Michigan Tech's human, financial, and physical resources are effectively organized to deliver undergraduate education.
Responsibility for undergraduate programs rests with the Executive Vice President and Provost, to whom the Deans of the Colleges and Schools and a new Vice Provost for Instruction report (see Appendix 8 for complete organization charts). In addition, the Committee on General Education oversees the General Education program, and the Director of the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Faculty Development reports to the Vice Provost for Instruction.
Since 1988, three changes in departmental structure have been made to improve the delivery of undergraduate education.
Since 1996, each academic department operates within a Departmental Charter [3.4], which sets guidelines for teaching loads, curriculum review, and faculty reward structures for teaching and scholarship. Undergraduate teaching is a fundamental purpose for most departments, which is reflected in departmental and University reward structures [1.2A; section 2, University Tenure, Promotion, and Reappointment Policy]. Evidence of the increasing valuation of teaching in tenure and promotion include two promotions to Professor in 1995/96 based exclusively on quality teaching, and the denial of tenure based on inadequate teaching. There is a general consensus that rewards for good teaching need to be more conspicuous, more abundant, and based on a more credible system for evaluation. For more specific information on faculty and their teaching role, see Chapter 6.
This administrative structure has been effective in overseeing strong disciplinary curricula. However, efforts to improve General Education (see below, and Chapter 1, Response to Concern 5), and to establish interdisciplinary undergraduate programs and courses, have sometimes floundered, despite faculty interest. A vigorously defended tradition of disciplinary independence that sometimes precludes consideration of the broad needs of the University and students as a whole accounts for some of this failure. Moreover, the broad span of responsibilities of the Executive Vice President and Provost made it difficult to provide concentrated attention on undergraduate programs. Although Michigan Tech has long had an academic officer responsible for graduate programs, no comparable position existed for undergraduate programs. Another problem was that the Center for Teaching Excellence, established in 1985, attended primarily to training teaching assistants and processing teaching evaluations. In response to these problems, a new position, the Vice Provost for Instruction, was created and filled in 1997 to focus attention on undergraduate education. The Vice Provost reports to the Provost; his responsibilities will include program review, General Education, faculty development, and student outcomes assessment. The Director of the new Center for Teaching, Learning, and Faculty Development now reports to this Vice Provost.
Michigan Tech operates on the early term system academic calendar. Three ten-week periods of instruction are each followed by an examination week. We are the only Michigan public university not on the semester system, which it makes it difficult to accommodate transfer students and arrange cooperative internships (see Chapters 4 and 5). Winter term is interrupted twice, by a two-week holiday break and the three days of Winter Carnival; these interruptions reduce its educational effectiveness. Many faculty and administrators are dissatisfied with this system, but students favor it. In 1995, the Retention Task Force recommended a change to a semester system [5.4A], and in 1997 the faculty voted in favor of this change. A task force formed in September of 1997 to study the proposed conversion to semesters has developed recommendations for a semester calendar and is soliciting comments from multiple universities constituents.
University expenditures for instruction represent primarily expenditures on undergraduate instruction. Since 1988, expenditures for instruction have grown by 69%, from $24.5 million to $41.5 million in 1996. Instruction now accounts for 39.6% of total current fund expenditures (see Table 6).
TABLE 6. Current Fund Instructional Expenditures.
Source: IPEDS Finance Surveys (Dollars in Thousands)
From 1988 to 1992, total expenditures for instruction grew in dollars, but declined as a percentage of total University current fund expenditures to a low of 36% in 1991/92. Budget cuts had taken their toll on academic programs. In 1993/94, the administration instituted a 1% realignment program to reallocate University expenditures (see Chapter 1, Response to Concern 3), and departments competed for new funds in the strategic planning process (see Chapter 2). Instruction benefited from this realignment by capturing a majority of the funding. The greatest impact was on expenditures for instructional technology and new faculty (see Chapter 6).
Two additional, related measures of instruction include
At $5,800/FYES in 1994, we ranked low compared to benchmark institutions, which ranged from $4,800 to $14,400/FYES. At 16:1, our student/faculty ratio was one of the highest among our benchmark institutions, which ranged from 9:1 to 19:1. Since 1994, we have hired many new faculty and enrollment has declined, which should improve the student/faculty ratio. This level of expenditure has allowed us to meet our goal of providing excellent education at reasonable costs, and thereby keep tuition affordable. Because our program quality is high (see "Accomplishments") this efficient use of instructional resources has earned us a "best buy" reputation from Money Magazine and U.S. News & World Report.
Financial resources for learning centers and teaching laboratories, including computer labs (see Chapter 10, "ComputingFinancial Resources" and Chapter 11, "Academic Facilities") are now managed by departments. Laboratory fees paid by students are credited directly to departments that teach the laboratory courses, and can be adjusted to recover expenditures and plan for replacing or upgrading equipment.
Departmental self-studies report adequate to excellent facilities. For a complete discussion of instructional facilities, see Chapter 11, "Academic Facilities". Lecture halls and most classrooms are University-wide resources, although departments customarily have priority for scheduling certain rooms. Most academic departments have their own laboratories, student advising space, small group-meeting and conference rooms, and associated departmental support facilities such as Learning Centers which they are responsible for equipping and operating.
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