A message from CAS Dean Marcus on vision and faculty hiring

Update: Apparently many readers are too busy trying to improve their metrics to read the details of the Dean’s message below, much less act on them. So here’s a visual with the key words you should throw in when drafting IHP proposals or presenting to the Board of Trustees. Thanks to Academic Analytics for the inspiration:

1/25/2018: Since UOM has a considerably more diverse and engaged readership and a more liberal comment policy than the CAS Dean’s blog (no comments allowed, signed or unsigned), I’m pasting his latest message below starting with our new vision statement:


The College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oregon will be a leader among public research universities in preparing students for lifetime success, by:

• Reinventing advising and undergraduate curricula to dramatically improve both academic and career success;

• Rewarding and recruiting faculty who:

1) are excellent scholars seeking solutions to the major social and scientific needs of our time,

2) advance our curriculum, and

3) model for students the modern collaborative workplace.

Our vision derives from and aligns with the ambitious goals the President and Provost have set for excellence, access and experience at the University of Oregon. The College of Arts and Sciences is particularly well poised to advance these UO-wide goals by building on our long-term and recent accomplishments. Over many decades CAS has established a record of faculty-led interdisciplinary, collaborative endeavors targeted toward serving the public good, a record that already distinguishes us among major public universities. And, in recent years, the college has gained tremendous momentum by:

• Developing plans for dramatic changes in student advising throughout the liberal arts

• Raising $34 million toward a total of $39 million for a donor- and State-funded campus hub for integrated career/academic advising

• Working to revitalize student interest in language study and the humanities • Initiating and completing major science lab improvements across the natural sciences

• Collaborating with university leadership to launch the Knight Campus to accelerate scientific impact, an idea proposed by CAS faculty

• Undertaking the most ambitious faculty hiring program in our history

We are poised to undertake a once-in-a-generation transformation. Over the next few years, the College of Arts and Sciences will usher in the next generation of faculty, dedicate new resources to its existing faculty that spur innovation, and profoundly reimagine curricula and advising in ways that will determine the future of the UO for decades to come.


To achieve its vision, the College will pursue three strategies:

1) Increase the relevance of both advising and curricula to dramatically improve both academic and career success,

2) Target faculty hiring to bring in the next generation of faculty who will create nodes of collaborative faculty excellence that will advance the UO’s reputation as a center of research, addressing the critical social issues of our time, while also mentoring our students ,and bringing fresh ideas to renew our curricula, and

3) Significantly increase incentives for faculty and staff to pursue research breakthroughs, curricular and advising innovations, and diversity initiatives that underscore our national leadership and attract new cohorts of top-performing faculty and students. Strategy 1—Reimagining Student Advising and Curriculum UO students want to do well—and do good. They feel intense pressure to make the best use of family resources, succeed in their studies, graduate on time, and get jobs (do well); at the same time, UO students are also characterized by a passion for effecting positive change in the world (doing good). The faculty and staff in CAS will address—and are already addressing—the needs and desires of the modern student by rethinking how we advise, teach, and engage students. By reimagining both advising and curriculum, we will create pathways that guide students toward meaningful and achievable goals while building foundational skills for a rapidly changing world. Students will be able to envision how the core goals of a liberal arts education—critical reasoning, effective communication, collaborative problem solving, and a rich understanding of our complex world—can help them achieve their aspirations.

Specific measures include:

• Envisioning the future of Tykeson Hall and its advising programs. Tykeson Hall ushers in a new era of advising, guiding students to build portfolios of in-demand skills and develop the agility to adapt to the future.

• Rethinking curriculum requirements and pathways. Today’s students want to pursue solutions to pressing social challenges while also developing skills that prepare them for the workplace. This requires curriculum that emphasizes the multiple perspectives necessary to understand—and succeed in—our increasingly diverse and global world. CAS is already incentivizing faculty and departments to revise curricula and identify degree pathways—and will increase these incentives in the future.

• Revitalizing language learning. CAS faculty are already working to revitalize language studies through innovative pedagogies, curricular revisions, a greater range of study abroad options, online courses, and new partnerships with the schools of business and journalism.

• Expanding venues for learning. The college will continue to expand the range of venues for student learning, ranging from online programs to more extensive internship opportunities to classes and workshops offered at locations other than the Eugene campus.

Strategy 2—Hiring the Next Generation of Faculty Hiring priorities will continue to emphasize recruiting superior scholars who will work collaboratively to solve the pressing social and scientific issues of our time, substantially advance the UO’s national research profile, and provide exceptional mentoring for our students. Targeted hiring of new tenure track faculty also is a powerful mechanism for accelerating a reimagined curriculum; a new wave of faculty will bring in fresh ideas and new approaches. Already well underway, this hiring campaign will result in a turnover of approximately a 40% in faculty positions over just a few years, allowing CAS to pivot in new directions across the entire college. Faculty hiring will emphasize:

• Achieving national prominence: College hiring will focus on building critical mass in fields and subfields that are poised to achieve national and international prominence.

• Maximizing the social and scientific impact of research: CAS will recruit individuals who will work collaboratively to develop solutions that address the major issues of our time.

Strategy 3—Incentivizing Cross Disciplinary Scholarship and Innovation in Student Learning Continually reinvigorating our teaching and research enterprise is essential to achieving national recognition—and attracting the highest-caliber faculty and students. CAS leadership is already offering increased funds—and is actively pursuing further fundraising—to incentivize current faculty and staff to propose high-impact opportunities that advance our leadership in the following areas:

• Curricular innovations

• Advising innovations

• Diversity initiatives

• Research that addresses societal needs

• Creative collaborations that cross disciplinary boundaries to establish novel approaches to research problems

Blog post CAS Dean Andrew Marcus:

Earlier this month, I sent a note to all CAS heads outlining the process for requesting tenure track searches in AY18-19 as part of the Provost-led Institutional Hiring Plan (IHP). To give you further context for hiring priorities, I want to share the evolving CAS vision document that I and others have been developing for the college since last July (download the vision statement).

This vision, which I have discussed previously with department heads, the Senate, campus leadership, and our CAS Advisory Board, establishes a framework for priority-setting for the next several years. Among its many uses, I hope this document helps you think strategically about your requests for tenure track lines for your departments or your clusters.

As you will see, the vision strongly emphasizes the idea that, in addition to individual discipline-based faculty lines, we should work to create nodes of collaborative faculty excellence that address pressing social and scientific needs of our time—and also speak powerfully to student academic and career interests. Successful hiring proposals will be distinguished by their support of one or more of these priorities.

But beyond the IHP, I hope our vision prompts even deeper college-wide conversations about how to improve the student experience and how departments want to direct their research agendas. I am very hopeful that this plan will engage the CAS community, because itrelies on CAS faculty and staff to bring their best ideas forward to help shape the future of our collective success.

In fact, I believe we are on the verge of a once-in-a-generation transformation. In the 1960s and 70s, higher education was reimagined by a new wave of faculty and a profound critique and reinvention of curriculum. It is increasingly clear that we are in the midst of a similar sea change; our vision for CAS is designed to shape the future of the UO for decades to come—relying on the imagination and leadership of our faculty to create the forward-thinking research and teaching initiatives that will define us.

Why a Vision? Why Now?

Why develop and share a vision statement now? It was helpful to have a prompt from my new boss: One of the first things our new provost, Jayanth Banavar, did when he arrived last summer was ask all of the deans to create a vision for their colleges. Recognizing that vision statements are a dime a dozen in higher education (and often go on for 100 pages, aspiring to do everything under the sun), the CAS deans undertook to craft a concise, relevant statement for our college that builds on our strengths and our potential for capitalizing on those strengths.

First and foremost, we recognized that we have many assets to build from:

  • The quality of our existing faculty, their commitment to excellence, and their longtime track record of collaborative endeavor
  • Major initiatives undertaken over the past four years, which have included:
    • The most aggressive tenure track faculty hiring program in the history of CAS
    • A first-ever college-wide Diversity Action Plan
    • The largest development campaign in our history
    • An ongoing rethinking of programs for student advising
    • Launching the design and construction of Tykeson Hall, a building designed for student success, scheduled to open in Fall 2019
    • Major science lab improvements
    • Efforts to revitalize student interest in our languages and humanities
    • And many, many more efforts ranging from individual activities to the college-wide development of personnel and management systems.

Proceeding from this baseline of strength, I originally thought the best approach to producing a vision for the provost would be to ask the divisional deans (Karen Ford, Hal Sadofsky and Phil Scher) to write separate plans for the humanities, natural sciences and social sciences, respectively. Each of them delivered a well-considered divisional plan, but we soon realized that we needed a cohesive, simplified vision that unites the entire college. Accordingly, we distilled the many aspirations for our divisions into two main college-wide goals:

The UO College of Arts and Sciences will be a leader among public research universities in preparing students for lifetime success, by:

  • Reinventing both advising and undergraduate curriculum to dramatically improve both academic and career success;
  • Rewarding and recruiting faculty who 1) pursue solutions to social and scientific needs, 2) advance our curriculum, and 3) model for students the modern collaborative workplace.

You will notice these goals foreground student success, which is intentional. We must articulate our vision to many constituents besides ourselves—prospective and current students, parents, alumni, donors, etc.—and framing academics, advising and research in terms of student benefit is designed to help the rest of the world embrace our collective purpose: to help students “do well” as they pursue their passion for “doing good.” (More on this later.)

Student-Centered, Faculty Led

As the vision statement makes clear: we aspire to be student-centered in the context of being faculty-led. Faculty are the engines of both research and educational excellence, and our goals for attaining national leadership must focus on initiatives that engage, support, and build our faculty. As you know, President Schill aims to advance our AAU status by increasing our numbers of research faculty, many of whom will be in CAS. Concurrently, dozens of CAS faculty retirements are taking place, allowing us to realign our hiring priorities to emphasize major social and scientific issues. In 2017, there was a 9% turnover in CAS faculty; we will have a similar turnover in this year, perhaps a total of 40% in a matter of just a few years.

We will call upon—and reward—both current and future faculty to propose bold new research agendas, reinvent the curriculum, and reimagine their deep involvement with our students through their research, their classroom activities, and their role as advisors and mentors. Our success will depend on our faculty joining together in an energized intellectual community that embodies the Oregon spirit and our long-term commitment to the ideals of public education.

Along with our necessary emphasis on faculty, we must also focus on our staff, who play an essential role in realizing our vision. Our staff are leaders in student advising, personnel management, diversity innovations, and the development of management solutions that support all our daily operations.

Do Well, Do Good

Together, all of our activities are in service of guiding future generations to “do well and do good.” One of the abiding characteristics of UO undergraduates is their earnest desire to make a positive difference in the world (do good). At the same time, today’s students also feel intense pressure to graduate on time, succeed academically, and make the best use of family resources (do well). They worry about their future job prospects in a world that is evolving at dizzying speed.

It is our obligation to help students both do well and do good. The vision helps guide our efforts in this regard. Collectively, we will accomplish this through:

  • Modernizing our advising and curricula to directly address the aspirations and needs of the modern student,
  • Rewarding and recruiting faculty who specialize in areas of highest relevance to today’s society and our students,
  • Promoting team approaches to problem-solving, and
  • Demonstrating to students the relevance of skills acquired throughout the liberal arts—not only in their own fields but also in collaboration with colleagues across disciplines (thus learning from their faculty mentors how to navigate the increasingly permeable boundaries of today’s workplace).

This vision and the objectives we will pursue to attain it will, by their very definition, evolve. This is a process vision, not a fixed vision. The goals we set and the measures we follow will be informed by the evolving expertise and opinions of our faculty and staff, the changing issues of our time, and—most critically—the changing needs and skill sets of our students.

I encourage you to join me in helping to bring this vision to life for our students and our entire community. We are at a pivotal moment, with a profound opportunity to transform our curriculum and research profile to serve future generations in imaginative new ways.

In the near-term, you are invited to participate in this vision and crafting our future through the many collaborative efforts already underway, including: the Institutional Hiring Plan process, the college- and university-wide Tykeson working groups, the many planning committees at work in venues ranging from University Senate Committees to the Knight Campus Advisory Board to our department-level diversity committees and curricular planning groups. The decisions made in these settings help launch us on our new trajectory; now is the time to be engaged.

Andrew Marcus
Tykeson Dean of Arts and Sciences

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11 Responses to A message from CAS Dean Marcus on vision and faculty hiring

  1. Dog says:

    You might have to put a comment limit on this post as I am sure it will generate a lot. Me, I will mostly be silent but just point ou
    one thing

    Rewarding and recruiting faculty who:

    1) are excellent scholars seeking solutions to the major social and scientific needs of our time,

    Exactly how are such scholars identified? Paper counting in the Journal of Incremental Knowledge? Personally, I think they will be identified through self-promotion

    • prof from a non-AAU school says:

      Me thinks you protest too much. The Association of American Universities ( AAU) has no trouble identifying distinguished scholars, so its not clear why UO should have any trouble either. AAU criteria are here:

      But wait… the CAS vision doesn’t sound much like the AAU vision. One wonders why….. since UO and AAU must have some correspondence in recent yrs about whether UO STILL meets its membership criteria. Maybe a records request by UOM would yield some details about the present AAU/UO ‘ situation’. AAU has indeed tossed some’ members’ out in recent yrs.
      And some non-AAU schools are far ahead of UO in all the appropriate criteria [ UUtah and Arizona State come to mind]

      UO has made some really great hires for Sr science faculty in recent yrs; keep up the good work. Or not.

      • Dog says:

        I seriously doubt the UO uses Phase I and Phase II indicators, as articulated by the AAU, in how they ordain some faculty to be

        To me, the UO is consistently now sending a message to us faculty that few, if any of us, are “excellent” – therefore an overhaul is needed – indeed while that may be true in the qualitative sense, the admins here have never revealed their measuring template to deciding which of us faculty and which
        departments need to be overhauled.

        Personally, I think backing up a U-haul truck to Johnson/Friendly Hall and loading that is the best solution for overhaul …

        • Woop says:

          Excellence in administrators- as evaluated by students, staff and faculty – not evaluated by themselves. They push each other up and cover up each others’ failings (and worse).

          In my 35+ years of experience in public sector employment, and most of that in academia, I have found the more an organization spends and waves a mission/vision statement around, the higher the need to take a hard look at the administrators.

          Total Quality Management scars anyone?

  2. solidcitizen says:

    Gold. Solid gold.

  3. Emeritus Splendissimus says:

    I am trying not to be too cynical here but I am reminded of the words of Yogi Berra: “It’s déjà vu all over again.” Who can disagree with many clichés in this statement? Yet they do sound all too familiar to anyone who has followed the many attempts at ‘renewal’ over the years.
    Each new administrator seems to believe she/he can make a difference and that what was done before is worthless. It is not that the ideas, both new and old, have been poorly conceived but rather, in my opinion, that the resources to support those ideas were not made available over a long enough period to be really tested..
    Hence, tho there have been many worthy attempts to regenerate / refigure the curriculum there has also been little done to assess what has been done, why it worked or did not work, and what more critically MIGHT WORK IN THIS/ OUR PARTICULAR FISCAL CONTEXT. Critical too: one has to stick with that plan for a longer period and not abandon programs with each new dean or provost. .

    In sum, we do not seem to learn from our experiences and investments. And that does not bode well for the future.

  4. Anonymous says:

    At least impact was only accelerated once…

    • uomatters says:

      Congratulations for the metaphorical physics comment of the month. Please submit your equations in LaTeX to receive your complimentary coffee mug.

  5. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    I had heard from a friend that the admin was trying to turn the U upside down, now I see why. Seems like they are really worried about the perception that higher ed is useless. The enrollment decline. I agree with them to some extent about career prep. Probably they will overdo things, but Schill likely gone in a couple years, then a new schtick.

  6. Dog says:

    The graphic is excellent but it seems to have omitted the word “excellence” at least 5000 times …

  7. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    “This requires curriculum that emphasizes the multiple perspectives necessary to understand—and succeed in—our increasingly diverse and global world.”

    The new curriculum will emphasize the populism that is sweeping or at least growing in Europe? The Trumpism that has at least an even footing in the United States? The conservative religious resurgences in much of the less advanced world (the s***hole countries)? All of these will receive sympathetic treatment, and not merely contempt? I don’t sense much enthusiasm for “viewpoint diversity” in the Dean’s statements. Will we at least have visits from scholars like Charles Murray and Heather MacDonald? Or even Joel Kotkin? I recommend against holding your breath too long.

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