|Monday, January 16, 2012|
AUA-sponsored Panel Discussion Puts Vice Presidents in Spotlight
Old Dominion's vice presidents shared news from their divisions last Wednesday at a panel discussion sponsored by the Association of University Administrators (see photo below).
The second annual AUA program drew a crowd of 60 from across campus to the Kornblau Alumni Center, where the administrators discussed initiatives from their respective areas that incorporated President John Broderick's vision and the university's strategic plan, and in some cases talked about things to look for later this year.
September Sanderlin, acting vice president for human resources, got things started. She announced an upcoming survey of the campus community to get feedback on the PAPERS system it uses for everything from recruitment and hiring to employee evaluations.
"We think it's great, we think it's wonderful, we can understand it, we know how to use it," she said. But now, after more than four years since it was introduced, Sanderlin said it's time to survey those across campus who use PAPERS to see what's working well and learn of ways to make the system more efficient. Sanderlin also said that HR will soon be re-evaluating ODU's tuition assistance program, in part using comparisons of best practices at other institutions.
The two newest members of ODU's top administrative cadre, David Harnage and Ellen Neufeldt, were among those who gave presentations at the panel discussion. Harnage, a former ODU vice president for administration and finance, rejoined the university in October as chief operating officer. He has direct responsibility for several critical areas, starting with public safety, and is also responsible for ODU's overall relations with the city of Norfolk. In addition, he oversees the offices of the General Counsel, Audit, and Marketing and Communications.
Harnage said a strategic plan addressing issues of campus safety is in the works and that there will be a renewed focus on community outreach. He added that the campus community can expect a more aggressive approach by campus police "to circumstances that are suspicious," a tack which he said is already having positive results.
Neufeldt, who now has a full semester under her belt as vice president for student engagement and enrollment services, talked about plans to focus on student success and retention from the first point of contact. She said her area will be exploring ways to collaborate and form partnerships with other areas on campus with the ultimate goal of promoting student success – from recruiting, on through engagement and learning, and ultimately to graduation. "In Student Engagement and Enrollment Services, we are SEESing the day," she joked.
Provost Carol Simpson gave updates on the university's SACS review and QEP initiative, and discussed plans for expanding distance learning program offerings and taking steps to improve and enhance what the university is doing with regard to the recruitment and retention of faculty of color.
Athletic Director Wood Selig talked about the role of athletics in the overall picture of an academic institution, and offered one off-the-field example of the role the athletic program can play in the university's success. He told the story of an athletic donor who heads a Virginia Beach IT company, but who was considering moving his operation out of state because he couldn't find enough qualified employees in the area. That led to a meeting with President Broderick and Gilbert Yochum, dean of the College of Business and Public Administration, and ultimately to a partnership with the graduate program in the business college that, in effect, will "funnel future employees to this company … who will be getting very high-paying jobs."
Mohammad Karim, vice president for research, spoke about increases in recent years in funded research and patents by ODU faculty members, and reported on the success of the office's seed grant program for collaborative research. He said that the campus community could expect announcements on some major research awards this year, and added that there will be a report later this semester on the activities of the university's Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative.
Bob Fenning, vice president for administration and finance, gave an update on efforts his area has undertaken to make Banner more efficient, and talked about a number of initiatives and changes to look for on the horizon. In the works are plans to improve Webb Center and satellite dining facilities and services, and several renovation and building projects will begin in the not-too-distant future. Among these are renovations to Spong Hall, which will continue into the summer, and the start of construction on a new arts building by the end of the year. Fenning added that plans call for closing Elkhorn Avenue by the end of the spring semester, which will allow for the building of a new addition to the Diehn Center for the Performing Arts. He also mentioned that there would be no increase in parking fees next year.
Alonzo Brandon, vice president for development and alumni relations, was not able to attend the panel discussion.
"I think the panel went very well, and I am grateful that the panelists were willing to take time out of their busy schedules to be with us," said Bev Forbes, AUA president. "All of the feedback I have received has been very positive. I am hoping we will be able to continue to have this type of a program every year."