ECE professor Gregory Heileman, who previously served as associate vice provost for academic administration, is now vice provost for undergraduate education. In his expanded role, Heileman will oversee undergraduate programs at the university, including the general education core curriculum. His priorities include improving retention, raising four-year and six-year graduation rates and addressing equity gaps facing students from underrepresented backgrounds.
Heileman says one of his initial tasks is to collect baseline data on the structure of undergraduate academic programs. In particular, he'll focus on how this structure impacts how many students persist through the first year of college, graduate in four or six years, or change majors.
"We have been putting quite a bit of effort into collecting data around all of the academic degree programs that we have at the undergraduate level, understanding how students progress through them and seeing if we can make improvements," Heileman said. "Can we structure our academic programs in a way that students are more likely to succeed?"
While plans for the reorganization predated the COVID-19 pandemic, leadership in the provost's office will continue to monitor how students are being affected and work with faculty to help address student struggles, Heileman said.
"We had to come up with alternative grading policies and address big concerns about academic eligibility," Heileman explained, adding that university leaders did not want to penalize students whose GPAs slipped or who had to withdraw from courses because of the disruptions around COVID-19. "On the other side of this, we're going to have to pay close attention to how we help students whose plans have been disrupted by the pandemic."