Here are highlights taken from a letter sent to faculty this summer, updating them on several important developments and initiatives taking place on campus this fall. Many of these initiatives are related to technology, and had an impact on faculty preparations for the start up of the new academic year:
- A Larger First Year Student Class: At a time when many colleges and universities are struggling to reach their enrollment targets, our current enrollment management strategies have yielded for Fall 2013 a first year student class that will be about 2,550 students. In anticipation of this larger class (about 500 more than last year), a number of administrative steps were put into place earlier this summer to provide the resources needed to accommodate the class, including the approval of 15 new full-time faculty positions. These newest colleagues of ours, hired into non-tenure track lines, will provide instructional support in program areas where most needed, and I hope that you will join me in welcoming these faculty to campus this fall. Additionally, more academic advising resources have been provided in order to support a larger class of first year students, and we have increased other resources in the area of student academic support services and student life. With these new students joining us, the overall undergraduate enrollment will once again be about 10,000 students, which means about the same number of courses and class sizes as we had two years ago.
- New E-Mail System: As most of you know, on May 20 Loyola upgraded its e-mail system from Groupwise to Microsoft Exchange (Outlook). This change affected the entire Loyola community—faculty, staff, administrators and students—impacting how we send messages and schedule appointments, among other things. Like Groupwise, Outlook can be used in the office, at home, and on phones and tablets, but is still a major adjustment for us all.
- New Learning Management System: During the spring Loyola began a transition from the use of the system known as Blackboard to the Sakai Learning Management System (LMS). For the Fall, Sakai is now the only LMS available to faculty and students. Many of our colleagues have had the opportunity to learn and use Sakai in conjunction with the summer courses they are teaching, but for most of us—including myself—Sakai is still a very new learning tool. I used Sakai this spring to teach a class and enjoyed using it, but it did require a bit more time to familiarize myself with its capabilities for extending the learning environment beyond the classroom. And my students found it easy to use. Information about ongoing Sakai training can be found at http://www.luc.edu/sakai.
- New Course Evaluation System: This Fall Loyola will implement a new course evaluation system known as IDEA (Individual Development and Educational Assessment). The IDEA system represents a move to the use of a university-wide course/instructor evaluation system, something that has eluded us institutionally for many years. IDEA has been piloted with much success in a number of our professional schools (Education, Nursing, Business), and I know that our colleagues across schools and campuses are ready to serve as resources to those of us who have yet to receive training in this new system (myself included). The Faculty Center for Ignatian Pedagogy has organized workshops on this new system throughout the summer and information regarding training opportunities can be found at http://www.luc.edu/idea/.
Mid-August is approaching us in its typically stealth-like manner, so please consider this a ‘heads up’ from me to you regarding many changes that will accompany our instructional responsibilities for this coming year, changes with which you may not have had time to familiarize yourself. As always, I and my staff in the Provost’s Office and all of Academic Affairs are ready to be of service to you and to support you in your work. Just let us know how we might be of assistance. I look forward to seeing you in August.
John P. Pelissero, Ph.D.