Minutes: Reinvention Center Western Regional Network Meeting
March 30, 2001
The first regional network meeting of western research universities sponsored by the Reinvention Center took place on March 30, 2001 at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. It was attended by 47 faculty and senior administrators from 22 public and private institutions. A list of attendees is attached.
Wendy Katkin, Director of the recently-established Center, opened the session by introducing herself and providing background on the Center’s founding and the factors leading to this meeting. The purpose, she explained, was to explore the merits and feasibility of creating a regional network made up of faculty and senior administrators from research universities within the same broad geographic area. In addition to the San Francisco meeting, the Center has held similar meetings in New York City in December, in Washington, DC in March, and in Chicago in May.
Dr. Katkin explained that when the Reinvention Center was created a year ago, she was given three years to determine whether a Center focusing exclusively on research universities made sense and, if so, what its role might be. After a year of visiting campuses, talking with colleagues at universities, professional societies and government agencies and attending meetings of education-oriented organizations like the AACU, AAHE and Project Kaleidoscope, she determined that indeed such a Center could fill a critical gap and have many functions. Her reasoning was based on the observation that most existing organizations focusing on undergraduate education are geared primarily for four-year colleges. These colleges, however, start out with different assumptions and have needs and interests that are quite different from those of research universities. As a result, the organizations have generally failed to engage administrators and especially faculty from research universities. A forum made up exclusively of research universities would be able to concentrate on issues specific to their environments and to the demands and expectations of their faculty. Dr. Katkin envisions the proposed networks as small communities made up of colleagues from institutions that face common challenges and who might benefit from working together and sharing experiences. Her model is the group of ten research institutions that received the NSF RAIRE (Recognition Award for the Integration of Research and Education) awards in 1997. Over the past three years, faculty and administrators from these institutions have met informally on numerous occasions, have come to know one another personally and with reference to many of their programs, and they have become valuable resources for one another on a wide variety of issues. Dr. Katkin expressed her hope that the regional network would function in the same way. Based on the feedback following the New York City and DC meetings, it appears that the majority of those attending see the potential value of the network approach and are interested in further discussion of the role the Center might play and possible areas for activity. The New York group has scheduled a second session, to take place in early June, and the DC group likewise determined to meet a second time in September or early October.
Following the opening comments, a representative from each institution present was asked to provide a brief overview of the institution and to identify one or two pressing issues that the Center network might address. The introductions revealed a major difference in the composition of the western university group and those attending the New York and DC meetings. Whereas the New York and DC meetings both had a fairly even mix of public and private institutions, the western group was made up primarily of public universities. Among the 22 represented, only 4 were private. As a consequence of this imbalance, the concerns of the public institutions drove the agenda and, to a great extent, shaped the discussions.
For the public universities, the overriding issue is the enormous growth in enrollments projected for the next ten years and the challenge of dealing with these increases in ways that do not compromise quality; a related question is whether institutions have the capacity to provide a quality education when they have 35,000 undergraduates. The rise in the number of students to be served has important curricular, pedagogical, structural and budgetary implications. Universities facing significant growth, for example, may want to re-think their large lecture formats and other means for delivering instruction; they will also need to devise methods for using technology creatively and effectively. They may want to move from the traditional academic year calendar to an extended summer school or to a full calendar year program to accommodate the new students; this will entail delivering a 12-month curriculum. Other options are to revisit the number of credits required for graduation and to provide incentives to reduce the time to graduation. An additional topic of concern is the need to hire large numbers of faculty in a relatively short period. Finally, there is the question of budget. At public universities, funding is often based on enrollment, usually without any consideration of quality or of the additional infrastructure and support staff that will be required to accommodate a larger student population. In some states, the dollars have not increased, though the cost of education is constantly rising and will do so even more with the increased enrollment.
Other significant issues emerged as well.
Faculty and Graduate Students
There appeared to be a consensus among those present that they have many common issues and that a network made up of research universities offers a valuable opportunity for faculty and administrators directly responsible for undergraduate education to share experiences and learn from one another. The UC vice chancellors already meet regularly and find their meetings very valuable. The group devoted the final hour of the meeting to a discussion of the various roles the Reinvention Center might play in facilitating this sharing and in providing leadership to efforts to improve undergraduate education at research universities.
It was generally agreed that the Center’s most useful function might be to serve as a repository or clearing-house and disseminator of best practices. This function might be carried out through several means. One is the Spotlight feature on the Center’s Web site (http://www.sunysb.edu/Reinventioncenter/spotlight.html), which was created to focus attention on specific topics of common interest and provide descriptions of successful models. The current Spotlight, on "The First-Year Experience," has an essay by Bruce Alberts, President of the National Academy of Sciences, on the importance of the first year and examples of four different approaches--at Cornell, Northwestern, UCLA, and the University of Maryland. Future Spotlights will include an essay by Ellen Woods, Senior Associate Vice Provost, Undergraduate Education, at Stanford University, on strategies for increasing undergraduate participation in research, and one by Greg Bothun, Professor of Physics at the University of Oregon on structural impediments to innovation. Members of the network are invited to suggest topics for other Spotlights and to contribute short essays and descriptions of initiatives. The Center Web site also has a Resources feature (http://www.sunysb.edu/Reinventioncenter/resources.html), which categorizes different kinds of programs that have been implemented on campuses and has links to their Web sites for further information. Again, network members are invited to view the Resources feature and send us links to initiatives they would like included.
Other technology-based methods suggested for sharing best practices and stimulating discussion include: a bulletin board format on which individuals will post their thoughts and "converse" on specified topics; fostering dialog among Center constituents by creating list-servs made up of members of all four Center networks; and by establishing links on the Reinvention Center Web site to known, potentially useful repositories and calling attention to them. Greg Bothun and Lucy Lynch at the University of Oregon have graciously agreed to set up the list-servs and bulletin boards for the Center. They may be visited at http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/%7Ellynch/rclists.html.
The group agreed that the Center and network could perform other important functions as well:
At the conclusion of the meeting, Dr. Katkin asked all participants to send her a list of no more than five issues that they would like to see the networks focus on in future meetings and activities. The following issues emerged, echoing and reinforcing the issues raised at the meeting:
Unique nature of a research university
Finally, virtually everyone is interested in "sharing ‘best practices’ across the board."
The group agreed to have a second meeting in the late fall, 2001. Information will follow.
In the meantime, the Reinvention Center invites short descriptions of first-year programs at your University, to be included on its Web site in the Resource section. In anticipation of Ellen Woods’ essay, we would also like descriptions of any strategies you have adopted to increase student participation in research. Please send your descriptions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Center invites suggestions for subjects to be "spotlighted" on the Web. If you are interested in writing a short essay for the Reinvention Center Spotlight, consult the Web site (www.sunysb.edu/Reinventioncenter) or contact Wendy Katkin.
Brigham Young University
Clark Webb, Associate Dean, General Education and Honors for the Freshman Year
California Institute of Technology
Carolyn Merkel, Director, Student-Faculty Programs
Russell Berman, Cognizant Dean for Undergraduate Studies, School of Humanities and Sciences
Sharon Palmer, Assistant Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Director,
Freshman and Sophomore Programs
Ellen Woods, Senior Associate Vice Provost, Undergraduate Education
Texas A&M University
Mark Weichold, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Programs & Academic Services
University of California, System Office
Julie B. Gordon, Coordinator, Intercampus Academic Programs
Linda Guerra, Director of Planning and Analysis
University of California, Berkeley
Barbara Davis, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Student Life-Education Development
Patricia Iannuzzi, Associate University Librarian and Director, Doe/Moffitt
Christina Maslach, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education
Ellen Meltzer, Head, Teaching Library
Alix Schwartz, Co-Director, Office of Undergraduate Policy and Analysis
Kwong-loi Shun, Dean, Undergraduate Division, College of Letters and Science
Terry Strathman, Director, Office of Undergraduate Research
University of California, Davis
Joseph E. Kiskis, Professor of Physics
Patricia Turner, Vice Provost
University of California, Irvine
Meredith Lee, Dean, Division of Undergraduate Education
University of California, Los Angeles
Lucy Blackmar, Director of Undergraduate Education Initiatives
Elizabeth Ligon Bjork, Professor of Psychology
Frederick Burwick, Professor of English
Angie Hamner, General Education Administrative Support
Greg Kendrick, Instructional Coordinator
Mark Morris, Professor of Physics and Astronomy
Judith Smith, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education
Robert Watson, Professor of English
University of California, Riverside
Susan Carter, Director, Center for Teaching Excellence and Professor of Economics
Yat-Sun Poon, Associate Dean, Physical and Mathematical Sciences and Professor of Mathematics
Richard Sutch, Distinguished Professor of Economics and Director, Center for Social and Economic Policy
University of California, Santa Barbara
Ronald Tobin, Associate Vice Chancellor, Academic Programs
Alan Wyner, Acting Dean, Undergraduate Studies
University of California, Santa Cruz
Lynda Goff, Vice Provost and Dean, Undergraduate Education
University of Colorado at Boulder
Ross Corotis, Dean, College of Engineering and Applied Science
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Ronald Cambra, Associate Dean, Arts and Sciences
University of New Mexico
Joel Nossoff, Director of New Student Programs
Peter White, Dean of Undergraduate Studies
University of Oregon
Greg Bothun, Professor of Physics
Lucy E. Lynch, Academic User Services, Computing Center
University of Southern California
Joseph Hellige, Vice Provost for Academic Programs
University of Texas at Austin
Lucia Gilbert, Vice Provost and Professor of Educational Psychology
University of Utah
John Francis, Associate Vice President for Undergraduate Studies
Utah State University
Joyce Kinkead, Associate Vice President for Research
David Lancy, Professor of Anthropology and Director of Honors
Washington State University
Barbara Couture, Dean of Liberal Arts