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Faculty Senate meeting unravels mixed intuitions about UALR future

Submitted by Alexis Williams on February 17, 2013 – 9:29 pmNo Comment

UALR’s latest Faculty Senate meeting was the site of polar opinions, as Chancellor Joel Anderson and newly-appointed Provost Zulma Toro-Ramos issued powerful announcements pertaining to the state of the university.

The latest Faculty Senate meeting, held on Jan. 25 in the Donaghey Student Center’s Ledbetter Hall, could hardly be labeled “ordinary.” Not only did Anderson make an appearance, but he introduced to the Faculty Senate new provost Zulma Toro-Ramos.

“I am really happy to share with you [all] that I am really impressed,” Toro-Ramos said. “You should be very proud of what you have accomplished as an institution of higher education.”

Anderson made several reports about the state of our university.

“Bad news first: enrollment is down again, 3 percent from a year ago. When the dust settles, we’ll start looking at the implications of that. Other institutions are growing, and we’re not. They’re getting a bigger piece of the higher education pie,” Anderson said.

“There are storm clouds on the horizon, uncertainties that we face,” Anderson continued. He forewarned that the university would come to deal with several controversial higher educational issues: guns on campus, funding and and state income tax cuts. “Don’t be surprised if there are a lot of fireworks and exciting rhetoric [surrounding these issues].”

“Now the good news: West Residence Hall, the Nanotech building, and the Student Services building were all LEED-certified at the gold level,” Anderson reported. LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is used to verify the sustainability of buildings.

With more positive information, Anderson told the faculty that online courses had brought additional funds to UALR. “We’ve been moving strongly in a good direction,” he said.

The chancellor eventually addressed the undergraduate curriculum when he ventured to question its “simplicity and flexibility”. He told the Senate that in the 2011- 12 school year, the average time for UALR student to earn a degree was nine years.

“We serve a very heterogeneous student body,” he elaborated. “With almost 70 percent of our students transfer, we need a curriculum that is both simple and flexible.”

Provost Toro-Ramos spoke of significantly more positive news. She announced certain new changes that would arrive by 2014; she believes instructors and administrators play a pivotal role in supporting student success, and they should be involved in the process of change.

“I look forward to working with everyone here,” Toro-Ramos said. “I have found that the faculty and staff of UALR, and the people of Little Rock, are very warm and charming … like we are in Puerto Rico.”

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