2016-2017 Welcome Back!

Dear Colleagues,
Welcome back to another year. I hope you had a fabulous, fun and productive summer. I am thrilled to have faculty back on campus and looking forward to all the good this academic year will bring.  This fall marks the start of my first official year as Provost and I want to extend my sincere gratitude to the Hostos community for the collegiality and support demonstrated throughout the search process.  After participating in the interviews and community meetings that were part of the search process, my passion for our mission and commitment to our community have never been clearer for me.  Throughout the search process, I was frequently asked to share my vision for the college.  Given the interest expressed, I thought it fitting that I begin this academic year by sharing with our community that my vision for our campus is that we foster an environment where student success is at the forefront of everything we do and that every faculty and staff member feels empowered to utilize their talents and skills to provide the best education and services for our students’ success. As I have moved through the faculty ranks, I have had the opportunity to engage with colleagues at all levels of the institution and my experience has proven to me that every person on campus has the ability to make a difference and help our students succeed. It is my firm belief that we will better support student success through strengthening our commitment to developing our culture of continuous improvement. It is this culture of continuous improvement that led to the recent 8 percentage point increase in our three-year graduation rate  (the highest in CUNY) but I want to work together to continue to raise the bar for not only our students, but for ourselves as well.   I am committed to ensuring that our community continue to investigate how to increase our graduation rates while providing students with an excellent education. 
This year promises to be a busy one as our Middle States Periodic Review Report (PRR) is due this spring.  The College has decided to extend our Strategic Plan for an additional year to give us time to complete the review. While the PRR is a compliance document, the work involved to create the report will help identify college-wide priorities for our next strategic plan, which will need to be in place for the 2017-18 academic year. Every year the college selects several initiatives from the Strategic Plan as our focus for the academic year.   This year we will continue with our three priorities from last year: our completion agenda, streamlining advisement services across the three divisions, and developing additional pathways between degree and non-degree programs. Last year, we completed many activities in support of our completion agenda but one notable activity was an expansion of our SI activities with the implementation of a pilot SI program in our developmental English classes.  This pilot will continue to be funded this academic year.    Within advisement, our division actively collaborated with SDEM and CEWD to form a cross-divisional committee with representation from all relevant areas.  The group has been meeting regularly to explore the standardization of advisement materials and to identify stumbling blocks for students so we can institutionalize procedures and processes that will better guide students through graduation. Much more information will be forthcoming on this ongoing initiative.  To strengthen the pathways from non-degree to degree programs OAA collaborated with CEWD to develop a pathway in a construction technology management degree.  Several courses have already been created and this year we will continue to work on developing the program.  
Within our division, we have a couple of additional priorities. The first is strengthening our assessment process. Our Assessment Fellows have been wonderful this past year and will continue working with us this upcoming year. They have provided much support and guidance as the units and departments have been working through the Academic Program Reviews. Our next major hurdle is to systematize our course-level, general education and program-level learning outcome assessments. The Institutional Assessment Plan that was created a few years ago has not proven manageable in implementing nor has it provided useful data to inform our practices. In alignment with our commitment to continuous improvement, we needed to rethink how assessment occurs.  In support of that, I have asked every department to create a common course-level assignment and rubric or assessment tool. The assignment will include the assessment of one or two program-level learning outcomes and one or two general education learning outcomes. We have been examining software options that will enable faculty to upload these assessments. Using the software will provide faculty and departments to examine data to make informed curricular decisions. For instance, a department can compare their students’ growth in a specific learning outcome from an introductory course to the final course in a degree sequence. Faculty will be able to see if students do better in a major course in their program if they have taken a specific general education course prior. We have seen a couple of very exciting tools that will provide helpful data to inform our practice and curricula. Before purchasing the software though, we need to have the assessments developed.
Another new development is the creation of a liberal arts committee chaired by Professor Linda Hirsch. All our degree programs have a coordinator except for our most populated degree- our Liberal Arts AA degree. For the most part, our students are advised by our various advisement offices but students still need faculty to provide guidance and the program needs the same care, assessment, and ownership our other degrees have within departments. Therefore, Linda will be the official coordinator of the program and will be supported by faculty representatives from Natural Science, Mathematics, Humanities, Behavioral and Social Science, and English.
For close to 50 years Hostos has been a leader in educating citizens living in the South Bronx and across the five boroughs of New York City. A central tenant of our mission is dedicated to promoting social justice and upward socio-economic mobility through the pursuit of higher education. As such, as a campus we have a responsibility to provide a forum for our students to safely address some of the issues and rhetoric related to race and social-justice that have been part of the recent national dialogue.  While the Office of Academic Affairs is currently collaborating with other divisions on campus to coordinate a campus-wide effort to provide safe-spaces for dialogue, the classroom provides a rich opportunity to assist students with reflection and expression.  OAA is in the process of creating a SharePoint with some resources to consider when developing curricula for the new academic year and where faculty can upload additional resources to share with their colleagues. We will forward information on the SharePoint as soon as it is available.  
There is so much more to share so please look out for the upcoming issue of the Academic Scoop to read about the wonderful student and faculty achievements that happened this summer. We also hired four new faculty this past week so please introduce yourselves to them if you see a new face on campus. You can meet them officially at a reception in their honor on September 15th.  I look forward to seeing you all around campus. 
Enjoy the first day of classes!

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