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Neighborhoods ease communication among Academic Affairs leaders

Provost Warren BurggrenCelia Williamson’s official title is vice provost for Educational Innovation.

But, in a way, she’s mayor, too.

That’s the unofficial title given to the heads of seven “neighborhoods” overseen by provost and vice president for academic affairs Warren Burggren.

He structured the seven areas into neighborhoods last year as a way to ease communication between division heads. At their meetings, which takes place every other week, the “mayors” for several of the neighborhoods discuss initiatives and other happenings in their areas.

Now in its second year in this format, the structure fits UNT’s “Be Bold” Goal 3: “Become a national leader among universities in student support, employee relations, operational effectiveness and service to constituencies.”

Celia Williamson, vice provost for educational innovationChristy Crutsinger, vice provost for Faculty Success, said the organization allows for creative - and sometimes immediate - responses to problems and opportunities.

Williamson agreed.

“It draws folks with common goals into conversations that might not happen otherwise and allows us to build on each other's energy and ideas, while helping to keep us from duplicating efforts,” Williamson said.

New changes

Crutsinger and Williamson head two neighborhoods that were created during the reorganization, and the results have brought some new and innovative accomplishments.

“When Warren announced the neighborhood concept, it made perfect sense for the work that I do,” said Crutsinger, who began her position in June 2011.

Christy Crutsinger, vice provost for faculty successThe Faculty Success neighborhood offers support in areas such as promotion and tenure workshops, mentoring grants, formal leadership development, women’s initiatives, teaching support for transitional and new faculty, policy development and review and work/life balance programs. 

She also revised the annual new faculty orientation to better reflect Mean Green spirit by inviting the Green Brigade marching band and music faculty. She followed that up with ongoing events throughout the semester, such as check-ins to see how the new faculty members were doing, invitations to concerts and meet-ups before sports events.

The Faculty Success office also rolled awards from different organizations – such as the Faculty Senate, Student Government Association, Office of the Provost and the UNT Foundation – into Faculty Success Week in October.

Welcome wagon

Besides developing new initiatives, the neighborhoods concept can influence mayors’ behavior in their own area.

Williamson is overseeing the transformation of Sage Hall into a one-stop academic center that will house numerous offices – such as the Emerald Eagle Scholars, Honors College and Study Abroad Office - as well as the Office for Exploring Majors, learning commons, and testing centers.

The Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science and Office of Disability Accommodation are scheduled to move to Sage Hall.

When a new office moves in, the staffers receive “welcome wagon” items – such as coffee, water, snacks – to make the transition easier.

“It’s the kind of thing neighbors do in communities – and the idea of the neighborhood has helped us to remember those important personal touches,” Williamson said.

Williamson said the leaders are able to bring greater understanding and resources to meetings across campus because they are deeply embedded in their own neighborhoods.  

“We can contribute from the richer perspectives we've gained because of the conversations we've had ‘back home,’” she said. “We also have a clearer idea of who we might refer folks to, when a different neighborhood has a need.”

The seven neighborhoods and their administrators are:

  • Colleges and Schools, led by various deans – oversees the ten colleges, two schools and Texas Academy of Mathematics and Sciences
  • Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities, led by Vish Prasad – oversees the graduate school, library, research support and undergraduate research initiative
  • Academic Resources, led by Allen Clark ­– oversees academic budget and financial planning, academic personnel management, UNT Sustainability, Institutional Research and Effectiveness, Space Management and Planning and summer school management
  • Information Technology, led by John Hooper – works with academic resources, colleges and schools, educational innovation, enrollment, faculty success, international affairs and research, scholarship & creative activities
  • Enrollment, led by Troy Johnson– oversees Enterprise Information System, Emerald Scholars and veterans, financial aid and scholarships, outreach, recruitment and admissions, registrar, TRIO and other grants
  • Faculty Success, led by Christy Crutsinger – oversees Chair Academy, Faculty Senate, faculty awards and recognition, faculty recruitment and retention, faculty resources, faculty orientation, Leadership Fellows Program, postdoctoral scholars program, Retired Instructors, Personnel and Spouses, transitional faculty
  • International Affairs, led by Rick Nader – oversees colleges and schools, graduate school, enrollment and research and economic development
  • Educational Innovation, led by Celia Williamson – oversees academic calendar and catalog, academic integrity, Center for Achievement and Lifelong Learning, Center for Learning Enhancement, Assessment, and Redesign, colleges and schools, graduate school, honors, internships and co-op, nationally competitive scholarships, TAMS, undergraduate studies.

Photos, from top, Burggren, Williamson, Crutsinger.

Posted on: Mon 17 December 2012

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