Updates from the Division of Academic Affairs
April 28, 2022
Dear Baruch College Community:
I write with news and updates from my office and the Division of Academic Affairs generally. Beginning with the Fall 2022 semester, you will be receiving such updates in a biweekly “Provost Newsletter.” The biweekly newsletter, like today’s email, will include information on teaching and learning, faculty development, student success, staffing updates, and more. For now, I hope you will read the entire message that follows as it includes important, timely information.
Mediating the Cognitive Effects of the Pandemic
Whether during a listening tour visit in an academic department, a committee meeting, or just a hallway conversation (yes, those are happening again), I hear over and over that students seem less engaged in their learning and struggle more to retain information now than prior to the pandemic. Baruch College is not alone in noticing this phenomenon. Recent articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Education (IHE) speak to a “stunning level of student disconnection” or an “epidemic of student disengagement.” Our own faculty are finding that students entering intermediate-level classes seem not to have retained material from their introductory classes. It would be easy to become frustrated by this, but as Steven Mintz notes in his IHE piece, “empathy rather than annoyance is a much more productive response.”
I recently met with the leaders of our academic success centers to discuss the cognitive and retention effects of the pandemic and how to help students and faculty counteract them. We discussed a variety of techniques to encourage both engagement and retention (the former having positive effect on the latter). They presented these ideas to academic department chairs at our April meeting earlier this week. Dr. Meechal Hoffman and her colleagues Michelle Doney and Dr. Kristy Perez shared information about the following techniques for improving student engagement:
- Facilitate metacognition
- Require active learning
- Scaffold student learning
- Mix compassion with high expectations
- Practice transparency
- Invite students to collaborate in problem-solving
- Support help-seeking behavior
- Build relationships
Students, of course, are not the only members of our community who are experiencing negative effects from the pandemic. Please consider what you yourself need in order to comfortably re-engage and re-connect. If you are experiencing challenges doing so, please consider making use of the array of resources provided by our own Employee Assistance Program. You can find additional support services, including on-demand fitness and yoga classes, nutritional guidance, and mental health resources, at Baruch’s Office of Human Resources Wellness Corner.
Strategic Planning Process Update
In our April 7 message, Planning Committee Co-chair and Chief of Staff Kenya Lee and I solicited volunteers to serve on the Strategic Planning Committee. Members of the planning committee may be asked to review data, lead meetings or focus groups, chair a subcommittee, and draft, revise, and finalize the strategic plan and implementation plan. With this commitment in mind, you can indicate your interest in serving on the planning committee by completing this form. The form will remain open through tomorrow, Friday, April 29, after which time we will constitute a committee that is both diverse and representative of Baruch’s many stakeholders. Please remember that, even if you are not on the Strategic Planning Committee, there will be multiple avenues for participation.
The initial or “seed” planning group met with three strategic planning consultants during the week of April 11. We will soon be announcing our strategic planning partner consultant and launching the strategic planning webpage, where future updates and archived materials will be posted.
Announcing Institutional Membership: National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity
I am very pleased to announce that Baruch College has joined the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity (NCFDD) as an Institutional Member. The NCFDD is a nationally recognized, independent organization that provides online career development and mentoring resources for faculty, post-docs, and graduate students.
NCFDD provides a variety of virtual programs and resources, including:
- Weekly Monday Motivator
- Monthly Core Curriculum Webinars
- Monthly Guest Expert Webinars
- Access to Multi-Week Courses
- Access to Dissertation Success Curriculum for graduate students
- Private Discussion Forum for peer mentoring, problem solving, and moderated writing challenges
- Monthly accountability buddy matches
- Access to 14-Day Writing Challenges
- Access to the Member Library, which includes past webinar materials, referrals, and readings
To claim your free Membership, complete the following steps:
- Go to facultydiversity.org/join.
- Choose your institution from the drop-down menu.
- Select “Activate my Membership.”
- Complete the registration form using your institutional email address (i.e., firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Go to your institutional email to find a confirmation/welcome email. Click “Activate Account” in the email.
Many faculty, especially those preparing for promotion reviews, find the NCFDD courses and resource library to be invaluable.
I note that we have several senior staff pursuing or nearing completion of their advanced degrees while working full time for our Baruch community. If this describes you, you too may find the NCFDD resources helpful as you work toward dissertation completion. I sincerely hope faculty, staff, and graduate students will take advantage of the opportunity presented by this membership.
Please join me in congratulating Associate Provost Patricia Price, who will be leaving Baruch to assume the position of Interim Provost at Queens College this summer. During her almost five-year tenure at Baruch College, Dr. Price has led the conversion of the promotion and tenure process from paper binders to digital access through Interfolio, initiated the tradition of Fall Faculty Convocation, and overseen the ramp-down and subsequent reopening of our research facilities. She is also a founding member of the CUNY Faculty Development Consortium, which provides system-wide professional development for emerging leaders.
We have several leadership searches underway or about to commence. The search for the next Dean of the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs continues. We plan to bring additional candidates to campus in early May. Also in progress, the search committee for our first Assistant Vice President for Digital Learning expects to bring candidates to campus in mid-May. Finally, the search for the Associate Provost for Research, Innovation, and Special Initiatives, a reconfiguration of Associate Provost Price’s position, will commence soon.
HRPP/IRB Faculty Liaisons
I am delighted to announce that Dr. Raquel Benbunan-Fich (Professor of Information Systems) and Dr. Zhiqing (Albert) Zhou (Associate Professor of Psychology) have been appointed as HRPP/IRB Faculty Liaisons. In these positions, they will conduct workshops both in research methods classes and publicly; provide consultative support to researchers, especially first-time proposers; develop research materials to supplement those provided by CUNY Office of Research Administration in collaboration with Office of Research Compliance and Outreach (ORCO) staff; and other related projects. Dr. Benbunan-Fich will serve as liaison for faculty and student researchers in the Marxe and Zicklin schools, while Dr. Zhou will assume liaison responsibilities for Weissman Principal Investigators.
Faculty Research Symposium
A daylong showcase and celebration of research and creative accomplishments, the Inaugural Cross-College Faculty Research Symposium is scheduled for Friday, May 13. Faculty from across the three academic schools will be presenting their work in a fun PechaKucha format. We will also hear from the Provost Innovation Seed Grant research teams and from our Provost Innovation Fellows. Dr. Erwin Gianchandani, Senior Advisor to the Director of the National Science Foundation, will deliver the keynote address, “Advancing Innovation Through Partnerships.” He will be introduced by Dr. Hector Cordero-Guzman, Interim President of Research Foundation CUNY and an esteemed member of the Baruch community.
Please consider attending this daylong event. You do not need to be a presenter to attend, but please plan on spending the day with us. RSVP requested by Friday, May 6.
Domestic and International Professional Travel
Domestic professional travel no longer requires permission through a petition process. All international travel still does, however. Please review the CUNY Policy and download the petition form. Submit your petition form and CUNYfirst vaccination verification to your school business manager, or for staff in non-academic divisions, your division business manager. Business managers will review the form for completeness prior to submitting to my office for review and approval. Please note that the Office of the Provost does not accept travel waiver requests directly; they must be routed through the business manager of the school or division.
Student Research Opportunity
In part as a result of Provost Innovation Seed Grant funding, the Baruch Climate Research group, led by Associate Professor of Psychology Mindy Engle-Friedman, has launched the CUNY Climate Fellows program. The new CUNY Climate Scholars fellowship will provide an opportunity for ten CUNY undergraduates to participate in interdisciplinary education, research, internships, and teaching experiences through the program. For more information, and the student application, please visit this link.
I am drafting this (rather lengthy) email while our students, faculty, and some staff have taken time away from campus for Spring Recess. During spring break week, more than 700 newly admitted students visited campus to get a tour and learn more about Baruch’s academic and extracurricular programming. It seems fitting that as many in our community celebrated the rebirth that spring promises according to the traditions of their faith, family, or culture, we were seeing a manifestation of the cyclical rebirth of our campus embodied in the eager faces of these new students in a ritual we have not been able to undertake since the spring of 2019.
I look forward to welcoming these new students to our vibrant campus community next fall. Please read President Wu’s timely blog on the topic, “College-Ready Students or Student-Ready Colleges?”
With warm best wishes,
Dr. Linda Essig
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs