Dear WVU Faculty and Instructors:
As we gear down for the Thanksgiving holiday, I wanted to share some updates from the Office of the Provost. I don’t have to tell you that this has been another tough semester, as we continued to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19 and its impacts on classroom attendance, research, engagement activities and so much more.
But despite these ongoing challenges, there is much to celebrate this holiday season. I’m pleased to be able to share some good news in today’s Provost’s message.
The following includes quick reminders and more detailed updates about:
- Student recruitment and retention
- University Testing Center
- PSAs from PSAs
- Faculty and leadership development
- Academic Transformation
- International holiday travel
I encourage each of you to continue visiting the WVU Faculty Adjustments for COVID-19 webpage, WVU Faculty and Leadership Development website and the WVU Teaching and Learning Commons website for additional information, resources and support. And remember, each of these messages is archived on the Office of the Provost website for future reference.
Student Recruitment and Retention
Following a challenging recruitment season during COVID, our enrollment numbers for Fall 2022 are looking good. Our Morgantown campus applications are up 31.5% from last year; admissions are up 71.5%; and deposits are up 117.6%. Even more impressive, housing deposits – a true indicator of the student commitment – are up by over 260%. Enrollment numbers at our Beckley and Keyser campuses are also trending ahead.
An increase in enrollment adds to the vibrancy of our college campuses. It also contributes to the bottom line, enabling us to meet our budget challenges and invest in our academic enterprise and people. While the University will continue to face enrollment challenges, due to the decline in the number of high school graduates from our region, this increase is a positive sign that we are moving in the right direction.
We also continue to demonstrate positive outcomes from our student success efforts. This year’s first-time freshmen retention rate of 81.2% is our highest ever – with the exception of last year when we eased our suspension policy during COVID. We’ve also seen an increase in our six-year graduation rate to 63% — up two percentage points from last year. Our faculty and instructors have made a significant contribution to engaging students and helping to keep them here.
I’ve broadly referenced our continued focus on student success initiatives and will have more details about those efforts in future Academic Transformation messages. In the meantime, I want us all to celebrate some of the successes we are already seeing.
For those interested in learning more, please note that the TLC is coordinating a special event to highlight evidence-based teaching practices that are shown to contribute to student success. The half-day, in-person workshop will be Friday, December 10. Attendees will have an opportunity to earn a WVU professional development micro-credential, or WVU Badge, to document their participation and reflection on this event.
Read more about and register for “It’s Not Just One Thing!” on the TLC events calendar by November 29. Due to the interactive nature of the workshop, registration is limited.
While COVID is (finally!) not the focus of my message, it still deserves some mention. Although cases in the state have started to inch up a bit, WVU remains at very manageable levels.
Even more impressive is the increasing rates of vaccinations among our WVU community members. To date, more than 92% of all employees are now vaccinated and almost 82% of our students.
The University continues to host regular vaccination clinics and recently launched opportunities for children ages 5-11 years old to receive the Pfizer vaccine. The pediatric clinics provided more than 900 doses during three clinics, and WVU Medicine opened 1,000 appointment slots.
Our best defense against COVID-19 is for everyone to get vaccinated. We will continue to strongly encourage students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated and wear masks where required.
University Testing Center
WVU’s new University Testing Center opened earlier this fall and has already delivered more than 5,000 tests in just under three months. The new state-of-the-art facility – located in Room B10 of the newly renovated Hodges Hall – offers online testing options for entire classes or individual students in a quiet, convenient, secure space.
Faculty and instructors can book the entire space for course/class exams or open a window of availability to allow students to schedule seats at their own convenience. The room is monitored by security cameras, and proctoring is available.
For more details or to discuss scheduling options, visit the new University Testing Center website or contact Beth Bosley at WVUTestingCenter@mail.wvu.edu. Spring semester is reaching capacity – with nearly 20,000 tests scheduled already – so reach out soon!
PSAs from PSAs
Students in the Presidential Student Ambassadors program have been busy developing “public service announcements” (or PSAs) to share with both prospective and current WVU students. In prior years, these speeches would have been shared in a classroom setting, but the COVID pandemic revealed a new opportunity for the students to record and share them online for a wider audience.
The recordings, which are available on the Presidential Student Ambassadors website, offer peer advice on topics ranging from mental health, campus resources, preparing for exams and advice to first-year students. The PSA speeches are authentic and meaningful, and I encourage you to share them with your students now and in the coming semesters. By the end of the fall semester, there will be nearly 300 recordings available! If you have questions about the program, please reach out to Carolyn.Atkins@mail.wvu.edu.
Faculty and Leadership Development
Of course, it’s that time of year when faculty members begin putting their annual files together in Digital Measures. Whether it’s your first or tenth time, our Faculty and Leadership Development website has resources to help. Recordings of workshops and sessions are available online. Brian Meredith’s Introduction to Digital Measures 2021offers guidance and a refresher on best practices for using Digital Measures. Malayna Bernstein’s Composing a Teaching Narrative for Annual Review and Promotion Filescan be helpful when writing your narrative. Others who are going up for promotion and tenure might want to watch Brian Meredith’s Going Up with Digital Measures 2021.
Other videos cover topics such as student mental health, the mental health of faculty and staff, self-compassion and meditation. These and many more are listed on the Faculty and Leadership Development website.
Academic Transformation Updates
Academic Transformation continues to be a priority for my office. While we have been intently focused on the accelerated program portfolio review, we are earnestly working on more than two dozen programs of opportunity – or those within our current portfolio that demonstrate growth potential.
We have been working with the academic deans to prioritize which of those 30 programs show the most immediate potential and determine what resources would be needed to grow those programs and expand their capacity.
At the same time, we are looking for opportunities to create new academic programs — ones that are attractive to prospective students and that satisfy a need in the market.
Last month, we hosted the University’s first-ever Academic Innovation Summit in partnership with Health Sciences and the Research Office. The event brought together nearly 60 University faculty and staff and community members in a two-day, hackathon-style event focused on “Creating Sustainable Rural Communities.” Three proposals were specifically allocated funding, and the seven other projects were offered the opportunity for planning funding.
And while we continue to work through the first phase of priorities for Academic Transformation, my office is identifying a new set of priorities for the spring semester. We will soon be sharing those with the campus community and on our Academic Transformation website.
International Holiday Travel Reminders
If you plan to travel internationally this holiday season, please be sure to familiarize yourself with the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Any U.S. citizen who is not fully vaccinated and wishes to return to the U.S. by air must submit a negative COVID test taken no more than 24 hours before travel. Additionally, all non-immigrant, non-U.S. citizens must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 to travel to the United States by plane. All fully vaccinated individuals must submit proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than three days before travel. These rules apply to all persons traveling to the United States by air, even if you are returning from a holiday break and have previously been present in the United States for an extended time.
If you have any questions, please contact email@example.com.
As we give thanks this holiday season, I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to thank you . You have continued to impress with your resiliency, determination and focus on student success. You have met and overcome the challenges of COVID-19 and continued to be productive and positive. In short, you have been ideal community citizens and colleagues.
I know that you still have a lot of work to do. But please take some time during this well-deserved break to relax, recharge and enjoy some turkey (or tofurky) with your friends and family. It will be a sprint when we get back, so you’ll need your energy. And of course, stay safe and well.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!