ANNUAL REPORT OF THE PROVOST
ACADEMIC YEAR 2014-2015

I am pleased to provide this annual report that highlights the work of the academic division in 2014-15.  The division includes faculty (158 full-time and 94 part-time teaching across 19 academic departments) and staff (69 full-time serving across 16 academic support offices).  About 42% of all full-time employees at the College advance the work of the academic division.  This annual report will highlight key accomplishments over the past year as we worked to achieve strategic objectives.  I encourage readers seeking more detailed information about this report to contact my office or the appropriate academic support office. (PDF version)

Joe Favazza
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Strategic Initiatives

New Academic Programs

Through the collaborative work of many faculty and the Faculty Senate, three new academic minors were approved this year.  The minor in Data Science will equip students with mathematical and computer skills to analyze and extract meaning from large and complex data sets.  The Latin American Studies minor will bring into a cohesive focus existing courses and programs that study Latin America culture and society. The minor in Sports, Science, and Society will explore sport as a phenomenon from a variety of interdisciplinary lenses. 

In addition to these programs, new courses in Biotechnology and Art Therapy were taught to test student interest prior to considering new programs in these areas.  The addition of new programs and courses within our curriculum reflects our continuing commitment to 21st century learning that aligns faculty expertise, student interest, and emerging career, study, and service opportunities.       

Teaching and Technology                                                                                           

Six faculty participated in the Inclusive Online Education seminar to assist them as they redesigned an existing course to be offered in an online format during the summer.  Led by our Center for Teaching and Learning Intern Jenene Cook, five online courses were sufficiently enrolled to be offered.  These courses enrolled a total of 53 students and increased our 2015 summer enrollment by nearly 80% over summer 2014 (not counting internships and directed studies).  We will conduct an assessment of these courses in the fall and will continue to provide training for faculty interested in summer online teaching. 

After a few years of piloting courses using mobile technology, the Center for Teaching and Learning, Information Technology, and the Dean of the Faculty joined forces to secure funding that will support 5-6 courses “one-to-one” iPad courses each semester beginning in the fall.  We are grateful to the efforts of a few pioneering faculty and especially Prof. Scott Cohen who has led a faculty learning community on teaching with iPads and will serve as the CTL Fellow for Digital Technology this year. 

After a comprehensive selection process that involved many faculty, Blackboard Learn was chosen and implemented as our new Learning Management System (eLearn) last summer.  In the fall, IT sponsored training sessions for faculty and we saw an increase in the number of faculty using two or more eLearn features.  More training will be provided this year with a focus on specific features such as gradebook and blogs.  We hope more faculty will explore the use of eLearn to actively engage students and to track student progress throughout the course. 

Finally, Dean Maria Curtin continues to lead the full implementation of online student course evaluations for all courses.  While completion rates hover around 60%, we see more faculty inviting students to complete evaluations in class through the use of mobile technology such as smart phones and tablets. 

Diversifying the Faculty

In accordance with the recommendations of the report of the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Diversity (PACD), I am pleased to report on our efforts to diversify the faculty as part of this annual report. 

  • Faculty searches: We conducted six faculty searches this year and five new full-time faculty members were successfully hired.  In each of the five successful searches, at least one of the final candidates brought to campus was from an underrepresented ethnic and racial group in the U.S. (African American, Asian American, Latino/as, and Native American) and/or was a woman in field in which women are traditionally underrepresented.  In one case, I asked the department to include a candidate from an underrepresented group who was not originally recommended as a finalist.
  • I appointed a task force in the fall to work on creating a faculty search handbook to include the recommendations of the PACD. As part of their work, they also were tasked with recommending a process to better standardize the faculty search approval process.  An initial draft of the handbook is being revised this summer and I hope to review and approve it early in the fall. 
  • Department chairs have worked closely with HR to revise job announcement language that would better reflect Stonehill’s commitment to attract, hire, and retain diverse faculty. They also have assisted HR in identifying job placement sites that focus on diverse audiences.
  • Since diversifying the faculty is one of the President’s strategic priorities for the coming year, we have secured funding this year to support departments to attend conferences and/or events in order to network and recruit diverse faculty candidates.
  • Dean Maria Curtin and I are working on create training this fall for the Rank and Tenure Committee as well as departmental search committees to insure that deliberations and decisions are not impacted by unconscious bias.

While some progress has been made, I will continue to work closely with the PACD to implement the recommendations of the report. 

Achievement Record

After more than a few years in progress, the co-curricular transcript went live for the Class of 2018 in 2014-15.  Known as the Achievement Record, this transcript will certify student participation beyond the classroom in five areas: community and volunteer service; leadership; organizations and sports; professional and educational development; and recognitions, honors and awards.  Coupled with the Academic Record, we have a more complete picture of student engagement and success at Stonehill.  We are grateful to the work of Linda Dillon, Director of Academic Assessment, and Linda McNeilly, IT Principal Systems Analyst, for their work on this project.

Integrating Assessment into General Education

This year we made strides to assess student learning outcomes in the Cornerstone Program of General Education.  Led by Assistant Dean of General Education and Writing Program Director, Todd Gernes, we took the following positive steps: commenced a qualitative assessment of student work samples in Cornerstone courses (Philosophy, Religious Studies, History, and Literature); collaborated with the Office of Institutional Planning and Research to implement key surveys (Your First College Year) and assessments (CLA+); conducted comprehensive student focus groups on “Needs and Opportunities in General Education"; conducted an external review of our learning communities program; refined an innovative model of Guided Self-Placement into first-year writing courses; and conducted well-attended academic development workshops on the assessment of student writing and integrative learning. These efforts position us well as we build a sustainable culture of assessment at Stonehill.

Unified Retention Plan

The entire College community was happy to hear that our first-to-second year retention rate for the Class of 2017 was 90%!  While this was an impressive achievement, we are resolved to make this a pattern in the years ahead.  I am pleased that Fr. John asked our Director of Academic Services and Advising, Joe Dacey, to serve as the institutional leader to coordinate retention efforts.  Joe has worked this year on a number of interrelated goals to support students at risk of not persisting at Stonehill.  These include developing a predictive model to identify students at-risk, completing a comprehensive review of the effectiveness of the ACE program, and creating a comprehensive follow-up communication strategy for students receiving deficient mid-semester assessments.  I am confident that we will continue to make progress on retention.

Noteworthy Accomplishments

New Grant from the Davis Educational Foundation

Just as the academic year closed on June 30, the Davis Educational Foundation notified us that it will award the College nearly $234,000 over the next two years to support the Think. Act. Lead initiative.  This proposal was prepared over the past year through an interdivisional effort of faculty and staff led skillfully by Deans Craig Almeida and Kevin Piskadlo. 

Through this grant, Stonehill will launch Think. Act. Lead., a comprehensive and integrated academic, professional, personal, and spiritual development plan that will engage and empower each student through meaningful and individualized attention, conversation, and feedback. The plan is both a philosophy and a program that will offer each student a transformative educational experience—one that will ultimately set the Stonehill experience apart. We look forward to engaging faculty and staff as we introduce this exciting initiative. 

NEASC Accreditation

This year, Stonehill submitted its fifth-year Interim Report to our accrediting body, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Such reports, required midway through the ten-year reaccreditation cycle, provide an opportunity to review efforts, progress, and plans in a variety of areas including strategic planning, assessment, resource allocation, governance, and enrollment management. In the report, we provided a reflective essay about our efforts to research and identify factors in retention and our analysis of post-graduate outcomes. 

NEASC accepted our report without adding new conditions for our consideration. NEASC did ask, as we prepare for our 2019 comprehensive review, that we pay continuing attention to integrating assessment into campus-wide efforts, achieving our goals to diversify faculty and staff, and continuing to enhance the effectiveness of the College’s governance and communication structures.  Thanks go to so many on campus who assisted in the preparation of this report, especially Prof. Tom Gariepy, C.S.C. who served as the principal author of the report. 

Faculty Achievement

I commend the work of the Faculty Senate and especially the leadership of Profs. Marilena Hall and George Piggford, C.S.C.  They have worked closely with Fr. John and I on a number of curricular and policy issues this year.  The work of faculty governance is not easy and would be impossible without the effective work of faculty committees:  Governance, Professional Development, Standards and Standing, Curriculum, and Faculty Compensation.  Of special note is the work of the Rank and Tenure Committee who have the difficult task of reviewing the teaching, scholarship, and service of colleagues.  This year we celebrate the following faculty who were tenured, promoted, and given emeritus status:

Tenured and Promoted to the Rank of Associate Professor:

  • Bronwyn (Heather) Bleakley, Biology
  • Matthew Borushko, English
  • Margaret Boyd, Sociology & Criminology
  • Virginia Cortijo, Business Administration
  • Katie Currul-Dykeman, Sociology & Criminology
  • Amy Houston, History
  • Karen Teoh, History
  • Timothy Woodcock, Mathematics

Tenured and Promoted to the Rank of Professor:

  • Shane Savage-Rumbaugh, Visual and Performing Arts

Promoted to the Rank of Professor:

  • Lincoln Craton, Psychology
  • Anna Lännström, Philosophy
  • Shari Lowin, Religious Studies
  • Sean Mulholland, Economics

Emeritus:

  • Barbara Anzivino, Emerita Instructor of Chemistry
  • Carlos Curley, Emeritus Associate Professor of Mathematics
  • Richard Finnegan, Emeritus Professor of Political Science

Speaking of Prof. Finnegan, our Advancement Office, in collaboration with the Political Science department, has successfully secured funding to establish the Richard B. Finnegan Distinguished Chair of Political Science.  We are pleased to recognize Prof. Anna Ohanyan as the first holder of the Finnegan Chair.   

In May, the College was informed that Prof. Heather Bleakley, Associate Professor of Biology, was the recipient of an NSF CAREER Award in the amount of $899,000, the largest research award in Stonehill’s history.  The award will support Prof. Bleakley’s research over the next five years and give countless students the opportunity to work as part of her team on this important project.  We salute Bonnie Troupe and the Office of Academic Development for assisting with this history-making achievement. 

Our faculty are actively engaged in scholarly contributions to their discipline.  To support these efforts and through the work of the Professional Development Committee, fifteen faculty were approved for a sabbatical during the coming year and another seventeen faculty were awarded Professional Development or Seminar grants to support their research and professional growth.  For other notable faculty accomplishments, see the 2015 Stonehill Faculty Focus at http://www.stonehill.edu/faculty/faculty-focus-2015/.

Finally, we recognize Prof. Chris Wetzel, Associate Professor of Sociology/Criminology, winner of the Louise F. Hegarty Award for Excellence in Teaching, and Prof. Magdalena James Pederson, Associate Professor and Chair of Biology, winner of the Outstanding Faculty Service Award.  Both of these remarkable faculty model a sustained commitment to students and colleagues that forms the foundation of the Stonehill community. 

Student Academic Achievement

Our students continue to distinguish themselves through a range of remarkable academic achievements.  I recommend to you the 2015 edition of Stonehill Student Success that is published by the Office of Academic Achievement each year.  I simply would like to highlight a few remarkable accomplishments:

  • Stonehill Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Program: We celebrated the 20th anniversary of the SURE program by selecting 48 students (from 63 total applications) to conduct research with 25 faculty. 
  • Nationally prestigious awards and scholarships: Some of our best students submitted 39 applications for nationally prestigious awards and scholarships of which six were selected.
    • Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, Turkey – Joseph Gale ‘13
    • Goldwater Scholarship – Emily Zygiel ‘16
    • Gilman Scholarship, Spain – Candace Crocker ’16
    • Gilman Scholarship, Spain - Victoria Huggins ‘16
    • Gilman Scholarship, Chile – Michelle Graham ‘16
    • Gilman Scholarship, China – Monia Mukiza ‘16
  • Environmental Protection Agency Greater Research Opportunities Fellowship: This highly competitive $50,000 fellowship was awarded to Thomas Gumbley ’16 to support his final two years at Stonehill and support an internship with an EPA-funded research project.
  • Stonehill’s Honor Society Lambda Epsilon Sigma: At the Honors Assembly, 122 students in the Classes of 2015 and 2016 were inducted into LES in recognition of outstanding academic achievement.
  • Beta Alpha Psi, the international honor society for accounting: In a “best practices” competition held in Washington, D.C., three Stonehill students took first place in the International Impact category and will compete in the national competition this August.
  • Student Travel and Student Research & Creative Project Grants: Funded through the Office of Academic Achievement, 42 students were awarded travel grants to present at national and regional conferences and 38 students were awarded research and creative project grants to pursue research during the year with a faculty mentor.

 

Staff Transitions

The success of the academic mission depends on having a talented and committed faculty and staff.   Stonehill attracted a strong group of new faculty and staff this year. 

New Full-Time Continuing Faculty

  • Nicholas Block, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Biology
  • James Bohn, D.M.A, Teaching Fellow, Visual and Performing Arts/Music
  • Piyush Chandra, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Economics
  • John Duggan, J.D., Teaching Fellow, Business Administration
  • Megan Mitchell, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Philosophy
  • Christy Vallee Morgan, M.F.A., Assistant Professor, Visual and Performing Arts/Graphic Design
  • Daniel Rogers, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Chemistry
  • Michael Salé, D.P.S, Assistant Professor, Business Administration

 

New Staff in the Academic Division

  • Eileen Bellemore, Director of the Office of Accessibility Resources (formerly Disability Services)
  • Joe Dacey, Director of Academic Services and Advising
  • Tiffany Enos, Assistant Director of Academic Services and Advising
  • Omar Rodriguez, Career Services Counselor
  • Susan Wall, Coordinator of the Center for Writing and Academic Achievement

New Roles Taken by Existing Staff

  • Richard Dufault, Assistant Director of Academic Services and Advising
  • Andrew Leahy, Interim Director of Career Services
  • John Pestana, Assistant Dean and Registrar
  • Peter Ubertaccio, Associate Dean for Interdisciplinary Programs and Director of the Martin Institute

Transitions

  • Heather Heerman, Director of Career Services to Chief of Staff to President John Denning, C.S.C.
  • Stacy Grooters, Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, to Director of Faculty Programs in the Center for Teaching Excellence at Boston College. 

 

Academic Affairs Offices

I conclude this report by highlighting key achievements of the academic support offices. While it is an impressive list, my challenge was to choose just one accomplishment among many on which to report. 

Academic Achievement:  Led the College in establishing 14 affiliation agreements with other colleges and universities to create pathways for graduate study for our students including the University of Notre Dame, Boston College, The Catholic University of America, Villanova University, and Fordham University.

Academic Assessment:  Beyond rolling out the Achievement Record, shepherded the external review process of the Environmental Studies/Science program and the several programs within the Visual and Performing Arts department.

Academic Development: Beyond the work with the SURE program, coordinated the grant applications of 24 faculty for external funding including five new faculty.

Academic Services and Advising: Beyond the work on the unified retention plan, provided comprehensive advising and mentoring training to faculty early in the fall semester and developed a new transfer orientation program.

Accessibility Resources: Advanced the College’s move towards universal design and established a new testing center for students in the MacPháidín Library to open in the fall, 2015.

Archives: Collaborated with local historical society partners to create ongoing exhibits including exhibits on the Ames Mansion, Brockton in the Civil War, and the Grover Factory Fire. 

Career Services: Implemented the survey established by the National Association of Colleges and Employers to use standard protocols to collect, track, and report student post-graduate outcomes.

Center for Teaching and Learning: Piloted Academic Development Week with a series of faculty development events that drew 124 participants and was very positively received by faculty.

Center for Writing and Academic Achievement: Created a plan to give academic departments more oversight of the Teaching Assistant program and expanded tutoring in subject areas from 8 to 12. 

Community-based Learning: Steered the application process leading to Stonehill being selected by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as one of 240 colleges and universities to receive its prestigious 2015 Community Engagement Classification.

Dean of the Faculty:  Beyond overseeing online course evaluations, worked closely with the Faculty Senate to create a revised process for annual faculty performance review. 

International Programs:  Implemented a more comprehensive and intentional study abroad application process through which students are asked to articulate how their study abroad experience will connect with academic, professional, and personal goals. 

MacPháidín Library: Successfully launched the new Flynn Discovery and Collaboration (DisCo) classroom and continued to add vendors to increase our print and digital resources available through Demand Driven Acquisitions. 

Martin Institute for Law and Society: Beyond work on the Finnegan Chair of Political Science, advanced the mission of the Center to be a leading resource on Massachusetts politics by bringing many public figures to campus during an active election year. 

Moreau Honors Program: Convened a committee of faculty, staff, and students that selected an interim Program Director for 2015-16, will plan for future growth and stability, and will determine the future leadership of the Program. 

Registrar:  Working collaboratively with IT, upgraded DegreeWorks and streamlined the student registration check-in process.  Proposed changes in academic policies subsequently approved by the Faculty Senate including a 2.00 requirement for the major and minor, a course repeat policy, and a new policy to allow students to declare more than one minor.