The Provost's Corner
My First-Year Experience
At the end of December, I will have completed nine months at California State University, Chico. In that time, I’ve begun to know the campus and community and to feel a part of the Chico Experience. It was an unusual beginning. Since I arrived April 1, I began at the end—the end of the academic year. I marked the 120th anniversary of Chico State; met student, staff, and faculty award recipients; and participated in commencement. I also began a sequence of meetings with academic departments for them to educate me about their programs, their students, and their visions. It turned out to be a wonderful way to meet a university community during its busiest and most defining time of the year.
And then I moved to the other end of the spectrum: the beginning. During summer, I welcomed first-year students and their parents during Summer “O,” I met with units across Academic Affairs, and I prepared for all that is involved in starting a new academic year—the arrival of new students and the arrival of new faculty. I have continued my education by visiting with academic departments and units across the colleges and plan to have met with all of them by the end of the year.
In these nine months, I have been deeply impressed by the clear focus of the entire University on learning and teaching; on research, creativity, and scholarship; on serving the University and connecting to communities in our region and beyond. Since then, I have watched as faculty, administrators, and staff engage with the responsibilities we have taken upon ourselves within the Strategic Plan of the University.
To set priorities that will fulfill the Strategic Plan and to mark and evaluate our progress along the way, the Council of Academic Deans has been working on a five-year Academic Plan during this fall semester. As a result of brainstorming sessions during the summer, we produced a long list of ideas that we then commented on, added to, and critiqued. That work led to a daylong workshop, led by Gail Corbett, chair of the Department of Accounting and MIS, and Group Systems expert and facilitator. We emerged from that session ready to distill our ideas for an academic plan that is visionary, focused on key goals, and responsive to the mission of the University and of Academic Affairs.
As a result of these efforts, the first draft of the Academic Plan is emerging with five draft goals focused on our key responsibilities. We are now in the process of aligning strategies with those goals. Before the end of the semester, the Council of Academic Deans will meet with department chairs and with directors in Academic Affairs in two short retreats to discuss a preliminary draft. Our goal is to gather the insights of these groups so that we can incorporate their ideas, adapting the working document based on what we learn in these discussions.
Then, early in the spring semester we will follow up with a second opportunity for those groups to respond to the revised draft emerging from the dialogues. With final adjustments, the penultimate draft will be rolled out for campus discussion and consideration—with multiple opportunities for response before the final draft is completed. Before the end of the spring semester, Academic Affairs will be guided by a new five-year Academic Plan.
As we move towards the end of this academic year and the end of my first full year at Chico State, I am optimistic that we will have an even clearer sense of the course we are taking to fulfill the ongoing promises made in our Strategic Plan. I have shared this process with you in some detail because I hope you will participate in the process through the opportunities that will be provided. We will only be successful if the Academic Plan is our plan—a plan that charts our academic course to our rapidly approaching milestone year, the 125th anniversary of the founding of California State University, Chico.
—Sandra Flake, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
California State University, Chico
400 West First Street
Chico, CA 95929-0040