path was not easy; their academic journeys were in the midst of a global pandemic with challenges in all parts of life, but these Spartans persevered with courage and dedication to their chosen paths and future professions.

“As I am looking at you, see not just you, but all of your hard work,” said Faculty Senate Chair Sarah Daynes who gave welcoming remarks. “All the papers, exams, theses and dissertations, internships, hours in the lab… Graduates, I also see your support networks – your loved ones, your families, your friends, your neighbors. Do not forget to thank them and to tell them how important they are to you, every chance you get. I look at you today and I see something else. A global pandemic that changed your lives and our campus. But that did not stop you. Class of 2022, what an achievement. Your faculty are so proud of you.”

“If you can graduate during a once-in-a-century pandemic, you can do anything,” offered Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. in his opening remarks. He praised the new Spartans’ perseverance and noted particularly the first-generation graduates who completed their degrees only online, and the students who have been the first in their families to go to college. “This is how we transform lives… It’s not just about you today but about the legacy you’re starting for your family.”

Broadway legend Beth Leavel ’80 MFA delivered the keynote address to the graduates at Friday’s ceremony and was awarded an honorary degree. Leavel has performed in 13 shows on Broadway, and currently, she is preparing for the lead role in Elton John’s musical adaptation of “The Devil Wears Prada,” which will open in Chicago before heading to Broadway.

Leavel reflected on her time at UNCG earning an MFA in acting and directing, getting to know faculty and students she admired in an environment she cherished, one in which she “loved to go to class.”

Her advice for Spartans?

  1. Be prepared.
  2. Be on time.
  3. Be kind

“I’m very proud of you, Class of 2022,” Leavel told them. “You’re going to be okay – you’re actually going to be fabulous. Go and change this world!  We need your gifts, your talents, your hearts –  we need your singularity.”

At the end of her speech, Leavel called her favorite UNCG professor, Dr. Joy, on speakerphone, so that the Class of 2022 could greet him.

“Teachers, you have no idea how you can change lives,” she concluded amid cheers from all corners of the arena.

Dennis W. Quaintance and Nancy King Quaintance of Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants & Hotels also received honorary degrees for their innovation, hard work, and service within the local hospitality industry.

Students who spoke included Student Government Association President Hazael Mengesha and Speaker for the May Class Peyton Upchurch, who offered the following reflection:

“I commend everyone in this room for getting to where you are today – whether you are a graduate or you’ve been part of a graduate’s support system, we have been through a great deal in the last several years. The sense of connection and belonging that the UNCG community has provided, however, has not wavered. Every single person in the room this morning has had a hand in making that happen. The value that we all place on solidarity – on getting through hardships together, has only gotten stronger, and that is absolutely something to celebrate.

My hope for each of us is that we walk away from our time at UNCG knowing that the community that exists here does not go away with the completion of a degree. The people, the moments, and the lessons learned that define our time here stick around to remind us of what we’ve achieved with the support of one another.

So, wherever you’re headed after today – whether it’s graduate school, a new career, or if you’re like me, and you’re not sure yet, remember: you have an entire community cheering you on.”

Congratulations to our graduating Spartans! Check out highlights from the ceremonies below, and stay tuned for a recording of the livestream at commencement.uncg.edu.

Story in Campus Weekly by Susan Kirby-Smith, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications

Videography by Grant Evan Gilliard, University Communications

Memo Header "Message from Provost Storrs"

May 2, 2022

To:  UNCG Faculty

From:  Debbie Storrs, Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor

RE:  2021-22 Gratitude and Reflections

As the 2021-22 academic year and my first year at UNC Greensboro comes to a close, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your commitment and contributions. This year has presented all of us with many challenges and uncertainties — on both a professional and personal level — and stands as an example of the extraordinary work you make possible at UNCG. Emerging from a pandemic, in the face of global uncertainty, and through challenging budget reductions you have remained dedicated to excellence in your support of our students, taking the extra step to help students who are struggling, and in pursuit of your research and creative endeavors. I am grateful and heartened to have joined a university community so devoted to its mission of access and excellence. The year was full of accomplishments, and I reflect upon some of them below.

Supporting Student Success
I am grateful for your engagement and support of student success, including your increased use of Starfish. Many of you have embraced QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer), a suicide prevention training designed to help us recognize students who are experiencing mental health challenges and be aware of steps to take to refer the at-risk student to professionals. You have also worked to reduce the cost of books through the Textbook Affordability Grant (TAP) program to replace an expensive textbook or redesign a course using open education resources.  A special thank you to faculty who submitted fall book orders by April 15th to ensure reduced book costs for all undergraduate students through our First Day Complete initiative – you are assisting students directly by helping to make their college education more affordable and putting money back into their pockets.

Continued Accreditation
This year we began our work on SACSCOC 10-year reaffirmation. With leadership guidance from Associate Vice Provost Jodi Pettazzoni, many of you are serving as standard chairs and working to ensure we have evidence and documentation needed to demonstrate compliance with each standard. Co-led by Andrea Hunter and Ken White, we have started the development of a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), a vital component of UNCG’s SACSCOC Reaffirmation. Thank you to everyone who participated in the brainstorming sessions to identify potential themes of interest and, more recently, with the Topic Proposal Development Workgroups.  I look forward to reading the proposals and learning how you have ranked them so we can get started on the next step of the journey, the development of the Plan itself.

Celebrating Faculty Achievements
UNCG faculty continue to excel in research, scholarship, and creativity. Congratulations to all 49 faculty members who successfully earned promotion and tenure this year. We also celebrated and congratulated faculty award recipients for their work in teaching excellence, student mentoring and advising, service leadership, and research excellence.  You can find a complete list of honorees here.

In terms of external awards, we are tracking close to last year’s record-breaking amount of $48.4 million and expenditures are also up.  The dollar amount is impressive and so is the impact of this work. These varied research projects are impacting so many areas such as:

    • improving community health and well-being,
    • converting fundamental science into real-world applications—such as through translational research embedding nanotechnology into virus and bacteria-resistant textiles
    • studying how engaging in the arts promotes health and well-being across the lifespan
    • exploring how K-12 social studies curriculum should transform now that the pandemic has exposed deficiencies in much of the traditional narrative found in textbooks and state curriculum standards
    • creating a university spin-out company, Minerva Lithium, that develops clean energy technology by trapping valuable minerals and other harmful pathogens from water
    • bringing the highest quality theatre, music, dance and writing program to literally thousands of youth in the wider community
    • responding to the war in Ukraine by using an established international network to support young people in or from Ukraine provide opportunities for kids worldwide to learn more about Ukraine to support their peers in distress, make new friends, and practice English
    • providing evidence-based education for Moldovan nurses as they care for refugees of the Russian invasion into Ukraine.

This work would not be possible without you, our dedicated and passionate faculty.

Conflict Resolution
This year we have also created a University Ombuds position, a priority for both faculty and staff senates. The Ombuds will bring value to the campus community by providing faculty and staff with objective and impartial dispute resolution using evidence-based conflict resolution skills and techniques as well as provide individual guidance and training on how to productively manage conflict. The search committee is actively interviewing candidates, and we hope to have the position filled for the 2022-23 Academic Year.

Professional Track Faculty
This year we worked to rename Professional Track Faculty. This title change better reflects what faculty under this umbrella are, rather than what they are not, and is central to the equitable treatment of all UNCG faculty. The Faculty Senate’s Professional Track Faculty Committee, Deans, and I are now working to finalize a promotional pathway process for Professional Track Faculty, and the Provost’s office has committed to funding promotional increases for our Professional Track Faculty, just as we do for our Tenure Track faculty.

EDI & Faculty Development
The Provost’s Faculty Fellows have worked extensively this year on a number of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) initiatives and faculty development. Tracy Nichols, Provost Fellow for Faculty Development, has continued her work promoting EDI through faculty development initiatives. This spring Fellow Nichols worked in close collaboration with other initiatives that involve faculty development across the university. She is a member of the Faculty Senate Steering Committee on the inclusion of EDI in P&T. The committee received its charge this semester, and the work will continue through the 2022-23 academic year.  Fellow Nichols also coordinated calls for faculty development opportunities and has been examining ways to structure and communicate these calls more effectively in the future. The call for the Faculty Success Program, sponsored by the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD), received 17 nominations and 14 completed applications. The provost’s office was able to support 11 faculty taking the program this summer. Faculty of color and faculty from other historically marginalized groups were prioritized in the selection process, and we were also able to support several faculty members disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Fellow Nichols also coordinated calls for the BRIDGES application as well as applications to attend the NC ACE’s Women in Higher Education Conference. You can find more information about these opportunities here.  She also supported the faculty award nominations and celebrations that occur at the end of the academic year and continues her assistance with One UNCG social events.  These multiple collaborations across separate but connected aspects of faculty development have assisted with the enhancement of EDI-related practices across the university.

Student Well-Being
In her first year as Provost Fellow for Student Success, Fellow Regina McCoy has framed her efforts around the UNC System Strategic Plan holistic definition of student success: “a combination intellectual, personal, and social development” that extends beyond the degree completion metrics. This is a whole person approach to student success which means in our efforts we must fully support the students’ college experience to best meet the needs of what she sees as the ‘new post-pandemic college student’ shaped by the COVID-19 crisis. Through student focus groups and meetings with faculty and staff, together they have identified multiple factors that contribute to the current drop in student engagement and academic achievement: disconnection and stress linked to the pandemic, mental health concerns, financial challenges, a sense of hopelessness, and disillusionment about the future. A 2021 UNCG Housing & Residence Life student survey revealed 71.3% of our students reported their anxiety and stress as higher now than before the pandemic.

This semester she has been able to create intentional opportunities to re-engage our students, connect them to the support they need for their mental health and wellbeing, as well as to help students with academic citizenship or simply stated- the ‘nuts and bolts’ of being a college student. Working with the Mental Health Advisory Team, Student Success Center, Academic Achievement Center, and the iBelong Committee, they are developing a program to cross-train our front-line student workers in student affairs who interface with 1st and 2nd year students to facilitate a coordinated campus-wide peer student wellness effort grounded in what we know works from research and practice. This will create a sustainable culture of care that includes students in the planning process to develop a holistic campus-wide peer support model of students helping students with our faculty, staff, administrators and professional services ready to support students’ mental health and well-being. Imagine, whether the student is peer mentor working a resident assistant, peer academic leader in a FYE course, or a peer wellness coach from Student Health, all student workers in student affairs will be trained leaders who not only personally get connected to their services through the training, but will also help us tailor our services to meet the unique needs of our ‘new post-pandemic students’ from what they learn through these meaningful student engagements. We expect an increase of belongingness through social connections and support, a reduction of students in distress not reaching out for help, and better student support metrics and improved student academic achievement measures.

To help students in the classroom, Fellow McCoy is working with Student Success and the UTLC to implement a Summer Course Reboot which is meant to redesign courses that typically have low performance from first-year students. They have identified 30+ courses where faculty will be invited to develop a course redesign plan that will integrate a student peer mentor who will be embedded in the course and serve as a trained mentor and resource to other students. These peer mentors will help communicate that college faculty expectations are very different from high school teacher expectations and will serve as accountability partners for students enrolled in the target courses. They will provide timely nudges when their mentees do not complete work on time and support students with campus resources to help them adjust and excel academically and navigate personal challenges when life’s obstacles get in the way.

She Can, We Can
Steve Haines is wrapping up his three-year service as Provost Fellow for Special Projects. This year he supported the remaining events of the massive collaborative effort built around our university theme, She Can, We Can. There were more than 80 events across campus involving people in many disciplines. Fellow Haines also represented the provost’s office on the Jackson Library Addition and Renovation Design Selection Committee and served on the Provost Website Design Committee and QEP Topic Selection Committee. His latest efforts include advocacy for the new Jeanne Tannenbaum Center for Creative Practice and a campus-wide effort to promote inclusive seating for students, faculty, and staff.

Faculty Health & Wellness
As Fellow Haines completes his work in this role, Connie Jones, Assistant Professor in the Department of Counseling and Educational Development, is looking forward to joining the provost’s office as the Provost Fellow for Special Projects next academic year. She is excited to work with faculty and staff related to the theme of health and wellness, as health and wellness are a key focus of our campus. She believes there will be ample opportunities for collaboration across campus.  Be on the lookout for outreach, updates, and opportunities from her in fall of 2022.

Thank you again for your tireless efforts this year. I wish you all a well-deserved break surrounded by family and friends. I encourage you to unplug and unwind so you can return in August refreshed and ready to embark on a new academic year. No doubt there will be challenges related to enrollment and the new funding formula ahead, but I’m confident that, in working together through shared governance and leadership, we can draw on our accomplishments, transform thoughtfully, embrace our mission and values, and continue to position UNCG well for the future.

Congratulations signage

Teaching Awards

Each year the university solicits nominations for three Alumni Teaching Excellence Awards, and the UNC System Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching.  A committee comprised of UNCG faculty and students selects recipients for the Alumni Teaching Excellence Awards and chooses UNCG’s nominee for the Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching which is conferred by the Board of Governors Committee on Personnel and Tenure.

UNC BOG Excellence in Teaching Award
Dr. Nadja Cech, Patricia A. Sullivan Distinguished Professor, Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Mary Settle Sharp Award for Teaching Excellence
Dr. David Wharton, Associate Professor, Dept. of Classical Studies

James Y. Joyner Award for Teaching Excellence
Prof. Erin Speer, Assistant Professor, School of Theatre

Anna Maria Gove Award for Teaching Excellence
Dr. Jessica McCall, Senior Lecturer, Dept. of Communication Studies

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Instruction/Education Related Awards

Education is about more than what goes on inside the classroom and the next awards recognize excellence in mentoring, academic program assessment, and advising. The Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award from the Graduate School honors a full-time tenured faculty member with outstanding success in mentoring graduate students at the master’s or doctoral level.  The Thomas Undergraduate Research Mentor Award honors faculty members who have demonstrated excellence in the mentoring of UNCG undergraduate students in research or creative inquiry.  The Student Learning Enhancement Award honors departments, programs, or individual faculty members who have demonstrated excellence in academic program assessment leading to enhanced student learning.  The Advising Excellence Award honors a full-time faculty member with at least two years of service to UNCG who has demonstrated excellence in advising.  Student feedback is considered when selecting the award recipient.  The Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate Award recognizes the significant contributions of faculty and staff who work to create a positive transition to college and promote the success of students’ first year at UNCG. Candidates show noteworthy impact on student learning and retention, demonstrate best practice when working with first-year students, and present contributions that are innovative and sustainable.

Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award
Dr. Rosemery Nelson Gray, Professor, Dept. of Psychology

Thomas Undergraduate Research Mentor Award, Pre-tenured Category
Dr. Jaclyn Maher, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Kinesiology

Thomas Undergraduate Research Mentor Award, Tenured Category
Dr. Asa Eger, Associate Professor, Dept. of History

Student Learning Enhancement Awards
DMA and MM degree in Music

Advising Excellence Award
Prof. Robin Maxwell, Senior Lecturer, Dept. of Biology

Outstanding First Year Student Advocate Award
Dr. Jeffrey Kaplan, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Philosophy

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Research Excellence Awards

The research excellence awards were established to recognize the outstanding research and creative accomplishments of UNCG faculty.  The Senior Research Excellence Award is conferred based on research career accomplishments, especially achievements within the past five years.  It is presented to a full-time faculty member at the rank of professor.  Faculty at the rank of assistant or associate professor are eligible to receive the Junior Research Excellence Award, which is primarily based on work at UNCG within the past five years.

Senior Research Excellence Award
Dr. Ratnasingham Shivaji, H. Barton Excellence Professor, Dept. of Mathematics and Statistics

Junior Research Excellence Award
Dr. Hemali Rathnayake, Associate Professor, Dept. of Nanoscience

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Service Leadership Award

The O. Max Gardner Award is the highest faculty honor awarded by the UNC Board of Governors, given annually since 1949.  The award was established by Gardner’s will to recognize faculty who have “made the greatest contributions to the welfare of the human race.”  Those chosen in the past have made notable contributions of national or international scale.  Each university in the UNC System may nominate one faculty member annually, and the Board selects the winner from the nominees.  Today, we recognize UNCG’s 2022 nominee.

O. Max Gardner Nominee
Dr. Eugene Rogers, Professor, Dept. of Religious Studies

Artwork displayed on Industries for the Blind Building shows images on banners

INDUSTRIES OF THE BLIND AND COLLEGE OF VISUAL AND PERFORMING ARTS PUBLIC ARTWORK

UNCG’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) collaborated with Industries of the Blind (IOB) on the installation of a public art piece which tells the stories of the blind and low-visioned using sight, sound, and touch.

Founded in 1933, Industries of the Blind (IOB) is a not-for-profit manufacturing company employing people who are blind or visually impaired. IOB makes a range of high-quality products, including office products for use in the Federal Government and apparel for the United States Army and Marines.

The installation is located at the IOB building at the corner of Gate City Boulevard and Tate Street, one of the main entrances to the UNC Greensboro campus, and is the culmination of an innovative collaboration between the IOB and the CVPA’s School of Art and School of Music, as well as Interior Architecture, the Creative Writing MFA Program, and University Libraries.

We are currently in the second year of this three year project. Each year, a new iteration of the project is installed on the Industries of the Blind building.

SIGHT:

Each year of the project, students in Professor Mariam Stephens’ Painting III class are paired with IOB employees for a series of conversations focused on ideas of independence, empowerment, and access.  Based on those conversations, the students create paintings, which are then printed on 8’x10’ banners hung on the side of the IOB building.

SOUND:

Each year, Art History students with Assistant Professor Dr. Nicole Scalissi work with the painters to record verbal descriptions of the paintings and narratives surrounding their creation. During the first iteration of the project, School of Music students, under the direction of Professor Mark Engebretson, created original musical scores in response to the paintings and the exchanges. This year Creative Writing MFA students under the direction of Professor Xhenet Aliu created short prose and poetry pieces. To hear these stories and songs, participants can press a button on audio boxes under the banners — which were designed and constructed by Derek Toomes’ Interior Architecture students.

TOUCH:

Not only can the paintings be viewed, they can also be experienced through touch by the blind and low-visioned.  During the first iteration of the project, installed beneath each banner was a touchable bas-relief bronze sculpture created by students in Assistant Professor Dane Winker’s Sculpture course, using a three-dimensional computer modeling program and traditional metal casting methods.
This year, students in Professor Nikki Blair’s ceramic course created ceramic relief sculptures
inspired by the banners above.

Images, audio material, transcripts, and more stories will be publicly available online through a website designed by Assistant Professor Maggie Murphy and hosted by UNCG University Libraries.

We are in the second iteration of a three year project. Next year, come see a new group of artwork and sounds created by a new group of IOB employees and College of Visual and Performing Arts students.

Adam Carlin, Director of Community Engagement for CVPA, initiated and has led the project, including the writing of grants totalling $27,900 from the UNCG Green Fund and Institute for Community and Economic Engagement.  He says it started as a way to support the School of Art’s community engaged activities, but it grew to something much bigger:

“This is a project that has the potential for far-reaching impact not only to UNCG students and Industries of the Blind employees, but for the entire community. Creating public art that is experienced through sight, sound, and touch has allowed UNCG students to expand their artistic practice to be more accessible for the community. It is our hopes that this approach can inspire countless other artists in our community. The project will also act as a window into Industries of the Blind, allowing them to share their thoughts, feelings, and hopes for anyone who passes by the building.”

Richard Oliver, Director of Community Outreach at Industries of the Blind speaks to how this project has impacted their organization:

“Industries of the Blind is proud to collaborate with UNCG on such a tremendous project. These pieces of art capture the journeys of our associates and show the empowerment and sense of achievement that all Industries of the Blind associates strive for as they work towards their American Dream”

The project is partially funded by the UNCG Green Fund, which operates as a campus-based grant program that offers education, research, and professional development opportunities for students and employees by investing in campus infrastructure and programming to help meet the goals of the UNCG Climate Action Plan. Sean MacInnes, UNCG’s Sustainability Specialist remarks:

“The heart of UNCG’s mission is to make the world a better place by building thriving and vibrant communities. This project, with its synergistic connections to the environment, economics, aesthetics, and social equity, is an embodiment of that mission. This isn’t just a simple beautification or place-making project. It was a collaborative effort, it encourages interaction, and it elevates the connections we have with each other and with the places in which we live, work, and play. We’re excited to be a part of it and look forward to future iterations.”

Photography credit, Martin W. Kane, University Communications

Article published on College of Visual and Performing Arts website.

Memo Header "Message from Provost Storrs"

April 18, 2022

To:  UNCG Faculty

From:  Debbie Storrs, Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor 

RE:  Two Faculty Development Opportunities 

I am pleased to share with you a couple of faculty development opportunities.  The Provost’s Office will support 10 faculty members for the North Carolina ACE Women’s Network Conference and sponsor one faculty member for the BRIDGES Program.  Please consider these opportunities to enhance your leadership experience.

The North Carolina ACE Women’s Network Conference will be held virtually on June 3rd.  The North Carolina ACE Women’s Network is a nonprofit, volunteer organization seeking to support women in North Carolina higher education. The theme this year is Navigating Through Hard Times Together. The Provost’s Office will sponsor 10 faculty members to attend.  If you are interested, please send a letter detailing your interest and how the conference can assist you in your career goals to jennyjojohnson@uncg.edu by May 1st

The BRIDGES program will be hosted at UNC over four weeks in the fall.  BRIDGES is an inclusive professional development program dedicated to supporting women in higher education who seek to gain or strengthen their academic leadership capabilities, or those who demonstrate a commitment to supporting women and gender issues and equality in the academy. It is designed to help participants identify, understand, and build their leadership roles in the academy.  You can read more about it here.  

Each year the Office of the Provost selects and sponsors one participant from UNCG for the BRIDGES program. The participant must also apply to the BRIDGES program with the final decision made by the BRIDGES selection committee. The BRIDGES application packet includes a form, a summary resume/curriculum vita, an essay and two letters of recommendation.  If you would like to be considered as the sponsored provost’s office participant, please submit your BRIDGES packet  to jennyjojohnson@uncg.edu by May 20th.  The faculty member selected will be guided on next steps.  

Memo Header "Message from Provost Storrs"

April 11, 2022

 

TO: UNCG Faculty & Staff

From: Debbie Storrs, Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor

RE:  Changes to UNCG Online and University Services

To provide enhanced services, reduce organizational redundancy and improve budgetary efficiencies, The Division of Online Learning (UNCG Online) and its related functions have been integrated into various units across campus.

Support for Online Course and Program Development

Personnel who currently support the development of online courses and programs will join the University Teaching and Learning Commons (UTLC) team effective July 1, 2022.

The UTLC currently offers a wide array of programs and services aimed at helping faculty implement evidence-based, innovative, inclusive, and accessible teaching and learning strategies. With additional expertise in instructional design, multimedia production, web and graphic design, and web accessibility, the UTLC will be better able to support faculty to deliver instruction with the highest degree of academic excellence, regardless of instructional mode.

If you are currently working on a particular project with an instructional designer from UNCG Online, please continue to work with that individual through the completion of your project. All new requests for course development support (online, hybrid, or face-to-face) or questions about the transition in general should be directed to UTLC.

While there are still many details to finalize in this transition, the realignment of skills, talents, and resources under one unit will serve to enrich the broader teaching culture on campus.

Marketing for Academic Programs

UNCG Online marketing resources and staffing positions have been reallocated to the Division of Enrollment Management effective May 2022 and will report to the Office of Enrollment Communications. The Enrollment Communications team will employ best practices to market online and in-person academic programs, with priorities for those in demand and with capacity. Vice Chancellor Tina McEntire, Provost Debbie Storrs, and Katie MacInnes, Director of Enrollment Communications, will work with deans and departmental leadership to identify priority academic programs for strategic marketing efforts as we continue to market UNCG’s offerings to prospective students.

Academic Programs – BIPS and MAAS

The Bachelors of Integrated Professional Studies (BIPS) and the Master of Applied Arts & Sciences (MAAS) will be relocated to the College of Arts & Sciences effective July 1, 2022. Director Muktha Jost will continue to provide leadership support to these programs within the College of Arts & Sciences.

Summer Academic Programming and Oversight

Effective summer 2022, the administration and oversight of summer programming will move to the colleges and schools, in coordination with the Provost’s Office, the Registrar’s Office, and the Division of Student Success. Academic units now have oversight of planning, course scheduling, and payroll for all face-to-face and distance courses offered during the summer terms, with consultation from Dean Andrew Hamilton. This change includes redistributing budgeted resources from the two funding sources associated with the Summer Session (tuition revenue from face-to-face courses and state appropriations for online courses). Dean Hamilton will soon send further guidance to the units to ensure the continued success of our summer instructional program.