Theme 3 - The Academic Master Plan

Theme Leads: President Wong, Trevor Getz, Lawrence Hanley, Jose De La Torre,

Amy Sueyoshi, Allen Leblanc, Nan Boyd, Kory Ching, Sameer Verma, Ray Trautman

 

This theme will examine the essential elements of SF State’s academic infrastructure in light of new institutional aspirations and 21st century contexts.  It analyzes our processes of academic renewal with the recognition that student learning and achievement depend on it.  Key questions in this area include:

  • What academic reputation do we aspire to have and in what ways can we cultivate it?
  • What is the appropriate emphasis of teaching, research and scholarly activity, and service within the retention, tenure and promotion process?
  • Is a standard 3/3 teaching load appropriate for all faculty or should we consider workload alternatives that are more adaptable?
  • What is the ideal proportion of Tenure/Tenure-Track and lecturer faculty?
  • Are current departmental configurations and degree programs serving us well and likely to continue to do so in the future?
  • What areas might be developed as SF State signature programs and what programs might we consider transitioning away from?
  • How might we make the most effective and strategic use of new tenure-track lines?
  • How many students can SF State effectively serve?
  • What is the appropriate balance between undergraduate and graduate programming?
  • Are existing governance structures and practices serving us well and can they be improved?

 

Go to Theme 4 - Physical Master Plan

 

 

Comments

Submitted by Trevor Getz on

I'm looking forward to having a really constructive conversation on many of these questions. One of the most important part of the process may be finding ways to elicit contributions from faculty around campus who have good ideas about building academic programs. We see the opportunities on the ground, we have ideas, we identify possible solutions and opportunities. Of course, it's a little bit hard to put one's self forward, but we have to take this opportunity.

I have a few ideas myself, just going into this project. One is that we should look for ways to extend academic programs outside of the classroom into exciting faculty-student ventures like "incubators" or additional internship and other relationships with both private companies and public bodies in the bay area.

I also think, if we're going to be relying so much on lecturers, that we should all have a collective rethink about what it means to be a lecturer. I read an interesting Northwestern U. study recently showing that lecturers are very effective teachers (no surprise there), and we need to think of ways to enhance these members of our community.

It's also important that we set up clear messaging as to how importance service (in particular) is to the RTP process. We can't run this university without shared governance, yet clearly the importance of teaching and research means that service seems to take third place.

Also, I'm interested in looking at synergies in grad programs. Can we construct multi-disciplinary or interdisciplinary grad programs -- "cultural studies" spanning several disciplines comes to mind. I'd like to also look at exploring the idea of making some grad programs more project-oriented rather than thesis-oriented.

Finally, I think we need to pool our resources to identify academic programs that have a great impact on student success -- including but not only Metro Academy.

These are just a few thoughts with which I'm starting.

Submitted by Sarah Curtis on

Because SFSU is in a desirable part of the country, it has had the opportunity to hire a t-t faculty that is more research oriented in the past. I think the university needs to think about how it can support those agendas (now that the budget is in recovery) through funding opportunities and course releases. The lecturer/t-t balance is too weighted towards lecturers whose opportunities to do research are severely limited. We need both to increase t-t hiring (and encourage present lecturers to apply for those positions) and think about ways to support lecturers. In terms of undergrad/grad balance in programs, departments with strong graduate programs should be given the resources (including increased funding opportunities for students) to keep them strong.

Submitted by Barbara Holzman on

These are all important questions to be asking and for us to be discussing. I hope the Strategic Planning Group will keep APC informed as they are currently constructing a process for 7th cycle review and imagining program standards and guidelines. It would be helpful if there was interaction between the two groups. I would also like to see a discussion on what constrains faculty in their teaching, in terms of physical and bureaucratic infrastructure. For example, a 50 minute class MWF might constrict a faculty’s ability to provide content and incorporate interaction with students, while a 75 minute cycle 2 days a week might be better able to facilitate learning in some cases. What are the constraints put on faculty by scheduling? Can we imagine other models for classroom time? Faculty are doing it and making do, could we better use our classroom spaces that allows for flexibility and varied teaching strategies? The way large lecture halls are constructed without middle aisles or the ability for students to move around in there seats for small group discussions or pair sharing. Can we envision better spaces, perhaps even some outdoor learning spaces to take advantage of our environment? Are varied ways of teaching and learning being constricted by arcane physical and bureaucratic infrastructure? Would envisioning the future allow us to envision these changes as well?

Submitted by Catherine Kudlick on

We need to define 'rigor' in flexible ways that account for colleagues to be approaching scholarly achievement using multiple paths that may vary over the course of an academic career - some times we're throwing ourselves into teaching, others into research, others into service both on and off campus. Most immediately, measuring success purely in quantitative terms can be problematic, a kind of 'publishing/teaching to the test.' It would be great to understand scholarship in terms of research and publishing yes, but what about research that has leads to measurable outcomes in community service or devising courses that really light a spark for our students. Ideally, it must be some combination of these because at a place like State they should feed one another. Wouldn't it be great to be known as a place that had high, valued standards in all three areas, and that this really meant something.... I've focused on the faculty side, realizing that this is only part of the issue - it's where my mind is as I'm starting to review RTP files and writing tenure and promotion letters for colleagues elsewhere.

Submitted by Mari Fong on

The American Language Institute
SF State College of Extended Learning and International Affairs
Response to Strategic Plan Draft Fall 2013
Theme 3: The Academic Master Plan

• ALI has a 52 year reputation for teaching and curriculum excellence. The ALI provides the campus with well-prepared international students who can handle not only their course content but also the diverse methods of teaching and learning they engage in. ALI also prepares these eventual SF State students by exposing them to important aspects of campus culture: diversity, openness, and social justice.

We feel there is an opportunity for the campus to offer faculty some training in understanding their international students and their particular challenges. This does not mean teaching differently, but instead becoming aware that some aspects of the American university classroom are unfamiliar and thus challenging for some international students.

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• The ALI is strongly connected to the 50 year old MA Program in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) in the English Department. We feel strongly that is an extremely important Signature Program. Every year, it prepares hundreds of serious, thoughtful, and distinguished English teachers for teaching positions in the local area, including in this university’s Composition for Multilingual Students, the country, and overseas.

This university’s MATESOL program is internationally recognized, well-respected, and sought after by future teachers. However, the program and faculty have been decimated by multiple faculty retirements whose positions have not been filled. Currently, not all courses are offered every semester, forcing some students to leave the program prematurely or postpone their graduation. This reduction of course offerings and simultaneous increase in class size is doing great damage to this Signature program and its national and international reputation.

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Submitted by Mari Fong on

College of Extended Learning and International Affairs’ (CELIA) Leadership Team’s Responses to the Strategic Planning Coordinating Committee Themes

Theme 3 – The Academic Master Plan

What academic reputation do we aspire to have and in what ways can we cultivate it?
 Academic excellence
 The City’s university
 Social justice
 Cultural equity
 A strong international component – this should be incorporated at all levels, from tenure and retention to student support

What is the appropriate emphasis of teaching, research and scholarly activity, and service within the retention, tenure and promotion process?
 n/a
--Is a standard 3/3 teaching load appropriate for all faculty or should we consider workload alternative that are more adaptable?
 n/a
--What is the ideal proportion of Tenure/Tenure-Track and lecturer faculty?
 n/a

Are current departmental configurations and degree programs serving us well and likely to continue to do so in the future?
 Need more self-supporting degree programs
 Address more underserved populations

What areas might be developed as SF State signature programs and what programs might we consider transitioning away from?
 CELIA signature programs: Paralegal Studies, American Language Institute, media, music/recording industry and clinical trial design programs

How might we make the most effective and strategic use of new tenure-track lines?
 n/a

How many students can SF State effectively serve?
 Can grow capacity when more dorms, enhanced student services and updated infrastructure are in place

What is the appropriate balance between undergraduate and graduate programming?
 80/20 or 75/25
 San Francisco remains a destination campus for undergraduates

Are existing governance structures and practices serving us well and can they be improved?
 Once major changes are made and implemented, go back and review and assess, i.e., track whether the change was successful or not
 Increase participant pool for ad hoc committees

Submitted by Mari Fong on

FEEDBACK ON STRATEGIC PLAN THEMES
from Staff in Academic Resources, Faculty Affairs and
ProfessIonal Development and the Provost's Office

THEME 3Academic Master Plan
1Continue to be a leader in accessible info and facilities.
2Look at impact of classes on T/TH and available space for students. Peak load T/TH mid-day affects everything -- classes, parking, traffic, etc. Is this the case at other CSU campuses? How can we get better utilization of campus on MWF, especially F?
3Can we develop more revenue-generating programs? CEL programs? more international students?
4There is a need to investigate whether the RTP requirements create a conflict of interest between pedagogical excellence & development and research; is the RTP appropriate given the student population we serve and the special needs they present?
5Explore multi-pathed approach to RTP-whereby various requirements could offer alternatives.

Submitted by Mari Fong on

Academic Technology Staff Strategic Planning Notes
(compiled from four separate listening sessions held in October with all AT staff, facilitated by AVP Brian Beatty and AT Director Maggie Beers)

Theme 3: Academic Master Plan
•At SF State we are five miles away from really good jobs in Computer Science and we are not really prepared for the industry. The reason is that grad and undergrad courses are paired and the only difference is that the grad gives an extra presentation.
•How do we keep up with a fast changing field? In many departments the field has transformed because of technology (museum studies, computer science, etc.) but the curriculum and resources have not necessarily done right by their students in keeping up to date. The technology strategic plan needs to ask how we, as a central technology unit, can support those types of discipline specific activities in addition to supporting infrastructure.
•Staff members feel disenfranchised since the university removed their ability to teach courses a few years ago. When staff were denied the ability to teach, they felt left out and no longer valued as part of the teaching community. Teaching allows staff, especially Academic Technology staff, to share a campus perspective and gain an understanding of the business of the university.
•Staff and administrators should be allowed, encouraged, or even obliged to teach. This allows us to be on the inside conversation, “eating our own dog food” in terms of the services we provide.
•It’s important to be able to hang on to the teachers who are great in the classroom. We need to look at the balance of the teaching load and research activities. Does the university want them to focus on research or on their passion for teaching?
•How can we support incubator spaces and innovative teaching? There is a lot of policy regarding enrollments, scheduling, etc. It goes back to the student success issue. If students are successful, but not employable, then that is not success. We need project based, real life teaching approaches that excite the students and make the content seem relevant.
•21st century contexts. Digital Literacies.
•The campus needs to focus more on multi-literacies. Literacies take many forms and modalities in the 21st century. We need to cut through the buzz of text, image, video, expression and get to the core message and see the connections.
•We need to allow options for expression and representation. If one faculty member wants to express themselves through research, another through teaching, another through paragraphs or video, they should be allowed to do that. There are options, and students and faculty need a choice to express themselves.
•The campus needs to address the “either-or” message on our campus. There is unilateral, blanket thinking across campus, such as “I don’t allow any computers in my classroom.” “Online learning doesn’t work for our students.”
•Why are faculty threatened or discouraging people from using computers? We need to look at why they are drawn to their computers, why they don’t feel connected to the moment in class.
•One of the key pieces is the ubiquitous connection. It’s difficult to disconnect, which isn’t such a bad thing. If I give some time during class to take care of a family text, I’m also giving back some of my family time to the university when I take care of some work during off hours. Faculty need to understand that, and not try to control the student experience so much.
•All of our tools are self-contained, one thing that could help support this type of learner could include a Twitter Feed or Facebook.
•Would like staff to be able to teach and do research. When the opportunity for staff to teach in regular courses was unilaterally rescinded a few years ago, that was a big loss to the academic program and to the staff morale; felt deeply by many. It helps people stay connected to the community. You walk across campus and there are your students, you work with fellow faculty, it provides a common experience to share with faculty and students.
•Digital WPAF files and ways to help capture their experiences in iLearn.
•Need to be aware of the challenges of 3/3, 4/4 and 5/5 course teaching loads.
•The campus could further the connections between feeder schools and sister schools. How can we facilitate transfer from these schools? We could look to the Metro Academies work and other outreach programs here on campus.

Submitted by Deborah Cohler on

Statement on Strategic Planning from the Women and Gender Studies Department:

San Francisco State University has a long and impressive history as an academic and cultural center for our city and as an intellectual and activist catalyst for the nation. This history includes the leadership demonstrated by students, faculty and staff during the Third World Strike of 1968 and continues today through our community partnerships, student organizing, faculty innovations, alumni accomplishments, transnational connections, and the unique character of our campus body. As an institution and a community, we are at our strongest and our best when the administration honors the collective governance of students, staff and faculty. We urge the President and the strategic planning committee to build on these strengths.

A primary historic strength is our campus’s shared mission of social justice. When we reference SFSU’s commitment to “social justice” we are not satisfied with simple rhetorics of diversity, but insist upon a lively intellectual and political engagement with concepts such as citizenship, community, redistribution, equity, and identity. As scholars of women and gender studies, we understand social justice as a project steeped in histories of uneven power relations on local, national and global scales. We understand the importance of historical perspectives, coalitions, and collaborative, strategic decision-making in efforts to move institutions forward, even while under economic or political pressures. In the spirit of our campus mission of social justice and critical participation, the Women and Gender Studies Department offers the following observations and suggestions to the strategic planning effort.

While we understand the logic of dividing such an effort into seven themes, the intersecting issues among the themes required a single response to the critical issues facing our campus today.

Maximizing student success cannot be divorced from issues of institutional support and economic justice: the most pressing concern for our students’ ability to succeed is not only affordability or streamlining academic programs, but fostering the economic conditions that enable students to focus on their studies and not on their subsistence. Student success is not defined by the speed at which students can race through their studies, but by the quality of the education they experience while at SFSU. It is impossible for students to graduate in a timely manner when they are working 20-40 hours per week.

Instead of focusing on increasing philanthropic support we suggest focusing on increasing public support as an institution of public education. This would mean, to start, turning our focus to demanding increased state support; lobbying for increased student grants rather than loans; reducing tuition to levels previous to the budget crisis; and rethinking the full-time requirement for student scholarships and tuition waivers.

The Women and Gender Studies Department supports community partnerships that advocate for economic justice: these include campaigns to increase the minimum wage and to support immigrant rights. When wages are stagnant (locally, statewide, and on campus), students, staff, and faculty cannot excel educationally and professionally. We advocate for the working conditions of and professional respect for SFSU lecturers. We applaud the university’s commitment to undocumented students through its commitment to the DREAM Act and administrative and curricular support for all our students, documented and undocumented. We urge the university’s continuing advocacy for all of our students and the ongoing efforts on campus to make the pathways to both citizenship and residency meaningful by ensuring they are safe, accessible and affordable.

Similarly, the academic master plan is intimately tied to the achievement of our institutional goals and our impact on the community. Every day, SF State faculty, administrators, staff, alumni, and students are doing amazing work. We do not need to reinvent academic programs, but rather support and promote the outstanding work already being done at SF State. Community impact should be measured not only through “economic impact” and “morale” but also through the production of knowledge generated by the research and creative projects of faculty. The contributions of our alumni to their community are meaningful and substantial in not just fiscal terms but also non-monetary terms, including creative art, political leadership, community involvement, and engaged professional development.

Faculty research is crucial to the health of a university environment. After years of diminished resources and loss of CSU grants for research and professional development, faculty morale and student success would be improved not through superficial changes (such as the promotion of university songs or color days), but by the reinstallation of assigned time for research, the replacement of lost library books and cancelled scholarly journal subscriptions, smaller class sizes, and increased numbers of tenure-track faculty positions. Our students will succeed with excellent teachers who are professionally supported, not bureaucratically over-taxed, and when they can study and work in a physical environment which supports their studies, and when they receive consistent advising from faculty who are not working other jobs to pay their bills and keep their dependents afloat. Faculty professional activities are not simply the means by which to increase university “prestige,” but rather provide vital connections to intellectual, creative, cultural, and political projects that also makes SFSU faculty more inspired and inspiring teachers. The reshuffling of departments and programs in the recent past has neither saved money, nor served our students, nor increased the academic reputation of our institution. Creating conditions in which our outstanding faculty, students, and staff can do their jobs less encumbered by unnecessary obstructions will strengthen our university by facilitating the knowledge-production and cultural work of faculty and the quality education provided to our students. Such supports will undoubtedly positively impact our students’ success rates and the reputation of SFSU as an outstanding institution of higher education.

We are proud to be members of the SF State community and to carry its mission of social justice forward. In this commitment, we look forward to continuing to build our institution in partnership with President Wong, our students, the SF State alumni, and our colleagues.

Nan Alamilla Boyd, Professor
Deborah Cohler, Associate Professor and Chair
Julietta Hua, Associate Professor
AJ Jaimes Guerrero, Professor
Kasturi Ray, Assistant Professor
Jillian Sandell, Associate Professor
Evren Savci, Assistant Professor
Lisa Tresca, Office Manager

Submitted by Derethia Duval on

These comments were developed by the CPSC counselor faculty.
Theme 3 The Academic Master Plan For the benefit of students who require contact with professors beyond time in the classroom for advising, individual assistance with course material and or connection to research projects etc. tenure track faculty are provided resources and payment for time to devote to these activities that lecturer faculty often do not receive. With this in mind the ideal proportion for T/TT faculty, in most disciplines, should be 65-70% of all teaching faculty. From Academic Employment News: "Really, we are offering less educational quality to the students who need it most," said Ronald Ehrenberg, director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, noting that the soaring number of adjunct faculty is most pronounced in community colleges and the less select public universities. The elite universities, both public and private, have the fewest adjuncts. "It's not that some of these adjuncts aren't great teachers," Ehrenberg said. "Many don't have the support that the tenure-track faculty have, in terms of offices, secretarial help and time. Their teaching loads are higher, and they have less time to focus on students." Ehrenberg and a colleague analyzed 15 years of national data and found that graduation rates declined when public universities hired large numbers of contingent faculty. Several studies of individual universities have determined that freshmen taught by many part-timers were more likely to drop out.

Submitted by Derethia Duval on

Theme 3 The Academic Master Plan For the benefit of students who require contact with professors beyond time in the classroom for advising, individual assistance with course material and or connection to research projects etc. tenure track faculty are provided resources and payment for time to devote to these activities that lecturer faculty often do not receive. With this in mind the ideal proportion for T/TT faculty, in most disciplines, should be 65-70% of all teaching faculty. From Academic Employment News: "Really, we are offering less educational quality to the students who need it most," said Ronald Ehrenberg, director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, noting that the soaring number of adjunct faculty is most pronounced in community colleges and the less select public universities. The elite universities, both public and private, have the fewest adjuncts. "It's not that some of these adjuncts aren't great teachers," Ehrenberg said. "Many don't have the support that the tenure-track faculty have, in terms of offices, secretarial help and time. Their teaching loads are higher, and they have less time to focus on students." Ehrenberg and a colleague analyzed 15 years of national data and found that graduation rates declined when public universities hired large numbers of contingent faculty. Several studies of individual universities have determined that freshmen taught by many part-timers were more likely to drop out.”

Submitted by Mikela Barulich on

Implementing a universal design for learning across all of the curriculum for tenure review and promotion, in addition to requiring tenured faculty to maintain current practices of their field should be essential elements of SF States academic infrastructure. –Posted by DPRC employee on behalf of DPRC

Submitted by Dipendra Sinha on

I wish to comment on the importance of degree programs. SFSU is a publicly funded institution. It is my firm belief that we must keep the interest of the people of this state uppermost in all our deliberations. I feel that engineering education is not receiving the attention that it should receive. This is apparently a hang over from the past - SFSU has been liberal arts institution and in my opinion has done well in that role. But things have changed over the last few decades that no institution (esp. a public institution) can afford to insulate itself. The winds of change blowing all over the world. The world has become 'flat'. The world has become very competitive. Clearly the competition is in the field of technology.
I often snoop in at Harvard website with the intention on spying on them. There is no doubt that they have sensed the winds of change I'm talking about. They are giving tremendous boost to engineering. They have recently started a School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS). SEAS has more than 100 faculty members now.
I see no reason why SFSU should not, in this cycle of academic planning, lay a much stronger emphasis on engineering education and research. We are so close to the Silicon Valley and therefore, we need to prepare well qualified workforce who could actively participate in creating wealth for the state of California and we need to meet the human resource requirements of the likes of Oracle, HP, Intel, .... It is unfortunate that the technology companies have to keep lobbying the Congress to let them hire engineers from other countries in thousands. SFSU can not only meet the needs of the state and the Silicon Valley but of many other developing countries which can not afford to provide appropriate facilities for engineering education at the numerical level they need for their economic progress.
I also see a future where it may be possible to recruit many (many) foreign students. These kids will provide a boost to our resources and enhanced visibility.