UT Martin’s chancellor draws on strategic plan

UT Martin’s chancellor draws on strategic plan

Posted: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 1:43 pm

The Messenger 09.08.10
Priorities from the University of Tennessee at Martin’s strategic plan and outcomes-based state funding were the focus of remarks made by UT Martin Chancellor Tom Rakes at the annual fall faculty meeting recently.
Actions related to instructional delivery and curriculum adjustments; campus communications/branding; diversity among faculty, staff and student groups; international initiatives; budget; and compensation issues were among the priorities he discussed.
“Welcome back. I know it is going to be a busy, productive and successful year,” Rakes told the group.
He opened his remarks expressing appreciation to faculty members, thanking them for keeping the university focused on its mission and providing students with the mentoring and guidance they need. Rakes also thanked staff members and others who provide leadership and service across the campus.
In discussing instruction and curriculum, he said, “We are going to continue to study, from a data basis, where our online programs may be most effective.” As an example, he cited the new undergraduate program in business management with an enrollment that has doubled in one year. Rakes said online graduate programs in education continue to grow and the demand for online offerings in agriculture has shown a noticeable increase.
“Our academic units continue to adjust curriculum offerings,” he said, adding that changes will be reviewed to make sure the delivery is appropriate.
Another change relating to restructuring entry-level mathematics classes and no longer offering developmental courses is also being studied for implementation in fall 2011. He said that on-campus academic programs continue to evolve to meet a broad range of needs, and there are extensive renovation and new construction projects under way to accommodate them. Finally, he added that instructional delivery matters also involve managing growing student interests and needs at off-campus centers and dual-enrollment programs, two segments significant to enrollment.
Rakes spoke of the importance of efforts involving faculty, staff and student diversity, with data reflecting employment and enrollment trends being reviewed. He also pointed to the value of international initiatives, now led by the Center for Global Studies and International Education. A 30-year partnership with Hirosaki University was highlighted as an example of the international programs’ history on campus.
The chancellor also discussed a recently unveiled campus communications/branding campaign that was the result of a lengthy process by a campus committee working with STAMATS Inc., a higher education marketing company. Thirty-two recommendations to enhance how UT Martin is marketed will span the coming months and years. The effort will work in tandem with a plan to improve customer service and process management of services.
In comments related to the university’s budget, Rakes said, “We’re in good shape. We’re getting things done.”
He pointed to the use of one-time federal stimulus funds that enabled the university to secure equipment for academic programs, provide for infrastructure needs and make faculty adjustments.
“We’re still growing in several ways,” he said. “We have to be ready for what could come.”
One of those challenges, he noted, is keeping pace in employee compensation.
The chancellor also highlighted the fact that UT Martin exceeded by nearly 100 percent its original goal in the Campaign for Tennessee, a $1 billion fundraising campaign to enhance programs of excellence at all of the university’s campuses and institutes.
“I thank so many of you who continue to join our alumni and friends with ongoing financial support,” Rakes said.
Attention was also shared as to the importance of civic engagement and service-learning types of outreach including a variety of internship and professional leadership experiences.
Finally, he reviewed the outcomes-based funding model that will be used to determine state assistance for higher education in the future. Performance weights for categories such as the number of bachelor’s and master’s degrees granted, number of students who transfer to other institutions, enrollment levels and quality of the student body will all serve as factors in the funding formula. Factors related to retention and research/outreach are also included in the outcomes formula.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the job you do,” Rakes told the faculty group.
He added that he recognizes the quality and professional expertise faculty showcase daily and added that the university community has every reason to be positive, hopeful and take pride in the students, alumni, faculty and staff.

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