Academic Leadership
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Faculty Evaluation as Development

The evaluation of faculty members is an important process at colleges and universities.  Faculty play the major role in the functioning of colleges and universities and the performance of the faculty is a significant factor in determining the quality of institutions of higher education.  National institutional accrediting organizations (e.g., Middle States, WASC, etc.) require that colleges and universities present evidence on the method that is used to evaluate faculty members and the way that information is used.  Specialized program accreditors (e.g., AMA, ARC-PA, ACOTE, etc.) also require that the programs they accredit have a carefully constructed plan to evaluate faculty and a plan for the use of that information.  

Faculty members have three major responsibilities: teaching, scholarship, and service.  Colleges and universities, and the schools and programs therein, place different weights on each of these factors depending on the goals and objectives of that college, university and program.  Teaching is usually evaluated using student course evaluations and some institutions use peer reviews.  Student course evaluations can be helpful, but they should be considered as just one piece of evidence. It is important to view these course evaluations for purposes of promotion considerations and future employment as longitudinal data points. For example, the faculty member may be a rigorous grader or attendance taker and students may react negatively to this. There may also be occasional conflicts between faculty and student expectations that can lead to harsh evaluations. On the other hand, there may very well be merit to constructive student feedback. Chairs and deans are in the best position to assess these situations.

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2024 Survey of Provosts Reveals Interesting Insights on How Campuses are Dealing with AI, Diversity, Free Speech and Financial Challenges

Inside Higher Ed, together with Hanover Research, recently released its annual Survey of College and University Chief Academic Officers, providing insight into the priorities of and challenges facing higher education institutions. With 331 provosts fully or partially completing surveys (a 13% response rate), the survey covered a wide range of topics including artificial intelligence, diversity, equity, and inclusion, campus speech, the future of academic programs, and more. While the comprehensive key findings and data tables can be found in the report, below is a highlight of several major areas.

Artificial Intelligence: Artificial intelligence continues to be an evolving focus at many institutions. 92% of provosts responded that faculty and staff members asked for additional training related to the developments in generative AI. Seventy-eight percent (78%) have offered training in response to faculty concerns or questions about generative AI within the last 18 months and an additional 20% have planned training. For students, only 14% of provosts said that their institution has reviewed the curriculum to ensure that it will prepare students for AI in the workplace, though 73% plan to do so. The use and future of AI is far from settled. Although 47% of provosts are moderately concerned, 20% very concerned, and 6% extremely concerned about the risk generative AI poses to academic integrity, only 20% of institutions have published a policy or policies governing the use of AI, including in teaching and research. An additional 63% have a policy under development. However, in contrast to those concerns, 40% of provosts are moderately enthusiastic, 32% very enthusiastic, and 11% extremely enthusiastic for AI’s potential to boost their institution’s capabilities. Several institutions are using AI for virtual chat assistants and chatbots, research and data analysis, Learning Management Systems, predictive analytics to predict student performance and trends, and in other capacities. This is an area where we can expect rapid developments in the coming months.

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Strategies, Structure, and Considerations for Implementing Artificial Intelligence into Education Delivery

The rapid growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is creating both excitement and angst on where and how to begin safe, effective integration. While there are many ways AI can be applied, these suggestions are focused on educational delivery. For those who have begun applying and engaging student-facing AI, the vertical evolution requires structured and continuous development of institutional-level AI governance to maintain safe and ethical use. Governance structures should consider continuous growth of policies, guidelines and directives for use, approval processes, and staged training for faculty, staff, and students based on the speed of changes occurring in the market. 

Lacking or vague policies, structure, or training approaches may leave administrators, faculty, and students without the guidance needed to reap the benefits of AI use. Lacking governance structures or broad policies may unintentionally promote unsafe or unethical use of AI on the part of students, faculty, staff, and instructional designers who may not have the proper guidance to integrate. This can lead to compromised course design and program content, AI hallucinations, misinformation, and privacy breaches to proprietary university content, impacting the university and quality of education. 

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Teach-Outs for Closing Programs and Institutions

Teach-Outs for Closing Programs and Institutions
Patricia E. Salkin, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, Touro University

Lately, a week hardly goes by without news of another institution announcing plans to close programs or departments, and even entire colleges and universities planning to shut down.  According to University Business, in the last four years, more than 50 public and private nonprofit colleges have either announced plans to close, have closed, or have merged with another institution. Higher Ed Dive has been tracking the number of major colleges that have closed, merged or consolidated since 2016, providing an easy-to-use map showing that Massachusetts and New York lost ten schools each (with New York losing another one this week), followed by nine in Illinois and seven in California.   U.S. News and World Report reported that between July 2004 and June 2020 close to 12,000 college campuses closed. On a smaller scale, it is unknown precisely how many schools and majors within institutions are closed due to financial challenges and low enrollments. 

For provosts/chief academic officers, the elimination of programs and the closure of a college brings added responsibilities to ensure the orderly teach-out for enrolled students so that they may achieve the degree they signed up for with as little disruption as possible.  Staying student-focused is key during this time, however, it is also important to remember the impacts on faculty and staff who will understandably be concerned about their futures as well. What follows is a checklist of items to consider for provosts who are faced with teach-outs once the decision is made to close the program or school.


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Panel Discussion Explores the Impact of ChatGPT on Higher Education

On 21 February 2023, ACAO hosted a panel discussion on Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer (ChatGPT) and its potential uses (or abuses) in higher education. The goal of the panel was twofold: (1) to introduce provosts and other attendees to ChatGPT (developed by OpenAI) and similar AI language models and technologies; and (2) to discuss the opportunities and challenges of this new technology on our working, teaching, and learning environments.

Three speakers addressed attendees. First, Dr. Jing Peng from Montclair State University provided a high-level presentation on AI chatbot technology and its evolution over time. Dr. Peng’s presentation highlighted the fact that this technology is not “new,” per se, with roots that extend back decades – but its development is accelerating exponentially as it becomes “smarter” given the vast amount of data that are now available for its refinement and evolution.

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ACAO at ACE 2023

ACAO has several events for Provosts to attend while at ACE in DC this April.  If you're a provost, you won't want to miss us!

April 13th 5-7pm ACAO Provost Reception @ The City Tap House, 901 9th St NW

April 14th 7:30-9:00am ACAO Members Business Meeting, Marriott Marquis Room: Capital M4

April 14th 10:15-11:00am At the Pleasure of the President, Marriott Marquis Room: Marquis Ballroom 12-13M2

 

Internal Leadership Training for Faculty and Academic Administrators Reaps Big Rewards

It is both expensive and time-consuming on many levels to launch a national search for every academic leadership position on campus.  Sometimes, of course, a national search is warranted for a Dean or for a Provost, but for other positions, such as department chairs, program directors, assistant and associate deans and associate/provosts, having a trained and ready “back bench” may be the best solution to maintain desired progress and efficiencies.  Admittedly, there are reasons to desire external candidates when changes and fresh perspectives are desired, but that is not always the case.  More often than not, leadership laments that there are no internal candidates ready to move up.

When colleges and universities want to retain their best, most creative, ambitious, and competent faculty and academic administrators, it is important for these people to sense a career path if they stay at the institution, and it is important to invest in their professional development so that they feel valued. With these two complementary goals in mind, the Touro College Academy of Leadership and Management (TCALM) was implemented five years ago in 2018.

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