PROGRAMS AND INSTRUCTION
The University of Rhode Island's primary focus is to educate its students. URI provides strong undergraduate programs to promote students' ethical development and capabilities as critical and independent thinkers. To meet student and societal needs, URI offers undergraduate professional education programs in a wide range of disciplines. URI graduate programs provide rigorous advanced study and research opportunities for personal and professional development. Programs include opportunities for independent and collaborative scholarship, creative activities and research. As a public research university, URI upholds its original land-sea-urban grant legislative charter.
The University of Rhode Island continually attends to providing high-quality undergraduate and graduate programs, teaching and research, and public outreach activities. Institutional commitment to educational excellence is evident in recent interdisciplinary institutes, the growth of international programs, the proposal and implementation of partnerships between the University and private industry in research and public service, and a commitment to enhance the technological infrastructure for education and research. Achieving these high standards is complicated by ongoing assessment of critical educational and organizational aspects of the University. Several important issues emerge in debate over these aspects. These issues include how to align URI's mission with proposed shifts in general education, alterations in the face of the University by identifying four major areas for emphasis in resource allocation, and other issues. The Common Agenda planning process staged in summer 1996 identified a number of emergent instructional-related priorities. Several of these pertained to the educational mission of the institution: identifying University distinctiveness; more effectively promoting the University; enhancing summer session; and addressing general education. The 1997 Common Agenda meeting identified new issues: providing academic and creative opportunities for talented students; clustered learning opportunities, creating a leadership major; enhancing summer study and activities at URI; and examining and enhancing graduate studies.
This section regarding programs and instruction consists of a brief descriptive overview and six sections: programs; general education; outreach programs and continuing education; instruction; scholarship and research; and admissions and retention.
The University of Rhode Island confers degrees at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. URI offers 96 undergraduate degrees in traditional offerings in the liberal arts, professional programs and interdisciplinary studies. Students can obtain single majors, double majors, dual degrees, and such degrees and innovative offerings as the International Engineering Program, a five-year program in which the student earns two degrees: a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, and a Bachelor of Arts in a foreign language such as German or French. The University offers 50 master's degree programs and 32 doctoral programs. In general, the standards for achievement of these degrees and certifications are publicized in the URI Undergraduate and Graduate Bulletin .
The number of undergraduates has declined since 1986. The composition of the undergraduate population in 1996 included more multicultural students. There were 11,107 undergraduate students in the fall of 1986 versus 10,136 in 1996. In 1986, 5,766 undergraduates were female or 52%; 456 or 4.1% were African American, Asian American, Hispanic or Native American; and 80 students or .7% were international students. In the 1996-1997 academic year, 5,571 undergraduates or 55% were female; 985 or 9.7% were African American, Asian American, Hispanic or Native American; 75 or <1% were international students (URI Fact Book, 1996-1997 ).
Revenue from tuition and fees in 1986 was $31,558,038 or 20% of the total revenue generated. Seventy-one percent of the students generating tuition and fees in 1986 were in-state; in 1996, the percentage of in-state students dropped to 58%. In 1995-1996, tuition and fees accounted for $73,341,662 or 31.3% of the total revenue. Tuition and fee revenues have had to provide a greater percentage of the support for URI as state support has lagged behind the increased costs of delivering a quality higher education.
In 1987-1988, there were 13 associates, 1,803 bachelors', 415 masters', and 83 doctoral degrees awarded. By 1996, URI was no longer offering a program in Dental Hygiene leading to the associate degree. In 1997, URI awarded 1,978 bachelors', 496 masters', and 82 doctoral degrees.
While the total number of graduate students enrolled at the University in 1996 (3,164 students) is similar to that in 1986 (3,264), the composition of the graduate population has changed. In 1986, 50% of the graduate students were women and only 2.8% were from under-represented groups. In 1995, 54% of graduate students were women and nearly 7% were African American, Asian American, Hispanic or Native American. The productivity of graduate programs as indicated by the number of degrees awarded also has clearly improved over the ten year period with a 17% increase in the number of masters' degrees awarded and a 65% increase in the number of doctorates. Women received only 22% of the awarded doctorates in 1986, but earned 45% of the 108 awarded doctorates in 1995. Graduate students from under-represented groups earned 29 masters' degrees and 7 doctorates in 1995.
A broad spectrum of specialized programs, institutes and workshops provide opportunities for professional development, public service and outreach, and increased educational development for nontraditional students. For example, the College of Continuing Education campus at the newly-refurbished Shepard Building in Providence, the Conference Center at the Alton Jones Campus in western Rhode Island, and the Narragansett Bay Campus with the new Coastal Resources Institute offer increased access to the University's traditional and innovative programs. Various non-degree programs and in-service training attract diverse publics in business and technology partnerships, as well as those in state agencies and public education. During the latter part of this past decade, the University has awakened to a new responsibility to protect, develop and improve healthy existing programs, and make a commitment to revising programs to meet the shifting needs in education as well as financial exigencies. The innovative Program Contribution Analysis described in Standard Two has garnered national attention as a model for such analyses, but it has also generated internal controversy.
The academic year at the University of Rhode Island offers two semester (fall and spring) sessions, and two five-week summer sessions (with two "alternate" four-week summer sessions). A number of special programs are offered including intersession courses. Courses vary in number of credits and intensity. Most URI courses award 3 credits and meet for 2.5 hours per week. Typically, URI classes meet for 37.5 hours per semester. Students are expected to allocate out-of-class time to study, research and attend conferences and tutorials at a ratio of approximately 1:2 (class:outside time). The usual undergraduate enrolls in a 15-credit course load per semester, and may exceed 19 credits only by special petition.
To obtain a bachelor's degree, an undergraduate student must fulfill the general education curriculum requirements of her or his degree program; the requirements of a major department or program; maintain a minimum 2.0 cumulative quality point average (QPA); and successfully complete a minimum of 120 credit hours (unless stipulated otherwise by her/his college), including a minimum of one-fourth of all credits earned in residence at URI. Masters' degrees require at least 30 credits. University College plays a special role as the administrative unit for all first year students and transfer students with fewer than 45 credits. Students remain in University College until they complete a minimum of 24 or a maximum of 75 credits. While in University College, students have access to advisors representing all curricula and receive other programs and services supporting their academic needs. Following advance to a specific department or college, students then access advisors in their respective disciplines to guide their progress and assess their performance. More information regarding advising is included in Standard Six.
The Bulletin lists the specific degree objectives and requirements of each college that offers baccalaureate degrees and graduate degrees. The requirements are also available in publications of the University Admissions Office, the University College Advising Office, the Registrar's Office, each college and many departments. Additionally, the information may be accessed via the World Wide Web through URI's web page (Universal Resource Locator [URL] is http://www.uri.edu/). Many departments have developed specific assessment documents which identify the objectives which students must meet for graduation certification.
University College has implemented several programs to address the needs of incoming students. The orientation program, believed to be crucial in preparing students for the first year of university life, has been continually revised and strengthened over the past ten years. It now includes a parent orientation program concurrent with the series of two-day summer programs for first year students, a transfer orientation program, and follow up fall and mid-year programs. University College developed the PASS (Program for Academic Survival and Success) mentoring program for first year students whose first semester grades places them in academic jeopardy. This program has successfully retained many of these students. Students undecided about their choice of major are offered workshops and a course in career development taught by University College staff. This is in addition to the Learning Assistance Center which furnishes tutoring for students at all levels. Students who identify or who have recorded learning or other disabilities are provided with assistance from the Office of Disability Services.
The Office of International Education and National Student Exchange sponsors University programs abroad, helps students make arrangements for foreign study, maintains information about international study programs, and works with faculty and departments in their efforts to internationalize the curriculum. About 10% of each entering class studies abroad or completes an internship internationally for a semester or a year. URI currently sponsors exchange programs with universities in Austria, England, France, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Spain, and Venezuela, and about 30 to 40 students spend a semester or a year as visiting students through these exchanges. The University also belongs to several consortia which offer programs to students from member institutions throughout the world. URI is also a co-sponsor of a program in Korea offered through the College Consortium for International Studies.
The Feinstein Center for Service Learning and University Year For Action (UYA) Internship Program include a number of programs related to community service. UYA, begun in 1975, is an experiential learning program designed to provide undergraduate
students with the opportunity for professional development and field study with a choice of over 500 placement sites in Rhode Island. Students complement their coursework with a structured training experience provided by qualified professionals in carefully selected placements and by faculty advisors. Student interns also are required to enroll concurrently in a 3-credit seminar that focuses on reflective practice. Approximately 170 students complete UYA internships each year. Affiliations with the Washington Center Internship Program and the Dublin, Ireland Internship Program offer eligible students internship opportunities outside of Rhode Island. Over 60 students have completed internships through these programs.
The Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs administers all academic programs at the University of Rhode Island, assisted by the Vice Provost for Academic Programs and Services. Deans in Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Continuing Education, Engineering, Human Science and Services, Nursing, Pharmacy, Resource Development, University College and the Graduate School of Oceanography oversee programs in their colleges or divisions. A vice provost oversees the Graduate School. In conjunction with the Faculty Senate and several academically-oriented University committees, these individuals and their units uphold the integrity and quality of undergraduate, graduate and special programs.
Program Review and Approval. The integrity of the curricula is insured through a series of reviews and approvals. Faculty members assume substantial responsibility for program design, approval and implementation at the University of Rhode Island. The program approval process follows a long-standing system of rigorous review that begins with the department of origination and continues through the Board of Governors for Higher Education. This elaborate approval and review process extends to all programs, including the College of Continuing Education's programs and the more recent focus areas. Once proposals are approved by the department or program committee, they are submitted to the home college or program faculty and dean for approval. College level approval implies not only that the course is appropriate in level and difficulty but also that the dean has sufficient funds for implementation. If current funding is not sufficient, a budget is attached which identifies areas and amounts where new funding is required. Proposals at the undergraduate level are forwarded to the Faculty Senate Curricular Affairs Committee (CAC) and proposals at the graduate level are sent to the Graduate Council. These groups are comprised primarily of faculty members representing all colleges of the University. For new course proposals, the CAC and the Graduate Council ensure that university standards are observed and that overlap with courses offered in other colleges is minimized.
The process was streamlined recently to permit the CAC to send the proposal simultaneously to several committees and administrative units for review and comment with a 45-day time limit. Following receipt of the information, the CAC and Graduate Council have 60 days to report to the Faculty Senate with either a positive or negative recommendation. Proposals for graduate programs are concomitantly submitted to the Graduate Council. Proposals approved by the Graduate Council and/or the CAC are then submitted to the Faculty Senate for approval, followed by the President. The President then requests approval by the Board of Governors for Higher Education. Proposals for program deletions or major revisions follow the same process; however, admissions to a program may be suspended by the administration outside this process. Indeed, the administration suspended admissions to a number of programs during the 1995-1996 academic year due to low demand for the programs and related concerns.
New and Revised Programs. Over the past decade, a number of programs have been established at the undergraduate and graduate levels. They include 12 bachelors' and 4 doctoral degrees. Three programs have been approved through the internal governance process, but have not been approved to date by the Board of Governors for Higher Education. All these programs are listed in information available in the workroom. This past year, the Faculty Senate recently approved proposals for B.A. programs in African and African-American Studies and in Public Relations, a B.S. in International Business, and an M.O. in Oceanography. An M.A. in Communication Studies is under review.
Seven programs had significant changes during the past ten years which resulted in official review and approval (a list is available in the workroom).
Suspended and Discontinued Programs. The University suspended admissions to or discontinued 18 undergraduate and 26 graduate programs during the past decade. When a program is suspended or eliminated, students who have already declared the affected program as a major are allowed to complete a degree in that field within a reasonable period of time. Every effort is made to ensure their timely graduation. In some cases, curriculum modifications are approved that involve substitution of a comparable course for one that might have been eliminated. Any student who was accepted into a suspended or deleted program who left the University and who wishes to return and complete the deleted program will be allowed to complete that program, providing the readmission is no later than 5 years after program suspension or elimination. No student, current or returning, who has not officially been accepted into a suspended or deleted program will be admitted to the affected program once the suspension or deletion has been implemented. URI has made a commitment to the students currently enrolled in the suspended or discontinued programs to provide adequate courses and resources for them to complete their degrees.
Centers, Institutes, Bureaus and Partnerships. The University also reviews proposals for the establishment of interdisciplinary centers, institutes, and research partnerships. The procedures for review and approval follow a similar pattern to the program approval process, except that the Research Policy and Facilities Committee of the Faculty Senate reviews these proposals instead of the CAC and/or Graduate Council. Fourteen centers, institutes, bureaus or partnerships have been approved during the past ten years (a listing is provided in the workroom). Unless otherwise noted, the date in parentheses conveys approval by the Board of Governors for Higher Education. TheUniversity Manual has specific language that addresses the creation and operation of such officially recognized academic organizational and administrative units.
To facilitate other types of research centers, a new provision in the University Manual allows a temporary authorization for an initial 3-year period by the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs of the University. She shall make the decision in consultation with the Vice Provost for Research, the dean(s) of the faculty associated with the proposed center, and the chairs of the faculty associated with the proposed center who will have brought the proposal to the departments. This temporary authorization allows fledgling groups to establish themselves before coming to the Faculty Senate for permanent authorization. The latter procedure is so formidable that many centers have remained "unofficial" rather than run the gauntlet of committee approval. This newly enacted legislation should encourage interdisciplinary team research and may address some of the concerns about the limitations of the partnerships by helping to strengthen groups that do fall within the focus areas to compete successfully for partnership funds. One unanswered question raised by the Council of Research about the viability and success of the partnerships lies in how much of the funding reported is a result of the partnerships, and how much was in progress before their creation.
In fall 1993, the Faculty Senate requested that every department declare "performance standards" for its graduating majors. The Faculty Senate set a deadline of Fall 1994 for programs and departments to submit performance standards required to earn a degree. The units were also required to submit a means by which it could be determined whether students had met the standards. These standards and evaluation tools were submitted to the deans of the respective colleges. The standards vary from department to department, and the Provost's Office has worked in conjunction with faculty and deans to achieve some consistency. While these standards and evaluation tools have not been widely publicized, some departments have been better at communicating with students than others. Although opinions about what constitutes performance standards differ, the process of developing these standards has stimulated thought and discussion among the faculty.
Evaluation of the curricular review process is ongoing. Although one oversight committee, the Curricular Affairs Committee (CAC), is charged with regular review of courses, in reality it rarely has sufficient time available beyond that for approval (or rejection) of newly proposed courses and programs. At the same time, however, other relevant committees continually monitor the integrity of the offerings. In the last two years, the Program Contribution Analysis (PCA) has been used to evaluate the cost of programs (see Standard Two for a more complete description).
The formal process of program review is outlined for the campus community in theUniversity Manual. The review process examines the quality of the programs, consistency with University standards and mission, overlap with existing programs, student demand and market issues, financial support, and personnel resource concerns. The Program Review Committee (PRC) reviewed degree granting programs of each academic unit, analyzed the effectiveness of the program in light of the University mission, and prepared a report that addressed program strengths and concerns, and made recommendations for the future. The PRC has been inactive over the last few years due to restructuring of some administrative positions and responsibilities. In the absence of the PRC, data from the Program Contribution Analysis described earlier triggered program reviews by the Provost and President, in consultation with the presiding dean, when the PCA revealed problems with respect to program cost and resource use.
Some directives are in place to return to the charge made to the Curricular Affairs Committee and reinstate the Program Review Committee and rebuild the retrospective review of existing courses and programs. In addition to faculty and department initiatives, the administration encourages flexibility and supports innovation. The Chairperson of the Faculty Senate, in conjunction with a small ad-hoc committee, is developing a less complex process than the Program Contribution Analysis for a qualitative review of existing programs.
As a result of voter approval of two bond initiatives in November 1996, funds have been made available to acquire a new student information system and to renovate Green Hall in Kingston into a new Student Services Center. The College of Continuing Education (CCE) has been included in the planning for the University's automated registration and academic progress report systems. In addition, computer and analyst resources are being devoted to extend the existing Kingston registration and billing system to CCE effective with the fall 1997 semester. This initiative has been titled the One University Initiative, which accurately describes its intent.
During the 10 years covered by this review, the University continued with the general education curriculum implemented in the fall of 1981 (University Manual , Chapter 8, Sec. 8.20.10 - 8.20.22). The requirements include four content domains (Fine Arts and Literature, Letters, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences) and three skill domains (English Communication, Mathematics, and Foreign Language/Culture). Descriptions of each domain allow for proposals from any department in the University for courses to be included in any of the areas, and each domain currently includes courses from a variety of sources. The rationale for the structure of the requirements emphasizes exposure to modes of thought and methods of inquiry within broad areas of learning as well as the development of University-level competencies in specified skill areas. Forty credits are required, with a 3-credit reduction permitted to accommodate some professional school curricula. Until recently, the College of Arts and Sciences B.A. requirements went substantially beyond the University-wide standard, with a maximum of 57 credits, but in 1995-1996 this was reduced to match the University requirement. This reduction has provided the opportunity for B.A. students to earn a double major or add a minor. A Faculty Senate standing committee, the University College and General Education Committee, oversees the requirements and approves courses proposed to meet them.
Three threads are reflected in current deliberations about reform of general education. First, a previous Provost initiated a lengthy process of ad-hoc committee work to develop clear and specific learning objectives, and these have been widely promulgated though never officially approved. Second, the current President set forth a blueprint for a "New Culture for Learning" at the University which included a detailed proposal for a radically transformed general education program. Third, the Liberal Arts Core Committee, an ad-hoc committee chaired by the former Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, prepared a proposal for general education. The President's proposal sustained the most extensive review and revision process, first by the Faculty Senate, then by the University College and General Education Committee, and once more by the Faculty Senate. Several novel aspects of this proposal have been pilot-tested, with extensive evaluation data (both qualitative and quantitative) collected and reported (these reports are available in the workroom). All three sets of ideas were combined into a proposal by the University College and General Education Committee. On March 27, 1997, the Faculty Senate voted to postpone indefinitely consideration of the University College and General Education Committee's Proposal for Revision of General Education at URI.
With thoughtful descriptions of the expectations for courses in each domain and a clear emphasis on specified competencies, the general education program clearly meets the standards for accreditation. In its present form, members of the University community believe the curriculum provides an acceptable general education experience for our students. From the outset, however, despite the widespread belief that it is acceptable, the general education curriculum has been criticized from within the University for a variety of perceived shortcomings. It can be said that faculty and administrators have worked persistently and creatively over the past 10 years to improve existing requirements. A number of reports (available in the workroom) which document issues have been generated since 1987. Some issues are presented here, proposed remedies briefly described, and their status for spring 1997 presented.
Pedagogically, the existing requirements have been faulted on a number of grounds. Many more courses were approved for general education than was originally envisioned, and the current means for filling the requirements do not differ a great deal from the previous curriculum. The inclusion of advanced undergraduate-level courses troubles some faculty. Insufficient attention to multiculturalism and global issues also has been noted. Innovative attempts to impart communication skills proved too costly to maintain over time, as did efforts to build in more attention to analytical and critical thinking skills. Computer and library literacy are not formally addressed by the current program. Some faculty question the need for a language requirement for B.A. students, while others have objected to the use of study abroad in an English-speaking country as a means to fulfill a language/culture requirement. Previous reports have noted these concerns and have also raised the issue of whether what was being done in the actual teaching of approved courses was consistent with the guidelines under which the courses had been approved.
Implementation problems also have been well documented. Certain requirements have been "bottlenecks" with few available means to meet them. Variation in the requirements between the colleges and degrees has led to student confusion, especially when transferring from one degree program to another. The unavailability of sufficient teaching resources has hindered delivery, calling for hard decisions about allocating staff time and last-minute juggling of sections as course enrollments unfold during registration.
Previous reports have attributed a large part of the difficulty with both the pedagogy and the implementation of general education at URI to the diffusion of responsibility for administering the program. The formal mechanism for regulating general education is the aforementioned University College and General Education Committee. Along with faculty representing every college, both the Dean of University College and the Vice Provost for Academic Programs and Services sit as members of this committee. The Dean of Arts and Sciences, where most courses to meet the requirements are based, is not represented on the committee. When asked who is the "responsible person or office" for the general education program, administrators have responded with opinions about "de facto" responsibility residing with either the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences or a combination of that Dean and the Vice Provost. Previous reports have urged that a single administrator be assigned formal responsibility for the day-to-day management of the curriculum.
A final difficulty with the current general education curriculum is the lack of well specified learning objectives or a systematic approach to monitoring or evaluating learning outcomes. Attempts to formulate sound objectives have been sustained but, thus far, inconclusive. No attempt has been made to evaluate the current program in terms of outcomes.
Attempts to revise or replace the existing requirements have been ongoing throughout the ten-year period under review. Modest revisions have occurred, and most recently the B.A. requirement was reduced to the same number of credits as the University-wide requirement. Despite this alteration, the staffing difficulties seem likely to continue as long as the current requirements and staffing resource constraints remain in place.
The central ideas in reform efforts reflect concerns both within and beyond general education. The concept of "front loading," i.e., pushing more instructional resources toward the first 2 years of the undergraduate experience, is reflected in proposals for small classes, use of undergraduate peer tutors, workshops for instructors to support effective pedagogy at this level, and URI 101 1-credit seminars to orient and engage incoming freshmen. This investment is aimed not only at better learning, but also at establishing a learning-oriented culture and bonding students to it (aiding in the practical objective of retention). To improve skill mastery, URI is developing skills-intensive instruction across the curriculum, with special attention to integrating skill learning into content courses in general education. Some experimentation with 4-credit courses has been successful and is being considered as a possible means to revamp general education, although this approach has its critics. The use of portfolios to enhance the generalization of skill learning and assess learning outcomes is moving forward at least for writing skills. Also in the wings are efforts to infuse multicultural learning, critical thinking, and computer literacy into the general education curriculum.
Some elements of these reforms have already been implemented: 1-credit freshman seminars, smaller class sizes in some first-year courses, and availability of courses designated as "writing-intensive." University College has collected data evaluating the URI 101 seminars, although these data have not yet been disseminated widely. The Provost concluded last spring that perhaps when the new technology initiatives are implemented, more impetus to change general education might appear.
Resistance to reform focuses largely on concern about implementation impact, such as: How will enrollments shift? What will the staffing requirements be? How will faculty workload be affected? Some faculty view the use of 4-credit courses without concomitant increases in class meeting time as unacceptable. Faculty fears are exacerbated by the University's current downsizing process and suspicion of administrator motives (e.g. emphasis on packaging and marketing distinctiveness rather than promoting real quality with essential resources). In the face of resistance, innovative ideas continue to be tested and gradual improvements in general education continue.
In the last decade, graduate education at URI has changed in some significant way while other characteristics of the enterprise have remained stable. As stated in the 1986 report: "The introduction, implementation, and maintenance of standards of graduate programs are the responsibility of the Graduate Council and the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School (University Manual : Chapter 3. Sec. 3.30.10 - 3.30.16; Chapter 5, 5.166.10 - 5.16.43; and the Graduate Student Manual )."
Broadly, these responsibilities have remained the same. However, in recognition of the intimate relationship between graduate education and research, the administrative functions of the Graduate School have been merged with those of the Research Office. Thus, the chief administrative officer of the Graduate School now is a Vice Provost for Graduate Education, Research and Outreach. The responsibilities formerly met by the Dean of the Graduate School are now among the duties of the Vice Provost.
As noted earlier, graduate enrollments have remained relatively level with 3,164 students, but composition has changed. Diversity has increased, and the number of successful degree completions also has increased. The new focus areas include a centering on several programs which are well-regarded nationally and internationally.
The budgetary challenges experienced by the University over the last 10 years have affected graduate education as they have other aspects of the life of the University. A number of the problems cited in the 1986 Self-Study continue. These relate to graduate stipends, library facilities, research equipment, and the condition of the physical plant. Because approximately 33% of graduate students come to the University from outside Rhode Island, the cost of out-of-state tuition also affects the quality, size and geographical distribution of the applicant pool from which our students are drawn. In 1986, the continuing tenure-track faculty numbered 679, and in 1996 that number had fallen to 622 faculty. However, student population also declined proportionally in that same time period, and fewer part-time faculty were utilized, resulting in more full-time faculty teaching.
In response to continued budget shortfalls, the University has sought to target more precisely the use of its resources, and to bring greater definition to those areas perceived to have the potential for excellence. This led to the identification of the Liberal Arts Core and four focus areas: Marine and Environmental Sciences; Health; Children, Families and Communities; and Enterprise and Advanced Technology. To preserve the resources needed to support and strengthen these areas, admissions to a total of 16 undergraduate and 18 graduate programs were suspended in 1995. While the University continues to provide opportunities for graduate studies for students interested in many areas for which admissions have been suspended, these suspensions have changed the landscape of graduate education at the University.
At present, the administration, following Board of Governors' policy, proposes to raise out-of-state tuition for full-time graduate students until it matches the tuition of a full- time out-of-state undergraduate student.
The benefits that accrue to the University as a result of the presence and vitality of its graduate programs remain unchanged. Graduate education remains central to such critical efforts as University research, undergraduate education, and the recruitment and retention of a faculty of the first rank. The increase in diversity of our graduate students represents an important priority and will improve the pool of trained professionals available to meet Rhode Island's needs.
Targeting our resources on the Liberal Arts Core and the four focus areas of Marine and Environmental Sciences; Health; Children, Families and Communities; and Enterprise and Advanced Technology are critical to establishing the University more firmly as preeminent in these areas and in maintaining its health.
Outreach is another important function and outcome of the University's status as a land-grant institution and the primary state research institution in Rhode Island. The University of Rhode Island is committed to applying, utilizing and disseminating existing knowledge as well as creative activities both in and out of the classroom. As described earlier, the partnership concept is designed to bring undergraduates into the scholarship activities of the University and to involve professional members of the state- wide community in cooperative/multidisciplinary efforts. Some additional multimillion- dollar sponsored research opportunities are possible as a result of this innovative way of combining learning, research and outreach.
The University uses outreach for promotion, but the predominant focus is on fulfilling its land-sea- and urban-grant missions. The University of Rhode Island offers more than 120 outreach programs to fulfill the third leg of URI's mission of teaching, research and outreach (public service). Examples of such outreach include the long-standing URI Cooperative Extension Service, the Sea Grant Program and the University of Rhode Island Technical Assistance Program (URITAP), which was formed to aid manufacturing in Rhode Island. Highlighting the importance of this area is the recent decision by the Provost to assign responsibility for University-wide outreach to a particular Vice Provost. The recently redesigned position of Vice Provost for Graduate Education, Research and Outreach will now be charged with coordinating and shaping the University's overall outreach focus.
Serious attempts have been made in the last 10 years to define outreach at URI--what it is, what is to be included, and where it ought to be going. In May 1990 the University Outreach Committee presented a report proposing specific ways and means "for enhancing the University's outreach programming in the best sense of the land-grant tradition of public service." This 13-member group of faculty, staff, alumni and a graduate student appointed by then-President Edward Eddy began its work as the University Summer Planning Committee in July 1989 but grew in scope as the complexity of the issue became apparent. While most recommendations in this report addressed the need for policy formulation, improvement of facilities and better promotion of the University--having little to say about programs and instruction--it did include a call to foster cultural programming.
As a result of a perceived need for better coordination and visibility for outreach activities, in June 1995 the Provost formed a special study committee charged with addressing outreach at the University. This "Blue Ribbon Committee on Outreach" submitted its report on January 1, 1996. This report builds upon the work of the 1990 committee but is much more comprehensive. It notes at the outset that URI as a land- and sea-grant institution has had a long history of outreach activities, and that in 1995 the University was designated as an urban-grant university as well, thereby increasing opportunities for outreach. The key features of this report include a mission statement grounding outreach in a Liberal Arts Core and having four areas of focus (Marine and Environment; Health; Children, Families and Communities; and Enterprise and Advanced Technology); an identification of strategic issues, each paired with recommended action(s); and a compilation of some 120 outreach activities at the University, grouped according to the four focus areas. Activities were further defined by their roles in teaching, research and service outreach. Those having the most to do with programs and instruction fall into the area of teaching and include such examples as the Narragansett Bay Classroom, the Labor Research Center conference programs, the Child Development Center, the Psychological Consultation Center, and the College of Continuing Education.
One comprehensive and structured form of outreach instruction is Continuing Education. Unlike many institutions of higher education where it is an auxiliary enterprise, continuing education at the University of Rhode Island is fully integrated into the body of the institution. As such, the College of Continuing Education (CCE) must meet all the standards and follow the same rigorous program approval and review processes as all other units of the University. As one of 8 degree-granting colleges at the University of Rhode Island, the CCE awards the Bachelor of General Studies degree. The BGS is an interdisciplinary program currently offering 4 interdepartmental majors--Applied Communications, Business Institutions, Health Services Administration, and Human Studies. In addition to its own degree programs, CCE provides an alternative site for a limited number of undergraduate and graduate programs from other colleges of the University.
The mission of the College of Continuing Education, like the University's larger mission, is centered on teaching, research and service, and aims to foster lifelong learning. The student body at CCE differs somewhat from that of the main campus in that its members have a wider age range, are more likely to be enrolled part-time and often are carrying the multiple responsibilities of job, family and schooling.
The College experiments responsibly with alternative modes of teaching and learning designed to promote students' academic success. There is a vigorous effort to extend and strengthen services to populations currently underserved by higher education such as African American, Hispanic and other racial/ethnic minorities, the physically handicapped, the economically disadvantaged, and women through such programs as the Learning Enhancement for Adults Program (LEAP), the Academic Appraisal Program, and the College Readiness Program. CCE permits "performance-based admissions" for older students who do not meet URI's regular admissions criteria.
During the period under review CCE developed two new Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) majors--Applied Communications and Health Services Administration. A third program in Liberal Studies was also developed and underwent the same rigorous academic scrutiny, but has not yet gained final approval by the Board of Governors. Other curriculum and program developments include the creation of Prior Learning Assessment, stepped-up efforts in on-site and extended education, and the introduction of electronic-mail course instruction first offered by CCE (fall 1995). Course instruction at CCE is an integral part of the University structure as are its curricular matters.
Across the University are many forms of outreach activities and services, including such major areas as Continuing Education, Cooperative Extension, the Urban Field Center, and Sea Grant activities offered through the Coastal Institute. Even so, URI does not have a well coordinated or focused outreach program. URI's past deficiency in uncoordinated outreach has not gone unnoticed or unaddressed, however. URI recently has begun to attend more to its outreach program, with the assignment of these duties to the Vice Provost for Graduate Education, Research and Outreach to coordinate and shape the University's overall outreach focus.
CCE has undertaken two major reassessments in the last 10 years both initiated by the college's own management team. The first one, in 1988, was a comprehensive and thorough examination of the college. All sections, from the mission and goals statement to unit-by-unit objectives, were rewritten with the intent of both defining CCE's uniqueness and preserving its accord with the University. The second assessment was begun in early 1995 and was performed through a caucus process utilizing personnel from the Professional Development, Leadership and Organization Training (PDLOT) office on the Kingston campus. That CCE was about to be moved to new, larger quarters in downtown Providence at this time added some urgency to the reassessment project. Contributing factors in reshaping the college's mission and goals were administrative complexity, greatly enhanced data communications capabilities and a decidedly more urban environment. Smaller scale assessments of programs and instruction are conducted regularly at CCE, including student satisfaction surveys and evaluations by faculty, staff and students. Most importantly, in addition to the usual curricular/academic oversight, CCE degree programs have built into them periodic evaluations requiring approval by the Board of Governors.
Almost all outreach programs have a component of assessment by participants. Following workshops or other similar sessions, evaluations are requested and the feedback used to improve the offerings or programs. However, given the difficulty with lack of coordination, this process needs refinement.
There continues to be a significant and growing amount of outreach activity, yet it still is in need of better coordination and visibility. The assignment of outreach responsibilities to a vice provost is expected to facilitate progress in this area. Another important area needing development according to the report is Distance Learning. In this past academic year, a Special Assistant to the President and Provost for Outreach and Planning and Director of Cooperative Extension has been appointed to enhance outreach and distance learning for the University. The Common Agenda sessions held in summer 1996 devoted much attention to enhancing outreach. Finally, the newly realigned Informational and Instructional Technology Services group (IITS) has funding that will provide for the development of distance learning and outreach activities.
The integration of CCE to the University will become more complete with the implementation of a new student records system anticipated in 1999 and the One University Initiative.
Overview. URI has steadily and consummately pursued its mission as "the principal public research...institution in the State of Rhode Island" for the last 10 years. In addition to the statistical evidence supporting this claim, the University has made substantial changes in operation and governance designed to further the research mission. The Provost's stated goal is for the University to become a Carnegie Research Level I University before the year 2000. A Research Level I university awards 50 or more doctorates and receives at least $40 million per year in extramural funding from selected funding agencies.
The Role of Research and Scholarship at URI. The importance of the pursuit of knowledge has been institutionalized through the promotion and tenure procedure wherein research accomplishments are evaluated and given importance equal to or greater than teaching and service endeavors. Weights given to each of these areas and specific criteria for evaluating research and scholarship differ among colleges.
Focus Areas. As a result of a variety of campus-wide activities, including the President's 5-year plan, discussions in committees concerned with research, and in the Faculty Senate, which culminated in codification in the newly revised Mission Statement, the University community has agreed to commit its energy to four focus areas: Marine and Environmental Studies; Health; Children, Families, and Communities; and Enterprise and Advanced Technology.
Partnerships. One immediate outcome of refocusing is the development of partnerships. Partnerships are officially recognized academic organizational and administrative units that are specifically structured to be significantly broad in scale, for example, by involving several disciplines across departmental and college lines and are expected ultimately to be self-supporting. Partnerships may cooperate with or involve extra- university entities or organizations in their activities. As one of their goals, partnerships must bring undergraduate students into the scholarship activities of the University, specifically addressing the following question: "How will the research present undergraduates with a learning experience?" The Council for Research reviews proposals for partnerships which are internally funded to a maximum of $150,000 each for three years. Partnerships currently authorized are: The President's Health Promotion Partnership, Surface and Sensors Technology Partnership for Education, URI Partnership for Coastal Environment, and Public Health Partnership for Infectious Disease Control. These partnerships are closely aligned with the previously described focus areas. In addition, URI fulfills its land-sea- and urban-grant mission with these activities.
Research Centers. Another way in which research is advanced is through centers, institutes, partnerships and bureaus, such as the Center for Vector-Borne Disease. In this way, URI meets its land-sea- and urban-grant missions. There are a diverse range of research centers, some specific to a discipline and others which are interdisciplinary. As described earlier, two approval processes exist: one for permanent centers, and another for temporary centers. In practice, some centers exist informally. The approval and review process functions for research centers virtually like that for new programs and is just as rigorous for permanent centers.
Administrative infrastructure. Several changes have occurred at the administrative level since 1986. Most notably, the former Vice Provost for Research position has been merged with the Graduate School position as a newly titled Vice Provost for Graduate Education, Research and Outreach. As chief research administrator of the University, he will be responsible for facilitating ongoing academic research, expanding research funding opportunities, developing relationships with government agencies and the private sector, strengthening research infrastructure, and nurturing research ideas and initiatives.
The role of the Research Office has been greatly expanded over the last ten years. As the lack of a properly staffed research office was identified as a "primary impediment to sponsored research" in the 1986 Self-Study , this change has resulted in considerable improvement in obtaining and managing higher levels of funding for research. From a small office primarily engaged in approving proposals and grant accounting, the Research Office has expanded to become an integral part of the research effort. Several years ago, more staff members were added to this office with the explicit goal of improving the University's ability to obtain and manage external funding.
During the past 10 years, new compliance demands have been issued by the federal government in the areas of grant accounting, conflict of interest, scientific misconduct, safety, research on animals and humans, intellectual property rights, and hiring practices. The University's commitment to research and scholarship in the face of these annually increasing government demands is shown by the increasing responsibilities of the Research Office to provide the services to keep URI in compliance with federal regulations, a necessary condition for receiving federal grant support. The Research Office also performs post-award accounting and is involved in administrative issues. The Office operating budget comes primarily from recovered overhead.
The faculty role in the administration of research activities has also been revised. Previously, two committees primarily composed of faculty members dealt with research issues: the Council for Research and the Senate Research Policy and Facilities Committee. With the expansion of funded research activities at the University and increasing overlap in the responsibilities, interests and potential membership of these two committees, it became clear that the University's research interests would best be served by a single committee. Thus, the Research Policy and Facilities Committee was incorporated into the Council for Research, which became a standing committee of the Faculty Senate and is its primary advisory group in the area of research. The Council's main objectives are to promote and facilitate research at the University, to ensure that research and other creative and scholarly activities are seen as being of equal importance with the instructional function, and that the close relationship between the two is recognized. It is in this spirit that the University has attempted to support research through administrative organization. Also, all boards required for research oversight by federal regulations, such as the Institutional Review Board, the Animal Care and Use Committee and the Institutional Biosafety Committee are managed by faculty. Radiation Safety is a separate office with two professionals housed on the Bay Campus.
A less formal means of effecting change in the environment for research, scholarship and creative activities is through the institution of the Common Agenda meetings. The meetings have produced several items of this university-wide agenda related to research and scholarly activity. Currently, one key item of focus is the technology initiative which is setting priorities for the spending of the technology bond referendum. The search for a Vice Provost for Information Services and Dean of the University Libraries was also given a high priority, and has led to the appointment of Dr. Paul Gandel. This position, which was only filled for one year since its inception, should have a major impact on research support facilities.
The University should provide a stable physical environment for conducting research and scholarship. Leaking roofs, planned and unplanned power outages, and breakdown of old and aging systems in many campus buildings pose persistent problems, especially for experimental organisms and sensitive equipment that require controlled environmental conditions (e.g., temperature and humidity).
With the exception of computer technology resources (see Standard Seven), there is no University-wide policy to promote the acquisition and maintenance of major, multiuser equipment such as centrifuges, autoclaves, water stills, radiation counters, and electron microscopes which provide basic services needed to conduct modern laboratory research in many disciplines but are too costly for faculty to acquire through individual research grants. In general, operation and maintenance of such equipment, where it is available, is left up to individual faculty, chairs and deans.
Library . Data for library expenditures in research serial publications show the distribution of investment by general discipline (see information available in the workroom). Changes in library resources have affected scholarship in the last decade. Membership in the Consortium of Rhode Island Academic and Research Libraries (CRIARL) and new databases enhance access to research holdings.
Technology . As reported in Standard Seven, many enhancements in technology have allowed faculty and staff increased productivity, particularly with respect to better access to research databases and to the mainframe. Faculty members who need access to supercomputer processing can do so by virtue of the University's affiliation with the Cornell Theory Center. Support staffing is below the level expected for a Level II research university, and faculty sometimes struggle with the need for consultation and field support.
Faculty Workload; Policies, Procedures, and Practice. This governance system, in conjunction with the collective bargaining agreement, gives guidance on faculty workload as described in Standard Five. As stated in the University Manual (4.11.10), membership on the University faculty is based on "direct participation in or supervision of research." This general structure, through which all faculty are expected to devote time to scholarly pursuits beyond teaching and service, assumes that one-quarter of a faculty member's effort is spent in scholarly activity/research; however, specific expectations for the balance between research and teaching vary among the colleges and departments. For sponsored research, release time from teaching responsibilities can occur, but must be negotiated individually. With the decreasing size of the faculty and continuing need to deliver the curriculum, teaching loads have increased, and it is not always possible to negotiate release time even with significant sponsored research. Policies for faculty credit for supervision of graduate student dissertations and theses are not universal. In some colleges the practice is to consider the role of major professor as part of the research responsibilities, while in others additional release time from teaching is granted for this activity.
Research Productivity. At URI, the clear expectation that all faculty members pursue scholarship, an activity fundamental to achievement of our institutional purposes, is stated in the University Manual (section 4.11.10): membership on the University faculty is based on "direct participation in or supervision of...research." As noted earlier, a contractually stated workload institutionalizes this expectation, in that teaching is set at a level to complement research and scholarship activities. Although 10 years ago URI gave greater emphasis in performance evaluation on research accomplishments, with an impetus from the Faculty Senate and the AAUP and the arrival of our current President, the emphasis has shifted somewhat to recognize accomplishments in teaching or service. Success in scholarship is frequently measured by the quantity of reviewed publications and their frequency of citation. Research productivity and recognition as a respected scholar in one's field still are important components of the promotion and tenure review process.
Several sources contain summaries or measures of the productivity levels of the faculty. One of these is the Library's "Faculty Publications Summary," which is in the workroom. This document reports that the total number of publications rose from 1238 publications in 1991 to 1605 in 1994 and decreased to 1029 in 1996. Other scholarly work in unfunded areas like exhibits, or musical and theatrical performances, has increased.
Another measure of productivity is that of funded research. Sponsored research in 1987 was reported to have increased over the preceding decade from $14.3 to $25.5M. In 1996-1997, sponsored research rose to $40M, although that was a decline from the highest level of $46.9M in 1994-1995. Additional detailed information on funding levels may be found in the Annual Report 1996-1997 (Office of the Controller, Research Office). The major portion of research funding (86%) was awarded by the federal government.
Much of this funding continues to reflect the marine-related research carried out at the University. Over the last five years, the Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) has ranged from a high of $21+ Million to almost $17M in 1996. GSO's activities and reputation are international. GSO operates the R/V Endeavor, an ocean-going research vessel, and several other technologies. Atmospheric sciences and coastal ecology are still heavily emphasized and will be augmented with the new Coastal Resources Institute. In addition, the nationally-known Jason Project conducts deep-sea research with an outreach component for children and education. In June 1997, funding of approximately $750,000 was awarded for an environment and journalism project with matching funds from the Providence Journal-Bulletin Foundation of $250,000. The College of Engineering also garners a substantial level of research funding, especially in the areas of Robotics and Manufacturing Engineering. Among Arts and Sciences departments obtaining funding for research, Psychology has an outstanding record with its Center for Cancer Prevention Research (CPRC). The CPRC also provides an intensive outreach component with its smoking cessation and weight control programs.
In addition to federal and state funds, faculty have secured research support from foundations and corporations as well as direct funding from such agencies as the American Council of Learned Societies. The Champlin Foundations, for example, have funded several technology initiatives at the University, including the Communication Technology Classroom in Independence Hall, the Electronic Chalkboard project and the Center for Visual Studies.
Institutional support for unsponsored research in comparison to the 1987 Self-Study is still limited. Modest internal funding sources include some of the following: College Of Arts and Sciences; Council on Research (Including Summer Faculty Fellowships, Research Fellowships, and Instructional Development [$60,000]); and the URI Foundation.
The Role of Research and Scholarship at URI. URI evaluates research and scholarship relative to the merits of work produced according to the discipline, whether it is an artistic production, a recital, a published article or book or a grant. In the last several years, pedagogy and outreach including research in pedagogy has been considered of equivalent weight to other types of scholarship. Some controversy remains regarding the relative merits of sponsored versus unsponsored research. As might be expected, the scarcity of resources is causing a greater premium to be placed on external grant funding than was the case in prior years. In many areas in which formal sponsorship is scarce, the faculty feel undervalued.
Focus Areas. The road to the selection of the four areas was not smooth, nor is there universal commitment to these areas. It is anticipated that by emphasizing the strengths of URI and maximizing the use of resources it will be possible to carve out a distinctive niche for the University and achieve a quality of scholarly activity not attainable through other approaches. Detractors suggest that these focus areas ignore many potential strengths, isolate individuals or groups whose interests lie outside of these defined areas, and limit or doom any chance for innovation. The success of the focus area designation will depend on whether sufficient resources and personnel can be diverted into these activities to create distinguished centers of learning and research without undermining the general curriculum and other scholarly activities.
Partnerships. The faculty is concerned about the use of valuable resources for speculative endeavors while the instructional effort continues to be financially squeezed. Whereas some of the partnerships have received significant new funding in their first year, the Council on Research has raised the question of how much of the funding reported is a direct result of forming partnerships, and how much was in progress before their creation. The Kellogg Foundation has been interested in the impact of such partnerships on learning and the delivery of research and instruction in merged form. Another important benchmark of success will rest on how well the partnerships are able to meet the goal of integrating student learning with their research activities. Undergraduates who have been involved in the current partnerships are generally enthusiastic. The ability of the partnerships to become self-supporting as mandated by the enabling legislation, their ability to spark student initiatives and participation in research, and their success in promoting the growth of such interdisciplinary efforts will determine the future of this concept.
Research Centers. The research centers meet the needs of a research institution. While URI continues to review the approval processes and make those easier, there seems to be little need to change a system that is working well to meet our mission and needs.
Administrative infrastructure. The activities of the expanded Research Office are helpful to faculty in obtaining sponsors for research. Some continuing faculty concerns about the increased staff and resources devoted to the Research Office may be allayed by increasing efforts to publicize more widely their expanded activities and to conduct more outreach to faculty and staff who could benefit from their services.
The practice of leaving maintenance and operation to departments or deans has often resulted in the gradual deterioration of equipment through lack of adequate funds for maintenance and service contracts and for responsible technical staff to train and control access to users, make timely repairs, and keep abreast of new developments in the field. The decision to terminate many trained technical support staff positions because of budgetary constraints exacerbated this situation by transferring responsibilities to an already heavily-burdened faculty. The inconsistency of these basic facilities and lack of adequate support staff put the faculty at a disadvantage in formulating research programs and competing for funding at a national level. Moreover, even though the University maintains an inventory of research equipment which was intended to be available to any investigator on campus, the list is not circulated, and the policy is impractical to implement. Thus, there is considerable duplication of equipment which is often not fully utilized.
Libraries. Some changes have had a deleterious effect on research and scholarship, for example, journal cancellations; budgets sometimes based on the reduced figure of a previous year; reduction in Reference Services; increase in interlibrary loan delays; and the reduction in the number of items received from Government Printing Office. On the other hand, some changes have been positive, including (but not limited to): expansion of the Library's main building with addition of group studies, online catalog, and other meeting facilities; increase in hours for library access; changes related to increasing technological capabilities, such as increased CD ROM and other databases, as well as access to online databases like Expanded Academic Index and CARL Uncover (see Standard Seven for more detail).
Faculty Workload; Policies, Procedures and Practice. There is concern among faculty that the expectation for devoting one-quarter time to research and scholarship is unrealistic, and this has eroded the morale of some faculty who generally regard engagement in research/scholarship activities as a fundamental career expectation and an important adjunct to informed and effective teaching. Related concerns include the perception that the increased emphasis on undergraduate programs, because of their financial value to the institution, threatens the commitment to and viability of graduate programs.
Research Productivity and Funding. Despite the increasing success of many URI faculty in obtaining financial support for their research and scholarly endeavors, there are many disciplines for which formal sponsorship is limited, and faculty members conduct much research without external support. There is heightened pressure on faculty to increase the levels of externally funded research, especially in the face of constant budget challenges. Faculty who are unable to access external funding for their research often report feeling undervalued. It is difficult to get a measure of their productivity other than reported aggregate frequency of publication.
Major Goal. The goal for the University to be classified as a Carnegie Research I institution in the next decade is worthy and appropriate. The University presently meets the criterion of awarding 50 doctorates annually. The consistent upward trend in external funding during the past 10 years suggests that reaching and sustaining the required level of $40M from selected agencies (excluding equipment) is realistic but will require greater institutional commitment and investment in a number of areas, including support of basic facilities, and strengthening of research and scholarship not only in focus areas but also in the many disciplines represented in the institution. Eligibility for funding by the Federal Government is likely to continue to require establishment of an increasingly large infrastructure of oversight committees and boards to be in compliance with federal regulations with regard to health, safety, animal care, accounting, and so on. That the University has kept pace with these developments shows its commitment to support scholarship and research at a high level.
Administrative infrastructure. It is anticipated that the combined responsibility and authority in the new vice provost position will create a more centralized organizational arrangement through which common needs between scholarship and graduate education can be addressed, and that having a single advocate for research and graduate studies will improve the focus on these areas. The inclusion of outreach activities in the new Vice Provost's responsibilities demonstrates a commitment to scholarship, which includes not only creative activities but also the continuing application, utilization and dissemination of existing knowledge both within and outside the classroom.
Facilities. Improvements in the physical plant under the Asset Protection Plan should retain highest priority to eliminate long-term deferred maintenance of essential facilities for carrying out research and scholarship and maximize use of increasingly limited resources. The effectiveness of the new policy for dealing with emergencies should be closely monitored by the Council on Research, the Vice Provost for Graduate Studies, Research and Outreach, and the Director of Facilities and Operations to limit damage and loss of valuable resources. A concerted effort should be made to reestablish positions for high-level technical staff support to operate and maintain expensive, multi- user, high technology equipment, and common research facilities should be established to reduce overlap and increase access. The budget for the Library must be guarded so that faculty can access basic resources needed for graduate teaching, research and scholarship. This might best be achieved by the delineation of goals by the new Vice Provost for Information Services and Dean of University Libraries defining clear areas of commitment in the face of competing needs across the University. With the increase in multi- or interdisciplinary research across departmental and college lines, duplication of equipment could be alleviated by establishing core facilities for specific research areas together with an institutional commitment for care and maintenance and, for certain highly technical equipment, to establish personnel lines to supplement funds from individual research grants. Such an activity would most likely be best coordinated from the Office of the Vice Provost to provide access to the entire University, rather than be relegated to individual administrative units.
Research Office. The Research Office should maintain its current role in proposal development, preparation, submission, compliance and administration. It should play a more active role to help people find new, creative funding opportunities outside standard federal and state agencies and foundations and engage more faculty in funded research and scholarly activities, promote contact between individuals with common interests across administrative units, establish shared research facilities, and oversee more closely the protection and maintenance of facilities necessary to carry out research and scholarship.
Workload. A workload conducive to achieving research activity consistent with Carnegie Research I status could be supported more consistently throughout the University with both funded and unfunded faculty being given greater opportunity to engage in their areas of professional training. Some faculty believe release time for funded research should be regularized, as should the reward system, to give adequate credit for interdisciplinary and cross-college/cross-departmental research and scholarship.
Institutional Funding. Continued financial success as well as the building of new ties both within the University and to the outside community will provide strong justification for the Partnership concept and may help allay faculty concerns about its garnering of institutional resources. The target figure of $150,000 annually for funding faculty and proposal development is reasonable. Continued funding of individual partnerships and the program as a whole should be predicated on a rigorous evaluation of whether they meet the goals of becoming self-sufficient, lead to greater involvement of undergraduates in the research experience, and invigorate curricula with new and creative courses or other activities. Some faculty believe that faculty and program development funds should be maintained and significantly more seed money of this kind should be made available for research and scholarly activities carried out by individual or smaller groups of faculty, both within and outside the focus areas. One possible source is the increased overhead projected to be captured by successful partnerships. A uniform institutional policy has been made on the availability of matching funds as required for certain kinds of grants. These overhead funds are centralized in the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs to enlarge the pool of monies to be used by others.
Graduate Education. Continuing commitment to a strong graduate program is an essential adjunct to strong research and scholarship. Because graduate supervision needs are not the same in every discipline, a uniform, university-wide policy on credit for supervision of graduate theses and dissertations and independent study is unfeasible. The revised workload policy imposes as much uniformity as is appropriate. A mechanism should be established to enable faculty to teach graduate courses on a regular basis.
The University can be described by several measures as having a high quality of instruction. Official student evaluation forms, departmental and college surveys, and questionnaires by the Instruction Development Program (IDP) and University College all rate the University faculty as above-average in teaching quality. For example, a brief "Teaching Effectiveness Questionnaire," distributed by the IDP in spring 1996, had but one thrust: "Name and describe a single URI teacher you feel is especially effective." Instead of converging upon a few known stars, this questionnaire, completed by 884 students, unearthed more than 200 "special" teachers, nearly 35% of the entire faculty. In fall 1996, a student survey in the College of Engineering revealed that 45% of the students think "good, caring teachers" are the "best thing about URI." These perceptions are a credit to the efforts of individual faculty here at URI.
Student Evaluation of Teaching (SET). Formalized teaching evaluations by students are a tradition at URI. In fall 1975, an official Instructional Feedback Report (IFR) was developed and implemented through the URI Faculty Senate. This was replaced two years later by the Student Evaluation of Teaching (SET) questionnaire prepared by a joint committee of faculty and administrators. The forms are collected by students and delivered to the Office of the Registrar to analyze and return to the faculty member evaluated. Because the faculty was unionized in 1972, there have been many negotiations about the exact details of the SET form and its specific distribution, as described in a paper by Professor M. E. Reilly. Presently, half of the SET form is confidential to the instructor and the relevant chair, dean and Provost, while the other half of the form is placed on Library Reserve for review by students. The SET form is still current and used in all teaching (non-research) courses. These materials form a part of the peer review of teaching submitted for the Annual Review of faculty members.
University Support of Teaching. The primary University-supported agency for the improvement of teaching is the Instructional Development Program (IDP), which has been in continuous operation at URI for 23 years. Headed by two full-time professionals, the IDP offers six to ten workshops each fall, brochures and notes for new faculty, video-taping and analysis of faculty lectures and classes, and consultations with individual faculty on both a planned and a "walk-in" basis. The IDP also sponsors a Teaching Fellows Program for volunteer faculty with seminars on teaching methods and issues in both semesters. This has been supplemented in 1997-1998 with a Teaching Technology Fellows program designed to assist a group of faculty to introduce the latest in multimedia and advanced technology into their classrooms, which is jointly sponsored by Information and Instructional Technology Services. The IDP also supervises the URI connection to the National Faculty Exchange (NFE) which allows academic staff to spend time at any of over 130 participating colleges and universities.
The emphasis in all efforts is upon teaching improvement through increased knowledge, skills and techniques. Some highlights of IDP activity during 1995-96 are shown in materials available in the workroom. From 1991 to 1996, some 225 faculty and 145 graduate teaching assistants have taken advantage of the Instructional Development Program. All faculty, especially those who fare poorly on the SET evaluations, are encouraged, without complications, to make free use of the IDP in their teaching duties.
Each year, with funds from the URI Foundation, the University presents a Teaching Excellence Award to a full-time faculty member. There have been nearly 50 awards through the years. The winners, chosen by a committee of students and notable teachers, are held in high regard by their peers and commonly deliver a short lecture at the University Convocation in the fall. Other support activities emphasizing instruction are: the Faculty Development Fund sponsored by the Alumni Association; the Faculty Competitive Grants program sponsored by the URI Foundation; and the Honors Faculty Fellows sponsored by the Provost's Office. The College of Continuing Education also offers grants and stipends to faculty who develop new and innovative courses and programs in continuing education.
Innovations in Instruction. The primary teaching method used at the University is still the traditional lecture and/or laboratory. However, an increasing number of alternate teaching ideas are being implemented. Examples of ongoing activities are small-group instruction, multimedia presentations, collaborative learning, writing-to-learn, and courses which emphasize undergraduate research projects. Funds from the telecommunications bond initiative will be partially used to enhance educational activities. Throughout the campus there is new equipment for computer-assisted and multimedia classes, notably the new Champlin Foundations' Computer Classroom, which already is subscribed heavily. The Champlin Room can accommodate an instructor with a computer-generated large screen plus 20 students, each with an interactive PC and many different types of software. This year the Champlin Foundations funded $449,000 for four technology projects including the Center for Visual Studies (a multimedia viewing facility); a Fine Arts Center microcomputer laboratory; an "electronic blackboard" for liberal arts (to enhance multimedia production and delivery capabilities for classrooms in Independence Hall); and an award to upgrade central computer servers to enhance on-line instruction. The Audiovisual Office in Chafee Hall has the facilities to receive, live or taped, satellite broadcasts from national and international sources.
Assessment. Two measures of achievement, capstone experiences and competency examinations, show remarkable increases at URI. A list available in the workroom provides the complete list of capstone experiences and competency exams for each of 75 undergraduate degree programs investigated at URI, arranged by college.
Student Evaluation of Teaching. Some faculty still criticize the SET forms as being too focused on "interaction skills" rather than "instruction and communication." Many students question whether their responses (particularly negative ones) actually make any difference in the quality of instruction or in the retention or promotion of faculty. However, teaching, including evidence from SETs, is an important element of the promotion and tenure review (see Standard Five).
Since its inception, the SET forms have indicated that URI faculty are generally high in teaching quality. On a scale of 1 (poor), 2 (fair), 3 (average), 4 (good), and 5 (excellent), the average over many years has exceeded 4.0. Displays which plot average SET scores for each semester since fall 1991 are available in the workroom. The results are consistently "good," neither growing nor decaying. The perennial slight but significant increase each spring is a regular topic of conversation and conjecture at faculty and administrative lunches. Information available in the workroom shows the distribution of SET scores from undergraduate courses collected in the fall of 1995. Although it is recognized that the SET instrument has defects, one may reasonably conclude that more than half of URI's teachers are rated "good" to "excellent."
Assessment. The key to improving instruction is to be able to assess one's efforts. More important, probably, than student ratings of instructors is a university's evaluation of the students' overall progress in their education. Primary methods of such assessment are through capstone courses or projects, student portfolios, and student performance on national or regional competency exams. Fully 85%, or 64 of 75 programs, have a capstone experience and some are quite extensive, covering a year or more of activity. Very few (11 or 15%) degree programs have no clear capstone experience and, interestingly, the collection of data for this section has stimulated these departments to reconsider their status.
Several faculty and administrators have examined the SETs and have called for improvement of the assessment of teaching effectiveness. While there is no systematic effort to conduct this assessment, nevertheless, the process is monitored. Some faculty have indicated the need for peer assessment of actual teaching practices in the classroom, but the URI-AAUP Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates some restrictions for such a practice.
Assessment of student competency is garnering greater attention. Plans to improve general education with more writing-, speaking/listening-, and numerical-intensive components have moved forward. Several proposals have been forwarded to the Curricular Affairs Committee including the General Education proposal temporarily suspended by consideration from the Faculty Senate. URI is increasingly a capstone-enriched university. While URI's assessment efforts have been thin and inconsistent in the past, the situation is improving.
Admissions. The number of incoming first-year students has dropped about 9% over the last ten years with increasing reliance on out-of-state students (the proportion of out-of-state first-year enrollments are up from 40% to 53% over the same period). In the last 4 years, aggressive recruiting and the availability of merit-based scholarships have improved the yield (up 5%) in the face of declining applications (down 18%) to maintain a fairly steady number of incoming students. Playing a pivotal role are the merit-based Centennial Scholarships which have been awarded to over 1300 students at an annual cost of $4.5 million. The standards for admission, as measured by SATs and class standing, have not been sacrificed to improve enrollment. (The middle 50% of scores in 1989: 410-510V and 470-580M; 1995: 400-500V and 450-580M.) The standards for admission are designed so that student qualifications and expectations should be compatible with the University's objectives.
The Admissions Office has a comprehensive national recruitment and marketing effort that includes the volunteer work of our large Alumni Admissions program. These activities span 23 states and include over 1000 high school visits, participation in nearly 150 college fairs, more than 1000 interviews on campus (accompanied by campus tours), 3 fall Open House programs, and 37 Question and Answer Sessions on campus. After acceptance, several programs are organized by the Admissions Office to encourage attendance at URI.
The percentage of minority students has increased from 6.7% in 1985 to 11% in 1995 (3% African American, 3% Hispanic or Latino, 3% Asian, 3% International, <1% Native American) as a result of a concerted recruitment effort, merit-based scholarships, and an enhanced budget for the Talent Development Program.
Faculty, students and staff have developed numerous programs to reach out to high school students for the purposes of education and recruitment. Many of these efforts target minority students. For example, the Multicultural Center initiates search weekends and family outreach activities which are important student-to-student grass roots efforts for recruiting. These activities augment University-wide recruiting efforts such as Meet the University Day. While no comprehensive list of these efforts is maintained, there is a wide range of activities across the University, including Chemistry, Physics, Music, Theater, the College Writing Program, the Library, and the Urban Field Center, among others. These efforts raise the profile of the University in the eyes of high school students while enriching the experiences of students.
There are adequate safeguards to insure the integrity of transfer credits. A Transfer and Articulation Agreement exists among the public institutions of higher education in Rhode Island. This agreement includes approved transfer credit for designated courses. The agreement is updated on a yearly basis by a joint committee of faculty and administrators from the three institutions with input from the relevant departments. Transfer approval is delegated to the assistant dean of the college to which the student applies. It is preferred that students have at least 24 transfer credits.
Retention. Freshman to sophomore retention rates gradually increased throughout the 1980s to a high of 83% for the entering class of 1989, then dropped to a low of 70% for the entering class of 1991. In spite of continuing efforts to reduce first year attrition, it remains a problem. For the past several years, about 75% of the first-year class has returned as sophomores. This is to be compared with a retention rate of over 80% for comparable state universities in New England.
To improve faculty-student interaction, the President has instituted a fund to help finance student-faculty social activities such as class meals and meetings at a faculty member's home. The dining hall service has also distributed meal tickets to faculty members in order to increase student-faculty contact.
Talent Development. Special Programs for Talent Development (SPTD) offer the opportunity for a college education to students who would not normally be eligible for admission to the University of Rhode Island. SPTD seeks to make the opportunity for higher education available to Rhode Island's minority and disadvantaged populations. By actively recruiting throughout the state, the SPTD staff identifies individuals who have demonstrated potential and a strong desire to learn and acquaints them with the objectives, methods and requirements of the program. The students apply through the Admissions Office with specially tagged applications. Those students who have met the entrance requirements, but whose grades or test scores are too low for normal admission, have their applications screened by the SPTD staff. The screening tries to determine if the deficiencies are the result of personal, academic or financial difficulties. Students who are successful at this stage of the process are given a conditional admission to the University contingent upon completing a six week Preparation Program in the spring and passing an 8-week Pre-Matriculation Program in the summer including two regular URI summer courses. The cost of these programs is paid for entirely by SPTD. Tutorial assistance, counseling and financial advice continue throughout the school year. The amount of financial aid that a student receives is determined by the individual's need.
The number of students currently in the program is approximately 560 in Kingston and approximately 220 in Providence. They earn an average grade (quality) point average (QPA) of 2.3. Roughly 15% are on probation (compared to 12% for the entire student body), leading to a graduation rate that runs between 65 and 70%.
Honors Program. The Honors Program and Visiting Scholars Committee has continued to enrich the campus community by offering a wide range of stimulating Honors courses and sponsoring noted scholars for visits to Kingston for special presentations to students and faculty. With the rise in merit scholarships, the demand for Honors Program activities, including courses, will increase. The standards of eligibility for participation in the program continue to be the same: Freshmen must have graduated in the top 10% of their high school class or present a letter of recommendation from their principal or guidance counselor. Sophomores, juniors and seniors must have earned a 3.2 QPA. Total enrollment each semester during fall 1996 was between 110 and 130 students.
Faculty apply to become Honors Fellows, and between 10 and 20 are accepted for each semester. These faculty offer courses, with limited enrollment, for the Honors students. In addition to these offerings, each semester an Honors Colloquium is offered. The topic is determined by the Honors Program and Visiting Scholars Committee in a competitive process from the submitted proposals. In the Spring 1997 Semester, for instance, the Honors Colloquium was "Moving Images: Their Development, Power, and Cultural Significance."
The Visiting Scholars Program, in which distinguished speakers are brought to campus for a lecture or series of presentations, is also coordinated by the committee. The committee received requests totaling $28,012 for Visiting Scholars presentations for 1996-97. Twenty-six awards were made, totaling $10,064; these represented a broad range of departments, colleges and disciplines. Although most of the grants are of necessity for small sums, their cultural and intellectual enhancement of the community is considerable. Increased transportation and other costs have encouraged co-sponsorship by several departments and groups for speakers with national reputations.
The Program (faculty and students) is also particularly concerned with admissions and recruitment. The director, along with some Honors students and staff, participate in Centennial Scholars Day, Welcome Day, and other activities conducted by the Admissions Office. During 1996-97, the Honors Program assumed responsibility for administering several major scholarships and fellowships, including the Rhodes, Marshall, Truman and Goldwater. The intention is to create a more formal mechanism for identifying and preparing students as candidates for these awards. To that end, workshops are held for faculty interested in participating in the process of finding and preparing candidates for this growing number of national scholarships. The Honors Program has a small endowment which benefits from donations from generous supporters. The endowment is used for special activities for which general funds are not available.
The data on admissions show a fairly constant first-year class over the last ten years in terms of number of incoming students, their SAT scores and diversity. While the applicant pool has been decreasing, our yield has been increasing. Data over the last four years, since the merit-based scholarships have been available, hint at an upturn in the quality of the enrolling class as measured by SAT's and class rank. Whether this is a trend or a fluctuation awaits additional information. The effort to increase diversity has been moderately successful as measured in terms of the number of minority students.
The Admissions Office is dealing with portfolio acceptability standards in view of the increasing number of secondary schools which do not grade their students' performance. A faculty-administration committee is helping to establish standards for portfolio evaluation.
While requirements for continuation in good standing, and methods of evaluation of learning and achievement are clearly elucidated in the Bulletin , additional steps have been taken to make student expectations more realistic and, thereby, improve retention. First-year, mid-semester progress reports have been instituted to alert students to deficiencies in performance. At present, 18% of first-year students find themselves on probation ( a QPA less than 2.0), a percentage that is at its lowest in recent years and decreasing. In contrast, only 12% of continuing students are on probation. It is anticipated that the mid-semester reports, instituted several years ago, will continue to decrease this rate. When students do remove themselves from probation, they are congratulated for their effort and encouraged to continue to improve their performance.
University College uses feedback from students to improve its advising system in a continuous way. Faculty advising in University College is oriented through college workshops and meetings. Several workshops to improve advising skills have recently been developed in conjunction with the Professional Development, Leadership and Organizational Training Program and offered to all University advisors. All University College advisors receive an advising handbook updated each year, and new advisors are mentored by experienced advisors and staff. In addition, the Summer Institute for Freshman began in fall 1996 as part of the Discover Leadership track (a program which prepares incoming students for an active role in university and community service). It is hoped that these actions will continue to have a positive impact on retention.
The Honors Program is a vital contributor to the University's culture. The Honors Program has been successful at presenting original courses, interesting speakers, and rewarding opportunities for the entire University community. As such, it is highly valued by those in the program as well as by those who have only a passing contact. Faculty and administrators alike place a high priority on the financial health of the program. However, continued resource pressures have limited the number of faculty who are able to participate in the program because of the lack of release time. The Centennial Scholars Program also is viewed as an important means to improve the quality of academics at URI and increase URI's attractiveness for both admissions and retention.
Efforts are designed to increase the applicant pool and, by so doing, increase the academic profile of the incoming class. The target of 1150 for the average SAT score (compared to the current 1060) has been proposed by the President. It is hoped that the merit scholarships will continue to provide incentive for those top students to attend the University of Rhode Island. If the trend for minority enrollment continues, a target of 15-20% within the next ten years is reasonable. The SPTD program intends to increase enrollment to nearly 1000 while improving the graduation rate to 80%. A concomitant increase in QPA would be expected. Centennial Scholars have a freshman to sophomore retention rate or 91%, and the program is viewed as an important means to improve the quality of academics at URI.
To improve the recruitment of multicultural students, increased financial resources are needed. Targeting high schools having large minority enrollments is not successful without scholarship availability. Furthermore, faculty and staff of color need to be increased (2% African American, 2% Hispanic or Latino, 8% Asian, <1% Native American). Unfortunately, the rural setting of the campus is said to offer minimal inducement for both minority faculty and students. The Admissions Office holds recruitment of multicultural students as a high priority. Evaluation of URI's success will be seen in the enrollment and retention numbers.
The demand for Honors courses and activities will undoubtedly increase as the number of Centennial Scholars increases. Additional programming for these students will be required and the limitations of the current funding scheme will have to be remedied. The expansion of the Honors Program to the dorms will be a major step in the development of the program. During 1996-1997 the Honors Program and the Office of Housing and Residential Life agreed to create a living environment for Honors and Centennial Scholarship students. In 1997-98, half of Merrow Hall will be designated an "Honors Learning Community," and the Honors Program will inaugurate what is hoped will be a growing series of events and programs to take place in the dormitory. This initiative will mark an important step toward providing Honors students with a place where they can find one another and interact. The 1997 Common Agenda meeting produced a task force dedicated to fostering opportunities for the Centennial Scholars and other talented students. These developments will encourage and enable more contact among the Honors students and encourage retention.
The current retention rate is below that of similar institutions in region. A number of programs are being reviewed to determine a strategy to improve retention. Recent studies of enrollment management at URI have isolated three general causes of attrition: financial pressures, academic pressures, and general dissatisfaction. The challenges for retention are to identify accurately the causes of student departure, improve data gathered about our students, create a more student-centered environment, and narrow the gap between expectations and delivery in advising. Proposals to deal with these issues include: improve administrative coordination, improve the condition of the physical plant, involve departments in the recruitment and retention of students, reconsider the type of students entering URI, improve the bonding of students to the University, and work to become a more student-centered institution. Efforts in these areas are being made; however, the financial challenges the University faces limit the responses that are available.
Finally, a mandatory course for all first-year students, URI 101, has been established beginning with the class of 2000. The goal of this course is to help better prepare the first-year student for university life, while increasing student-faculty interaction. At present, there is some controversy regarding the delivery and the impact on retention of URI 101; further evaluation is necessary. URI 101 will be evaluated to determine how it could be improved to serve the students better.
The actions proposed or already taken should improve retention statistics to levels comparable with other land-grant institutions in the Northeast. That is, second-year retention should increase from 75% to 80% as a target for the next 5 years. Concomitantly, graduation rates should also improve. The President's plan to establish firmly a "New Culture for Learning" seems well underway.
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