Cevallos emphasizes diversity, student success at All University Meeting

In President F. Javier Cevallos’ first All University Meeting as FSU’s president, he laid out the main goals guiding his new administration. Other administrators also gave updates on projects or announced new initiatives.

He added that there are “three overarching goals for this academic year,” including diversity, development of student and employee success and special attention to compliance with federal and state laws such as Title IX and Violence Against Women Act.

Cevallos said, “Our fundamental responsibility is to educate students of the region and the state in an environment that fosters academic and personal growth. For that reason, academic excellence and student achievement are the overarching principles that guide me and that will be the basis of my administration.”

Cevallos said he thinks FSU has made great progress in diversity initiatives over the past few years, citing the 2014 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award presented by the magazine “INSIGHT into Diversity.”

Cevallos said this is an “outstanding” achievement, but there is still more to be done. “We all know how important it is to truly reflect the society we live in,” he added.

Being successful in this area necessitates shifting efforts and policies from “a values-basis to measureable data-driven outcomes,” he said. Hiring the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer is one of the first ways the administration is trying to create more concrete outcomes.

He said the second goal, fostering support for students and employees, is something that needs to be re-evaluated as the institution grows. “Policies and procedures that made sense 20 years ago can become unnecessary burdens today. So we have to ask ourselves every day, ‘Are our current practices contributing to student achievement and academic excellence?’ If they are not, let’s change them.”

The third goal is to meet “internal” and federal expectations in regards to laws such as Title IX, Violence Against Women Act and the Clery Act. He said training will be available to anyone on campus who might be interested in learning about how to handle issues these acts address.

Finally, Cevallos asked for patience as changes on campus are being made in the hopes of furthering these goals.

Vice President of Enrollment and Student Development Susanne Conley was unable to attend the meeting, but sent her comments to be presented by Cevallos.

She wrote that the administration will use the results from the campus-wide student climate diversity survey to “get programming that supports a welcoming and inclusive learning and living environment for all students.”

Conley wrote that 814 new first year students and 418 transfer students have been admitted to FSU this year. Additionally, she said that the Admissions Office’s focus for the year is on creating a “comprehensive” plan to increase recruitment for graduate students.

Dean Stoops, among other administrators and faculty members, will be working on “community-based expectations of student conduct,” in particular with reference to academic honesty.

Additionally, SILD will be working on a co-curricular transcript which will provide students with a document that shows their out-of-class activities to make them more “marketable” to employers.

Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Linda Vaden-Goad spoke about the three accreditations FSU went through in the past year, including New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). She said each association gave FSU “glowing” reviews.

She added that diversity hiring has increased over the past three years when the initiative began, from 8.1 percent to 17.7 percent of overall faculty. She said that it gives students the advantage of being taught by a global community.

A new academic structure was created this semester, including appointing three new interim deans: Marc Cote as interim dean of Arts and Humanities, Sue Dargan as interim dean of social and behavioral sciences and Margaret Carroll as interim dean of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

She added, “It will help us create a more responsive, effective, successful, creative and innovative system. We are that kind of school – we needed that kind of help.”

Vaden-Goad spoke about FSU’s new majors and concentrations, such as the theater concentration, global studies major, ASL major and professional science master’s degree programs. She added there have been conversions from concentrations to majors, including finance, accounting, marketing and management.

Vaden-Goad spoke about students from our partner school who need remediation, and working on getting that percentage lower. About 10 percent of those students need remediation.

She also cited academic retreats and new technological resources, like the “digital repository” in the library, among other projects as important improvements to the school this year.

Executive Vice President Dale Hamel updated the community on the science project, saying phase one of updating Hemenway’s infrastructure was completed this summer, and phase two will be done over the next summer, but will be less intrusive to the activities in that building at that time. The new addition is on schedule, he said, and is planned for completion the summer of 2015.

An additional 12.4 million dollars will be appropriated to FSU from a memorandum of agreement from the division of Capital Asset Management, Mass Life Sciences Center, Mass State College Building Authority and Framingham State.

Hamel said the state appropriation increase for FSU’s FY15 budget was a little over one million dollars, which does not meet the 50/50 goal, in which state funding would cover about 50 percent of the cost of operations of campuses. Student fees have therefore increased $140, a three percent increase for this year.

Rita Colucci the chief of staff and general counsel has begun the search for the CDIO, and encouraged faculty and staff to “throw your hat in,” since the search was left intentionally “broad.”

She added that FSU has joined a consortium with Bridgewater State to improve retention and graduation rates for diverse students, including students who are the first in their family to go to college, veterans, LGBT students and disabled students among many other groups.

She said this will hopefully improve the retention and graduation rates of all student. “A rising tide lifts all boats,” she said.

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