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Looking Ahead to 2006-07 — and Beyond
President Walter Harrison enjoys a lighthearted video presented by Provost Donna Randall at Wednesday's Faculty/Staff Kickoff.
At the 2006-07 Faculty/Staff Kickoff in Lincoln Theater, Harrison discussed three characteristics that he believes will distinguish the University of Hartford over the next half-century. They are:
- A strong residential undergraduate program that emphasizes the liberal arts, the arts, and the professions. “In an age that is increasingly characterized by impersonality and virtual realities, I believe the beauty of an intimate campus and the opportunity to live in a caring learning community will continue to be one of our strongest attractions,” Harrison said.
- A growing focus on graduate and professional programs and faculty research. The recent appointment of Peter Diffley as the University’s first full-time dean of graduate studies is a very significant step in that direction, Harrison said.
- An increasingly important national and international mission and, at the same time, a strong connection to the Hartford area. “Our public purpose includes making a difference in the lives of people around the world and grounding ourselves in the community that gave us birth 50 years ago,” Harrison said. “We have begun important initiatives in international education in the past year, just as we continue to strengthen and build our programs that serve Hartford. I expect to see more and more of this in the future.”
The Faculty/Staff Kickoff, held annually to mark the start of the new academic year, also included the presentation of awards recognizing outstanding faculty, staff, and community service efforts, as well as a new award honoring faculty at the University's two magnet schools.
Information on the award winners and more photos from the Kickoff will be included in Friday’s issue of UNotes Daily.
Provost Donna Randall also spoke at Wednesday’s event, welcoming 22 new full-time faculty members and providing updates on a variety of programs and initiatives.
Read Provost Randall’s remarks.
Randall discussed efforts to assess and improve the level of student engagement. Last spring, the University administered the National Survey for Student Engagement to about 800 freshmen and seniors, and the results came back two weeks ago.
“While we are just beginning to analyze the NSSE responses, we discovered that we are much stronger in engaging students in some important areas, such as faculty-student interaction and academic advising,” Randall said. “We also discovered that we are not as strong as we would like to be in other areas, such as students participating in community service or volunteer work.”
Over the next year, a task force of faculty and staff will analyze the data in greater detail and identify areas to target for improvement.
The University also is taking steps to improve retention of first-year students, Randall said. This fall, a pilot study will provide targeted staff intervention for those students who have been identified as having the highest risk of dropping out. The intervention is designed “to see if we can help these students advance at the University and attain academic success,” Randall said.
In a related initiative, the University is launching a “preceptor program” this fall, Randall said. Preceptors are advanced undergraduates who display academic skills and a capacity for leadership. They will assist faculty in introductory-level courses by serving as tutors, writing coaches, and advocates for freshmen.