- Centralized student record and tracking database. During our reviews, we recognized that the student records and grade forms were not consistent across the University. ConnectCarolina, the University’s new centralized student records database, enables stronger management of monitoring and tracking student records and grade forms.
- Conducted classroom checks. Previously, we learned there was no consistent class audit program. To provide an additional review of current classroom staffing, the University has implemented an ongoing process of random checks. Staff assigned by the dean’s office in the College of Arts and Sciences conduct spot checks of a randomized sample of all scheduled classes to determine that classes are taking place as scheduled. Deans at the professional schools also coordinate similar inspections.
- Instituted new instructions for structuring course syllabi. New instructions summarize what syllabi for courses taught at the University should include and provide a clearer guide going forward. Examples include: explanation of learning outcomes, course goals or course objectives; attendance policy; faculty member’s expectations regarding students’ use of technology in the classroom; explanation of grading (components/weights) and assessment; explanation of plagiarism and Honor Code; statement on accommodation of disabilities policy; and how potential changes to topics and readings will be handled.
College of Arts and Sciences
- Implemented best practices for independent study in all academic departments. Our reviews provided insight that led us to implement stricter guidelines for independent study courses in order to ensure a better experience and greater alignment with the pedagogical framework. For each independent study, the faculty member and student must develop and sign an independent study contract. Faculty members are limited to supervise no more than two independent study students per session.
- Instituted new annual teaching assignment review. Our analysis showed need for an additional layer of review. Senior associate deans review teaching assignments for all faculty in the College. Chairs may be required to provide additional teaching assignment details as needed in order to explain assignments that appear to deviate from standard expectation and to make any necessary adjustments going forward.
- Tightened faculty oversight. We learned that some faculty members were not balanced in their work distribution and were either managing too many or too few students. As a result, we developed guidelines. Faculty members may oversee up to a maximum of two students in one independent study course in the summer, as recommended by the Independent Study Task Force. Each summer, separate course sections must be created for each faculty member supervising independent studies, internships, mentored research, directed readings or similar courses.
- Updated the Summer School Policies and Procedures Manual. During our reviews, we learned that many policies and procedures were not consistent across the University. The manual now includes more specific guidelines for faculty and summer administrators regarding teaching assignments. Implementation started in summer 2012, and those changes are outlined in faculty contract letters.
- Reviewed enrollments and teaching loads for all summer courses. We learned that a number of faculty members were inconsistent in their summer load. Academic Affairs began examining course registration summary data provided by the University Registrar’s office in 2012.
Department of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies
(formerly known as African and Afro-American Studies)
- Organized and is operating under new administrative and governance structure. We learned that additional departmental organization processes and structures were necessary. We have implemented a new structure that incorporates the philosophy of shared governance, as well as revised the roles and responsibilities of the Chair; other department-level administrators; and committees such as Academic Affairs, Intellectual Dialogues and Institutional Linkages, Planning and Faculty, Chair’s Liaison and Executive Committee.
- Reinforced University exams and grading policy. The reviews provided insight about policies and procedures that were inconsistent, so the University defined and summarized key University policies for grading and mandatory final exams. These grading policy changes addressed permanent letter grades, temporary grades and incomplete grades.
- Reviewed curriculum. To better align to our curricular framework, we added another layer of review. The University implemented new requirements for the major and minor, effective fall 2013.
Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes (ASPSA)
- Reorganized the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes. The reviews revealed a misalignment in our structure, so we shifted the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes out of the College of Arts and Sciences. In May 2013, with the addition of program director Michelle Brown, the program moved to the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor. Brown reports directly to the Provost, the University’s chief academic officer.
- (For details, visit: http://www.unc.edu/campus-updates/brown-to-lead-academic-support-program-for-student-athletes/.)
REFORMS IN ACTION:
- The My Academic Plan initiative was developed with input from ASPSA’s academic counselors and student-athletes. The MAP program focuses on the development of weekly plans individually designed for student-athletes based on their preparedness, course selection and specific needs. Read more at What is MAP?
Department of Athletics
- Analyzed athletic department structure and direction. Under the direction of Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham, the department completed a comprehensive analysis that led to the strategic plan, “Carolina Leads.” Announced in January 2012, its mission is to educate and inspire through athletics.
- Reorganized athletic department. Under Cunningham’s leadership, the department was reorganized in 2012 to reallocate personnel to provide sport programs additional administrative support and oversight. Cunningham hired a new head football coach and football coaching staff, and the department was further strengthened with the hiring of three new employees, two on the director’s senior executive staff. Vince Ille was hired as Senior Associate Athletics Director in July 2012, and serves as the department’s liaison to ASPSA with the clear understanding that academic functions are independent of athletics. He also is the department’s liaison to Admissions and oversees the Student-Athlete Development and the Compliance staff. Marielle vanGelder was hired in April 2013 as Associate Athletics Director for Compliance. Ille and vanGelder have led an evaluation of compliance systems, many of which have been or are currently being updated and documented. Paul Pogge was hired in July 2012 as Associate Athletics Director. Pogge has led the creation of APR (Academic Progress Rates) improvement plans and also led efforts to address risk analysis and management.
Current Initiatives and Working Groups
The University continues to identify, examine, and put in place more ways to strengthen the academic experience of student-athletes and enhance connections between academics and athletics. Multiple faculty and student groups provide oversight, evaluation and make assessments and recommendations based on their charge:
- Student-Athlete Academic Initiative Working Group. In August 2013, shortly after Chancellor Carol L. Folt and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost James W. Dean Jr. took office, the University launched the Student-Athlete Academic Initiative Working Group. Led by Dean and Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham, the group is reviewing all aspects of a student-athlete’s UNC experience from recruitment through graduation. The goal is to make sure everything the University is doing—every procedure and policy—helps student-athletes achieve their fullest potential, both academically and personally.
- Faculty Athletics Committee. The Faculty Athletics Committee, an elected Faculty Council committee, is charged with informing the faculty and advising the chancellor on any aspect of athletics, including the academic experience of student-athletes and the general operation of the athletics program. Under current chair Joy Renner, the committee has created and is following an established plan to ensure consistent, sustainable outcomes and practices as part of a fact-based approach to evaluating the alignment of the University’s academic mission with athletics.
- Faculty Committee on Special Talent. The Committee on Special Talent, which reports to the Faculty Council Advisory Committee on Undergraduate Admissions, establishes admissions procedures for students with extraordinary talent in athletics, dramatic art and music. The committee also advises the Office of Undergraduate Admissions on the admission of students presented by these three University programs who have predicted grade-point averages lower than 2.3, require review for possible breaches of community standards for academic or personal behavior, or may only be admitted as exceptions to UNC system policies and regulations because they do not meet minimum course or admissions requirements set by the UNC Board of Governors. Any applicant who does not meet the system requirements or the University’s own higher expectations can be offered admission only after being reviewed and approved by the Committee on Special Talent. Committee members’ input has helped the admissions office establish clearer academic expectations based on the actual academic performance of student-athletes. For the 2013 entering first-year class, 14 prospective student-athletes required this review – less than half the number from a decade ago.
- ASPSA Advisory Committee. Revitalizing a faculty advisory committee was among the suggestions in the 2011 Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes (ASPSA) Report. The strategic review was prompted in part by the relocation of the ASPSA after completion of the Loudermilk Center for Excellence in Kenan Stadium. The committee recommended revitalizing a faculty advisory committee originally created in the 1980s as a sounding board for long-term programming and as a source of advice on day-to-day issues that may arise. That advisory committee was re-established prior to the arrival of Dr. Michelle Brown as the new director in spring 2013. The committee is currently chaired by Dr. Abigail Panter, professor of psychology, and is composed of faculty and staff who review ASPSA policies, programming and use of services.
- Student-Athlete Advisory Council. The Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) serves as a voice for all student-athletes at Carolina. Members represent their teams in a monthly forum to discuss ideas and issues pertinent to the success of the Department of Athletics. This forum provides the members with the opportunity to offer input regarding life skills programs, the student-athlete experience, athletic department policies, conference regulations and NCAA legislation that affect student-athletes. SAAC helps to promote communication among the administration, coaches and student-athletes. SAAC is composed of two appointed representatives from each athletic team and functions to build a better sense of community among all athletic teams.