April 2010

Please find below my remarks to the Faculty Senate on Friday, April 16, 2010.

Board of Trustees Curricular Actions

At its meeting this morning the UA System Board of Trustees approved two new UALR programs: the Construction Engineering program and the Shepherd Program in Poverty Studies. These will be presented to the Higher Education Coordinating Board at its meeting later this month.

Accreditation Visits

Since my last Faculty Senate meeting, UALR has hosted the final two accreditation visits of the year – those for the Bowen School of Law and for the Art Department. I was involved in exit interviews in both cases and am pleased to report that both academic units received strong, supportive reviews.

The burden of nine accreditation visits in a single year has been challenging for us this year. However, the accreditation process is very important. We live with our programs day in and day out, and we have a real sense of strengths, challenges, and trajectories for our programs. It is important periodically to bring in objective sets of eyes to affirm, confirm, and guide. The accreditation process helps to ensure the quality of our programs and that we stay aligned with developments in our disciplines.

I am pleased with and proud of the outcomes of the nine accreditation visits this year. Certainly, we have issues which we must address. But the outcomes of the reviews have been positive. And I am very proud of and grateful to the many people across our campus who have shepherded the self-study and site visit processes which demand great amounts of time, energy, and thoughtful reflection.

Strategic Plan Revision Update

As you know, I solicited input earlier this semester from the campus community about our achievements in recent years related to the goals, objectives, and strategies of our strategic plan, UALR: Fast Forward. We received in excess of 550 responses. I have asked Jim Lynch to compile an executive summary of those responses for us to share with both internal and external audiences.

The next phase of the strategic plan revision process will consist of two solicitations. The first solicitation will request your perspectives on what goals, objectives, strategies, and pledges from UALR: Fast Forward we should retain in the revised plan. We have achieved some of our goals; we have decided not to pursue others because of changes in circumstances, priorities, etc. Still others are ongoing pursuits. The first communiqué will ask for your thoughts on which of these we should retain as priorities.

The second request will solicit perspectives on where UALR should be or go in the next 5 – 7 years. What should UALR look like 5 – 7 years from now, and, with answers to that question in mind, what goals, objectives, and strategies should we put in place to help us get there?

You will be receiving these requests within the next several weeks. I anticipate having some preliminary drafts of goals, objectives, and strategies for the revised plan ready for review and response by the time school starts in August.

Sincerely yours,
David Belcher
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

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