Communications

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  • May 16, 2024: Announcing the Inaugural Executive Director of the Weinstein Learning Center

    Dear Colleagues,

    I’m delighted to write to you today to announce Marco A. Ortiz as the inaugural executive director of the Carole and Marcus Weinstein Learning Center (WLC). Marco will join our community July 1. I am so grateful to Dr. Carol Parish for serving as the interim director of the WLC as we engaged in a national search to fill this important role for our university.

    The Weinstein Learning Center is a state-of-the-art intellectual gathering space that will support all students in every stage of their academic journey. The new center, which will be located within the footprint of Boatwright Memorial Library, will allow us to integrate, amplify, and co-locate the existing Speech, Writing, Academic Skills, Technology Learning, and English Language Learning Centers, along with our new Quantitative Resource Center. This structure will take our student support and academic services to the next level, transforming our student’s development in integrated and innovative ways.

    Marco has more than 15 years of experience in higher education. For the past 12 years, he has served in various leadership roles and is currently the director of the University of Arizona’s Think Tank, a centralized academic support center that offers tutoring, supplemental instruction, a writing center, and more. He completed his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Arizona and received his MBA from the W.P. Carey School of Business–Arizona State University. He is currently completing his Ph.D. in higher education administration at the University of Arizona, and he is president-elect of the College Reading & Learning Association.

    His rich experience in centralizing services and academic support for students will serve our community well. The entire search committee was impressed by Marco’s advocacy for lifelong learning and student development, and he stood out for his demonstrated commitment to forging partnerships among students, staff, and faculty.

    Marco is excited to join our community this summer. Please join me in welcoming him to Richmond.  

    Sincerely,

    A. Joan Saab

    Executive Vice President and Provost
  • Apr. 17, 2024: Associate Provost of Academic Affairs

    Dear Colleagues,

    I am excited to share that Dr. Nicole Maurantonio, Professor of Rhetoric and Communications and the current Director of Advising, First-Year Seminar, and First- and Second-Year Programming, will serve as the next Associate Provost of Academic Affairs, effective July 1. In this position, Nicole will serve a critical role in shaping and implementing the academic vision of the office. She will collaborate with various academic departments, administrative units, and faculty to promote a positive and supportive environment for teaching, research, and professional growth. This work will include oversight of our continuing Academic Program Reviews and their strategic use in future planning. She will work closely with the Director of New Student & Transition Programs on our signature Living-Learning Programs as well as the Director of Health Promotion on our WELL 100 curriculum.

    The search was informed by a committee led by Saif Mehkari and included Sharon Feldman, Dara Gocheski, Crystal Hoyt, Luke Norris, Dan Palazzolo, and Tom Shields. I am grateful to each of them for their efforts, including hopping on a Zoom over spring break. Nicole was also enthusiastically endorsed for the role, with numerous nominations from both faculty and staff.

    Please join me in congratulating Dr. Maurantonio and welcoming her to the Office of the Provost.

    Warm regards,

    A. Joan Saab

    Executive Vice President and Provost
  • Apr. 9, 2024: The Learning Together Series

    Good afternoon,

    As I shared earlier this semester, the Office of the Provost, with co-sponsors the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement, International Education, the Chaplaincy, Arts & Sciences, the Law School, and the Office for Institutional Equity & Inclusion, hosted the Learning Together series, a sequence of educational workshops about the Palestine-Israel conflict. The sessions were designed to create small, intentional spaces to wrestle together with multiple, complex, and difficult narratives. Each workshop was content-based, with shared texts and/or a guest speaker, followed by a facilitated discussion.

    Over the semester, we offered three workshops:

    • Roots of the Conflict: During this first session, the goal was a humanizing dialogue about Israel-Palestine with a focus on history.
    • Israeli Perspectives: Participants heard a perspective from an external expert on Israel and the intricacies of the current conflict.
    • Palestinian Perspectives:  Participants heard a perspective from an external expert on Palestine and the intricacies of the current conflict.

    I am incredibly grateful to all the individuals who chose to engage with these difficult topics and sometimes challenging conversations. I believe in the end we learned a lot from one another, including ways we might use this model for difficult conversations as they arise. Thank you also to our colleagues who imagined and implemented these first three workshops. Moving forward, we will continue to think about what additional workshops in the series might look like.

    A. Joan Saab

    Executive Vice President & Provost

     

  • Jan. 31, 2024: Updates in the Provost’s Office

    Good morning,

    Thank you all for a welcoming and wonderful first semester. I hope you enjoyed a restorative break and that you have settled back in for another semester.

    In October, I shared that I was engaged in an “asset mapping” exercise. This has enabled me to better understand the work being done in my office and across campus and to plan for how best to harness our resources in support of our academic mission. Thank you to everyone who reached out to me to offer ideas, needs, and possibilities.

    I’m excited to share some of the upcoming changes in my office.

    I am reimagining the Associate Provost roles in order to best support the university’s strategic plan and our academic mission. I will solicit a call for nominations/applications for an Associate Provost of Academic Affairs later this week. Among other things, this person will have oversight of the Faculty Hub, Academic Advising and FYS, Academic Program Reviews, and the ongoing implementation of the new general education curriculum. This individual will also work closely with our Living Learning and Transition Programs.

    On July 1, Dr. Amy Howard will join the Office of the Provost as the Associate Provost for Strategic Initiatives and Community  Engagement. In this role, Amy will have oversight of the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement (CCE), University Museums, the Modlin Center for the Arts, the Humanities Center, and the Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) initiative, and will also collaborate with the Office of Sustainability. She will play a crucial role in coordinating and enhancing the university’s strategic academic initiatives and community engagement efforts, ensuring a dynamic collaboration across campus and with the broader RVA community. I have enjoyed working with Amy these past seven months in her role as Senior Administrative Officer for Equity & Community and look forward to her joining the Office of the Provost this summer.

    I am incredibly grateful for the contributions of Dr. Linda Boland (Associate Provost for Faculty) and Dr. Carol Parish (Associate Provost for Academic Integration) over the past several years as they have served in the Office of the Provost. I appreciate the ongoing support and institutional wisdom they’ve provided during my transition and will continue to provide this semester. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with them in their roles as faculty at UR.

    As some of you may know, the University’s current Assistant Vice President of Alumni and Career Services, Denise Dwight Smith, will be retiring in March. After much consideration, President Hallock has decided that Career Services will shift from the Advancement division to the Office of the Provost. I’m excited about this change, as this will provide opportunities to facilitate even deeper integration of career exploration, readiness and opportunities into the academic life of the university.We have launched a national search for an Assistant Provost of Career Development and Learning. I am chairing the search and am joined by a committee of colleagues from across the university.  Alumni Relations will remain with  Advancement and be renamed Alumni Engagement, but will of course maintain a close working relationship with our Career team.

    We are also actively searching for the inaugural Executive Director of the Carole and Marcus Weinstein Learning Center (WLC). This position will report directly to the Provost. The WLC will bring together our Academic Skills Center, English Language Learning Center, Quantitative Resource Center, Speech Center, Technology Learning Center, and Writing Center in one central location at the Boatwright Memorial Library, allowing us to reimagine and enhance how we provide academic support to our students. I am chairing the search and am looking forward to identifying an outstanding candidate to fill this important inaugural role for the university. I am also grateful to Dr. Carol Parish for serving as the Interim Director of the WLC.

    I want to again express my gratitude for the thoughtful feedback I have received from so many of you over the past few months. It has been such a pleasure to get to know the campus and the broader community. I am so happy to be part of the Richmond web.

    Wishing you all a great semester,

    Joan

    A. Joan Saab

    Executive Vice President and Provost

  • Oct. 26, 2023: A Message to Our Campus Community

    Dear Campus Community,

    We are writing about incidents that have arisen in our community in recent days as we, along with campuses across the country, continue to be affected by the unfolding situation in the Middle East. A student-organized demonstration and counter-demonstration took place yesterday on campus, and several members of the University community have voiced concerns about escalating rhetoric and behavior that occurred during and after the event. These include incidents of derogatory name-calling and hateful social media posts that are antithetical to our values as an institution and have no place on this campus. The safety of our campus community is paramount, and we are carefully reviewing each reported incident while providing support to the affected members of our community. Information about the University’s procedures for addressing issues of bias and discrimination can be found here.

    As an academic community, the University of Richmond has a foundational commitment to free and open discussion of ideas and to ensuring an environment in which respectful discourse and thoughtful debate can occur. However, freedom of expression is not without limits or responsibility. It is imperative that all members of our campus community engage in thoughtful dialogue, respecting one another as members of our shared campus community and our shared human community. Words are powerful and can have profound consequences. We can convey our views without dehumanizing another. We are fully committed to fostering a campus where every voice can be heard, and every member of our community can flourish.

    We know many people in our campus community continue to be deeply affected by the situation in the Middle East, and we encourage you to reach out to the available resources, which include: 

    We are deeply grateful for the dedicated, extraordinary efforts of those in these offices and across the University who have provided invaluable care and support for students in recent weeks.

    There are still challenges ahead. We urge that we remain collectively committed to fostering a University community where we can discuss and debate complex, challenging issues and thoughtfully and respectfully disagree with one another. Please take good care.

    Sincerely,

    Steve Bisese
    Vice President for Student Development

    A. Joan Saab
    Executive Vice President and Provost

    Geraldine Sullivan
    Chief Human Resources Officer

  • Oct. 4, 2023: Halfway Through the Semester

    Greetings Everyone,

    It’s hard to believe we are at the midway point of the semester. This weekend is Homecoming, which provides us with the opportunity to come together and demonstrate our #SpiderPride. I’ll be in D-Hall this Friday during our Spider Day Lunch, handing out T-shirts. I hope to see you there or at the evening festival.

    I continue to enjoy getting to know you all, the campus, and the Richmond community. I appreciate your willingness to include me in department meetings, welcome me to special events, and all the invitations for coffee, lunch, and walks around the lake. I love touring our incredible spaces, such as Boatwright Memorial Library, Modlin, and our museums.

    Many of you have asked or are wondering what my vision is for the office. Right now, we are focused on supporting the strategic plan and completing an exercise I call “asset mapping.” This strength-based approach will allow me to fully understand the great work done across the division and identify opportunities where we can more strategically support our colleagues and students.

    In today’s troubled world, I am incredibly proud of the care and support I’ve seen across our community. Thank you for your continued support of one another and of our students.

    A. Joan Saab

    Executive Vice President and Provost

  • Aug. 29, 2023: Yesterday’s Tragedy at UNC

    Dear UR Colleagues,

    As many of you know, a faculty member at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill (UNC) was fatally shot yesterday in a campus building. This tragedy is yet another senseless act of violence in our nation, this one on a college campus where the community was celebrating the start of a new semester.

    The University of Richmond is committed to keeping our campus community safe. Our colleagues in the URPD, in partnership with faculty, staff, and students, contribute to these efforts. We strongly encourage all members of our campus community to download the UR Spider Safe app and also sign up for UR Alert. These are important tools that help connect our community to one another in emergency situations.

    Anyone in our University community may convey a concern through an online form and may submit an anonymous report through the UR Spider Safe app. To report an emergency on campus, call the URPD at 804-289-8911.

    Additionally, as part of our commitment to supporting campus safety and well-being, our Threat Assessment Team proactively evaluates concerns that may pose a threat to our campus community. An email with more information about that team will go out to our community later this week.

    As we empathize with the sense of grief and fear experienced by the UNC community, we encourage each of you to take care of yourselves and each other. To those of us who need support during this time, please reach out to those around you, and we also encourage you to consider the following resources:

    Please take care,

     

    Joan Saab
    Executive Vice President and Provost

    Geraldine Sullivan
    Chief Human Resources Officer

  • Aug. 28, 2023: Updates on Compliance Training for Faculty

    Dear Colleagues

    As we begin a new academic year, I want to share information on the three compliance education modules intended to support our shared commitment to preventing harassment and discrimination, protecting personal information and University data, including student education records, and avoiding cyber-attacks such as phishing.  Beginning September 1, 2023, the following on-line compliance modules will be available to all faculty and staff:   

    • Preventing Harassment & Discrimination: Gateway which is designed to help faculty and staff identify potential harassment, sexual misconduct and provides information on how to respond when confronted with those situations.  The online module last approximately 35 minutes and the software will allow users to pause the training at any time. 
    • Cybersecurity Awareness provides important information to enable faculty and staff to recognize phishing attempts, avoid online scams and understand cyber best practices.  This online module lasts approximately 30 minutes and the software will allow users to pause during the training at any time.
    • FERPA:  Protecting Student Privacy provides a general understanding of FERPA, (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) which is essential to protecting the confidentiality of student education records. This online module lasts approximately 15 minutes and the software will allow users to pause during the training at any time.

    I know the close relationship that you have with your students.  You serve as teachers, mentors, and role models.   We want to be sure you are equipped with information that helps protect students and the University.

    Each of these education modules will be included in your Talent Web account in the University’s learning management system, Cornerstone, and you will have until March 1, 2024 to complete them. Thank you for taking the time to complete these important compliance education modules and I wish you a productive academic year.

    Sincerely,

    A. Joan Saab

    Executive Vice President and Provost

  • Aug. 25, 2023: Excited for the Semester

    Hi Everyone,

    Next week is an exciting week! That’s not to say this week wasn’t exciting. For me it was a whirlwind of participation in Spider traditions. I welcomed families of our new students, dined with our new faculty, presented our Distinguished Educator and Distinguished Scholarship awards, and officially started the academic year at Colloquy. Today, I’ll attend my first commencement as Provost, awarding degrees to graduates of the MBA program.

    I want to take a moment to thank you for all that you do to ensure the University is ready and able to support our students. As you may have heard at Colloquy, I believe education is transformative and that we all are key participants in this process.  As your chief academic officer, I will do whatever I can to support you in the classroom and beyond.

    I hope to see you all soon. Have a great semester!

    A. Joan Saab

    Executive Vice President and Provost

  • Aug. 3, 2023: University Guidance on AI

    Hello Everyone,

    I hate to interrupt your summer, but a number of you have asked so, I wanted to share the University’s Guidance on Generative AI in Teaching and Learning. The guidance is below.   

    Please make sure to clearly state your own philosophy on your class syllabus. You are encouraged to contact the Faculty Hub for additional support and to review examples of syllabus statements that may be used or modified, as appropriate.

    We recognize that the technologies involved are evolving quite quickly and will be holding a series of workshops in the Faculty Hub, as well as, hosting a variety of speakers over the academic year. Keep an eye out for more information in the coming weeks.

    I hope you are all keeping cool and enjoying some time off. I look forward to meeting many of you soon.

    All best,

    Joan

    Generative AI in Teaching and Learning

    Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that uses machine learning to create content (text, images, video, audio, music, computer code, etc.). Generative AI includes tools such as ChatGPT, Bard, DALL-E, AlphaCode, Stable Diffusion, Synthesia, Cohere Generate, and other emerging technologies.

    While these tools have applications that may facilitate learning, they are also prone to inaccuracies and other problems. Our current guidance is the same as for any other tools: faculty determine what may or may not be used in student work presented for feedback or evaluation.

    Students pledge in the Honor Code to not give nor receive “unauthorized assistance” on assignments submitted for a grade:

    “To reinforce a student’s continual dedication to the Honor Code, a student may be expected to provide and sign the following pledge on every assignment that the student submits to an instructor for a grade at the instructor’s discretion:

    I pledge that I have neither received nor given unauthorized assistance during the completion of this work. Full Signature.”

    Note: Graduate students in the Robins School of Business are bound by Article V: Honor Code Violations; the process is handled by the Associate Dean for Graduate and Executive Programs.

    Faculty must define what is “unauthorized assistance” in their classes. As always, course policies should be clearly communicated, in writing, including how to cite resources or tools used. Students are encouraged to ask clarifying questions of their instructors.

    Note:  At this time, we are not aware of any reliable detectors of the use of generative AI to create content.

  • Aug. 1, 2023: Invitation to Colloquy

    Dear Colleagues,

    It’s my pleasure to invite you to our annual Colloquy to celebrate the outstanding work of our faculty, welcome our newest colleagues, and officially start the academic year together.

    The ceremony will take place on August 23 from 3-4 p.m. in the Alice Jepson Theatre of the Modlin Center for the Arts. It will be followed by a reception in Booth Lobby.

    This year we will hear from and honor our Distinguished Educator and Distinguished Scholarship Award recipients and recognize esteemed faculty receiving endowed appointments. You will also hear from me, the featured speaker (I promise to keep it short)!

    I’m grateful to our Award Selection Committee – Al Goethals (Chair), Lidia Radi, Shakun Mago, Andrew Schoeneman, Joel Eisen, and Linda Boland (Ex-Officio) for recommending this year’s award recipients, and to the many staff who’ve coordinated our Colloquy celebration.

    DISTINGUISHED EDUCATOR AWARD RECIPIENTS

    School of Arts & Sciences

    • Dr. Elisabeth Gruner, Professor of English

    • Dr. Aleksandra Sznajder Lee, Associate Professor of Political Science

    • Dr. David Salisbury, Associate Professor of Geography and the Environment

    Robins School of Business

    • Dr. Cassandra Marshall, Associate Professor of Finance

    • Trey Sutton, Associate Professor of Management

    Jepson School of Leadership Studies

    • Dr. Christopher von Rueden, Associate Professor of Leadership Studies

    School of Law

    • Meredith Harbach, Professor of Law

     

    DISTINGUISHED SCHOLARSHIP AWARD RECIPIENTS

    School of Arts & Sciences

    • Dr. Emory (Ted) Bunn, E. Claiborne Robins Distinguished Chair in the Liberal Arts and Professor of Physics

    • Dr. Jane Geaney, Professor of Religious Studies                              

    • Dr. William Ross, Roger Francis and Mary Saunders Richardson Chair in Mathematics and Professor of Mathematics

    Robins School of Business

    • Dr. Monika Kukar-Kinney, F. Carlyle Tiller Chair in Business and Professor of Marketing

    • Dr. Marshall Geiger, CSX Chair in Management and Accounting and Professor of Accounting

    Jepson School of Leadership Studies

    • Dr. Peter Iver Kaufman, Professor and George Matthews and Virginia Brinkley Modlin Chair in Leadership Studies

    School of Law

    • Kristen Jakobsen Osenga, Austin E. Owen Research Scholar and Professor of Law, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Law School


    ENDOWED APPOINTMENTS

    Dr. Emory (Ted) Bunn, E. Claiborne Robins Distinguished Chair in the Liberal Arts

    Dr. Artem Durnev, Patricia A. and George W. Wellde, Jr. Distinguished Chair in Finance

    Dr. Rhiannon Graybill, Weinstein-Rosenthal Chair of Jewish Studies

    Dr. KimMarie McGoldrick, E. Claiborne Robins Distinguished Professorship in Business

    Dr. Elizabeth Outka, Tucker-Boatwright Professorship of Humanities

    Dr. Michel Robe, Patricia A. and George W. Wellde, Jr. Distinguished Chair in Finance

    Dr. Julietta Singh, Stephanie Bennett-Smith Chair in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

    Dr. Jonathan Whitaker, Joseph A. Jennings Chair in Business

    I hope you are enjoying the tail end of the summer. I look forward to my first Colloquy at the University of Richmond and kicking off the new academic year with you on August 23.

    Sincerely,

    A. Joan Saab
    Executive Vice President and Provost