May 2, 2008
Arkansas State UniversityĖJonesboro


Greetings! The Convocation of Scholars ceremonies conducted by the various colleges and departments on our campus last month were outstanding. Irene and I attended most of these events, even though we occasionally chose to participate in a different event at the same time when the schedule conflicted. Last year when gatherings were scheduled simultaneously in different locations, both of us tried to attend both luncheons or dinners. We resolved to split up this year so we could stay for the entire program at each event we attended. Congratulations again to all the honorees, and thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make each event memorable for our students and faculty.

Higher Education Summit for Global Development
At the invitation of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, and the U.S. Agency for International Development, I was privileged to attend this week a Higher Education Summit for Global Development held at the State Department. Given the increased emphasis on the internationalization of our campus at Arkansas State, I felt acceptance of this invitation was appropriate. The approximately 250 attendees included higher education leaders from 71 countries and 42 states. The Summit was intended to expand the role and impact of U.S. and foreign higher education institutions in social and economic development throughout the world. The presentations and breakout sessions highlighted emerging and innovative approaches to teaching, research, technology transfer and business development around the world. Each institution was challenged to develop two new partnerships at the meeting.

The opportunities for networking were tremendous. In addition to seeing many old friends and acquaintances from other U.S. universities, the two new special friendships that I developed were with Professor Silas Lwakabamba, the Rector of the National University of Rwanda, and Professor Mai Trong Nhuan, President of Vietnam National University in Hanoi who was introduced to me by my friend Chancellor Jack Hawkins of Troy University, which has already established a partnership with Vietnam National University. Both want to explore partnerships with our campus and to visit us at an appropriate time. Professor Lwakabamba introduced me to President Paul Kagame of the Republic of Rwanda, who was a presenter at the conference and is revered and respected in Rwanda and throughout Africa and the world for uniting the country with a democratic government following the genocide that occurred there a few years ago. I also had brief conversations with Secretaries Rice and Spellings, and with Sam Pitroda, Chairman of the Knowledge Commission of India, and Ismail Serageldin, the Director of the amazing New Library of Alexandria, Egypt (http://www.bibalex.org/English/index.aspx). A complete summary of the proceedings at the Summit will be posted on the USAID web site next week. See http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/education_and_universities/summit/.

Maj. Gen. Granger to Speak at Commencement Ceremonies
In just a few days, on May 10, Arkansas State University-Jonesboro will conduct its Spring Commencement Ceremonies in the Convocation Center. The morning ceremony will recognize the achievements of students in the Colleges of Agriculture, Business, Engineering, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Sciences and Mathematics. The afternoon ceremony will recognize students in the Colleges of Communications, Education, Fine Arts, and Nursing and Health Professions, along with the University College and Regional Programs.

We are delighted this year to have as our commencement speaker a 1976 alumnus who has a very high position of responsibility in our nationís military. Maj. Gen. Elder Granger, M. D., a native of West Memphis, currently serves as executive officer of TRICARE Management, the health care provider for the military. In this role, he serves as principal advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Defense regarding health care for more than nine million Americans worldwide. Before returning to duty in the U.S., Maj. Gen. Grangerís overseas assignments included Commander for the Task Force 44th Medical Command, and Surgeon for the Multinational Corps in Iraq from 2004 to 2005; Commander/Command Surgeon for the Armyís Europe Regional Medical Center in Heidelberg, Germany, from 2002 to 2004; and Commander, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, from 1999 to 2001.

Dean Susan Hanrahan and I first visited General Granger last year while we were in Washington, D.C., to develop support for the Beck PRIDE Center on our campus and the more we learned about him and his world-wide excellent reputation in military circles, the prouder we became of his accomplishments and the fact that he received his undergraduate education and Army commission right here at ASU. We are delighted he will be joining us on May 10.

Board of Trustees to Consider Recommendations
Later this month, on May 27, the ASU Board of Trustees will convene to consider several items for Jonesboro and the other ASU campuses. The meeting, which was originally scheduled for May 9, was postponed because of the recently announced reduction in the state revenue forecast for Fiscal 2009 and the resulting adjustments we had to make in preparing our budget for the next fiscal year.

By now, most of you will have already learned through your various constituency representatives on the University Planning Committee how our budget plan, which was almost ready, had to be modified in several ways to make it conform to the new revenue forecast. Modest cost of living increases will be included in the new budget, but several reductions in supplies and services budgets and other areas were necessary to bring the budget into balance. We are very optimistic that economic indicators will improve quickly and the stateís revenue forecast will be revised upward. However, we urge everyone to minimize travel expenses, use of supplies and services, and to utilize every reasonable effort to minimize energy use and expense.

Each year at this time, the administration makes recommendations to the President and Board of Trustees concerning faculty promotions and tenure. While it would be premature to identify the faculty members by name prior to the Board meeting, I commend those individuals whose professional achievements have brought them to this very important plateau in their academic careers. The lists of promoted and tenured faculty members will be publicized after the May 27 meeting. However, Dr. Dan Howard, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research, before commencement is notifying each applicant for tenure or promotion what recommendation is being made to the Board of Trustees.

Changes in Organizational Structure and Names
Several resolutions concerning the organizational structure and names for units in Academic Affairs and Research also will be on the agenda. Our recommendations to the Board of Trustees, if approved, would result in the following:

  • The name of the College of Agriculture will be changed to College of Agriculture and Technology. The justification included in the recommendation is that "Agriculture has been impacted by the influx and application of new technologies during recent years, and we project this trend to continue even more dramatically over the next 15 years. This college name change recognizes the important role of new technologies and their applications in agricultural industry and curriculum."
  • The reporting structure for the Colleges of Engineering and Sciences and Mathematics will be reorganized so that each college reports to an individual dean, effective Jan. 1, 2009.
  • The name of the Department of Nursing within the College of Nursing and Health Professions will become the School of Nursing, effective immediately. The rationale submitted by Academic Affairs and Research points out, "The size of the Nursing Department in terms of programs, students, faculty, and complexity suggests it has moved beyond departmental status . . . Changing to School of Nursing status will allow new, innovative thinking that will foster program growth in current programs." The description of the departmentís size and reach provides further justification for the move. "Currently, the department offers three degrees that lead to RN licensure and four different Masterís Degrees in nursing on four campuses . . . In addition, it graduates the largest number of students who take the RN licensure exam compared to any college or university in Arkansas. ASUJís Department of Nursing has the largest nursing faculty in the state Ė 33 full-time and some 30 adjunct per semester located on four campuses. The department alone will educate some 670 students this academic year."
  • Four organizational areas within the College of Nursing and Health Professions that currently report to a director will report to a department chair. The college will be comprised of a Department of Communication Disorders, a Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, a Department of Physical Therapy, and a Department of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences. The program directors will become department chairs. These changes also will take effect immediately on approval of the resolution.
  • An additional Associate of Science degree will be established to broaden our offerings to meet student interests and the needs of employers who want to hire individuals with at least an associateís degree. The Associate of Science will be awarded to students who are making satisfactory progress toward a baccalaureate degree and have completed the General Education Core plus at least 18 credit hours, 12 of which must be within the academic units that typically award a Bachelor of Science or STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)-based degree, with 64-65 hours total required. In addition to a method for recognizing individuals who reach this level of achievement, we can award the degree retroactively to ASU students who have "stopped out or dropped out" previously but otherwise meet all conditions for the degree. For individuals who have not been able to persist to the bachelorís degree, this will give formal recognition that should be very helpful when seeking employment or promotion.
  • A second proposed degree, the Associate of Arts, will be implemented in a similar fashion for students who have completed the General Education Core plus at least 18 credit hours, of which 12 must be within an academic unit that typically awards the Bachelor of Arts degree. Again, this degree may be awarded retroactively for the same reasons as the other new Associateís degree.

Role and Scope Statement Update
From time to time, the state Coordinating Board for Higher Education asks the state universities to review its Role and Scope Statement for possible revisions that may be needed for a variety of reasons, including accreditation criteria and guidelines and overall good management practices. ASU-Jonesboro has been working on this update process, and is now ready to bring its revised statement to the Board of Trustees for approval at the May 27 meeting. It is available here as an attachment.

Coordinating Board Adopts Recommendation for Formula Revision
At its quarterly meeting last Friday, the stateís Higher Education Coordinating Board adopted a recommended change concerning the funding formula for higher education. This formula change will be applied in the first year of the next biennium, which begins July 1, 2009. Gov. Mike Beebe has been at the forefront of a movement to make productivity a more important part of the funding formula, so the Department of Higher Education has developed a plan that would base 90 percent of funding on census day (11th day) credit hour enrollment and 10 percent on end-of-term completion. Currently the formula considers only credit hours on census day. The Presidents and Chancellors Council that provides guidance and input to the Department of Higher Education looked at this option last month and agreed that this would be a reasonable move for the state.

Changes and an addition in the degree programs offered by the College of Engineering, approved last December by the ASU Board of Trustees, also were approved Friday by the state board. From the time program accreditation was first achieved, the College of Engineering has offered a bachelor of science in engineering degree with concentrations in civil, electrical and mechanical engineering. In response to industry trends and employer demand, each of these areas will be developed into individual degree programs: the bachelor of civil engineering, bachelor of electrical engineering, and bachelor of mechanical engineering. In addition, a masterís degree in engineering management will be implemented.

Best Wishes for a Great Summer
It is difficult to imagine that we are nearing the end of another academic year. This has been a really fine year for Arkansas State University-Jonesboro. I want to thank the entire campus community for your efforts to make this so. The good will, civility and hard work of everyone in our campus community are strikingly apparent and effective. Letís resolve anew to continue to work together as we strive to make further progress on every front. First Friday will resume with the September edition unless there are pressing matters about which I need communicate during the summer months. Irene and I wish each of you a great summer. Take some extra time to enjoy your family and friends, and treasure each day as a special gift.

Sincerely,
Robert L. Potts, Chancellor


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