by Lauren Scungio
This year's annual meeting of the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities (APLU) runs from November 11th through 13th in New Orleans, LA, and we can’t think of a more appropriate place to explore this year’s theme “Resilience: Turning Challenges into Opportunities.” Public opinions of higher education have waned to a bleak perception, leaving many parents and potential students asking, “What’s the point of college?” High student loan debts, low starting salaries, and numerous sleepless nights leave many students averse to university. The negative perception of faculty is just as threatening to the success of higher education. The oft asked question of faculty is, “What do you do if you only teach two classes?”
This year’s APLU theme is directed towards reinvigorating faith in higher education, a mission which falls directly in line with COACHE’s philosophy: caring for faculty nurtures support for student success.
These are the top 5 sessions we’re looking forward to attending:
1. “Changing Composition of Faculty,” Sunday, November 11th | 8:30 am to 10:00 am | Galerie 2
The individuals who belong to the faculty have been changing. Filled with more cultural and gender diversity, in addition to a younger average age of incoming faculty, and a new balance of tenure- and non-tenure-track positions, higher education institutions are facing unique internal challenges. It goes without saying that there are countless benefits as a result of the changing composition of faculty, but it is critical to acknowledge the needs of this new generation. Faculty support and satisfaction are significant tenants of our mission, so we’re excited to attend “Changing Compositions of Faculty.”
2. “Public Impact-Focused Research Update,” Sunday, November 11th | 10:45 am to 12:00 pm | Salons F-H
Conducting societally responsive research often faces many institutional impediments. APLU has launched a group called the Public Impact-Focused Research (PIR) Initiative to act as an umbrella group to engage with all societally responsive research initiatives, address common constraints, and inspire APLU member institutions to embark upon this work as appropriate to their respective needs and circumstances. This session will provide an overview of the initiative to date, initial observations from the five PIR Workgroups, and an interactive forum to share thoughts and ideas.
3. “The Role & Importance of Building an Analytics Infrastructure In-House,” Sunday, November 11th | 10:45 am to 12:00 pm | Balcony L
Does your faculty trust the data you present to them? Too often the answer is no. Every presentation of data is met with resistance from at least one member of your faculty, but with valid reason: they do not understand or misinterpret what they are seeing. A culture of transparency is beneficial so long as faculty understand how to analyze the data and utilize it in their departments. Misunderstandings can lead to tensions and mistakes made.
This session delves into the technicalities of utilizing data analytics on your campus. Once you have the tools, you can begin to implement change. We at COACHE are in the business of data, but we often ask, “What about the culture surrounding these tools?” This session will explore this question and more.
4. “The Future of Department Chair Leadership: Core Competencies for Success," Monday, November 12th | 3:45 pm to 5:00 pm | Regent Room
Born out of the APLU Faculty Success group, this session will address the changing nature of the role of today’s department chair and how leadership expectations continue to evolve. COACHE’s own Todd Benson will be a part of the panel of speakers and will share data on national trends for departmental leadership with the goal of identifying the core competencies necessary for success. Be sure to check your conference app for full details, as this hidden gem isn’t listed on the public agenda.
5. “Re-Thinking Faculty Mentoring: How to Build Networks of Inclusion, Support, and Accountability,” Monday, November 12th | 5:15 pm to 6:30 pm | Galerie 4
This workshop is designed to start a new dialogue around mentoring. This session will explore the common problems that pre-tenure and post-tenure faculty members experience and why traditional mentoring programs fail to meet those needs, as well as propose an alternative framework for mentoring that focuses on needs assessment and shifts the idea of mentoring from a relationship between two faculty members towards building a broad network of support, community, and accountability. The workshop will conclude with a presentation of best practices in mentoring pre-tenure, underrepresented, and mid-career faculty.