Deans Report | February 6, 2018

With the spring semester underway, we hope your New Year is off to a productive start. There are many exciting activities happening around campus. This semester presents valuable opportunities to share new innovative ideas for delivering our programs, discover new projects to engage students and partners, and continue to transform PSU in to Integrated Clusters.

Cluster Connect

To facilitate connection between students, staff, faculty, alumni, and external partners and support problem-based learning, Cluster Connect was developed and launched. This online portal allows the PSU community to engage, collaborate, and connect on cluster projects and activities. Through social interaction and collaboration, community members can post and share information and explore ideas. By using Cluster Connect, users are able to discover PSU community members with complementary interests and/or needed skills, as well as review and comment on Cluster news, ideas, and accomplishments; and engage in project creation, activities, and updates. Cluster Connect presents enhanced opportunities for meaningful, high impact engagement while facilitating the connections to encourage multidisciplinary work. An introduction video for Cluster Connect may be found here. When you’re ready to login, please click here and use your Single Sign On credentials to access Cluster Connect (the same username and password you use for email).

The cluster project proposal process, including funding requests, is now fully online and can be completed through Cluster Connect. External partners may also gain access with the support of a faculty or staff member; the process for gaining access is available here. Documentation supporting this process and offline planning resources can be found on the cluster’s website.

University Reinvention Initiative

URI continues with the intent that we all think about our roles on campus and consider how Programs and Integrated Clusters can work together to further the Integrated Cluster vision. In turn, this effort will support the University goals of student recruitment, retention, persistence, and graduation, and University financial sustainability. Programs and Clusters are asked to identify a set of goal-related innovative strategies and actions they can commit to undertaking. The process for submitting this information has been streamlined with a simplified URI Ideas Form outlining the innovative strategy, the goal addressed, the anticipated outcome, timeline, and resources needed. As faculty and staff continue to plan innovative strategies that support University goals, collaboration is key.

Helpful data resources have been added to the URI site including enrollment data; retention, persistence and graduation rates; financial data; and workforce, comparator and demand data. Innovative strategies can be shared using this online form through March 30th.

Throughout February and March, we are available for assistance and/or early review of ideas in progress. The Transition Leadership Team (TLT) plans to schedule a 2-hour workshop in February designed for the active sharing of preliminary ideas and sparking opportunities for collaboration (details will be forthcoming). The process for review, feedback, prioritization, and support for moving innovative strategies forward was shared on Monday, February 5th. The document outlining this process can be found here.

Alternative Scheduling Model

Moving to a new scheduling model has been under discussion for the past two years. Faculty in multiple departments have been asking for a scheduling model that provides longer class periods to accommodate 4-credit courses and experiential pedagogy. The 4-Credit Task Force brought a recommendation for an alternate schedule to faculty as part of the spring 2016 report to faculty. With the faculty vote to allow 3 and 4 credit programs, it became more important to develop a scheduling model to allow for 4-credit program needs. There was a Scheduling Task Force in spring/summer ‘17 and the Deans conducted a survey and listening sessions this December to collect information, insight, and ideas for an alternative scheduling model. A summary of key points from the listening sessions and the survey can be found here. University priorities that drive the move to an alternative scheduling model include longer class periods to align with 4-credit courses and experiential, project-based learning; common time available for open laboratories, campus meetings, and group collaboration; and full class offerings on Fridays so that our students remain fully engaged throughout the week.

We have been discussing fall ‘18 options including running parallel schedules or going to full campus implementation. During a discussion in Cabinet, we recognized that if we are going to accommodate 4-credit programs in fall ’18 time is of the essence, as schedules are being developed for the fall. Therefore, we’re committing to a transitional fall ‘18 approach. This model will allow for longer class periods and support more classes scheduled on Fridays. We will look to a future scheduling model to achieve common open time though we want to continue to protect Faculty meeting time.

The fall ‘18 model utilizes block scheduling across five days, but keeps us within the MWF/TR current scheduling model. This model allows for one-hour blocks that can be stacked to accommodate 1, 2, 3 and 4-credit courses. For example, a 3-credit course could use one block across M, W, F and a 4-credit course could use two blocks on MW, TR, WF, or MF; labs and studio courses can use the number of blocks necessary to accommodate needed time frames. We feel this may be the least disruptive way to move the process forward while accommodating 3 and 4 credit programs. Graduate programs will continue to utilize evening and weekend classes as they are currently doing. This transitional model will provide guidance for a future model that addresses all three University priorities. We will be opening additional classroom spaces in the fall by utilizing the Center Lodge and Merrill Place and a new classroom in Mary Lyons to alleviate space pressures.

We recognize this will present some challenges while we accommodate the transformation to 3/4 credits. Please let us know how we can help with implementation. The Registrar will adjust the deadlines for scheduling and advising accordingly.

NEASC Accreditation

Accredited institutions of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) undergo a formal review every 10 years involving a comprehensive self-study and site review by NEASC. Our last review was in 2013 and our next review is in 2023. An interim report is required in the 5th year and is an opportunity for the institution to note changes, evidence of alignment to standards, and progress on identified goals and areas of concern. This fall, a team was organized and continues to work to address all components of the interim report with initial drafts due in early February.


Your colleagues have been busy with some exciting and productive accomplishments. Please take a moment to look at what all of your colleagues have been doing, now located here.