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Strategic Plan for Chemistry

Context For Planning

Chemistry became an independent department in 1971, and its degree program received approval from the American Chemical Society a few years later. The department serves about 200 majors and approximately 4,000 GVSU students per semester. Since 2014 it has offered degrees in both Chemistry and Biochemistry. The department strives to provide consistent, high-quality lecture and lab experiences to students with a wide variety of backgrounds ranging from the general population seeking a physical science foundation to the next generation of science and health professionals. We engage as many of our majors as possible in high–impact learning experiences through undergraduate research. This Strategic Plan outlines our goals to: (i) provide consistent, excellent teaching across our courses with appropriate student support, (ii) provide more high-impact learning experiences to GVSU students, (iii) reach and maintain a sustainable number of faculty/staff through inclusive means, and (iv) promote and ensure safety in our laboratories. It was informed by the results of our previous Self-Study that included feedback from Faculty, Staff, and our External Advisory Board. Additionally, the department outlined key strategic areas in a series of departmental meetings in 2016-2017 that were assembled into the 2016–2021 Strategic Plan by the Steering Committee.

Mission

The Chemistry Department provides rigorous preparation of citizens whose career paths require expertise in chemistry. We are dedicated to rigorous standards for content knowledge, communication skills, research quality, and professional behavior. We are committed to demonstrating science as a human endeavor and as a way to understand the natural world. The faculty in the Chemistry Department see themselves as resources for our units, university, region, state, nation, and world. 

Vision

The Chemistry Department prepares students for a diverse and changing world. We strive to contribute to a chemically literate society through teaching (with classrooms, labs, and research), scholarship, and service.

Value Statement

We value the development of knowledgeable and inquisitive students in the chemical professions. We value quality undergraduate research opportunities designed to make involvement in state of the art chemical research a part of a student's chemistry education. We value access to a quality education in chemistry for a diverse range of students. We value rigorous standards for teaching and learning. We value effective and innovative teaching practices. We value a collaborative, collegial, and cooperative teaching and learning community composed of diverse scholars. We value the synergistic relationship of teaching, scholarship, and service.

Strategic Priorities, outcomes, and key objectives

Strategic Priority Area 1: Actively engage learners at all levels.

Outcome A: Grand Valley's learning environment is personal, challenging, and transformational, supporting excellent academic programs and co-curricular opportunities.

Objective 1.A.1

Increase efficiency/consistency of instruction in the 100/200 level multi-section courses for chemistry majors, biochemistry majors, and service courses through vertical and horizontal alignment of curricula.

Baseline

To be determined in year 1.

Progress

2017 Status
Substantive Progress
The Curriculum Committee is investigating best practices for horizontal alignment. Tenure track faculty coordinated CHM 109 and 115 in 2017-2018 to improve horizontal alignment in these courses.

Objective 1.A.2

Increase the number of chemistry/biochemistry majors involved in undergraduate research by 5%. Increase student awareness of research earlier in the academic career.

Baseline

To be determined in year one.

Progress

2017 Status
Substantive Progress
Faculty are now asked to report undergraduate research students in a standardized way on their annual activity report. Faculty were given powerpoint slides to advertise the OURS Undergraduate Research Fair and the CHM Meet The Faculty Night in all 100/200 level CHM courses in a standard way.

Objective 1.A.3

Assess the departmental impact of the new biochemistry major.

Baseline

Currently, there are 82 biochemistry majors in the chemistry department; of this number, 10 are freshmen who have declared biochemistry as a major. In 2014-15 academic year, enrollment numbers in 461/462/463 were 344 in 8 sections of 461, 46 in 4 sections of 462, and 26 in 1 section of 463.

Outcome B: Grand Valley is diverse and inclusive.

Objective 1.B.1

Increase retention of students majoring in chemistry/biochemistry by 5% while maintaining the diversity of the incoming class.

Baseline

Establish a baseline of biochemistry/chemistry major retention. Determine retention of individuals in underrepresented groups. As of fall 2016, Chemistry and Biochemistry majors included 7 Asian/Pacific Islander, 11 African American/Black, 13 Hispanic/Latino, and 4 multi-ethnicity students out of a total of 178, for 19.7% non-white students, compared to 17.9% for GVSU as a whole.

Progress

2017 Status
Substantive Progress
The Unit Head and Steering Committee obtained retention data for our majors from the Office of Institutional Analysis broken down by academic class, gender, and ethnicity.

Outcome D: Grand Valley supports innovative teaching, learning, integrative scholarly and creative activity, and the use of new technologies.

Objective 1.D.1

Increase the quality and quantity of the advising and mentoring for our students, especially those in underrepresented populations, those in academic risk categories, and the transfer student population.

Baseline

Establish baseline based on departmental advising assessment plan.

Strategic Priority Area 2: Further develop exceptional personnel.

Outcome A: Grand Valley's learning environment is personal, challenging, and transformational, supporting excellent academic programs and co-curricular opportunities.

Objective 2.A.1

Create a Chemistry Department Long-Term Hiring plan to achieve a sustainable number of permanent faculty. To ensure that the department meets the American Chemical Society guidelines, which state that “courses leading to student certification in an ACS program should be taught by permanent faculty”, 90% of the lecture instructors in these courses will be staffed with permanent (tenure track and affiliate) faculty. Additionally, 75% of all 100/200 level courses will be staffed by permanent faculty.

Baseline

Currently do not have a long-term hiring plan

Objective 2.A.2

Provide better mentoring experience for visiting faculty and integrate affiliate faculty into departmental culture. Establish a Lighter Initial Load (25% less for first semester) for new visiting/affiliate faculty.

Baseline

Current mentoring practices of existing mentors for visiting/new affiliate faculty; course evaluation scores for visiting/affiliate/adjunct faculty

Outcome B: Grand Valley is diverse and inclusive.

Objective 2.B.1

Develop an inclusion plan for faculty hiring/searches.

Baseline

We follow best practices of inclusion and equity for the hiring process, but currently, no formal inclusion plan is in place.

Objective 2.B.2

Incorporate inclusion and diversity training in the professional development of chemistry department faculty and staff.

Baseline

Determine current level of professional development.

Progress

2017 Status
Minimal Progress
The Steering Committee contacted the Office of Inclusion and Equity.

2018 Status
Minimal Progress
The Steering Committee is working with the Office of Inclusion and Equity to include professional training workshops on bias and microaggressions as part of our 2017-2018 year-end retreat. Steering solicited additional topics of interest for inclusion training during the start of semester meeting (W'18).

Outcome E: Grand Valley strategically allocates its fiscal, human, and other institutional resources.

Objective 2.E.1

Determine if Chemistry faculty wages (mainly affiliates, part-time, and visitors) are in parity with other departments at GVSU and at other peer institutions.

Baseline

To be established in Year 1 of the strategic plan.

Strategic Priority Area 3: Ensure the alignment of institutional structures and functions.

Outcome A: Grand Valley's learning environment is personal, challenging, and transformational, supporting excellent academic programs and co-curricular opportunities.

Objective 3.A.1

Ensure the CSC is over capacity less than 10% of the time. Ensure that the student:(faculty/tutor) ratio exceeds 3.5:1 less than 10% of the time.

Baseline

PAD 399 has a capacity for 32 people, including faculty/student tutors. The average percentage of time that the CSC was over capacity in 2016-2017 is 3.3%; the CSC is at 90% or greater capacity 7.3% of the time. In 2016-2017, the student:(faculty/tutor) ratio in the CSC exceeds our target (3.5:1) 37.6% of the time.

Outcome E: Grand Valley strategically allocates its fiscal, human, and other institutional resources.

Objective 3.E.1

Prepare a plan to allocate research space and resources to expand our undergraduate research program.

Baseline

To be established in year one.

Progress

2017 Status
Substantive Progress
Square footage data has been collected by the Facilities Committee for research spaces belonging to CHM faculty.

Objective 3.E.2

Increase departmental support for NMR facilities.

Baseline

Tenure-track CHM faculty currently maintain our NMR facilities.

Objective 3.E.3

Promote and maintain a safe laboratory environment for faculty, staff, and students.

Baseline

To be determined in year one.

Progress

2017 Status
Substantive Progress
The Facilities Committee consulted with the CLAS Director of Lab Safety to survey safety perceptions within the department. CLAS offered to include chemistry-specific questions in that survey and share that data with the department. The CLAS Director of Lab Safety sent out the climate study survey on Jan. 31, 2018.

Objective 3.E.4

All research active ChemEd faculty will have dedicated research space that is of similar size and quality to the research space of other research active faculty using non-traditional spaces.

Baseline

ChemEd faculty currently share two research spaces totaling 220 square feet. However, this space is not evenly distributed amongst these faculty.

Progress

2017 Status
Minimal Progress
Square footage data has been collected for CHM for comparison with peer departments within CLAS. CLAS administration expressed concern in sharing that data for the peer departments we planned to use for comparison.

Objective 3.E.5

Establish a disbursement mechanism for the usage and prioritization of the newly established instrument service funds.

Baseline

We do not have policies in place to use the Chemistry Instruments and Infrastructure Fund or the Chemistry Support Fund.

Strategic Priority Area 4: Enhance the institution's image and reputation.

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