I love fall. While in other parts of the country the leaves are turning, fall in Riverside means more gentle temperatures and a jump in energy as we welcome our students back to campus and get back into the faster pace of the school year. I hope you were all able to take some time to enjoy the summer with your family and friends and that you’re looking forward to a productive and rewarding academic year! I look forward to seeing you on campus, and hope you will join me at Thursday Nights Live at the HUB (every Thursday through November 2) to connect with other members of our UCR community.
There are now two ways to keep up with what’s going on in the Provost’s office: the "Strategic Initiatives" page on the Provost website (accessible on the UCR network or through web VPN) and you can follow me on Twitter @cynthialarive for a look into the day-to-day happenings in our office. I’ve really enjoyed getting to read about and share faculty research and awards there too, so tweet me your news!
In our July update, we described the campus plan to renovate 45 classrooms and class labs in four buildings (Life Sciences, Olmstead, Sproul, and Watkins). I’m happy to report that the remodeling project was completed on time and within budget thanks to the great work of John Casey, Executive Director of Construction and Project Management; Sharyl Murdock, Space Manager; Susan Marshburn, Executive Director of Facilities Services; Dalan Zee Dinh, Strategic Project Consultant; Fernando Nuñez, Assistant Project Manager; and their whole team as well as their partners in Information Technology Services. I was able to visit some renovated classrooms on the first day of classes and the difference is truly stunning! Here are before and after pictures of Olmstead 1212. For more photos and information, see the Strategic Initiatives webpage. The new LED lights not only make the classrooms much brighter and more energy efficient, but they will not need to be replaced for ten years!
We previously announced that this year we would slow down the cluster hiring effort to allow the campus community to catch our collective breath after three very busy years of hiring, and to reevaluate the cluster hiring process. Therefore, in consultation with the Deans, we have approved only 11 cluster searches for this year out of a total of 59 new senate faculty searches. The active clusters are:
· Greater Mexico & U.S. Latinx Perspectives (1 position)
· Citrus (1 position)
· Modeling of Complex Biosystems (1 position)
· Environmental Toxicology (1 position)
· Computational Materials (1 position)
· Phonon/Magnon Engineered Materials and Devices (1 position)
· Supply Chain Management (2 positions)
· Business Analytics (1 position)
· Coherent Optical Control of Materials (1 position)
· BREATHE (1 position)
This fall, we will begin working with you to learn how we can improve upon the cluster search process in ways that maintain the goals of the clusters while recognizing the needs of our departments and colleges. I encourage you to keep an eye out for invitations for feedback and to engage fully in the process.
Promoting Faculty Diversity Workshops
I want to congratulate the campus on the past two years of impressive faculty recruiting. Our campus is enriched by the addition of these outstanding new colleagues and I have enjoyed meeting many new faculty at recent events. UCR is receiving national attention for our success in making contributions to diversity a meaningful part of our selection criteria for faculty hiring (you can read recent coverage in Inside Higher Ed). This emphasis has helped us to welcome many more underrepresented minority faculty members to campus than in previous years. Historically, only about 10-13% of our new hires identify as underrepresented minorities and for the past two years, we’ve jumped to around 22%.
A contributing factor to this success is that for the past two years, we’ve held workshops to help search committee chairs and affirmative action compliance officers learn about how to actively recruit diverse candidates and about the inadvertent barriers we can erect in the hiring process that cause us to miss out on qualified candidates. This year, we are requiring all committee members to attend both an online session “Equal Employment, Affirmative Action and the Academic Hiring Process” and the in-person “Promoting Faculty Diversity” workshop (see the memo outlining the requirement here). I want to thank you for participating in these workshops as we strive to make UCR the national leader in equitable faculty hiring.
We are currently preparing for a reaccreditation visit by our regional accrediting body, WASC. While some might see reaccreditation as a regulatory burden (and, of course, accreditation is necessary to receive federal student loan funds) a reaccreditation visit is also an opportunity to come together as a campus and reflect on how successfully we are fulfilling our mission. For example, based on recommendations from our previous accreditation review, we’ve enhanced the program review process in the Academic Senate and improved our assessments of student learning outcomes. In both cases, the recommendations from our regional accreditor aligned with our own high standards for educational quality.
Our campus self-study report is due at the end of January 2018 and the Reaccreditation Workgroup has completed the initial draft of this document. Over the next few months, there will be opportunities for the campus to weigh in on the draft report. To that end, the Reaccreditation Workgroup will host a campus-wide town hall on November 14 from
12:00-1:30 in HUB 302. This town hall will allow the campus to discuss our strengths and weaknesses, and how best to incorporate them into our self-study. We will also identify areas that we will work together to improve for the future. A second town hall January 16 from 1:00-2:30 will allow the Workgroup to report back on the revisions made in response to campus input before submission of the report. The visit by the accreditation team will occur in October 2018. I encourage you to be involved throughout the process as we take this opportunity to reflect on where we’ve been and envision where we are going. It is my hope that this process of campus reflection will provide a firm foundation on which we can launch the next campus strategic plan.
I am pleased to share progress on construction of our Multidisciplinary Research Building 1 (MRB1). We have a “topping off” event scheduled for October 13th, marking a significant milestone toward completion of the project.
I am also excited about the progress being made by our MRB1 Space Assignment Taskforce. We are taking a phased approach in determining space assignments. This month the Deans and I will be meeting with the first of several research teams to share the initial results of our “capacity test fit” exercises and clarify the roles and needs of the individual PIs. We expect that a refined understanding will enable us to offer space in MRB1 to additional researchers and teams. We anticipate announcing the initial MRB1 occupants before the end of the quarter. Overall, we anticipate healthy representation of CNAS, BCOE, SOM and CHASS faculty.
We are planning to retain some vacant space within MRB1 to accommodate new faculty hires. In the future, we will also turn our attention to how to best utilize the spaces that will be vacated by research groups relocating to MRB1.
2:1 Freshmen to Transfer Ratio Goal
The May California state budget revise withheld $50 million in UC funding pending the “demonstration of a good faith effort” by UC Riverside and UC Santa Cruz to achieve a 2:1 ratio of incoming California resident freshmen to transfer students “by taking all possible actions.” In 2016-17, the UCR ratio of freshmen/transfers was 4.46, and we are optimistic that we will achieve our targeted ratio of 3.21 in 2017-18 (4500 freshmen/1400 transfer students). The admission of transfer students for Winter 2018 is an important strategy for meeting our target. We’ve received 557 applications for Winter 2018 admission from California resident transfer students and already have 64 SIRs (statement of intent to register).
Our preliminary target for 2018-19 is 1850 transfer students, a very ambitious goal. To meet this challenge, we have developed a plan to increase the number of applications by transfer students for Fall 2018 and Winter 2019, and to encourage admitted students to choose UC Riverside to complete their BS or BA degree. Undergraduate Admissions is working hard to connect with potential students, and we are doing more to make UCR a transfer-friendly campus. We held a special convocation for new transfer students, created the Transfer Zone in the Academic Resource Center (ARC), and provide support for transfer students as they transition to UCR through peer mentor programs. We have connected with 400 community college instructors and faculty with UCR connections (including many alumni), to enlist their help encouraging students to consider UC Riverside. UCR Departments and faculty can help achieve our transfer admissions goal by strengthening connections with community college faculty and by conducting outreach with potential transfer students on our campus or at the community college.
The Transfer Student Taskforce, chaired by Dean Tom Smith, brings together college Associate Deans, admissions staff and key Senate committee members to identify ways to reduce barriers to transfer student admission. For example, can students who are short just one or two classes required by their major be admitted conditionally with the expectation that they complete the required courses in their first quarter at UCR? Departments and colleges are examining changes in their admissions requirements to allow more students to qualify for admission to their programs. As changes are made, it will be important to assess their impacts on student performance so that we can ensure the students we admit are successful and complete their degrees in a timely manner.