Updates on Our Three Strategic Pillars - February 6, 2024

Dear Faculty, Staff and Graduate Assistants,  

I’m glad to have everyone back on campus with the spring semester underway. This school year, we have made excellent progress toward the university’s 150 Forward strategic plan of enhancing student success, research excellence and our status as an employer of choice. I’m happy to share our recent progress in each of these areas with you. 

We formed a Student Success Steering Committee last fall to further our student success initiatives. This group includes leadership from the Student Success Center, Student Affairs, and various colleges across campus. Members are Karen Boston, Trevor Francis, Matt Ganio, Jim Gigantino, Bryan Hill, Deborah Korth, Elizabeth McKinley, Melinda Smith, Lisa Wood and Leslie Yingling. They have already made great strides to support our students' success by creating three financial literacy positions and finding ways to help students who are taking historically difficult courses.  

Additionally, to provide our students with the best classroom technology and experience, we are upgrading to a Blackboard Ultra interface, which will be completed for the fall 2024 semester. We strongly recommend faculty upgrade courses to Blackboard Ultra by the end of spring to avoid delays in getting courses set up correctly in the fall 2024. TIPS has a variety of resources to assist our faculty with this transition.  

Another current project that will bolster both student success and research excellence is our campus use space study.  The Office of the Provost, in partnership with U of A Facilities Management, campus building executives and SmithGroup, is conducting a 12-month study to assess how classroom, research, and administrative space is used throughout the university. This study also will look at our current space management system and related policies and procedures. SmithGroup will provide recommendations on improving and better utilizing space across campus. 

To enhance our status as an Employer of Choice, the Office of the Provost has enlisted Huron Consulting to conduct a Faculty Compensation Study. We are also benchmarking our graduate assistant compensation with peer institutions.  These studies will be completed alongside a staff compensation study led by Human Resources. We’ll have more information to share regarding these important studies by the end of the spring semester. 

The university is also advancing research excellence and reinforcing our status as an R1 research institution. Several research facilities are undergoing construction and are slated to open during the 2024-25 academic year, including the Multi-User Silicon Carbide National Research Fabrication Lab (MUSiC), the Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation, and the Nano Clean Room Fit Out.  We are also in the process of renovating the first and second floors of Mullins Library and restoring the Fine Arts Center on campus, which houses the Department of Music, the School of Art and the Fine Arts Library. Mullins Library and the Fine Arts Center will be completed in the summer and fall of 2024, respectively. All of these initiatives and facilities further our research mission. 

I’m pleased with all the progress we’ve made toward our strategic priorities over the past several months, which could not have been accomplished without all of you. I’m grateful for your dedication and collaboration, and I look forward to working together as One University to fulfill our land-grant mission and serve our state this spring. 

Best regards, 

Terry Martin, Ph.D.     
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs     
Professor of Electrical Engineering