March 2016

Provost Report for the Month of March 2016

Julie Bernier, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Fall Opening Activities  ~  Schedule Change

The Faculty Week schedule will be revised for Fall 2016.  Please mark your calendar.

University Day will be Monday, August 22nd.

Workshop days will be Tuesday and Wednesday.

Thursday will be reserved as usual for a Department Retreat day and

Friday, August 26th will be Move-In Day for all new First Year students as we begin our 3-day Panther Days.

Many of you will be happy to know that there will no longer be a Fall Convocation.  Instead, we will host a Welcome Dinner for First Year Students on Friday evening, August 26th, the day students arrive.  Faculty and Staff are encouraged to attend to sit with students and welcome them to our community.   Please mark your calendar.  We will ask for RSVPs as the time draws near.

Classes will begin on Monday August 29th at 8:00 am.

Center for Rural Partnerships is now the Center for Business and Community

To help develop relationships between the emerging clusters and our off-campus partners, effective February 29 the Center for Rural Partnerships was renamed the Center for Business and Community Partnerships (CBCP). The CBCP will continue to convene PSU’s research, outreach, and educational capacities in support of collaborative projects, with a renewed focus on commercial and not-for-profit industry. The CBCP will help students and faculty develop open laboratories built upon sponsored research, knowledge transfer, and field-based student engagement. Ben Amsden will remain as Director of the Center. Look for more information from Ben and his team in the coming weeks. The following press release went out on Friday:

Agents of Change: Plymouth State Forms Center for Business and Community Partnerships

Ben AmsdenPLYMOUTH, N.H. – Helping businesses and non-profit organizations achieve success while giving students real-world experience is the goal of Plymouth State University’s newly created Center for Business and Community Partnerships (CBCP). The CBCP, formerly known as the Center for Rural Partnerships, focuses PSU’s research, outreach and educational capacities on advancing collaborative, reciprocal projects that support regional industry while contributing to student engagement and faculty development. 

“We’re connecting important campus projects and initiatives with the needs of industry and the community,” said CBCP Director Ben Amsden. “Faculty research, student capacity and service learning are resources we have the ability to share. By creating partnerships with for- and non-profit businesses, we can help grow the economy, support the academic and personal growth of our students and contribute to the sustainability of Plymouth State.” 

The CBCP’s core value is collaboration, focusing specifically on the relationship between higher education and industry, and the ability to create mutually beneficial exchanges of knowledge and resources. Faculty and students will be regarded by industry as partners, ready to help generate ideas and solve problems. 

“The new Center for Business and Community Partnerships builds upon the legacy of the Center for Rural Partnerships and the Institute for New Hampshire Studies,” said Thad Guldbrandsen, vice provost for research and engagement. 

The re-visioning of the Center was proposed by PSU President Donald Birx and comes at a time when the University is undergoing its own transformation. To meet the evolving needs of 21st century learners, the University has begun the process of reorganizing around seven strategic clusters that will work across traditional, disciplinary boundaries. The clusters will be functional areas in which faculty and students will collaborate with industry on issues of scientific, intellectual, social, economic, environmental and cultural importance.  Birx’s goal is for the CBCP to play a leading role in these collaborations, making the work of Plymouth State more visible, accessible and valuable to the region. 

“There’s a real need for universities to intersect with their surrounding communities, both in non-profits and industry,” Birx noted. “The synergy is incredibly powerful and the opportunities created are transformative—for ourselves, our students, and our community. Using the CBCP to engage with businesses will create a more vibrant regional economy.” 

The CBCP will initially create partnerships focused on sponsored research, information transfer and field-based education. Faculty, working closely with industry partners, will have opportunities to bring their research and innovation to market. Students, through service learning and internships, will develop skills and make relationships that will be of value to their careers.

 “We believe strongly in the power of engaged scholarship,” said Amsden. “Students, faculty and businesses—everyone will benefit when we work together.” 

“PSU remains committed to the well-being of northern New Hampshire and rural communities across the state,” added Guldbrandsen. “Non-profit organizations and government agencies will continue to be important partners for us. The center’s new direction reflects a greater emphasis on developing private sector partnerships.” 

The CBCP officially opens on February 29, 2016. Businesses and organizations are encouraged to contact the center for additional information.

Student Showcase of ExcellenceShowcase of Excellence logo-color

The Student Showcase of Excellence is the premier event devoted to scholarly research and creative works.  This is an opportunity for talented PSU students from EVERY major to share their achievements with the community. There are a wide range of scholarly presentations, including research posters, oral presentations, performances, and other interactive programs.

Please plan to join us to celebrate the achievements of PSU students.

Please share the information below with your students.   Students may click here ( to submit their applications.  Applications due April 4.

The Student Showcase of Excellence will be held Friday, May 6, from 2:00-6:00 p.m. in the Hartman Union Building.

Cluster Guide Self-Nomination Process

If you are interested in playing a key role in shaping one of the Strategic Clusters, or you want to know more, please plan on attending the final information session on Thursday, March 3, from 8:00-9:00 a.m. in Frost Commons.  The first session was held on Monday afternoon and was attended by both faculty and staff.

If you already know you want to be involved as a Strategic Cluster Guide, then follow the link and provide the requested information to nominate yourself.

The Strategic Cluster Guide search is ongoing; however, there is a priority review deadline of Wednesday, March 9. A description of the roles and responsibilities are provided below and training will be provided. Serving in this capacity is an opportunity to be a major contributor to PSU’s transformation.

Strategic Cluster Guide – Role Description

During the initial phase of organizing and launching Strategic Clusters at PSU, there is a special need for faculty and staff to participate in framing the objectives and operationalizing the teams.

A transitional model will be implemented for each of the 7 Strategic Clusters and is expected to continue through the 2017 academic year. A key component of the model is the requirement for Strategic Cluster Guide teams. These teams, comprised of 3 to 5 individuals, will be drawn from the faculty and staff who participate in each Strategic Cluster.

The Strategic Cluster Guide role is not a full-time assignment. Strategic Cluster Guides will provide leadership within each Strategic Cluster to facilitate progress of individuals and teams in pursuing the vision. The Strategic Cluster Guide teams will have a significant level of responsibility in focusing and operationalizing the Strategic Clusters and supporting their success.

It is anticipated this position will require a commitment of 8-10 hours per week from Mid-April throughout the summer and into FY17.  One course release/semester will be provided for faculty while serving as Strategic Cluster Guides in FY17.  Staff will seek support of their supervisors to arrange for release from some duties in order to take on the responsibility. Faculty members who are off contract will receive a stipend for summer work.  We anticipate this to be a transitional role and exist only through the end of the 2017 academic year.

Strategic Cluster Guide Qualifications

  • Full-time PSU Employee: faculty or staff member (required)
  • Minimum of 2 years of PSU-affiliated experience (preferred)
  • Minimum of 2 years experience working with students and/or external constituents (preferred)
  • Research, teaching, or direct support role associated with a specific Strategic Cluster (required)
  • Lead or key supporting role in interdisciplinary activities/initiatives (preferred)
  • Experience in fundraising activities: grants, fellowships and endowments (desired)

Specific Responsibilities for the Strategic Cluster Guides are Expected to Include:

  • Establishing a core “Mission Statement” for the Strategic Cluster
  • Enabling communication mechanisms on Strategic Cluster activities and successes
  • Being a primary point-of-contact; responding to inquiries regarding the Strategic Cluster
  • Defining, creating, and sponsoring Open Labs
  • Planning for resources and support requirements specific to the Strategic Cluster’s needs
  • Identifying and addressing challenges in Strategic Cluster operations
  • Identifying and engaging external constituents in collaborative activities
  • Evaluating the portfolio of projects and programs to define opportunities for growth
  • Reshaping curricula to prepare students for a holistic learning experience
  • Ensuring active and increasing engagement and support of all internal PSU organizations

Strategic Cluster Guides will work in teams of 3-5 people. We expect the Strategic Cluster Guide role to be temporary, yet impactful. The role will likely fall away or change as Strategic Clusters mature.

First Year Academic Advisors

At the December meeting, the Academic Affairs Committee reported to the faculty that they had made a recommendation to me that we put in place three academic advising specialists to serve all new first year students.

A session was held during the January Jamboree to allow for further exploration.  I am writing now to solicit your input.  If you have strong feelings either in favor or opposition to this recommendation, please provide your thoughts to me via email over the next couple weeks.  A final decision will be made by the end of March.