Fiscal Sustainability Initiative 2021

During the 2021 academic year, the University Fiscal Sustainability Coordinating Committee (FSCC) engaged the campus community in formulating strategies and actions for sustaining programs, personnel, and infrastructure necessary to meet the core components of ECU’s mission: Student Success, Regional Transformation, and Serving the Public. The Committee focused on long-term sustainability through new and current revenue sources, reduced overhead costs, and development of more efficient systems. The collective insight of the ECU community was leveraged to identify opportunities for expanding market share, collaborating and consolidating to reduce costs, and adapting the way we do business, thereby taking advantage of changes in the environment and exerting better control over their impacts. 

In January, 2022, Chancellor Rogers tasked Academic Council with implementing a finite set of recommendations. Progress on each of these recommendations is provided below. 

2.1.1: Reorganize the academic divisions under a Chief Academic Officer 

Consolidating the three academic divisions – Academic Affairs, Health Sciences, and Research, Economic Development, and Engagement – under a single Chief Academic Officer, similar to the structure at UNC Chapel Hill, was recommended to facilitate institutional responses to financial challenges and make the most effective use of resources. Subsequent to development of this recommendation, the formation of ECU Health was announced, and the reporting line for the Dean of BSOM was moved to the Chancellor. Academic Council was then charged with moving the reporting lines for Nursing, Allied Health, Dentistry, and REDE to the Provost. Implementation has focused on four fronts: governance, position changes, personnel administration, and financial administration. 

1. Governance – Faculty Senate defined the process to be followed for changing the Faculty Manual, Senate By-Laws, and Unit Codes.

a. Faculty Manual and Senate By-Laws 

The Faculty Governance Committee proposed changes. The first reading was conducted on February 22. The second reading was conducted March 29. Changes will be voted on in August at a called meeting following Convocation. 

b. Unit Codes 

A Code Unit Proposal Committee was convened to review the unit codes and propose revisions that would align the codes with the new reporting. The Committee was comprised of faculty, chairs, and administrators from Health Sciences. Two public forums were conducted to receive input on the proposed code changes, and provisional codes were generated and forwarded to the Faculty Senate Educational Policies and Planning Committee (EPPC). EPPC reviewed and approved the provisional codes on April 8. The code changes will be considered by the Senate at the April 26 meeting. 

2. Position Changes 

The Vice Chancellor positions in Health Sciences and REDE will be vacated on June 30. The Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences position will be eliminated, and the salary savings used to cover budget shortfall. The Vice Chancellor for REDE will be replaced by a Chief Research and Engagement Officer that reports to the Provost. An Acting Chief Research and Engagement Officer will be appointed to lead REDE until Provost Coger can conduct a search for the permanent position. Academic Council has interviewed candidates for the Acting Chief Research and Engagement Officer and conveyed a recommendation to the Chancellor. 

Once the reporting structure is established, job descriptions for the Chief Research and Engagement Officer and the deans of Nursing, Allied Health, and Dentistry will be revised to reflect the change in reporting structure. Provost Coger will send the job descriptions to UNC SO for approval. 

3. Personnel and Finance Administration 

The Chancellor, Dean Waldrum, and Academic Council clarified delegation of authority under ECU Health and a single academic division. The Provost is delegated authority for faculty personnel actions, including academic faculty personnel actions in BSOM. These actions will flow through the Provost’s Office to ensure consistent treatment and alignment with the Faculty Manual. Dean Waldrum is delegated authority for clinical personnel actions within BSOM, including non-faculty clinicians and clinical services staff. Delegated authority for clinical faculty personnel actions continues to be discussed due to the dependence of these positions on clinical income. 

Two workgroups have been charged with developing models for personnel and financial management in the expanded academic division. The Personnel Administration Workgroup is led by Associate Vice Chancellor Kitty Wetherington, and the Finance Administration Workgroup is led by Vice Chancellor Stephanie Coleman. The groups include personnel and finance administrators from Academic Affairs, Health Sciences, and REDE. They are focused on maximizing service to academic units, and have engaged RPK consultants to assist with developing models. They are currently conducting time studies to quantify staff duties and workloads. The data will be used to inform development of administrative models. It is anticipated that the offices will have branches in two or more locations to serve the academic, clinical, and research enterprises. Reductions in force are not anticipated. Responsibilities of existing personnel may change to ensure all functions are covered, including during times of staff turnover. Draft models are due to Academic Council by May 1 to allow time for UNC SO review of potential personnel actions and final implementation by July 1. 

2.1.3: Create a unified “Council of Deans” 

Provost Hayes formed a Council of Deans that meets on the second Tuesday of each month. The Council is expected to play a key role in institutional leadership under the unified academic division. 

3.1.7: Develop a process internal to ECU for continual financial evaluation of academic programs 

The subgroup that developed this recommendation envisioned that the Provost, Deans Council, Educational Policies and Planning Committee (EPPC), Institutional Planning, Assessment and Research (IPAR), and the Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance would partner to develop and implement an annual financial assessment of academic programs, and would use the results of the assessment to make strategic recommendation on ECU’s portfolio of academic programs. Currently, Faculty Senate is revising of the EPPC charge to include financial review of programs. The next step will be to convene a small workgroup that will develop and implement an institutional process for setting sustainability goals, assessing financial sustainability of academic programs, developing actionable recommendations, and tracking progress against the goals. To develop an effective process, the performance-weighted enrollment model will need to be finalized, and Provost Coger will need to be engaged. The group is expected to be convened and begin work in July after the arrival of Provost Coger, with a target of implementing an assessment process and accountability process in the Spring Semester of 2023. 

3.1.8: Align ECU PRR REG02.07.06 with other workload regulations set forth by UNC System Office 

REG02.07.06 is the responsibility of the Provost, and it is anticipated that Provost Coger will work with Faculty Senate to address alignment with UNC SO guidance. 

3.1.2: Enable and grow fully online programs 

The ECU Collaborative for Online Learning was officially launched in December 2021. The purpose of the CfOL is to provide a comprehensive ecosystem of support to assist both faculty and students within the online learning space. The initial efforts of the CfOL have been to provide mechanisms for movement for programs that were identified through strategic enrollment efforts (SEM – APPD) as having potential for growth in the online learning space – specifically as 100% online programs. CfOL leadership conducted “Discovery” meetings with the programs (Accounting, Criminal Justice, Biology, Psychology, Recreational Therapy) where needs, capacity constraints, and opportunities were discussed. These Discovery meetings were followed by “Unpacking” meetings where various campus stakeholders were brought to the table to help problem solve areas of need and further identify resources needed to bring the program to fruition. Finally, logistical planning retreats were/will be held to assist in completing the UNCSO request to deliver process, to help in providing faculty development in online course design and instructional training, and to identify resource needs to both launch the online program and to sustain growth over time. These retreats were held for two targeted programs, in particular – PSYC and JUST – with a projected launch date of fall 2023 for the fully online versions of the programs. 

To support the development of fully online programs, the CfOL is also collaborating with Faculty Senate to convene an Online General Education Task Force to provide recommendations and an implementation plan for offering fully online programs that include general education coursework. The committee is comprised of the following representatives: Ying Zhou (IPAR), Ericka Faison (ECU Online), Jennifer Baysden (CfOL), Jennifer Cabacar (Advising), Jason Denius (Advising), Elizabeth Locklear (Advising), George Bailey (Faculty), Melinda Doty (Faculty), Karen Vail-Smith (Faculty), Jean-Luc Scemama (Faculty). The initial meeting of the team is scheduled for April 13, 2022.,, Continue Strategic Enrollment Planning and grow ECU Online 

After 2 years of Strategic Enrollment Planning (SEP), efforts have shifted to Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM). During the SEP phase from fall 2019-spring 2021, efforts centered on development of tools and mechanisms for enhancing opportunities for enrollment growth based on the Enrollment Management Task Force (2019) recommendations. SEM has shifted the focus to deploying those tools and mechanisms in ways that will build enrollment over time. The ABS team, for instance, has addressed the logistical issue of operationalizing the 8-week block and now is working with colleges and departments to investigate ways to use targeted second block courses in fall and spring to help students with credit recovery. APPD has conducted a Program Development Gap Analysis through EMSI and intends to use that comprehensive assessment of ECU academic programming vs. market demand to help inform program development as well as provide information to Fiscal Sustainability about possible areas for resource reallocation. Both the undergraduate and graduate target market development/recruiting teams have turned to more targeted marketing approaches. Both have used cultural mosaics and street level consumer data to inform targeted email and snail mail campaigns. Additionally, in the undergraduate plans are efforts to appeal to more adult learners and to out-of-state students while the graduate plans have centered on targeted degree program ad campaigns and setting enrollment targets in each college. Aside from the aforementioned efforts to extend opportunities to adult learners via online program offerings through the CfOL, SEM also created a new (fall 2021) team called Non-traditional/Post-traditional learner team (NTPT). NTPT has conducted an institutional self-evaluation of adult learner supports and has chosen to focus on prior learning credit as a pathway to attracting more adult learners. NTPT leadership are also actively involved in some projects around transfer student engagement, particularly as it relates to efforts within APLU Powered by the Publics Southeastern Cluster to identify transfer student best practices. Finally, a new (fall 2021) SEM team was formed focused on student success efforts. This Student Success and Support Initiatives (SSSI) team has worked with InsideTrack to conduct student journey mapping. Campus wide focus groups are currently wrapping up and a summary of findings from the inquiries will be presented on April 29. This process, based on early stage elements of the student success model at Georgia State University, is instrumental in determining what supports are missing from a student success perspective and how revised practices and processes might lead to higher student retention and improved graduation rates. In addition to all of these efforts explicitly stated in the SEM plan, SEM also hosted the 2nd annual Enrollment Summit. The focus of the summit was on increasing yield and each college/unit was required to submit an action plan for outreach to admitted but unenrolled students prior to May 1. There has been a high level of engagement by the colleges in this endeavor and enrollment deposits have steadily increased since the summit. and Grow Enrollment of Hispanic Students 

After learning that there were several different groups working on similar but heretofore unconnected initiatives around Hispanic student enrollment and support, leaders of those projects united efforts with SEM to form the Hispanic Student Access and Success Work Group. This workgroup, although not currently conceptualized as a formal SEM team, is being coordinated around SEM efforts and is comprised of ECU Early Experiences work group, OED climate survey team, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) application development team, and Inclusive Pirate Nation QEP project leadership. The goal of the Hispanic Student Access and Success Work Group is to provide a connecting point for different Hispanic student engagement efforts, especially those that will help provide access to and pathways for success for Hispanic students. Primary SEM efforts will initially center on developing an early high school experience program for Hispanic students that will introduce Hispanic students in the region to current ECU Hispanic students and to ECU, providing support along the way with college application and scholarship/financial aid processes. 

4.1.3: Strengthen Pathways to Post-traditional Students 

In addition to the efforts detailed about NTPT work in the previous section, the team has worked with IPAR to develop a post-traditional learner dashboard in the enrollment management PowerBI dashboards that provides analytical capabilities to inform decisions about strategic efforts around post-traditional learners. Upon completion of the institutional self-assessment several work groups were formed and are currently working to investigate and develop strategy around a number of key areas relevant to post-traditional learners. Those work groups include: Programming and Andragogy, Partnerships, Accessibility (Outreach Focus), Accessibility (Financial Focus), and Operational Change. All work is centered on smoothing the pathway for post-traditional learners and ensuring an engaged, supportive, quality experience for those learners. 

Additionally, as a means of attracting those post-traditional learners with a more workforce development focus, SEM has partnered with REDE to work on development of non-credit microcredentials and building pathways from those opportunities to the university curriculum. One committee is currently working on a university policy for advancing non-credit microcredentials while another committee is being formed now to work on the structure to build those into credit-bearing curricular certificates and, ultimately, degrees. To assist in this work, SEM and REDE have partnered with the UNCSO as one of three institutions working with Nan Travers on an IHE grant entitled, “Credential as you go.” The anticipated product of that grant is the development of 2-3 microcredentials in the next year that meet a workforce development need in the region. and Grow Graduate Enrollment 

The SEM Graduate Marketing and Recruitment (GMR) team, in addition to the actions detailed above, has been actively working on a search engine optimization project. This project has provided detailed and insightful analyses of the effectiveness of ECU’s webpages in driving traffic that will result in applications. The GMR team, under the leadership of the Graduate School Dean, has also established enrollment targets for all colleges and has worked with university administration to secure resources to support areas that have high interest but limited faculty capacity. It is believed that the Program Development Gap Analysis conducted by APPD will also assist in this process of resource reallocation 

Academic Council
April 12, 2022

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