Published May 15, 2014
Provost Charles F. Zukoski met with faculty and staff from the Graduate School of Education and the School of Social Work last week to outline next steps regarding the university’s two signature initiatives and field questions from colleagues.
They were the last of 12 “Provost’s Decanal Conversations” hosted by the deans of each UB school over the past month. The meetings drew 700 faculty and staff from across the university. At each presentation, the provost described the key elements of Communities of Excellence and curricular distinction, and explained how faculty and staff input helped to shape the university’s plans to achieve our goals.
“Through our discussions, we have reached a series of conclusions regarding where we want to go as a university,” Zukoski stated. “These conclusions reflect our internal aspirations and desires.”
Zukoski said UB is making significant progress in achieving its three main objectives: building a strong, diverse faculty; recruiting, educating and graduating talented, diverse and successful students; and investing in state-of-the-art infrastructures.
“The core recommendation is that we build on our infrastructure, our history, and the student and faculty strength that we have in place,” Zukoski said. “We are fortunate to be experiencing modest growth in our budget at UB. However, excellence will be largely achieved by those of us who are here right now.”
Achieving the objectives of UB 2020, Zukoski said, will enable UB to impact society’s greatest challenges, become a leading global presence and help the university develop partnerships that enrich the community. A key way the university will pursue these objectives is by establishing two signature initiatives: Communities of Excellence and curricular distinction, a series of programs that includes a redesigned general education program.
Communities of Excellence will leverage and grow existing faculty and infrastructure strength. They will bring together faculty, staff and students from across the campus to conduct the “research, creative activities, community engagement, clinical care, education and economic development” needed to fully address the challenge being pursued, he said.
The result, he noted, will lead to “thought leadership” within participating faculty members’ respective disciplines and departments.
The recent call for concept papers for communities drew 98 ideas from faculty across every school. Selected faculty members who submitted concept papers will be asked to develop preliminary proposals over the summer and into the fall semester. A final decision on new Communities of Excellence is expected by mid-December, Zukoski said.
The curricular distinction initiative includes a revision of the general education program, experiential learning, significant international experience and interprofessional education for professional programs.
The vision for a new general education program emphasizes critical thinking, ethical reasoning and internationalization while offering students shared intellectual experiences across the curriculum, communication skills development and core competencies.
“There’s a huge amount of input going into this,” Zukoski said, with 90 faculty and staff members working on the new program. “General education is faculty driven,” Zukoski stressed.
UB’s signature initiatives require a resource plan that builds capacity to achieve unit and institutional goals, he explained. His presentation emphasized that central fund investments must leverage creative uses of UB’s existing base funding to achieve its goals.
In the final segment of the presentation, the provost said excellence is established by expectations held by faculty and staff in their departments and units. He challenged each unit on campus to engage in a dialogue to identify and express what defines excellence in its area.
“The success of this plan depends upon the ambitions and capabilities of the excellent faculty, staff and students we have at UB,” Zukoski said. “We will continue to invest in a manner that best helps them achieve our ambitious goals.”
To watch a video of the provost’s presentation to faculty and staff of the College of Arts and Sciences, and access slides used during the presentation, visit the provost’s website.