University of Florida – UF Strategic Plan

College of Education – Faculty Feedback


Charge to the Faculty

The College of Education’s faculty were asked to provide feedback to President Machen  on the University of Florida’s Strategic Plan by responding to three key questions: (1) What do you like about the strategic plan? (2) What would you like to see changed or added to the strategic plan? and, (3) What would you like to see removed from the strategic plan?

The Process

The College used a variety of mechanisms to solicit and verify feedback from faculty regarding how UF’s Strategic Plan should be revised given the above three questions.

1. Administrative and faculty leaders (four COE deans, five department chairs, and the chair and secretary of the COE Faculty Policy Council) reviewed copies of the UF Strategic Plan, The COE Strategic Plan, and the COE data from the UF Climate Survey to determine areas of concern.

2.  A college wide faculty meeting, attended by about 50 people, was held on September 13, 2004 that was led by Dr. Maureen Conroy and Dr. Hazel Jones, the Faculty Policy Council chair and secretary, respectively. During this meeting, faculty met in small groups to review an executive summary of the UF Strategic Plan. They were asked to address the three key questions.

3. Two subcommittees of the COE’s Faculty Policy Council met and reviewed the strategic plan, the climate surveys, and provided additional faculty feedback (e.g., the Long Range Planning Committee and the Faculty and Budgetary Affairs Committee).

4. To ensure as many faculty as possible had opportunities to provide input, an open faculty forum was held on September 20, 2004 to solicit informal feedback.

5. The information from these four venues was compiled and shared in a draft document with the Dean’s Advisory Group at a retreat held on October 7, 2004. The feedback was discussed and revised. Lastly a summary document of all the above feedback was prepared and shared with the Faculty Policy Council October 11, 2004. All suggestions were incorporated in the summary on pages 2-4, along with comments as to where the suggestions are related to the Summary of Recommendations noted in the UF 2002 Strategic Plan.

Concluding Remarks

We conclude our report by suggesting ways UF’s Strategic Plan needs to be more responsive by including information on goal-setting and accountability as the new plan is implemented.
Summary of COE Faculty Feedback on UF’s Strategic Plan

What do you like about the strategic plan?

1. Not only increase in faculty diversity, but provide the means and support for doing this initiative (e.g., provide more flexibility in conducting searches to attract more diverse faculty) – Recommendation #10

2. Emphasis on intercollege, interdisciplinary collaboration – This is somewhat related to Recommendation #4, but many faculty were concerned that the list of potential programs was too narrowly circumscribed

3. Improved faculty salaries – Recommendation #5

4. Focus on increasing graduate enrollment including financial assistance for graduate students, particularly graduate research assistants – Recommendations #15 & 16

5. Retain the emphasis on building an international focus and provide support for this initiative (including emphasis on recruiting and mentoring international students) rather surprisingly, there does not appear to be a corresponding recommendation, although having an international presence is clearly noted in the Strategic Plan

What would you like to see added or changed to the strategic plan?

1.   Resources

a)      Increase funding for endowed chairs and professorship positions (this should be emphasized) – No recommendation appears to address this issue, which is surprising since meeting this goal is essential for a top-ranked research university

b)      Increase funding for graduate research assistants and fellowships – Another reference to Recommendation #16

c)      Increase summer school funding allocation so that a sufficient number of graduate courses can be offered to graduate students enabling them to complete their programs in a timely manner – tied to recommendation #17.

d)     Increase support for faculty including awards and incentives – This is linked to recommendations #5, 7, 8, 9, and 13

e)      Increase support for grant development and management as well as provide support to conduct and disseminate research  – No recommendation address this issue directly although strong research support is essential

f)       Increase substantially more one semester, full-pay sabbaticals – Recommendation #6

g)      Increase post-doctoral positions – An extension of recommendation #16

h)      Address equity in salaries (especially related to salary compression) – Recommendation #5

2. Meeting State and National Needs

a)  There are many critical needs facing the state and national, a vital one is

education. UF should be addressing these issues by increasing the visibility of the COE as a research focused college and as a partner at a Research I institution – Recommendation #23 does allude to the role of the COE in the preparation of teachers, especially in critical shortage areas.

b)  Many faculty feel strongly that this is a very limited vision of how a College of Education can contribute to the research and policy debates about the most pressing education issues facing our society as we enter the 21st century.

c) UF’s Strategic Plan should include urgent national and state needs that can be addressed through educational research and expand programs for building future faculty and educational researchers – this point is directly related to the one above that COE faculty can take a leadership role in addressing these needs, which extend far beyond the concern about the lack of teachers

3. Academic Support

a)      Structure more opportunities and provide support for interdisciplinary collaboration across and within colleges – Faculty requested that more specific strategies be outlined as to how interdisciplinary collaboration could be implemented. Everyone supports the idea, but how it interfaces with the tenure and promotion process will be critical if it is to succeed

b)      Develop and support a faculty mentoring program to promote career development and include more sensitivity to diversity of families and needs of faculty – Recommendation #7 appears to address part of the issue, but in a more limited way

c)      Add “education” to the section under the major proposals for interdisciplinary programs  – see the comments in #2 above about the role of a COE in a research university

4. Value-Added/Facilities

a) Include PK Yonge and Baby Gator in the UF Strategic Plan – No recommendation mentions either of these entities. PK Yonge can play a major role in demonstrating how research based practices in K-12 education can raise student achievement and increase learning opportunities. Baby Gator can become an early childhood Center of Excellence for pre-K issues. In addition, both enhance the quality of life for faculty, students, and staff by providing excellent sites for child care and schooling.

b) Develop “state of the art” facilities across campus – This comment reflects the concern that Norman Hall was built in 1934, and has not has undergone any significant renovation of the original building (additions were added in 1979 and 2002) since then. Faculty are asked to carry out a 21st mission of teaching and research in a facility that has serious limitations for doing so.

c) Emphasize the Land Grant mission of UF – role of service in this process linked to concept of differentiated faculty – This comment reflects the concern expressed by many faculty about recommendation #13. While we acknowledge that more differentiated faculty will be needed to carry out all aspects of our mission, we are also concerned about creating a “second-tier” career track. It will be important to articulate more strongly how the historic role of Land-grant institutions can lead to building a culture of outreach scholarship (also known in the literature as the scholarship of engagement) that recognizes the value of work being done under these auspices.

d) Importance of recognizing need for strong professional educators – needs tostand alone as a recommendation (#23) – the need for better prepared students and workforce, who is directly related to better prepared educators, suggests that education deserves a separate recommendation

What would you like to see removed from the strategic plan?

1. Concept of “Key” academic areas – Recommendation #3 is so universally disliked across campus it is difficult to see how any plan can succeed that maintains this distinction

2. Delete the word “maintaining” (which connotes “status quo”)

3. Remove #29 (uniting Psychology units around campus)

4. Delete emphasis on some content areas to the exclusion of others

(e.g., sciences/medical)

5. Remove #13 (career instructional track for faculty) – Although faculty are in favor of this concept, they believe that this should not be a part of the strategic plan and the university should be careful in implementing this strategy (See #4c).

Concluding Thoughts

The UF Strategic Plan charts many exciting possibilities ahead for the University, but it reads more like a conceptual document than an actual plan. Notably absent are elements that identify the processes by which goals will be set, delineate the strategies necessary to implement various components of the plan, and establish accountability measures and benchmarks to determine success in reaching specific goals. Given these points, the following questions, among many others, will need to be addressed as aspects of this plan are implemented in the coming years:

1. As the state devolves authority to each institution of higher education, how will this translate on our campus between the central administration and the academic colleges? Will colleges be able to establish internal benchmarks and performance criteria relevant to their mission, and be responsible for managing their budgets appropriately to achieve their strategic goals based on the tenets of responsibility-centered management?

2. What processes and incentives will be put in place to facilitate collaboration across units? If a merger among various units is considered, what voice will faculty have to ensure that such mergers results from a shared belief that cost savings and/or benefits will be realized from undertaking this potentially divisive move?

3. In an era of steadily rising costs, institutions of education (particularly public ones) are being scrutinized more intensely than ever by the public to determine their value-added worth and impact on student learning. In what ways can we document and communicate the economic value of the work we do in the university, while also maintaining a strong focus on knowledge creation that may lead to future discoveries?