Timing is Everything…

February 18, 2013, 11:03 am
Burton Webb

Looking back, it has been an incredible year of work thus far – and it’s only mid-February! Let me take a few paragraphs to recap and update everyone.

We started talking about structural change two years ago, a faculty task force made recommendations last year, and we have been moving toward a two-college structure throughout this fall and spring. Deans were identified two weeks ago, and this week we will begin conversations surrounding departmental structure. We don’t anticipate radical changes, but there may be a few tweaks. Thanks to the members of the task force, the search committees, the school deans, and others who have offered input, made comments and have generally improved aspects of what we will be living into next year. Up next – the Committee on Committees and the Faculty Policy Council will bring faculty governance committee structures to the faculty very soon.

After more than a year of work, the General Education Council made their recommendations in the last Faculty Meeting. Those recommendations were accepted with comments, and the committee will complete their work on outcomes and courses soon. Special thanks go to Ben and the General Education Council for their dedication to the liberal arts and the students of NNU. Next up for GE is the monumental task of assessment. This is a work in progress that will likely take a year or more to complete.

The Board Policy Manual created a considerable amount of stir in the fall, but the Faculty and Staff Policy Councils have worked hard to make recommendations for the Trustees to consider at their March meeting. The process has worked well, and I believe the Trustees will consider our recommendations carefully.  Thanks to Glena, Mike, Heather and the members of the Faculty and Staff policy councils for their commitment to and care for the people of NNU.

In the spring of 2008, we started planning and dreaming for what a new library might become. The idea of a learning commons was born in the minds of Sharon and Duane sometime after that. In 2010 and 2011, architectural drawings were made in the hopes that construction would begin soon. Now, thanks to several generous gifts, we stand on the threshold of construction. The official groundbreaking will take place on March 8, with construction slated

to begin shortly after the end of the semester. In order to complete construction by the fall of 2014, the library staff and all of their books,  need to find a temporary home somewhere on campus for the 2013-2014 academic year. In mid-June, the library will move from Riley to Helstrom, Ford and Culver. Yes, three locations for a year. Sharon and Duane will present the details of this move at the faculty/staff fellowship on Tuesday. They have both done extraordinary work; please join me in thanking them!

Those are the big projects on my radar, but there are a myriad of others that are moving apace as well. We have several faculty searches running, graduate school enrollments are up, financial aid packages are being sent, the first courses in the new NNU Honors College were approved, new coach(es) have been hired, grant applications are being written and submitted, and the snow has finally melted… pretty soon it will be time to hum that familiar graduation tune as we meet in the Idaho Center once more.

This has truly been an exceptionally busy year. May God continue to guide us as we finish strong and move into our summer cycle of activities.

Striving to serve,


  1. Cathy Beals said on February 18, 2013

    Can you give us a timeline when you hope to have the department structure decided on?

  2. Burton Webb said on February 19, 2013

    Sure Cathy:

    Dan, Paula, and I met yesterday to work through our ideas – no major changes to existing departments emerged from that meeting, but we are interested in some team-building ideas, clarification of what it means to be a department chair, load/stipends/responsibilities/authority associated with that job, etc. We are also trying to keep access to the deans as simple and direct as possible.

    Dan and Paula will be meeting with department chairs and perhaps entire departments in the next two weeks to share their thoughts and listen to faculty input, so it’s too early for me to roll out anything at this point. There are ideas on the table that need to be discussed and vetted before we roll out a plan. I am pleased with the direction we are going at this point, but now we need to listen before we act.

    I hope that Paula and Dan can wrap up their conversations by early March (the board meeting) and we will have a final structural organization for next year. Like everything, we will assess our structural effectiveness a year from now and see whether any more changes are warranted.

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