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News Roundup

Here are quick updates on several important issues: post-tenure review, e-learning, changes to our general education curriculum, cluster hires, our new NSF ASCEND grant to help us recruit and retain more women faculty in STEM, and Experience Learning.

Post-Tenure Review

Back in March, the UT Board of Trustees amended its policy governing academic freedom, responsibility, and tenure to call for a comprehensive performance review for every tenured faculty member at least every six years. As the next step, the UT System provided a policy template with a set of minimum standards for periodic post-tenure review.

We now have the opportunity to set our policy based on the template. Our goal is to make this new requirement something that’s not onerous, but productive for everyone involved.

You may have already been involved in some of our discussions on this topic. If not, I suggest you review our draft policy and then forward your questions or input to John Zomchick, vice provost for faculty affairs, at or to me at Our policy is due to the System by October 15, in preparation for the November 2 Board of Trustees meeting.

General Education Curriculum Update

The university is working on a new general education curriculum that is scheduled to take effect in fall 2021, following final approval by the Undergraduate Council and Faculty Senate.

The curriculum includes five new course categories approved by the Undergraduate Council in April 2017: Applied Arts and Humanities, Applied Oral Communication, Global Citizenship–US, Global Citizenship–International, and Engaged Inquiries. Many course categories from the current general education curriculum will remain in the new curriculum, including Arts and Humanities, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, Quantitative Reasoning, Communicating Orally, and Communicating through Writing.

In addition, all students will complete a Contemporary Issues and Solutions requirement that can be met through coursework or through noncredit-bearing educational experiences.

The Undergraduate Council will finalize the learning objectives for the new course categories this semester. Beginning in spring 2019, departments and colleges will be able to submit proposals to add existing and newly created courses to the new course lists.

Learn more by visiting the Undergraduate Council’s new General Education web page.

Cluster Hires

We continue a final review of the two proposals to be our next cluster hires: “Quantum Materials for Future Technologies,” proposed by Cristian Batista, Willis Lincoln Chair of Excellence and professor of physics, and “Center of Food and Activity for Healthy Communities,” proposed by Hollie Raynor, professor of nutrition and interim assistant dean for research in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences.

We hope to share more information soon. Meanwhile, you can find more information about these two cluster hires, as well as the other 16 proposals, on the Office of the Provost website.

ASCEND: Recruiting, Retaining Women STEM Faculty

The National Science Foundation recently awarded UT a three-year grant totaling $714,000 for Adaptions for a Sustainable Climate of Excellence and Diversity (ASCEND), a project that will help UT recruit and retain women faculty in science, engineering, and technology fields and make life and work better for all UT employees. It will borrow ideas from NSF ADVANCE programs at other colleges and universities and adapt them to fit UT. It is the university’s first ADVANCE award.

Read more about the program.