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Leadership Retreat May 3, 2006 Stephen D. Gottfredson Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Virginia Commonwealth University Virginia Commonwealth University: A Legacy of Engagement Approved by BOV in February Created by VCU, for VCU Apply the key themes Strategic Plan 2020

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virginia commonwealth university a legacy of engagement
Leadership Retreat

May 3, 2006

Stephen D. Gottfredson

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University: A Legacy of Engagement
strategic plan 2020
Approved by BOV in February

Created by VCU, for VCU

Apply the key themes

Strategic Plan 2020
five themes of strategic plan
Ensure and maintain the highest levels of University efficiency, accountability and infrastructure support required to achieve our strategic vision.

2. Achieve national recognition as a learning-centered research university that embraces a world-class student experience.

3. Assure continued international recognition for our research, scholarship and creative expression.

Achieve preeminence for our academic medical center.

5. Maintain VCU as a model for university-community partnerships.

Five Themes of Strategic Plan
critical needs
Critical Needs


Need: Medical Instruction

critical needs7
Critical Needs


Need: Social Workers and Public Health Nurses

critical needs8
Critical Needs


Need: “Pressing Problems of Rapid Urbanization”

critical needs9
Critical Needs


Need: To be identified by the community

community engagement
Dr. Catherine Howard

Director, Office of Community Programs

Virginia Commonwealth University

Community Engagement
carnegie defines community engagement as
the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, & global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity. Carnegie Defines Community Engagement as
strategic plan and community engagement
“Through university-community partnerships, scholarship generates knowledge with local, national, and global application; learning instills a commitment to civic responsibility; and service ensures a vibrant quality of life for the Richmond region.”

(VCU 2020 Strategic Plan)

Strategic Plan and Community Engagement
vcu community solutions
VCU Community Solutions connects the university with the community to create opportunities for social change.

VCU Community Solutions
council for community engagement
The Council will:

Provide a coordinating infrastructure to identify and support interdisciplinary efforts that address community-identified needs

Generate opportunities for scholarly and creative work- for faculty and students

Identify external funding sources

Increase visibility of VCU’s university-community partnerships - locally and nationally

Address university policies and procedures to assure recognition and rewards for faculty, staff and students engaged in the community

Council for Community Engagement
why community engagement matters
“The measure of our success (as urban research universities) will be based on ….the economic prosperity of all of our citizens, their physical health, their reflective sense of contentment, and their willingness to embrace and act on the responsibilities of citizenship.”

(Dr. William Plater, Executive

Vice Chancellor, IUPUI, April 2006)

Why Community Engagement Matters
student engagement
Dr. Joseph Marolla

Acting Vice Provost for Instruction and

Director, Center for Teaching Excellence

Virginia Commonwealth University

Student Engagement
Theme II: Achieve national recognition as a learning-centered research university that embraces a world-class student experience.

Initiative 2: Establish a compact with VCU’s students and their parents that ensures all graduates have the skills, knowledge and attitudes needed for lifelong success.

vcu compact

VCU Compact

A common base for student learning

vcu today
While VCU’s diversity is a great strength, it also means a wide range of entering skill levels on the part of freshmen.

Many high school students are eligible for college entrance but not ready for college level work.

Without a firm base from which to start, many freshmen lose ground early, become discouraged, fail to make progress, and finally abandon their education.

VCU Today
vcu today21
Many of our students do not know what we expect of them academically.

Enrollment growth coupled with declining state support has generated the necessity of many large classes for freshmen.

This can quickly lead to failure for students unaccustomed to self-organization and personal responsibility.

This also can lead to feelings of estrangement for many students – both from others and from their own learning.

The large-class lecture format can lead students to believe that college is more about memorization than intellectual growth.

VCU Today
vcu tomorrow
Steady enrollment increases through 2020

Percentage of minority high school graduates will grow to 43% by 2007 and top 50% in 2020

In the 60’s 25% of high school graduates went on to college, in the next decade that number is likely to exceed 70%

Learning needs of the student population becomes even more diverse

VCU Tomorrow
vcu a university of opportunity
Teaching mission becomes more complex

Focus on individual learning and growth

Frequent and consistent feedback

More emphasis on understanding less on memorization

Foundation for lifelong learning

VCU-A University of Opportunity
faculty and student perceptions
Faculty and Student Perceptions

Percent of faculty and students who responded Very Often or Often to the question “Received prompt feedback from you/faculty on your/their academic performance”

course emphasis
Course Emphasis

Percent of faculty and students who responded Very Much or Quite a Bit to the question “During the current year, how much has your coursework emphasized…memorizing facts, ideas or methods from your courses so [students/you] can repeat them in pretty much the same form? ”

what is vcu compact
VCU Compact is a program intended to guarantee students and their families that our graduates have the foundations needed for lifelong success.

VCU Compact commits the University to supply its students with the foundational tools to acquire the knowledge, abilities, skills, and attitudes necessary to be successful in their academic career as well as their future occupations.

VCU Compact focuses on engagement as well as academic success.

What is VCU Compact?
vcu compact the elements
Skill Development

Shared Experiences

Higher Expectations

Sense of Community

Integrated Experiences

Sense of Accomplishment

VCU Compact: The Elements
vcu compact skill development
VCU Compact envisions a year-long two course sequence (Focused Inquiry I, II) offered in the freshmen year to target a small number of specific skill areas. The skill areas will be determined by the faculty, but would certainly include communication (both written and oral), critical thinking and problem solving, information retrieval and evaluation, and collaborative work. VCU Compact: Skill Development
vcu compact shared experiences
Focused Inquiry I,II is intended to be thematic. Each year there will be a theme offered through this sequence. The theme will create common readings for freshmen and will also determine university activities that draw the attention of the entire university community. Although the main function of the Focused Inquiry sequence will be to offer opportunities in skill development, the theme will supply needed context and content for that work. VCU Compact: Shared Experiences
vcu compact higher expectations
The Focused Inquiry sequence will include a developmental element. While starting with simple assignments we will move to more complex and integrative problems as the semester progresses. This would especially be true in the writing and critical thinking assignments but could also reflect movement toward more generalized and integrative work in the second course.VCU Compact: Higher Expectations
vcu compact sense of community
The Focused Inquiry classes will be small and promote continuity. Students will remain in the same sections for the full year. Faculty teaching successive sections will coordinate and work together. VCU Compact: Sense of Community
vcu compact integrated experiences
During the Sophomore Year:

Courses in existing majors or programs would continue a focus on foundational skills in three broad areas - arts and humanities, science, and social science.

Students would take at least one course in each area.

Existing courses would be revised to reflect an interdisciplinary focus; new courses may be developed.

VCU Compact: Integrated Experiences
vcu compact sense of accomplishment
During the Senior year:

Capstone experience for all seniors

Designed within the major

Highlights or frames students’ accomplishments over their career in one of the skill areas

VCU Compact: Sense of Accomplishment
vcu compact expected outcomes
Better skill development

Shared or common focus

Higher expectations

Sense of community

Integrated experience

Sense of accomplishment

Higher levels of overall satisfaction with the undergraduate experience

Higher retention and graduation rates

VCU Compact: Expected Outcomes
the university college
Dr. Jon Steingass

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs

College of Humanities & Sciences

Virginia Commonwealth University

The University College
“Establish a ‘University College’ that will become VCU’s front door. It will oversee all academic support services for undergraduates in their first year…The University College will share responsibility with existing schools and the college for the University-wide foundational core undergraduate curriculum, will coordinate all academic advising for first-year students, and will oversee all first-year in place.”

From Theme II, Initiative 1, of the VCU 2020 Vision for Excellence

what is a university college
A University College provides a single home for interrelated programs, services, and learning opportunities. By corralling existing academic and student support services important to student success, it is intended to enrich students’ undergraduate experience. What is a University College?

Issues Addressed by University College

A fraction of students avail themselves to learning support

Low academic engagement among students

High rates of students experience academic difficulty

Existing academic services lack coordination

The quality and nature of academic advising vary widely

how will university college strengthen student learning
How Will University College Strengthen Student Learning?

All students will be ensured a high-quality advising experience from advising specialists. In addition to course scheduling, advisors will assist students with monitoring their academic progress, developing study skills, and establishing realistic educational goals.

Millennial students have different goals for attending college and a lower commitment to learning than previous generations. The UC will structure programs and services in a way that directly addresses the unique characteristics of this generation.

Research suggests that centralizing services for new students yields higher quality services, improved retention, increased levels of academic success, and greater student satisfaction.

It is a single place on campus where students will receive resources to enhance their learning and academic successes.

The UC will create opportunities to help students feel better connected with other students, their professors, and their classes.

First-year students

Student athletes

Students having academic difficulty

Students seeking admission into health professions programs and law school

Undeclared students until they select a major

Students wanting to maximize their academic performance

Populations Served by University College


What Will the UC Offer?

Academic Advising

Learning Resources

First-year students

Student athletes

Pre-health/pre law

Special students

BIS students

Students on warning/probation

Undeclared students

Campus Learning Center

Writing Center

Testing Center




Discovery program

Parent programs

Master advisor

Learning communities

Project Excel

VCU Works

Summer reading

Conditional admits

UNIV 101 Introduction to the University

UNIV 102 MINDSET for Success

UNIV 103 Educational & Career Planning

UNIV 151 & 152 Learning Workshops

VCU Core Curriculum


Summer Reading Program

Introduces students to their first common intellectual experience and to the university’s academic life. It is intended to enhance connections.

Emphasis on VCU’s expectations of students

Opportunities to interact with other students and faculty

Showcase of academic programs

and campus services

Discussion of safety issues

Parent component that complements student program

Restructured Summer Orientation (STAR) Program

Cohorts of 45 students will live and learn together by taking a common class in a major area of interest or participate in activities that relate to the theme of their village.

Will involve about 900 freshmen in 11 different villages.

Residential Villages

Students will devote more time preparing for class.

Fewer students will experience academic difficulty.

Students will report greater satisfaction with academic advising.

More students will interact with faculty and peers outside of class.

Students will be happier with their undergraduate experience.

Retention and graduation rates will increase.

Expected Outcomes of University College

engagement of the research community
Dr. Francis Macrina

Vice President for Research

Virginia Commonwealth University

Engagement of the Research Community