Engaging Minds. A Message from the President

Bold Initiatives Update

As we complete the first month of 2012, I want to provide the campus community with another update on our bold initiatives. I will continue to share updates as we move through the academic year.

  • Integrate the A. Frank Smith, Jr. Library Center and Information Technology Systems
  • Involve all students in Paideia(R) by making it a more substantial element of the overall educational program
  • Launch a January Term
  • Develop a Masters of Arts in Teaching Degree
  • Collaborate with The Methodist Hospital Research Institute, Houston, to create a Masters Degree in Translational Medicine
  • Enhance our Varsity Athletics Program with the addition of football and women's lacrosse

Library/ITS Integration: Chaired by Dr. Joey King '93, a search committee is overseeing the selection of a Chief Information Officer and Vice President for Information Services. The integration will ensure that we meet the enormous demand for 'digitized' knowledge through all available resources. As reported at the December Faculty meeting:

  • More than 50 candidates have applied to date.
  • Review of candidates began on December 1st.
  • Committee identified six strong candidates for telephone interviews in January.
  • Committee will select up to four candidates for on-campus interviews in February.
  • Ideally, the Committee will have a finalist to recommend by March 1st.

Paideia for All: As Southwestern undergoes its 10-year reaccreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), a new vision for Paideia is emerging that will make it more central to the curriculum and involve all students. We have made 'interdisciplinarity' the theme of Southwestern's Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), a required component of the reaffirmation process. This is an exciting opportunity taken by SU's QEP Committee to further develop the interdisciplinary aspects of the curriculum and incorporate the tenets of Paideia into it such that all students are engaged. The proposal will go before the faculty for a vote in February.

January Term: A task force formed under the auspices of the Academic Affairs Council is currently exploring potential January Term models. This group is working to devise an academic calendar that will provide an opportunity to pilot a January Term in the 2012-2013 academic year, without requiring a significant change to the normal spring semester calendar. The task force will survey faculty and students to determine their interest in teaching and/or taking classes in a January Term. In addition, a cost analysis will help determine what additional services (food service, residence halls, library and instructional technology support, etc.) will be necessary. This cost analysis and the results of the survey will guide the University in determining the viability of a January Term.

Masters of Arts in Teaching Degree: Determining whether or not Southwestern University will pursue this option will be the purview of the Education Department. Faculty members in the Department have met with the Provost to explore a program of this type. Early in the spring semester, they will arrange a conference call with faculty from Austin College (AC has a fifth-year masters program) to discuss program merits. If they decide that a similar program is financially viable and advantageous to Southwestern students, it will be vetted through the normal governance procedures.

Masters Degree in Translational Medicine: Dr. Mauro Ferrari, president and CEO of The Methodist Hospital Research Institute (TMHRI), was on campus September 23 to speak to the Board of Visitors. He expressed his continued interest in a partnership between Southwestern and TMHRI. Dr. Scott Parazinski, chief academic officer for TMHRI, is now working with Dr. Kenda Evans '92, a science alumna representing SU, to draft a framework for the collaboration and the degree plan. That framework will be reviewed by SU science faculty and Provost Jim Hunt for further refinement this spring.

Athletics Programs: Glada Munt, associate vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics, has organized the search committee for a Head Football Coach. Chaired by Hannah Long, head women's volleyball coach, says:

  • More than 225 candidates applied for the position.
  • Review of candidates began in November.
  • Committee met with eight candidates at the American Football Coaches Association Conference in San Antonio and the NCAA National Convention in Indianapolis over the winter break.
  • Committee selected five top candidates to interview on campus.
  • Committee anticipates having a finalist to recommend in early February, with the announcement to be made to the campus community by March 1.

Warmest regards


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