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Thursday, November 19, 2009

My List of Recommended "Action Items"

Five draft issue-oriented Roundtable Implementation reports (“Thematic Reports”) are now being redrafted by five implementation task force group leaders. These latest drafts will be synthesized into a single draft report. The full Roundtable Implementation Committee will again convene (on December 2) to discuss the single draft report.

The group leaders presently redrafting the five thematic reports are:

A. Space ~ Lawrence Anderson (Use of space)
B. Scholarship ~ Charlene Gilbert (Definitions of scholarship)
C. Teaching modalities ~ Ben Pryor (Teaching, learning and advising modalities)
D. Graduate Education ~ Jim Benjamin (Strengthen graduate education)
E. Curriculum ~ Renee Heberle (Curriculum addressed to evolving learning

The overall objective of a final Roundtable Implementation Report is to recommend "action items" that when approved will function to “raise UT to a first-tier level” and thereby “raise the profile, stature and visibility” of the College of Arts and Sciences as the vital “hub” of UT academic activities.

I recommend to you below my personal list of fifteen action items. As faculty members in the A&S College we are each qualified to participate actively in the Roundtable implementation exercise by presenting and promoting our own list of recommendations. I feel qualified to do so because of knowledge and insights gained while participating in Roundtable Implementation Committee activities after September 29, 2009: I served on two of the five “discussion and writing” teams listed above (“scholarship” and “teaching” modalities”) and also participated in two meetings of the full Roundtable Implementation Committee. In addition, I have long-term research interests in higher education trends. I have studied widely and in depth on the complex challenges, transformations and opportunities taking place in state public institutions of higher education, in Arts & Science colleges, and in liberal arts education. My historical perspective on the advent of the Roundtable initiative at the University of Toledo has been shaped by both objective and personal observations and experiences during 20 years of educational service on this campus. I have also acquired classroom experience as teaching assistant, part-time teacher, lecturer, and “full-time visiting professor” in public and private colleges and universities in three different states, in addition to five years teaching experience overseas. I have also taught a college-level course in a prison classroom.

I am now dedicated to my chosen career of teaching, research and service as a senior faculty member of the Arts and Sciences College of the University of Toledo, and to promoting academic excellence across this campus. Here is my list of recommended implementation “action items” in response to the Roundtable challenge:

1 Transform the main campus to a 12/7/365 activity schedule
2 Emphatically commit to excellence in education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels
3 Hire more tenure-track professors
4 End “Open Admissions” at UT as this policy is incompatible with A&S College “top tier” ranking aspirations
5 Abolish the administrative position of “Chair of Department” in the A&S College and replace it with “Head of Department;” the Department Personnel Committees will evaluate and reward the performance of their Department Heads in teaching, research and service using the annual ARPA and merit processes
6 Return the Center for Teaching Excellence to its original mission and administrative structure
7 Increase campus-wide support of sabbaticals for teaching as well as research
8 Immediately commence a nation-wide search for a new Dean of Arts & Sciences
9 Reopen our Faculty Club to again serve the main campus academic community as the physical and symbolic intellectual center of their informal educational activities
10 Design and build several “nationality” classrooms (see, for example, “Cathedral of Learning” nationality classrooms at University of Pittsburg)
11 Allocate A&S College space at all scales intelligently toward the constant enhancement of its teaching, research and service excellence
12 Allocate additional and sufficient resources to Carlson Library staffing, and to book purchases and on-site accessibility to hard-copy books, with emphasis on holdings in the liberal arts
13 Strengthen commitment to shared governance and faculty control of the curriculum
14 Revisit the UT “Directions” strategic planning document and especially aspects of educational planning that impact negatively on the A&S College and its traditional liberal arts curriculum
15 Assess the costs and benefits, as well as the ethical aspects, of expensive new classroom teaching and learning technologies (given multiple scenarios of instructional needs and priorities across a faculty-controlled A&S College curriculum)


FRD said...

#4 - This would have to be done in the state legislature. Either they would have to change the law for UT, or they would have to do what they've done for most Ohio schools and create a branch campus to siphon off the underprepared students.

OSU is open enrollment, they are just only evaluated in their main campus, not the academic stats of their branches...

BAP said...

Great work Professor Nemeth. These are the most concrete and workable proposals that have yet come out of the Roundtable. I would like to see implementation. It would be tragically wasteful if the University had spent $80K to generate such useful strategic goals only to ignore them. Forward the Roundtable!

Emeritus Publius said...

check out UT Admin's environmental report card at

Anonymous said...

Excellent work, Dr.Nemeth

Anonymous said...

Excellent work, Dr.Nemeth

Anonymous said...

Professor Nemeth's proposals reflect a true understanding of what is required to achieve and maintain academic excellence ----such a contrast from the balderish usually generated by "strategic planners . Many thanks !

yo, duh! said...

I can only agree with the previous comments of "excellent work!" Dr. Nemeth's suggestions if implemented could mean new life for UT without the malaise that seems to hang over it now.

PS said...

Professor Nemeth is a genius!