Messages to the Community

Strengthening Our Academic Core: Framework, College Convenings, and Data Resources

A Message from Dr. Renée T. White, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dear Colleagues,

‌This week, as a prelude to my update, I’d like to provide an overview of how our strategic planning process informs and is distinct from the project of strengthening our academic structure and enhancing our students’ learning experience at The New School. 

‌Later this month, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee will share the draft report with students, faculty, and staff. This document will outline our process, community priorities, and key findings that have highlighted longstanding areas of concern and commitment. 

‌Members of the steering committee met with executive leadership earlier this week to reflect on how the academic core project intersects with our collective aspirations and the totality of ideas generated over many years, as our strategic plan is designed to serve as a foundation for this ongoing work. 

‌The charge from President Shalala is to assess and develop a proposal that recommends a new academic structure that best meets the needs of our students, ensures our future sustainability, helps us actualize and advance our academic mission, and builds on our history and commitment to welcoming all learners. A strengthened academic structure and university strategic plan will enable our next president to successfully lead The New School of the future. 

‌Continue reading to learn more about how the colleges are engaging faculty and staff in this process, the questions guiding these conversations, and additional data resources available to our community. 

‌Visit the Enhancing Our Academic Core website for the latest updates and information. Read last week’s update detailing the timeline, principles, and responsibilities for the work ahead.

College-Led Convenings

Through April 17, the Executive Deans will continue to convene and facilitate conversations regarding emergent areas of program alignment to collect more detailed thinking. As the deans shared earlier this month, these meetings will include, as appropriate, relevant program leaders, faculty representatives selected by faculty from those programs, and staff members associated with those programs. 

‌The goal of the meetings taking place across the colleges is to engage members of our community in the generation of ideas about potential alignments that remain true to our mission and will best serve our students, faculty, staff, and academic aspirations. More information about the college-led convenings is available on the Enhancing Our Academic Core website.

‌Each conversation will be guided by the following questions: 

  1. What potentials for alignment have emerged thus far? 
  2. How does this improve or enhance the student experience?
  3. What are areas of opportunity for advancing scholarship and creative practice and supporting the relevant fields? 
  4. What duplication can be removed that isn’t generative? 
  5. Is this feasible within our current financial parameters? 

‌The next step in our process will entail synthesizing the ideas and proposals generated by faculty and staff in the colleges into a single plan for public commentary. This draft will be shared with faculty and staff for comment on April 22, with an open comment period taking place through April 25. I am also working with the co-chairs of the University Faculty Senate and the University Staff Senate to identify additional avenues for soliciting broad feedback from the community.

Data Resources

The Office of Institutional Research and Decision Support (IRDS) has received specific data requests from the Executive Deans and the Provost’s Office to ensure conversations with program leadership across the colleges are informed by current data, historical trends, and industry benchmarks. IRDS has also provided the Executive Deans with access to other data including: 10 year average course section size by subject code; and 2023-2024 course section size by college. To learn more, reach out to your dean’s office. 

‌The following resources are available to faculty and staff so you can be fully informed as you work on ideas, proposals, and provide feedback into this process: 

  • College Race/Ethnicity 2023 – Collects the most recent faculty, staff, and student data by college.
  •  10 Year Program Enrollment – Fall Census Snapshot captures major program enrollment data for Fall 2014 through Fall 2023. 
  • ‌IR Digest: Data, Insights, and Stories – A monthly publication that speaks to the university’s priorities, challenges, and strategies using data collected from across The New School. 
  • Retention Minute– A weekly series designed to strengthen knowledge about student retention and efforts to provide a student experience that supports persistence. 
  • Financial Transparency Council website– Includes revenue and expense charts, audited financial statements, and information about the university’s budget process.

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