Ferris State University Big Rapids MI College

Academic Affairs
Major Initiatives & Planning

Our major initiatives, developed annually for the academic year, represent areas of growth, change or improvement which will require focus and collaboration across the colleges and units that comprise Academic Affairs. We simultaneously remain engaged with many other initiatives at the course, program, college and university level. Our initiatives and planning efforts are directly supportive of Ferris State University's mission to "prepare our students for successful careers, responsible citizenship, and lifelong learning."

I. Major Initiatives: 2015-2016

A.    Retention/Graduation Rates/Student Debt:

Academic Affairs recognizes the interrelated nature of retention/graduation rates, diversity issues, and student debt. Academic Affairs is also working to improve advising infrastructure that includes accuracy of MyDegree as well as launching the new online catalog. Further efforts include curricular oversight training for chairs, directors, and program coordinators. Entrance into academic degree programs, especially BS/BA degree programs and AAS programs that lead seamlessly into bachelor degree programs, and a well-developed academic infrastructure support retention and timely degree completion, an important factor in student debt reduction. All are, in fact, components of a strong student debt reduction strategy. 

B.    Centers for Academic Literacies:

Student academic deficits are often treated in isolation using standard, traditional methods that are based principally on academic performance. An alternative, one that aligns with the historical mission of the University, is to view academic deficits holistically. We have all the necessary tools on this campus for meaningful change—an optometric clinic, a writing center, faculty who are knowledgeable, and faculty who are experts in reading, writing, and mathematics. An expectation for the year would be that we begin to approach assessing student academic problems and deficits holistically. Its impact on retention and, specifically, its impact on transforming lives and creating real opportunity could be significant.  

C.    Innovation for Programming and Pedagogy

A systematic and supportive approach to innovative and meaningful programmatic and pedagogical experimentation and practice is essential to quality and distinctiveness within individual classrooms, academic departments, and individual colleges. The nimble nature of Ferris' programs and the quality of their delivery can only be enhanced by the creative experimentation by its faculty. Faculty willing to experiment and consider innovative scheduling, team-teaching, interdisciplinary experimentation and implementation, inter- and intra-disciplinary collaboration within and across colleges should be encouraged and supported.  

D.    Academic Leadership: Hiring, Diversity, Professional Development and Mentoring:

Meaningful professional development and mentoring is essential to academic leadership and its new hires. Not only does the University have a number of relative newcomers to its academic leadership team, but a number of academic leadership positions have become vacant in 2014-15. Filling these positions with the most qualified and diverse candidates we can is important. Retaining and developing them as well as our extant leadership team is also important and will require commitment to sound practical and theoretical professional development delivered by both external and internal expertise as well as quality mentoring. Continuation of present initiatives and implementation of new ones will be a major expectation for 2015-16. 

II. Ongoing Engagements

A.    Project Promesa

Established in 2012-2013, the Center for Latin@ Studies (CLS) works to get students to college and through college by building on the strengths of students' culture and identity. To do so, CLS has developed place-based, community-university partnerships to launch Promesa, an educational pipeline supporting students from middle school through college graduation. Promesa features a program called Woodbridge Promesa Summer Success Program in three locations: Grand Rapids, Holland, and Shelby/Hart. In partnership with the Center for College Readiness, the program offers 75 rising high school seniors the opportunity to earn 12 free college credits for unique admissions consideration to Ferris. As of Fall 2015, approximately 25% of Promesa participants are enrolled at Ferris, which contributes to the university’s 25% increase in Latin@ student enrollment. This increase creates a more vibrant and inclusive learning community for all students. Community-university partnerships make Promesa possible and culturally relevant. The success of the university is intertwined with the success of the community.

B.    Grandville Corridor Project

This project is the collaborative effort of the Michigan College of Optometry, the College of Pharmacy, the College of Health Professions, the Clinica de Santa Maria, The Wage Foundation, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, and the Center for Latin Studies.  A Memorandum of Understanding is under development with Habitat for Humanity, the Clinica de Santa Maria and the University; its adoption will allow for continued planning of an expansion of the current Clinica Santa Maria facility. Growth of the clinic will provide for an enhanced academic/clinical presence in the community.  The clinic will eventually provide optometric and clinical pharmacy services as well as opportunities for nursing, dental hygiene, and other College of Health Professions programs.  Possibilities for involvement by the School of Education as well as the Social Work Program and the Center for Entrepreneurship also have great potential. Habitat for Humanity’s community development plans include construction of a mixed use building, addressing the community’s request for a variety of services and housing options.  The participation of the Center for Latino Studies and the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan assures that all parties are working toward, and with cultural sensitivity, a lasting partnership among the academic, business, non-profit, and Hispanic community.

C.    General Education Implementation:

The General Education committee has been grappling with the task of streamlining and implementing the changes that were proposed by the General Education Taskforce and endorsed by Academic Senate in 2013. The goals of this process are two-fold. The first is to retain the excellent articulation that currently exists between General Education and Ferris statewide as well as transfer agreements with programs in our numerous educational partners. At same time, we are creating new opportunities for individuals from every division and academic program at Ferris to contribute to the General Education curriculum. In consultation with faculty, staff, and administrators from across our campuses, the number of student competencies in the program has been reduced from the proposed eighteen to eight. The number of measureable student outcomes has similarly been condensed from 82 to a more manageable 32. A comprehensive assessment plan is currently being developed for the General Education program. By standardizing and automating the important task of assessing student learning, we will acquire course-level measures of student learning in our core curriculum. These data will be essential for the continuous improvement of the General Education program and for meeting the increasing needs and requirements of our external stakeholders. Finally, student achievement of the core competencies will be used as evidence of the success of our strategic plan, as we continue to live out the core values of Ferris.

Planning History

Browse through the documents below to gain a better understanding of our planning history. You can also call our office at 231-591-2300 for more information regarding division and college planning.

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