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A Web Letter from the Office of the Provost - March 2021
A Message from Jay

By Mary Jane Chew

Dear Colleagues,

I hope the better weather and availability of the COVID-19 vaccine have lifted your spirits a bit as we approach these last six weeks of our semester. I remain optimistic that our Purdue community will continue to implement the Protect Purdue Plan and public health guidance, allowing us to keep this virus at bay. That certainly has been the case this semester and our current COVID-19 case numbers are lower than they have been in months. But we still havemore than 12,000 a long way to go this semester and we cannot relax when it comes to the virus. We do hope to allow students more latitude with respect to their activities over the coming weeks – especially outdoor activities – as our county public health guidance evolves.

I will share some updates on our teaching and learning activities in this column, but before I go any further, I wanted to offer a word of support and encouragement to the more than 12,000 Asian, Asian American and Pacific Island faculty, staff and students on our campus in the wake of the tragic killings in Georgia last week. This heinous incident is on the heels of other acts of violence around our country targeting our Asian, Asian American and Pacific Island populations – especially older members of these groups. During this most difficult time, please know that we all stand with you and will be here for you. You are part of the very essence of this campus community, and the contributions you make as students, as staff, as faculty, are literally immeasurable. Hate and bias aimed at any individual or group has no place here – ever, but given these recent acts of violence, we want to lift up all of our Asian, Asian American and Pacific Island Boilermakers for our support, our respect and our thanks.

Despite COVID-19 and all of its challenges, significant work has been done to advance the Road Map for Transformative Undergraduate Education. Many of you have contributed to this important initiative designed to help Purdue anticipate – and create – the future of undergraduate education and become the premier undergraduate program among R1 research institutions.

The Steps to Leaps program has continued to grow, evolve and adapt during this time of COVID-19. Louis Tay, associate professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences, is serving as a Provost Fellow in support of the effort, and his work on student well-being has been especially well received over the past year.

Lindsey Payne Haugen, director of service-learning in the Office of Engagement and former chair of the Teaching Academy, and Kim Plake, assistant dean for learning and assessment in the College of Pharmacy, and current chair of the Teaching Academy, have been leading an important effort to define teaching excellence at Purdue. Look for the results of this work to be shared this fall and incorporated into our practices starting with the professional development we provide for instructors. Many of you attended the recent Maximizing Student Potential Conference, which was focused on inclusive or student-centered pedagogy. Led by John Gates, vice provost for diversity and inclusion, this effort continues to bring ideas to our campus to help us ensure that every Purdue student can realize their highest aspirations here.

We also have been working on the launch of the Innovation College, supported by the $5 million grant from the Lilly Endowment that we announced in November. Deans Gary Bertoline and Rhonda Phillips have been leading a launch team that is refining the focus and structure of this new initiative. The Innovation College will support advances in teaching pedagogy and use of technology in our teaching enterprise and the development of innovative transdisciplinary and experiential credentials and programs. The new unit is not a traditional academic college, of course, and will not have faculty in the traditional sense, but it will provide a vehicle for developing, testing and scaling instructional and programmatic innovation. Look for more details on the Innovation College in the coming weeks.

Finally, we have been taking a deep look at some of our student-facing systems and processes – many, many of you have expressed challenges and concerns about student systems, from our degree audit software myPurduePlan and transfer credit support, to asking how we can communicate with students in a more coordinated and effective way. We will be unpacking these areas and several others over the coming months, looking for new and better tools that will help us better support our students, and make much more effective use of advisor, staff and instructor time. There is lots of work to do here, and we will be looking to you for additional guidance and insight as we move forward.

There’s so much more we can talk about including a fantastic new group of teaching award winners and the $1 million in instructional equipment grants that were recently awarded. Thanks, too, for the feedback and questions you have provided and raised about the proposed January Term – you will find an updated proposal and a set of frequently asked questions here.

As always, my thanks to each of you for all you are doing to help us finish this semester strong. Spring is a season of hope and promise, and I wish each of you a healthy dose of both as we navigate these final six weeks.

Stay safe and well.


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