Robert R Gamache, Associate Vice President Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and International Relations

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1 Sept 30, 2013 MEMORANDUM FOR: FROM: Robert R Gamache, Associate Vice President Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and International Relations Winston Langley, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs SUBJECT: AQUAD Report for AY Four University of Massachusetts Boston academic programs underwent AQUAD reviews in academic year : the American Studies and Sociology programs in the College of Liberal Arts; the Exercise and Health Sciences (EHS) program in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences; and the Gerontology program in the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies. Our AQUAD program review mandates the measurement of student learning outcomes and the use of assessment data for program improvement. The AQUAD review begins with a comprehensive department self-study that is the basis for the visit by the review team. Within a month of the visit, the team submits its report to the department and dean who then write their responses to the report. Each of our AQUAD reviews concludes with a meeting at which the provost, the dean(s) and department or program chair discuss the recommendations of the review team and agree upon the steps to be taken to improve the program. These concluding substantive conversations are a critical part of our academic program planning. The final planning meeting of the EHS program is being held this October in order to allow full participation of the new chair of the department who joined the University this September. The two Liberal Arts programs final meetings are also being held this fall. College of Liberal Arts American Studies The visit of the American Studies review team took place on March 14-15, The team consisted of Elaine Tyler May, Professor, American Studies, University of Minnesota; Kevin K. Gaines, Robert Hayden Collegiate Professor of History and Afroamerican and African Studies, University of Michigan; and two internal reviewers 1

2 from the University of Massachusetts Boston: Professor Julie Winch, Department of History and Associate Professor Susan Tomlinson, Department of English. The review team reported that the American Studies program has national visibility, a reputation for excellence in scholarship, and a very high level of student satisfaction from both graduate and undergraduate students. They believe that the decline in the number of majors is consonant with national trends, and does not reflect on the quality of the student experience. Assistant professors feel valued by the department, and the team commented on the remarkable cohesion among all the segments of the faculty. The non-tenure track faculty felt that they were respected members of the department and appreciated by the rest of the faculty and the university. The team expressed concern, however, that the majority of the teaching in the department is being done by non-tenure-track instructors. Of additional concern was that the number of joint tenure track appointments with other departments. These joint appointments work well given the transnational and global reach of the faculty, but they do draw faculty away from the department and result in unclear service expectations for some junior faculty. The team recommended more research and travel funds for faculty, more upper level course offerings for majors, better connections with the development and alumni relations offices to keep in touch with graduates, and a need for better equipment and space. Regarding the assessment of student learning, the team thought that the department s assessment protocol was quite advanced. They commented that the department is generally skeptical of quantitative methods of assessment and has developed its own assessment tools that reflect a selfconscious attention to meeting the department s own student learning mission and goals. Sociology The AQUAD review team visited the Sociology department on February 21-22, The external reviewers on the team were Christopher Uggen, Distinguished McKnight Professor of Sociology, University of Minnesota, and Philip Kasinitz, Professor of Sociology, Graduate Center and Hunter College of the City University of New York. The internal reviewers were Stephen W. Silliman, Professor and Graduate Program Director, Historical Archaeology M.A. Program, Department of Anthropology, and Alice S. Carter, Professor and Director of Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Program. The review team was impressed by the momentum and internal cohesion of the department. They thought that the faculty are publishing scholarly monographs and articles in strong journals at an impressive rate. The senior faculty are supportive of the junior faculty and a collegial environment, coupled with favorable teaching loads and research support, provides a major attraction for recruiting faculty. The master s program provides strong training in applied sociology, survey research, and forensic criminology while the new PhD program has a clear focus on identified areas of strength in the department. The team was impressed by the level of commitment to undergraduate students and the department s special efforts to attract and serve a diverse student population. One cause for concern was the large portion of undergraduate teaching done 2

3 by non-tenure track instructors even though these instructors are often cited by students as the best teachers they have had. The team s report suggested that resources for course by course adjuncts could be shifted to multi-year packages to support PhD graduate students with teaching responsibilities. Challenges for the department that the team noted include retaining the excellent new faculty and mobilizing for the significant demands on faculty advising and mentoring from the PhD students. The team felt that the department needed at least two new hires to maintain research excellence with a recommendation that one of them be a faculty member with experience as a graduate program director in a program that has successfully placed PhD students. The team was also concerned that the current space of the department will become even more problematic since with the PhD program there will likely be four-dozen new bodies calling the Department home in the next five years and they will need space to work, learn, and collaborate. Regarding the assessment of student learning outcomes, the team thought that the much of the effort was ad-hoc and short term. The team encouraged more data gathering of students before and after graduation to document the skills imparted by the department and the ways that the curriculum helped graduates gain and perform jobs effectively. College of Nursing and Health Sciences Exercise and Health Sciences The AQUAD review of Exercise and Health Sciences (EHS) took place on June 10-11, The external reviewers were Deborah Riebe, Professor of Kinesiology, University of Rhode Island and Jaci VanHeest, Associate Professor of Kinesiology, University of Connecticut with internal reviewers Professor Reyes Coll-Tellechea, Department of Latin American & Iberian Studies and Associate Professor Amy Rex-Smith, Department of Nursing. The team report notes that EHS began as an undergraduate program with limited focus on research. Since the last AQUAD review there has been a 350% increase in undergraduate student enrollment; an increased curricular focus on health and physical activity as a key preventive strategy for many of today s chronic diseases; hiring of faculty selected for teaching and research potential; and the development of both a masters and a doctoral program. The team cites as department strengths a deep commitment to students; a genuine striving for faculty excellence; committed department leadership; faculty commitment to grant getting and scholarship; and a vibrant student body. Among the concerns that the team had for the department are the need for a clarity of mission and a more defined strategic plan; a departmental structure that fosters leadership and better communication across the department as a whole and within the College. The team felt that clarity of mission is necessary to determine what facilities are necessary in the projected new space planned for the College, and for the important decision of whether it is too ambitious to begin both masters and doctoral programs within twelve months. The team suggested EHS delay the doctoral program until the master s program meets enrollment goals. The team felt the undergraduate curriculum 3

4 should be reviewed and streamlined as the graduate program expands, and that a new hire in the area of nutrition should be considered given the centrality of nutrition in the curriculum. The team commented that in the past ten years the number of tenure track faculty has increased from four to fifteen with nine of the fifteen joining EHS within the past three years. A formal mentoring program is recommended to assist new faculty in understanding and meeting tenure expectations. An area of praise by the team is the way in which the program has established learning goals and assessments to measure these goals. The team report states that the goals are clearly expressed, assessed using multiple techniques, and the program is thoughtfully using the information acquired from these assessments to inform improvements in courses and curriculum structure and to alleviate differences in course sections taught by different instructors. The team suggested the need for more professional advisors and better faculty advising along with an outlined four-year path to graduation to help students navigate the program in a more logical and organized way. The team was concerned that the unique teaching and research needs of an exercise program puts great demands on space and facilities that are currently inadequate. They suggested that the GoKids Center double as a teaching laboratory when youth programs are not in session. A strategic analysis of GoKids was recommended as the space could be reconfigured to house research laboratories to support both undergraduate and graduate programs. In the departmental response to the team report, the new chair agrees that communication within the department and within the College needs to be improved. The department will develop a strategic plan this year to guide the growth of the graduate program and enrollment in the undergraduate program. Faculty sentiment is strongly in favor of delaying PhD enrollment until AY The department is committed to the mentoring of new faculty and will also review service assignments and obligations for new tenure-track faculty. The department is working on advising issues and begun training in the use of MAP-Works, software that has been effectively used at the University to improve student success and retention. EHS is creating a white paper regarding GoKids and this plan will be integrated with the broader strategic plan the department will be conducting. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies Gerontology The Gerontology program review team visit took place on May 3-4, The team consisted of Christine Bishop, Professor, Heller School, Brandeis University, David Ekerdt, Professor of Sociology, University of Kansas, Kathryn Hyer, Associate Professor, School of Aging Studies, University of South Florida, and internal reviewers William Kiernan, Dean, School for Global Inclusion and Social Development and Suzanne Leveille, Professor, Department of Nursing. The team reported that the Gerontology Department has a national profile and contributes to the vitality of the field. Faculty members are productive, engaged, and conscientious 4

5 about teaching and research, and the mater s and PhD programs prepare graduates to assume a range of professional roles. The curriculum is attentive to issues of race, ethnicity and cultural diversity. Gerontology seeks linkages with new and existing PhD programs on campus and is positioned to contribute to the global thrust of the University with faculty expertise in social demography, immigration, and comparative social policies and service systems. The PhD program is the second oldest of seven such programs in the U.S. and is unique in having a focus on social policy. The team believes this has served the students and the region well, and adding an economist to the faculty may strengthen this policy focus. The report states that PhD student time to degree is as good as or better than benchmarks at other schools, but suggest progress can be made through an increase in graduate assistantships. The team reports that the online Management of Aging Services Track (MAS) has an impressive rate and pace of completion with 83% of students completing the degree. The programs revenue more than covers expenses and is a model for other online programs. Courses in this program are taught principally by part time faculty with experience in again services and a survey by students shows high satisfaction with the program. The Gerontology Department response to the team report noted the need to anticipate turnover of senior faculty nearing retirement and requested hiring of positions now to keep the department s momentum. The department noted that it has strengthened the link between the doctoral curriculum and the qualifying paper examination; is reviewing how to handle the increased workload demands from the internship course; is working with the English department to provide more writing assistance for international students; and has established a number of ways for the MAS on line students to be more linked with one another. The collegiate and graduate deans response to the report emphasized the opportunity of moving a good program to greatness. They emphasized investments in faculty, graduate fellowships, marketing, and departmental space as leading to accountable results. They recommended growing the online program substantially because of market demand and as a source of income for expanded graduate assistantships. At the final program review meeting with the provost, deans, and department chair, we agreed on an increase in three additional faculty lines with a suggested focus in the health policy arena. We discussed the possibility of increasing professional staffing to better market and expand the MAS program and we will see how we can support this in the current budget climate. Support for graduate assistantships in the program will continue to be a top priority 5

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