|Monday, October 31, 2011|
Old Dominion's deans spoke briefly to a group of about 50 administrators, faculty and staff during a Deans Panel Thursday afternoon in Webb Center (see photo below).
The program was the first of its kind sponsored jointly by the Association of University Administrators and the University Women's Caucus.
Each of the deans was given 5-8 minutes to share highlights, initiatives and challenges from their respective colleges, after which the floor was opened for a Q&A session.
Pretty much across the board, the deans cited the need for more space and resources, including additional funding for salaries, as major challenges. Chris Platsoucas, dean of the College of Sciences, noted that the lack of raises has been a problem in all of the colleges, and that having sufficient funding to attract new faculty members is important. Other challenges mentioned by some of the deans included the need for more full-time faculty at the senior ranks.
On the subject of resources, Oktay Baysal, dean of the Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology, said that growth at the university has created a need for more funding. In his college alone, he said, the student body is twice the size it was seven years ago.
The forum offered an opportunity for those in the audience to hear from ODU's newest dean, Shelley Mishoe from the College of Health Sciences. She said that plans for launching a Center for Global Health are moving ahead on schedule. Mishoe also noted that the college is working to offer more physical therapy services at the Virginia Beach clinic a well as to increase the number of nursing programs at the Virginia Beach Higher Education Center.
Gil Yochum, dean of the College of Business and Public Administration, spoke about several initiatives, including the upcoming Hampton Roads Residential Real Estate Market Review on Nov. 2, sponsored by the Center for Real Estate and Economic Development, and Public Service Week Nov. 7-12. He also said the college plans to sponsor a Reality Check Hampton Roads program next spring, where community leaders will gather to discuss zoning issues over the next 30 years.
Charles Wilson, interim dean of the College of Arts and Letters, noted that several recent college-sponsored events, including Africa Day, the Literary Festival and the women's studies department's program on "Women, War & Peace," had robust attendance. He added that the college is moving forward with its China Center initiatives.
Baysal highlighted his college's nationally top-ranked engineering management program and the introduction of a biomedical engineering Ph.D. program and doctor of engineering degree.
Platsoucas said that external research grant support, excluding stimulus funds and ODU funds, increased by 70 percent over a five-year period in the sciences college, and that it has experienced a significant jump in total enrollment. He added that the college will continue to emphasize its tutoring programs, which have proven to be successful in helping students with math phobia.
David Metzger, dean of the Honors College, shared some highlights and challenges from this segment of the ODU student population, noting that the latest incoming class numbered 167. He added that having the Virginia House residence hall devoted to Honors College upperclassmen and freshmen has presented both challenges and opportunities in terms of programming and administration.
Linda Irwin-DeVitis, dean of the Darden College of Education, was unable to attend the program.
During the question-and-answer session, members of the University Women's Caucus asked about issues of equity for women and minorities, and about the colleges' role in addressing work and family life balance.
Platsoucas agreed that these are important concerns, noting that in addition to having equitable salaries across the board, more attention needs to be paid to equity in terms of making faculty assignments and offering opportunities for career development.
Yochum said the business college had recently gone through a compression review, which he said was very useful, but he added that continuous monitoring of equity issues is very important.
Baysal said the representation of women – both faculty members and students – is "abysmally low" in the engineering college, although ODU's numbers are at the national average. He also spoke about the importance of having more role models for all minority groups within the college.
On the issue of balance, Baysal acknowledged that this is always a challenge, particularly for junior faculty, but that his college is trying to be more flexible and working more to change the culture to communicate that "work is not your life." He added that expanding child care for the campus community should be a priority.
Wilson said that in the College of Arts and Letters it was emphasized early on that the college acknowledges the importance of family life needs and that it would work with faculty who experience problems in this area.
Mishoe said that she has made professional development a priority for both faculty and staff in the College of Health Sciences.
Bev Forbes, AUA president, said she was pleased with the panel program.
"I thought the Deans Panel went very well," she said. "I am so grateful to the deans for taking time out of their busy schedules to be with us, and on behalf of AUA, I appreciated the opportunity to partner with the Women's Caucus. I have received very favorable feedback from some of the deans, as well as attendees."
Photos by Steve Daniel