College of Liberal Arts and Sciences



Unit Head and Faculty Weekly Mailing 11-12-13


For Faculty


1. Spring Cleaning


2. Take a Fall Breather: An Invitation for Next Fall


3. Where We Stand—First Time in Any College Retention Rates



For Unit Heads


4. Taskforce Opportunity


5. Important Dates


For Faculty


1. Spring Cleaning (attachment)


As we approach December and January our thoughts turn to recycling and shredding of old documents. Please review the CLAS “RECORD RETENTION GUIDELINES” which is attached.  If you are in need of a bin please contact Procurement Services (X12280) to assist you.


2. Take a Fall Breather: An Invitation for Next Fall


Colleagues, the UAS recently voted down a proposal for a fall break that originally came to them with strong Student Senate support.  While I was disappointed in that outcome, I understand and respect their concerns.  But there is a way forward.  I’m writing to invite the CLAS faculty, and other faculty at GVSU, to take a Fall Breather in 2014.    


I invite faculty, as they are laying out their fall 2014 syllabi, to plan to give no reading, no assignments, no homework for the weekend before the drop deadline, which will probably be October 18 and 19.  I am not suggesting that you take any time away from class, nor even that you decrease by an iota the amount of work in the fall course.  I’m simply asking you to redistribute it, so that for that weekend across as many courses as possible, there’s no assigned work.  I’m asking for a specific weekend because distributing it on different weekends would dilute its effect.


Effects are important.  Banner gives us the opportunity to drill down in data.  If enough faculty were to participate, we might begin to track whether students who had 3 or 4 or 5 such courses tended to finish the semester in greater numbers, and whether they returned in greater numbers in January.  While such questions address the University’s interest in retention, there may develop a store of other data that we can tap—not data imported from different institutions, but from right here at GVSU—about student illness, say; we might even develop an anecdotal sense from faculty about attendance and performance in the remaining weeks.  These data may address some of the Senate’s concerns—or, they may prove me wrong.  But they won’t be able to do anything unless we have lots of data.  Please join me in the experiment of trying it for Fall 2014; maybe it’ll have the momentum to go for a couple of years after that, and then we’ll see where we are.


Please be clear, this is an invitation.  If you don’t wish to do this at all, or you can’t make it work for one or more of your classes, no problem, it’s completely voluntary.  Please be clear, I’m not inviting you to take any scheduled class time off, or do any less work with your students across the semester.  I’m just suggesting that, if you choose to, you could plan to give it a try: on the weekend of October 18 and 19, please let your students take a Fall Breather.


~Fred Antczak


3. Where We Stand—First Time in Any College Retention Rates

In the last few years, trend watchers have observed a phenomenon now known as ‘swirl’ in the behavior of college students.  Instead of a traditional path on which a student attends one college from start to finish, increasingly diverse and non-traditional students are matching schools to their changing circumstances, resulting in two or more colleges contributing to graduation (or not) and sometimes time gaps between them.  This makes learning whether a student eventually graduated somewhere much harder and can lead to a great deal of recruitment activity for universities for a more limited result.  While some swirling is inevitable and even desirable for students in some circumstances, in general it is advantageous to the students and the institution if students who come to GVSU are happy, engaged and motivated to complete their degrees here.  For instance, while a student whose heart is suddenly set on an architecture major must move on, the departure of any student who chooses to leave because they didn't make a meaningful connection with faculty is regrettable.  And it's a problem we can address.


Though this phenomenon and any other relevant factors have only produced a recent drop off in our retention rate of a couple percentage points, this is a trend we will want to watch and to use as motivation to address factors that influence swirling.   The Chronicle of Higher Ed has reported a ten-year trend toward one in three students transferring on the way to a degree.  Perhaps the single most powerful force supporting students is their caring professors.  One strategy for increasing retention that shows promise is having tenure track faculty teaching 100 level classes.  Another approach is to link students to advising materials through the Student Success Collaborative.

FTIAC Retention graph


For Unit Heads


4. Taskforce Opportunity


Last years’ Out Of The Box events, the current roll out of Student Success Collaborative, the current Faculty Forum discussions about service, and the recent attendance of a number of folks at a national advising conference have put us in a perfect spot to convene a taskforce aimed at supporting faculty and staff advising.  This beginning its work early in Winter 2014.  The taskforce will have a three pronged charge: 

  • to create an electronic repository that would serve as a CLAS faculty advisor manual, a goal to be accomplished by April 30, 2014;
  • to recommend equitable and effective workload distribution strategies for the important work; we hope to have a draft of these for discussion by Faculty Council and unit heads by September 10;
  • To make broadly useable recommendations on how best to assess faculty advising.  We hope to get this advice no later than October 15, 2014, after which Taskforce members will have fulfilled their duties with distinction.

At this point please think of advising-savvy staff and faculty (including other unit heads) you wish to nominate, including yourself. We’ll follow up to solicit those names before Thanksgiving, but if a name occurs to you before then, send it to Tracy at mclenitt@gvsu.edu.


5. CLAS Important Dates


Important Dates



Nov. 15

Staffing Plans for Winter 2014 due

Email notice to Cindy Laug when complete.

Nov. 15

CLAS 10th Anniversary Celebration is proud to announce:

The CLAS Faculty Research Colloquium will take place from 2:30 p.m. until 5:00 p.m.

308 PAD

Nov. 15

Extended deadline for presenter proposal for G3 (Grandparents, Grandkids, Grand Valley). The presenter form is available at www.gvsu.edu/s/to

Contact Margo Dill, dillm@gvsu.edu, if you have any questions.

Nov. 25

CLAS Teaching Roundtables

11am – 12:30pm; Pere Marquette Room (2204 KC)

Registration required

Nov. 27

No classes; Offices open


Nov. 28-29

Thanksgiving Recess


Dec. 4

Unit Head Meeting

2215/2216 KC

Dec. 5

GVSU Service Award Holiday Party


Grand River Room, KC

Dec. 7


Van Andel Arena

Dec. 7

Awards of Distinction Scholarship Competition

CLAS Contact is Heidi nicholhe@gvsu.edu

Dec. 9

Banner opens for final grading


Dec. 9-14

Final Exam Week


Dec. 10

CLAS Holiday Open House

11:30am – 2:00pm; Pere Marquette Room (2204 KC)

Dec. 10

Cook Carillon Tower Holiday Open House

1:30-3:00pm; Carillon Tower Plaza (Allendale)

Dec. 17

Grades due from faculty before noon


Dec. 18

Unit Head Meeting

2215/2216 KC

Dec. 23

College Offices Close at 5pm until January 2nd


Jan. 2

Offices Open


Jan. 6

Classes Begin





Page last modified April 14, 2016