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Intellectual Life Vision looks to set UIndy apart

Posted on 10.11.2017
Graphic By Erik Cliburn

Graphic By Erik Cliburn

When the Vision 2030 Plan comes to mind, many may think only of the physical changes that have been made to the University of Indianapolis campus, such as the renovation of Krannert Memorial Library and the construction of the Health Pavilion and Greyhound Village.

However, the Intellectual Life Vision is essentially the next phase of Vision 2030, according to Executive Vice President and Provost Stephen Kolison, and, as the name suggests, is more related to the overall intellectual aspects of UIndy’s future.

Shortly after his recent arrival at UIndy, Kolison was tasked with establishing a committee that would oversee an “Academic Master Plan” that would cover the bases of what UIndy is to become over the next 10 to 15 years.

The Academic Master Plan Committee essentially is exploring what will make UIndy stand out from other universities.

Although still in its infancy, according to senior political science major and Indianapolis Student Government President Jason Marshall, the committee has divided into subcommittees (e.g. student initiative programs) so that a wide variety of information can be gathered to move the university forward in its vision.

Marshall will work closely with Vice President for Student and Campus Affairs Kory Vitangeli on the student initiative programs to interview students and set up panels to gain feedback from the student body on what it is looking for concerning the future of UIndy.

“How we [the AMP Committee] started was great. We basically asked, ‘What is your dream university, with no limitations?’” Marshall said. “I think that is going to be the big question we are trying to answer and what we’re going to be talking to students about.”

Because the ILV and the AMP Committee are still early in the process, it is imperative that the committee’s goals and values are not based solely on the ideas of the committee members, according to Interim Associate Dean of the Shaheen College of Arts and Science Ted Frantz.

“I think it’s important, as one of the two co-chairs, to make sure that we’re listening,”  Frantz said. “We’re just getting started. I certainly have my ideas, but I think the whole point of this process is really to listen and not to have predetermined exactly what those values are. Many of us [on the committee] certainly have a good idea of who we think we are [as a university]. But the one thing you realize when you get different people together from across the university is that there are many different opinions.”

According to Kolison, one of the big tasks the committee will tackle is the expansion of current academic programs and the addition of new programs.

Beyond looking at improvements and additions for degree programs, the Intellectual Life Committee also wants to create an environment at UIndy that promotes lifelong learning.

Kolison believes it is imperative for both students and faculty to continue to expand their education beyond a degree, whether that means students getting a graduate degree or faculty members going on sabbatical to learn new, useful information about the fields they teach in.

“Most of what we learn, in five or ten years,  may be obsolete. There will be new knowledge,” Kolison said. “So in order to be on the cutting edge, to be sharp at what you do, from time to time it will help to go back and look at some other things. Whether you go to a seminar, a workshop or a professional development meeting, those things will be necessary. What we have to do as an institution is create an appetite for our students, so even after they leave here, they will hunger for education.”

The AMP will touch on things such as faculty workload, and whether or not a more personalized and flexible approach can be taken when deans determine the work load for those faculty members.

Kolison also wants to use the Intellectual Life Vision as an opportunity to revisit and possibly revise the process for faculty to receive tenure and promotions.

“[We want] to make sure that the evaluation instrument used by the deans to evaluate faculty performance is somewhat consistent with the standards required for promotion and tenure,” Kolison said. “So if I’m your dean, and you’re a faculty member, and I’m saying, ‘Great job. Great job. Great job,’ when it’s time for you to apply for a promotion or tenure you should not be surprised. The only way you would be surprised is if what I’m holding you accountable for is totally not in alignment with what is required for a promotion or tenure.”

In addition to the input from students and faculty, community outreach will play a significant role in the ILV. According to Marshall, UIndy plans to expand the university’s sense of community out into the whole south side of Indianapolis. The idea of community has a lot to do with both the ILV and the AMP.

Frantz hopes that these initiatives will bring the UIndy campus community together and create a more unified campus that is working toward the same goal of academic improvement, both inside and outside of the classroom.

“I would love, as a result of this, to get more of a sense of academic mission really driving what we do,”  Frantz said, “A spirit of inquiry that infuses our campus, that is shared by all of those different
entities and that you can see manifested in people seeking to transform themselves. You might be more willing and able to go see a talk outside of class in one of the many events that we have. If we can find a way to say, ‘This is what we value, and we’re going to demonstrate that through our actions as well,’ that would be great.”

The subcommittees of the AMP Committee will hold panels and conduct focus groups throughout the semester to determine what the university’s best course of action will be over the next decade and beyond. Vitangeli sent an email to students on Oct. 3 which gave a brief outline of the ILV goals and a link to an online AMP survey.

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