Provost's June 2013 Message to the Faculty

Auburn University Interim Provost, Dr. Timothy R. Boosinger

June marks the completion of my second year of service as Provost. I am pleased with our institution's many achievements during the past two years, and I look forward to future collaborations with faculty as we continue to advance the University.

For me as Provost, meetings of our Board of Trustees feature more prominently on the calendar than they did when I was busy teaching and conducting research or even when I was serving as Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. In this message, I would like to call attention to three important items approved by the Board during last week’s annual meeting.

No doubt you have already heard the first item of news: The announcement of a gift of $40 million to Auburn University by 1982 alumnus and current Trustee Raymond J. Harbert. In recognition of the largest gift ever received by the University, the Board approved a resolution in his honor to create the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business, Auburn’s second named college. The resources and energy added by this gift will be transformational not only for the work of one college but also for the mission of Auburn University.

At its meeting on Friday, the Board also approved the designation of four of our academic departments as schools within their colleges, in recognition of the scope and character of their work for Auburn University. Congratulations to our four new schools: Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences (College of Agriculture); Industrial and Graphic Design (College of Architecture, Design and Construction); Kinesiology (College of Education); and Communication and Journalism (College of Liberal Arts).

The third item to receive Board approval on Friday was the 2013-2018 Strategic Plan.  Following a lengthy development process, the final plan represents many of the ideas and suggestions submitted by faculty, staff, and students over a year-long listening and planning process. The plan identifies five broad strategic priorities, with corresponding goals and commitments. The plan positions Auburn to have an unprecedented impact in our state, region, nation, and world over the next five years by leveraging our institution's strengths and capitalizing on our strategic opportunities.

Strategic Priority 1: Enhance Student Success and Diversify Enrollment—Our faculty indicated Auburn should continue to remain a top choice among talented students, and should strengthen its reputation as an institution that offers a unique and challenging academic experience. Key themes included engaging students in career development programs earlier in their academic career and improving advising practices; reducing the number of times that students change their academic major and promoting stronger student readiness for professional  and post-graduate success; building even stronger commitments to the Auburn educational experience by enhancing our first-year retention and graduation rates; achieving greater diversity in our enrollment; and broadening our eLearning and distance program offerings.  

Strategic Priority 2: Support Faculty Excellence and Strengthen Auburn’s Reputation—Auburn has earned an exemplary reputation for providing an academic workplace that supports faculty satisfaction and success. However, faculty indicated a potential exists to strengthen this reputation by developing and measuring “faculty vitality.” Supporting faculty vitality and increasing resources to support productivity will enable Auburn to continue recruiting and retaining top faculty. We will enhance our acknowledgment of outstanding faculty accomplishments, including scholarly achievement, innovative teaching, outstanding public engagement and service. We will measure and increase faculty satisfaction in the areas of teaching, research, and service by making thoughtful use of information from the COACHE survey, which you will hear more about in the coming months. 

Strategic Priority 3: Enhance Research, Scholarship and Creative Work—Because they are committed to their disciplines, faculty understand the importance of enhancing the quality and stature of Auburn’s research programs in order to conduct research that has global importance. We know the opportunity exists to elevate our institution's overall research culture by strengthening our programs in key areas and increasing our total research productivity. We will continue to generate federally funded academic research and development, and increase the number of proposal submissions and awards within each college and school. As we continue to advance our Health Sciences Initiative, we will look especially to support new partnerships with health education entities and elevate student opportunities for and participation in research and creative scholarship.

Strategic Priority 4: Enhance Public Engagement—Over the next five years, we will strive to become a national model for public engagement. Doing so will require us to highlight public engagement as a distinctive feature of Auburn University and to ensure that we remain an educational, economic, and wellness resource for the citizens of Alabama. We will increase the number of students participating in outreach and extension programs, and we will strengthen partnerships with other land-grant institutions in the state. We will strengthen our presence in underserved communities throughout Alabama, providing much-needed health and wellness programming.

Strategic Priority 5: Focus Resources on Institutional Mission and Priorities—The achievement of any strategic priority depends in large part upon the availability of resources. Consequently, the final priority in the 2013-18 Strategic Plan calls for the alignment of resources with institutional priorities. Over the next five years, resource allocation decisions will be based on identified strategic priorities, productivity, cost-benefit analysis, and a commitment to innovation. We will carefully manage enrollment and cost of attendance and eventually begin allocating 100% of tuition revenues to revenue-producing units. We will strive to accomplish our fundraising goals during the next Comprehensive Campaign. Meanwhile, we will continue to assess and improve our HR policies for faculty and staff.

These key points represent only a summary of what we plan to accomplish over the next five years. As we move forward to implement the ideas that first emerged during campus- and state-wide discussions, I look forward to continued discussions and forums regarding various elements of the plan. 

Enjoy your summer. When the students begin to arrive in August, faculty are invited to participate in a unique program for students who will be living on campus this fall. The Division of Student Affairs and the Office of Housing and Residence Life invite all interested faculty to volunteer for a few hours during "Move In Mania" on August 10th or August 17th.  If you are interested in welcoming our new students to campus by participating in this program, please contact Dr. Amy Macchio in Student Affairs. 

Thank you for all you do for Auburn University.

Last Updated: June 26, 2013