New college, faculty changes part of Scarborough’s plan for next five years
Published: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 04:01
Main Campus Provost Scott Scarborough unveiled his five-year plan for the university last month, which lists several changes to the how the University of Toledo supports students, faculty, staff and administrators.
Scarborough said details of the plan will take shape once the university creates several “implementation teams” around each issue to develop action plans and discuss funding requirements.
“That’s the thing about these strategic plans – you never know which part is going to be the big part,” he said. “You think you know, but the better way to look at it is to plant a lot of seeds and see what sprouts.”
Scarborough said the plan creates a “system of higher education” and should attract more students and better serve the students who are already here.
The plan includes several large-scale changes, such as offering more internship opportunities for students, creating a College of Communication, developing entry “portals” for new students, expanding online resources, rethinking teaching practices and developing a new faculty hiring plan.
One of Scarborough’s answers to engaging students is “experiential learning” by increasing opportunities for students to engage in things like studying abroad, internships, service learning and undergraduate research.
Scarborough said UT is doing “pretty well” in stressing applied learning in certain programs such as engineering, however, that has not translated throughout every academic program.
Scarborough said the university will be partnering with Digerati, a Michigan software developing company that will build a program to help students find “internships that lead to jobs.” He said the program will focus on finding mid- to small-sized organizations, especially those that like to hire their interns, and matching them to students.
“Engineering and business, which already have pretty strong programs, they usually have relationships with very large employers,” he said. “What this is going to do, which is something the faculty picked up on before even I did, is this will help humanities’ students.”
College of Communication
Scarborough’s plan includes removing the Communication Department from the College of Language, Literature and Social Science and creating an entirely new College of Communication.
Paul Fritz, the chair of the communication department, said other universities around the country have communication colleges, and he believes a UT college of communication will allow students to use more technology in class and encourage instructors to dialogue about strong curriculum.
He said he has felt very included in the development of the current plan.
“I’m really in favor of it, because it grew out of communication with other faculty members and provosts, so it’s kind of a grass roots thing,” Fritz said.
While a timeline and other details are still in the works, Fritz said he has volunteered to be on the committee that will oversee this process.
“One of the things we’ll do in the implementation process is figure out is how to find the resources to implement this plan,” he said.
The proposed portals are “support structures” that students will enter into as soon as they enroll at the university. Scarborough said they will function more like departments than colleges, and he wants to see a different portal for well-prepared students, under-prepared and average students, online students and adult students.
“The idea is that all of the students coming into the university would come through one of these portals and then, after they declare a major, that portal college would follow the student from beginning to end,” he said. “They’ll be sticking with the student, even if they change their major, such that the advisor is getting you a degree plan that will get you to completion in the shortest amount of time.
Scarborough said new structuring will make accountability clearer at the administrative level, and will help students receive a more consistent experience.
“The reason you want them to stay with the student from beginning to end is because you want these colleges to be thinking about the educational experience that is unique to this type of student, whether it’s appropriate and whether it’s accomplishing the objectives you would want accomplished,” he said.
While Scarborough said he wants to stress growing UT’s percentage of high-achieving students, he also wants to balance the resources provided to those who are underprepared.
The Board of Regents suggested universities begin helping underprepared students as part of their mission, and Scarborough’s plan includes those ideas.
He said the term “underprepared student” doesn’t just mean remedial students – it also includes students who are prepared for college but are behind on only one or two academic areas. Scarborough said he will push more assessments like placement testing and grade comparisons that will help distinguish those students.
“The university right now serves a large portion of the population that shows a certain amount of unpreparedness when they first arrive. That will always be an important part of our mission, and we want to serve those students better,” he said.
Scarborough said he would like to develop the universities online offerings to “expand beyond even our local geography.”
He said the new system, tentatively named UT XNET, would support all of the other colleges and their use of academic technology, similarly to how UT’s current system operates.