I was excited to hear the strategic plan updates yesterday, and as a first-year tenure tracker, it confirmed that SRU is the right place for me. Many of my personal goals and ambitions for my career fit within the plan, and I'm looking forward to contributing personally to helping SRU achieve the overall goals outlined in the plan in coming years. Two things jumped out to me that I would like to mention here.
First, as someone who has historically relied heavily upon interdisciplinary collaboration in teaching in research, I have found that there are certain structural barriers at SRU that are making it difficult for me to collaborate with others in a way that reflects current trends in my field (park resource management). Park resource management, at its core, is interdisciplinary applied natural resource management that draws from a number of traditions, including but not limited to natural science fields such as ecology, geology, and biology in addition to social science fields of psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics and political science. Researchers in my field employ a number of quantitative and qualitative methods to improve natural resource management decisions that are informed by, and consider impacts of, the natural and social aspects of these management strategies. One of my goals within the next 3 years is to develop and offer an international trip to Belize over the summer, where students could learn about natural and cultural resource management, community-based conservation and sustainability initiatives in a developing country. I would like to partner with another faculty member from a different college/department in offering this trip because I think that bringing together a diverse group of interested students would better support learning outcomes and dialogue about the issues on the ground. In reviewing the form for international trips, it appears that the trip will need to be "housed" within one department with one faculty member and signatures from one dean/department chair. I have reached out to both Brad Wilson and the office for international travel to ascertain the best approach in this situation. It seems that this trip would support several of the goals in the strategic plan, but these very simple structural barriers are making it difficult for me to understand how to proceed with a cross-disciplinary collaboration.
Secondly, I strongly support mentoring for new faculty. I did not receive any formal mentoring when I began my position last fall, and instead took it upon myself to network and connect with individuals across campus who I thought would be able to offer support and advice. My department is small, and opportunities to engage with faculty who have successfully navigated the tenure and promotion process are limited. Specifically, I would welcome the opportunity to network with senior female faculty members. I would also welcome opportunities to network with young female tenure track faculty members, perhaps through a journal or book club where we could explore issues of identity and gender in academia from a similar perspective. I would be willing to take the lead on starting such a group, but I'm not sure where to begin or how to spread the word.
Thank you for considering these ideas, and keep up the good work!
As I stated at the University meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, I am requesting that the University follow national trends and make the shift in language and culture from STEM to STEAM, which will demonstrate to the campus community and perspective students the University's commitment to the arts and arts education. There are endless articles and studies detailing why the arts should be included in every student's education, and also include information on the arts as a viable field of study, and how the arts serve to enhance STEM areas. Some of those articles and studies can easily be found in the Chronicle of Higher Education, and on web sites such as Americans for the Arts http://www.americansforthearts.org/, and SNAAP, the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project, which has surveyed more than 100,000 graduates of arts training institutions about their education and careers, http://snaap.indiana.edu/. As educators, we can all agree that students need to know and understand technical, scientific and mathematical concepts, but they also need to know how these concepts relate to real-world situations, how to engage in hands-on learning, and how to look at and applying concepts in different situations and creative ways. For all students, the arts serve to nurture curiosity and creativity, and enhance problem solving and critical thinking skills (again, there are countless studies that inform this statement, such as Critical Evidence: How the Arts Benefit Student Achievement, http://www.nasaa-arts.org/Publications/critical-evidence.pdf ), the Washington Post article Why America's Obsession with STEM Education is Dangerous https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-stem-wont-make-us-successful/2015/03/26/5f4604f2-d2a5-11e4-ab77-9646eea6a4c7_story.html?postshare=6951456431546632&tid=ss_mail, and from Forbes, That 'Useless' Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech's Hottest Ticket http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgeanders/2015/07/29/liberal-arts-degree-tech/#1b9446f95a75).To leave the "A" out of the acronym is negating an entire aspect of students' education, and one that can help to serve students in all fields, from business, to health fields and the sciences.
At Slippery Rock University, all of the four arts disciplines-art, dance, music and theatre-are accredited by their respective accrediting agencies. There is only one other institution in the state of Pennsylvania who can tout this achievement, and only a handful of institutions nationally. Since most of what we do is performed before audiences, the arts programs are the most visible programs on campus, in the community, nationally, and internationally. The Slippery Rock University arts programs not only play a vital role in the cultural and academic life on this campus, but serve as excellent public relations for the institution, simply due to the nature of our creative and scholarly work.
The time is overdue to have a shift in focus from STEM to STEAM. Regardless of priorities at the state level, Slippery Rock University is poised to be at the forefront of this movement in the PASHEE, the region, and the state. I sincerely hope we move forward and make a concerted effort to include the arts in all aspects of the University's strategic plan.
Consider changing the campus trash/garbage back to Tri County. It seems frugal to take our waste three times as far for disposal. Plus the trucks are needing more maintenance and repairs do to the adverse conditions at the Waste Management landfill in West Sunbury. Thanks
As per our visit with the Provost during the CHES meeting on 3/31/16, I have 3 suggestions for helping meet the strategic goals:
1. (GOAL 2)- Graduate programs need more flexibility in scheduling classes. Ex. We designed our MS-AT program to start at the end of summer. The session would end after the traditional summer 2 session. Our only option now is to assign incomplete grades at the end of the summer 2 session and then change all the grades one our summer course has finished. I believe PA and PT have similar challenges.
2. (GOAL 2)-With our emphasis on the STEMH and increasing enrollments, it is a significant challenge to register students for the required pre-requisite courses. A significant number of students are spending their money at community colleges to get the pre-reqs that they cannot get into at SRU in a timely fashion. We have students leaving SRU during the semester to drive to BC3 to take pre-reqs. That is a lot of money our of SRU pockets. Faculty and chairs are spending more time on registration of the pre-reqs that could be invested in more effective ways. It is a nightmare.
3. We need flexible graduate student housing. This has been a challenge for the DPT students. The need has now tripled (DPT+MSAT+MPA) and will soon quadruple with DOT. These grad students will need to find mature adult housing that allows them to leave for short periods of time to do clinicals away from campus. Renovating Kraus hall into flexible graduate housing may be helpful. Thank you.