TERRE HAUTE —
Indiana State University is moving forward with plans to establish a University College, an academic unit that will focus on helping first-year students succeed.
The ISU board of trustees approved the proposal Friday.
“The concept of a University College has long been debated on the ISU campus, and it is now time to make it happen,” ISU President Dan Bradley said. “The University College will focus on freshmen and their transition from high school to college.”
The new academic unit would consolidate several areas, including academic services, student advising, the university’s Foundational Studies program and first-year curriculum.
ISU’s Student Success Council “has carefully studied a number of our challenges related to student success and has recommended that we move forward,” said Jack Maynard, ISU provost.
A university task force will be established to develop operating guidelines for the University College, with a report due to trustees at their December meeting. The task force will be jointly appointed by the provost and Faculty Senate chairman.
The university will immediately launch an internal search for a dean of the college. “It’s a statement that we recognize the need to coordinate all of our services, especially advising, for first-year students,” Maynard said. “We want it to be in place for fall of 2013, so there is a lot of work to do to make that happen.”
A major emphasis will be improved advising for freshmen, and one possibility is the use of professional advisers to provide greater access and consistency for students, Maynard said.
Mike Alley, board of trustees president, praised the University College initiative. “I think it’s a critical effort on our part to enhance retention and graduation rates,” he said.
In other action, ISU trustees also approved a $146 million budget for 2012-13, which reflects an increase of just 1.7 percent over this year and includes $1.1 million in internal reallocations to fund priorities and unavoidable increases in utilities and health insurance. This marks the fourth straight year the university has turned to reallocations to fund continued progress in implementing its strategic plan.
“We continue to look for ways to operate more efficiently and to help keep an ISU degree affordable for students and their families,” said Diann McKee, vice president for business affairs.
The budget projects a 2 percent increase in enrollment and a scaled down 1.5 percent increase for in-state tuition that trustees approved last fall.
The new budget projects a 2-percent increase for salary adjustments for faculty, staff and student workers. However, final action on pay raises will depend on actual enrollment figures next fall and the university’s financial situation at the time.
The budget includes a projected 2.5-percent increase in health insurance and provides for no increases in departmental supplies and expenses. It sets aside $11.6 million, or 8 percent of total operating expenses, for academic and need-based aid to students.
It also includes $3 million for repairs and rehabilitation of buildings, which will allow the university to address its most pressing repair needs.
In other action, trustees:
• Approved a $15 surcharge for parking permits purchased in person rather than online; the surcharge does not apply to the purchase of permits during new student orientation or employee orientation. The intent is “to increase efficiency and provide an incentive for online purchases,” according to the university.
“We’re trying to cut down on lines” in the office of Traffic and Parking Services, McKee said.
• Approved a modification of baccalaureate graduation honors standards. Currently, summa cum laude is a grade-point of 3.95 or higher; magna cum laude, 3.8 through 3.94; and cum laude, 3.6 through 3.79.
“These standards are the highest among our peers,” according to the university.
Under the modifications, which take effect next fall, summa cum laude would require a grade-point average of 3.9 or higher; magna cum laude, 3.7 through 3.89; and cum laude, 3.5 through 3.69. Both the Student Government Association and Faculty Senate supported the change, Maynard said.
• Adopted a policy requiring approval of department chairs or deans for the adoption of textbooks authored by ISU faculty.
• Appointed trustee Mike Alley as an unpaid special adviser to the board of trustees while he takes a leave of absence from the board to serve as commissioner of the Indiana Department of Revenue.
It was also announced that three separate committees (or task forces) will be formed, consisting of administrators and faculty, to review policy changes focused on keeping an ISU education affordable. The proposed changes have caused controversy in recent months.
A committee that looks at textbook issues will present recommendations to Bradley by October. Another, which will look at issues related to the structure of the bachelor’s degree, will present a report by Sept. 1. A third will look at academic structure/department size and present a report by Nov. 30.
Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or email@example.com.