Keeping Students at the Center of Our Endeavors

On two occasions this semester, I had the pleasure of sitting down with groups of students to gain their perspective on the Stevens experience. In October, I met with a small group of undergraduates in the inaugural Pizza with the Provost event. This month, I did the same with graduate students.

Dr. Christophe Pierre, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

To say that I was impressed with our students is an understatement. These young people were energized and excited about their education, their future and about Stevens. And as you might imagine, they were not shy about expressing their opinions and concerns. I learned quite a bit about what students think about their academic studies, coursework, and the student experience.

On the same front, in October, I hosted the first of a series of faculty dinners with the Provost. Similar to the event with our students, this is an opportunity for faculty to get to know each other and to share their feedback in a smaller group forum about their Stevens experience. One of the topics that we kept coming back to during the course of the evening was around support for our research master’s and Ph.D. students. This will be an important focus in the upcoming year.

As you know, our ten-year strategic plan, The Future. Ours to Create., lays out a path for us to become “a premier, student-centric technological research university.” I believe that events such as Pizza with the Provost are a small but invaluable part of our effort to achieve our goal of becoming more student-centric.

I look forward to holding Pizza with the Provost gatherings with undergraduate and graduate students once or twice each semester, and I plan to host additional gatherings with students and faculty throughout the year. I encourage everyone who regularly interacts with our students—professors, administrators and staff members—to make even more time to engage with them and listen. I know you will find it both rewarding and invaluable.

Organizational Changes

Together with these outreach events, I have made changes in the organization of the Office of the Provost that will also help us keep students at the center of our endeavors. As I announced last month, Dr. Costas Chassapis has assumed the role of vice provost for graduate education. Under his leadership, we are working to provide a unified and seamless experience for our graduate students from recruitment through commencement. At the same time, I appointed Dr. Anthony Barrese as interim vice provost for academics. Dr. Barrese brings a wealth of experience and leadership to this role to continue driving this area’s successes forward.

I am also pleased to note several other recent initiatives to build toward our goal of being more student-centric. A few weeks ago, we unveiled the Accelerated Master’s Program (AMP), a replacement for our 4+1 Program. AMP makes it easier for incoming and current undergraduates to earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree sequentially while they are at Stevens. It offers undergraduate students a chance to gain even more from their time at Stevens and provides them with a streamlined experience. In just a few short weeks, 21 students have applied for AMP, a promising start. Ultimately, we hope to have up to 50 percent of our undergraduates taking advantage of this opportunity.

Also, this semester, the first component of our Workday Student system went live. When completed Workday Student will replace our obsolete student information system (SIS) and a number of related subsystems. The launch of the first component this semester was a milestone and yet another example of Stevens’ commitment to an improved student experience.

Just a couple of weeks ago, we had yet another a reminder of how extraordinary our students are. Students from our Innovation and Entrepreneurship Doctoral Fellowship Program, I&E Summer Scholars Program and our Pinnacle and Stevens Scholars programs displayed some outstanding research at a poster session and reception in Walker Gymnasium. Congratulations to all the students and their faculty advisors! 

As we wrap up fall 2018, I want to wish everyone a successful conclusion to the semester, a happy holiday season and a joyous new year.