It is hard to believe we were not much past the middle of August when we welcomed our new faculty colleagues and saw the first “scouts” of our entering and returning students start to arrive, followed by increasing numbers until Monday, when presumably all were back and our enterprise is again in full motion. I hope you all found some passion to pursue during the summer and that you didn’t waste all of your time watching the “Perls of Knowledge” videos — however captivating they may be.
Seriously, the potential for another great year for this university is in front of us and we are off and running. Welcome back to the important work we share.
I will soon outline some plans for the next year in my State of the University address on Sept. 17, but I did want to report on one matter on which we’ve moved forward.
For the last two years the campus administration has been exploring how we might significantly enhance the role of Career Services. That unit has always been successful in its core activities and entered a leadership transition when Larry Routh retired in 2012. The interim leadership and current staff of Career Services have continued to serve the campus effectively. However, we also sensed that there were significant changes in higher education that merited our efforts to re-conceptualize how we implement a career service program.
We looked at peer institutions. We conducted a national search for a new director and had the opportunity to visit with several candidates about their ideas. We asked an external evaluation team to give us their advice. All of these activities suggested the best model is one that has a strong centralized career services office but where there are strong college-based services as well. This hybrid model is one we determined to pursue.
Simultaneously, there has been considerable public attention on and scrutiny of higher education. One of the issues raised is whether universities are doing enough to help students decide what they want to study in college and then assist them in applying that knowledge in a satisfying career.
Increasingly, universities are being held accountable for the career success of their recent graduates. This was reflected in President Barack Obama’s speech on reforming higher education last week. The fact is that the academic colleges and departments are going to be held accountable for how effectively they help students envision and enact their careers. Recognizing this reality, I have decided to move the reporting relationship of our Career Service office to Academic Affairs. If the academic colleges are going to be held accountable, they should have a more direct responsibility and engagement with this program.
Bill Watts has agreed to accept a new role as director of campus advising and career services. He will oversee both the Explore Center and the Career Services office. Our vision is to engage the colleges, the Explore Center and Career Services in a coordinated approach to academic and career advising and job placement services for our students. Amy Goodburn, assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs, will collaborate with the college deans to lead this initiative.
I will have more to say in the State of the University Address about the place of career preparation in the overall program of higher education. However, since this leadership change will take effect on Sept. 16, I wanted the campus to know of this change.
I am indebted to the work of Senior Vice Chancellor Ellen Weissinger and Vice Chancellor Juan Franco for helping me work through this organizational change.