Riverside, Ca –

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you all had a restful winter break and had the opportunity to relax and recharge with family and friends. We’re so lucky that while our colleagues on campuses across the country are dealing with cold, snowy weather, “winter” at UCR feels more like summer – which will be here before we know it! Thinking of summer, now is a great time to start thinking about the many ways faculty and students can use the coming months to prepare. At UCR, the average time to degree for undergraduates is about 4.25 calendar years, meaning many of our students are just a few summer courses shy of finishing in four years. Summer session enrollment can really help students graduate on time and help UCR improve our 4-year graduation rates. Encouraging students to enroll in summer courses early in their studies can help them stay on sequence after dropping a course, work toward adding a minor or provide future flexibility to take advantage of study abroad or internship opportunities. The return of summer Pell grants will also make summer session attendance this year more affordable.


Even so, for financial or other reasons many students will find it beneficial to spend summers away from Riverside and could benefit from taking a UCR course online, especially in lieu of enrolling in a course from another institution. We’re already looking forward to an increase in online course offerings for summer 2018 and encourage interested faculty to begin thinking about an online or hybrid course for summer 2019. Though online courses are not for every instructor or student, there is growing evidence that when properly designed and implemented, the outcomes of online courses are as good as is achieved through in-person instruction. Nationally, more than one in four undergraduates complete at least one online course as a part of their degree, and online instruction is on the rise at the other UC campuses. Interested faculty may wish to consider a proposal to the UC ILTI program for the upcoming 4/2 deadline.


Conversation with Dr. Bridget Burns, Executive Director of the University Innovation Alliance


Please join us for a public conversation with Dr. Bridget Burns on Friday, January 19 from 2:30-4:00 PM in the Genomics Auditorium. Dr. Burns is the Executive Director of the University Innovation Alliance (UIA), a group of eleven public research universities working together to improve access to education and degree completion for first generation and low-income students through cross-campus collaboration and innovation. UCR is a founding member of the UIA and we’re currently working on several UIA projects including MAAPS, a Department of Education-funded study of advising practices. This event will provide insight into those projects, and continue our ongoing campus conversation about UCR’s role in shaping the future of higher education around access and excellence. I hope you can make it!


Student Success Center Updates and Open Forum


We are moving forward with the planning for our new Student Success Center. To date, we’ve selected Steinberg Hart as the master architectural firm that will guide the initial development of our building plan. We have also convened a Student Success Center working group with student, staff, and faculty representatives from across campus. You can find the membership on our Ongoing Projects page. This group is building on the excellent feedback the campus provided through the April 2017 workshop and surveys.


Our master architects will be on campus hosting an open forum on January 17th from noon to 2:00 PM on the upper plaaz patio of the HUB an (just outside Coffee Bean). Please drop by at any point throughout the forum and weigh in on our classroom, student affairs, and advising space needs. Your feedback is crucial to the success of this building plan.


Enrollment Update


As you know, UCR admitted its largest incoming class ever this fall, bringing our total campus enrollment to just over 20,000 undergraduate students and over 23,000 students total. We also set a record for fall applications which totaled 60,385, an increase of 12.4% from fall 2017 and the highest percent increase in the UC system. We set similar records with our transfer applications, increasing by 13.2% and again, leading the UC in percent increase. This increase in applications reflects UCR’s status as a campus of choice where students know they will participate in world-class research while receiving the support needed to succeed.


We’re also welcoming a new cohort of winter transfer students to campus this year. Allowing students to start in winter has huge benefits for students who complete their community college studies in the fall semester. We currently have more than 200 new winter transfer students enrolled, putting us that much closer to reaching our 2:1 freshman-to-transfer ratio goal.


Website Platform Transition


UCR is in the midst of adopting a new content management system (CMS) that will allow us to create mobile-responsive, modern-looking websites that can be more easily edited and updated. I encourage you to see this transition as an opportunity to think deeply about how you are presenting your department, program, center or lab to the world. Don’t just pick up your current content and try to move it all to the new CMS; take the time to evaluate your overarching communication goals, your primary audience, and their main informational needs. As you think about articulating these communication goals, focus on how to convey them visually – on the web a picture (or a video) really is worth a thousand words.


Luckily, we do not have to face this transition alone! ITS and University Communications have developed a new training and resources site to help you identify your unit’s organizational lead for the transition (also called a Site Factory Manager), develop your web content strategy, and learn how to use the new platform. They will also be running a series of trainings in the coming months, all of which you can learn about here.


Student Engagement Opportunities


Finally, I want to remind everyone of the many excellent engagement and enrichment opportunities we have for students. Winter is the time to start preparing for summer opportunities and UCR’s Student Engagement team is hosting a range of workshops throughout the winter to help prepare students for summer fellowship, internship, and research opportunities. Whether students are interested in applying for a mini-grant to conduct faculty-mentored research, an internship in D.C., Sacramento, or closer to home, or present their research at the Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Symposium, the Office of Undergraduate Education can help them get started this winter.