John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education

Greg Heileman

August 23, 2017Julie HellerInsights0

GregHeileman

Gregory (Greg) L. Heileman currently serves as the Associate Provost for Student & Academic Life at the University of Kentucky.  From 2011 until 2017, he served as the Associate Provost for Curriculum and then as the Vice Provost for Teaching, Learning and Innovation at the University of New Mexico (UNM).  During that time he led campus-wide student academic success initiatives, and worked with key stakeholders on campus, to produce all-time record retention and graduation rates.  In 1990 he joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at UNM where he advanced through the academic ranks to Professor.  From 2005-2011 he served as Associate Chair (Director of Undergraduate Programs), and led the department through two ABET accreditation visits.  In 2011 he became an ABET program evaluator.  In 2009 he was also awarded the IEEE Albuquerque Section Outstanding Educator Award. He was the recipient of ECE’s Lawton-Ellis Award for combined excellence in teaching, research, and student/community involvement in 2001 and again 2009.  He held ECE’s Gardner Zemke Professorship from 2005-08.  He received the School of Engineering’s Teaching Excellence award in 1995, and the ECE Department Distinguished Teacher Award in 2000. During 1998 he held a research fellowship at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, and in 2005 he held a similar position at the Universidad Politénica de Madrid. He earned the BA degree in Biology from Wake Forest University in 1982, the MS degree in Biomedical Engineering and Mathematics from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 1986, and the PhD degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Central Florida in 1989.

 

Gardner Institute Advisor Peterson-Veatch Named Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean at Southwestern College

Peterson-Veatch Named Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College at Southwestern College

May 17, 2017

Southwestern College President Brad Andrews has announced that Ross Peterson-Veatch will be the next vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college.  Dr. Peterson-Veatch will begin his duties July 1.

The new vice president will have responsibility for the academic vision and execution of academic programs at the college, including both the main campus and Professional Studies. During the past year’s national search to fill the position these duties have been performed by Tracy Frederick, interim provost, after former provost Andy Sheppard accepted a college presidency in Georgia.

“I am so pleased to be chosen as Southwestern’s new vice president for academic affairs,” Peterson-Veatch says.  “I am excited to join the Moundbuilder community and I look forward to working with faculty and administrators to continue Southwestern’s strong traditions of student engagement and academic excellence.”  

Peterson-Veatch has served as interim vice president for academic affairs and academic dean at Goshen College (Ind.) since 2015.  In that role he was responsible for providing leadership and oversight for all academic and student life programs and departments.  He served Goshen previously as associate vice president for academic affairs, primarily focused on adult and graduate programs. Before that, as associate academic dean, his duties included service on the college team developing strategic academic priorities. 

Prior to his tenure at Goshen, Peterson-Veatch was a faculty member at Indiana University in the liberal arts and management program, and has also held faculty appointments at Earlham College, Goucher College, and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. From 2001 to 2007 he served Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business as an instructional consultant focused on improvement of classroom teaching practice.

 “Southwestern is a college with a clear focus on students and their success and a commitment to developing students as leaders.  I am honored and humbled to be able to be a part of those efforts and to help extend them to a growing student body both in Winfield and beyond,” Peterson-Veatch adds.

Peterson-Veatch received his bachelor’s degree from Earlham College in Spanish and sociology/anthropology and holds master’s and doctorate degrees in folklore from Indiana University. He has published numerous articles and book chapters on professional learning communities and other topics.

His academic interests include leadership studies, folklore, history of ethnography and Colonial Latin American literature.  

“I look forward to partnering with him and am excited about the leadership and service he will provide Southwestern in the years to come,” Andrews says. 

Peterson-Veatch has been involved in college pedagogy initiatives since 1992 and served on the program committee for the 2009 annual meeting of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.  He is a member of the International Leadership Association, the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education, the American Conference of Academic Deans, and the American Folklore Society.

Peterson-Veatch and his wife, Erika, plan to move to Winfield this summer along with their sons, Oscar and Arthur.  

UHD Honored with UHS Board of Regents Academic Excellence Award for Faculty Work on Improving Student Success in Gateway Courses

UHD Honored with UHS Board of Regents Academic Excellence Awardfor Faculty Work on Improving Student Success in Gateway Courses

Undergraduate success in higher education is often dependent on a student’s performance in gateway courses – or those required entry-level classes that provide the academic foundations for selected majors.

Recognizing the importance of gateway courses to students’ long-term academic success, faculty at the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) began efforts to improve student performance in these courses nearly two decades ago. This multiyear initiative has addressed numerous gateway courses on campus and is yielding positive results. The ongoing efforts in recent years have been housed in the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence (CTLE) as part of a program called the Course Innovation Initiative (CI2).

For its efforts in helping students succeed in these necessary classes, UHD was awarded the University of Houston-System Board of Regents Academic Excellence Award. UHD was formally recognized with this honor during the Board’s May 18 meeting on the University of Houston campus.

“This award is a validation of UHD’s commitment to its students,” said UHD President Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz. “Success in gateway courses is essential to a student’s progression in a university setting. Too often, those who transition from high school to an institution of higher learning are challenged by a new academic standard and new ways of learning. Our faculty and staff have worked diligently to help students overcome these challenges and stay on the right path toward finishing UHD strong.”

Examples of strategies used by faculty in gateway courses include:

  • Reading guides or interactive online video lectures that help students prepare prior to attending class.
  • Team environments in which students collaborate with each other and supplemental instruction leaders (peer tutors).
  • Classroom problem solving activities.

Improved student engagement and learning was the primary goal of course redesign efforts. This was measured in a variety of ways, but is reflected most prominently by the percentage of students earning a C or better in selected courses. At the conclusion of the fall 2016 semester, students’ grades in gateway courses had improved significantly.

Some of the most marked improvements included scores in College Algebra with 64 percent of students earning A’s, B’s or C’s. Previously, 42 percent earned a C or better in this course.

Another leap was made in General Biology. By the conclusion of fall 2016, 65 percent of students earned A’s, B’s or C’s. Prior to that semester, 38 percent of students scored a C or higher.

 

Additional program outcomes are detailed in this chart:

Course Name 2016/17 Enrollment Baseline % ABC Current % ABC
English Composition I 1050 54 74
English Composition II 1044 56 69
Integrated Reading & Writing 213 70 83
US History I 1294 52 71
College Algebra 1120 42 64
College Math for Liberal Arts 246 53 65
Beginning Algebra 77 54 70
Intermediate Algebra 251 49 66
General Biology I 390 38 65
General Chemistry I 385 44 56
Federal Government 1145 59 75

 

These impressive academic results have helped students overcome trepidations regarding the leap from high school classrooms to university learning spaces. Faculty confidence also was bolstered as professors collaborated together on course design strategies and observed positive outcomes in the classroom.

“I began seeing a level of engagement I had never seen before in any of my other classes,” said Dr. Lisa Morano, professor of biology and microbiology. “I began to realize that influence from peers was an incredibly motivating factor for students.”

Faculty efforts to improve student success in gateway courses through the support of the CTLE are complemented by other initiatives aimed at supporting First Time in College students (FITCs). These include Supplemental Instruction, freshman seminar courses, Gator Gateway, an expanded orientation program for freshmen, faculty mentoring, and Gator Ready, which is aimed at simplifying the registration process for FTICs.

A video titled Active Learning and Gateway Courses was created to document faculty and staff efforts to improve student learning in gateway courses at UHD. The video, featuring faculty and student testimonials, can be viewed here.

About The University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)—the second largest university in Houston—has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. UHD is one of four distinct public universities within the University of Houston System. As a comprehensive four-year university, UHD —led by Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz —offers 44 bachelor’s and eight master’s degree programs within five colleges (Business; Humanities and Social Science; Public Service, Sciences and Technology; and University College). Annually, UHD educates more than 14,000 students; boasts over 44,000 alumni and is noted nationally as both a Hispanic-Serving Institution and a Minority-Serving Institution. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.

 

What a Difference the First Year of College Can Make

What a Difference the First Year of College Can Make

I have devoted most of my exactly fifty-year career to trying the make the first year of American higher education a more positive experience for our students—in terms of their learning, personal growth, maturation, satisfaction, retention, self-esteem, and more. But I never stop asking what more/else can we do? And I keep looking for illustrations of what we do accomplish.

The traditional end of the conventional academic year for full-time college students is a good time to be reflecting on a question like this. So, what did we accomplish for our first-year students this particular year? And what a year it was! The year of Donald Trump’s election, deep national divide, and great disaffection, despair and anger on the part of students who rightfully believe that others do not think their “lives matter.”

Of course, we are all profoundly shaped by our own life experiences, from the past of long ago and the very immediate present. Hopefully, experiences in both and all domains give us college educators more empathy to understand our students, and in this case, what difference does the first year make.

Just the past April, I had to give a talk in Dallas and that happens to be the city where my wife, Betsy Barefoot, has a grandchild who chose to go there for her undergraduate education. Her choice was driven by many variables including the wishes of her parents, but mainly it was for the opportunity to play college varsity volleyball. She had been an all-around outstanding high school student with stellar academic, athletic, leadership and interpersonal skills. If ever there was a kid who was prepared for college this was one.

So, I secured her willingness to have me come out to campus and pay her a brief visit. She gave me a great gift, namely about three hours of her time. This included a tour of the campus including her residence hall room and a lunch with her significant other, a young man whom she had praised in advance to me because as she put it: “He is a real gentleman; he listens to me and we talk a lot.” She was having a very successful academic year. Dean’s List for first semester and looking like she would have an encore performance for second term. Making an extremely good social adjustment. Lots of friends. Nodded, smiled, and spoke to many students as she walked me around the campus. Obviously was very at home at the place. Compatible with all three of her room mates. Enjoying the volleyball even though she had been injured and was going to have to have knee surgery. This is an incredibly cheerful, positive, open, enthusiastic young woman. She remains focused on pursuing a long held academic and career goal: becoming an elementary school teacher. She is very focused, highly motivated. She maintains regular and excellent communication with her parents, who are the foundation for a very functional family with four children.

So, I asked her if she thought college had changed her any. She paused for a long time and finally shared that she thought it had—“somewhat” …”maybe a little……” But there was a tentativeness about her response. I wondered if it was because she hadn’t really been asking herself about that. Or if it was because she just had such a fundamentally positive disposition about everything and almost everyone. I concluded that she really didn’t know. She hadn’t had enough time or detachment to make a judgement about that.  She allowed as if she thought it had made her “somewhat” or “slightly” more “independent.” I have known this student since she was born, for 18 years, and if there were any changes as a result of the first year, they were very subtle and not discernible to my well-trained eye.

And it was inevitable that I would compare her to my own first year, what I had been like at the start, and where I found myself at the end of that year.

I think she arrived at college well adjusted. I did not.

She made good friends immediately. I did not.

She was immediately successful academically. I was not

She was on a varsity athletic team. I was on a junior varsity team (lightweight crew).

She had received an academic scholarship. I certainly did not.

She was the first child of her siblings to go to college. So was I.

She didn’t confess any initial homesickness to me. I was terribly homesick.

She had a declared major and a career orientation that is very strong, very certain. I had no major. Never did. Thank you Marietta College for not making me chose a major.

She terminated a “from back home” romantic relationship in the first year and entered a new one. I did neither. But should have.

She was very disciplined as a student. I was not.

She ended up on the Dean’s List after first semester. I ended up on academic probation.

She had fellow room mates who were also making a successful adjustment to college. I did not. My first room- mate was so homesick that he left college (and me) after the first six weeks! I didn’t know you could leave college. It wasn’t an option my father had given me! He was replaced by a second room-mate. He was a heavy drinker, often as he lay nearly prone in his bunk, from which he acquired the nickname “Bunky.” He also dropped out, flunked out, after the first year of college.

I got no sense that she had changed her views about organized religion. I changed mine, drastically, from a budding agnostic to a convinced agnostic. She had entered with a strong Christian faith, I had not. My introduction to sociology course destroyed what conventional religious notions I had left.

I finished the first year of college having rejected my parents’ political persuasion, a deep loyalty to the Republican party. I had never heard a good word about the Democrats until such came out of the mouths of some of my professors. My wife’s grandchild has two liberal Democrats for parents and I certainly caught no wind that their first-year student had changed her political persuasion.

I was not making good choices about my romantic life. She appears to be!

I had become very engaged with a number of professors. I was thriving in my relationship with my academic advisor. I visited many of my professors in their offices and some of them in their homes too. I have no sense that she has this kind of relationship with her faculty even though both of us had started at small, private colleges.

She is already planning a study abroad in the second semester of her sophomore year. I never developed any plan for study abroad. She is already way ahead of me in that regard.

She will end the first year with a much higher GPA than I did. All I can say in summary comparison on this point is that at least I managed to get off academic probation by the end of the first year.

She has a summer job lined up that is compatible with her career aspiration of being an elementary school teacher: that of a camp counselor. She has had this job lined up for a year. I had no job lined up when I went home. My father, not liking what he was seeing college do to me, thought I needed “a job where you will be in the real world and see how the other half lives!? He arranged a manual labor job for me in a factory for a company in which he was a senior executive. So, I became a unionized steelworker making beer cans in the pits of urban New Jersey.

In sum, the jury is in on me. It is still way out on this grandchild. She shows far more promise at this point than I did. But I am betting that college changed me far more than it will change her. I needed that. Maybe she doesn’t. We are very different people. I think I finished the first year more intellectually engaged, more intellectually transformed than she is. She is on her way far more to attaining her career objectives than I was at the same point. Hey, I didn’t have any career objectives. She is ending her first year happier than I, much more satisfied.

The first year of college was good for both of us. But she sure does show much more promise at the end of the first year than I did.

Let’s bring this back to you my reader: what are you trying to facilitate for your first-year students?

What do you most want for them?

What are you providing to make that happen?

What kind of priority are first-year students at your institution?

Are you trying to “transform” them in anything approaching the manner I think my college transformed me?

What kind of experiences did you have in your first year of college that serve as your experiential base of empathy for your own first-year students?

My first year of college was a case study for how a college could have done a whole lot more for me and how I could have done a whole lot better. This has profoundly influenced my work, my life, and thus many, many other lives as well. What can you say about your impact on first-year college students?

And by the way, I didn’t have a university 101, college success, first-year seminar type course. But I sure could have benefited from one. My alma mater has one now, for sure! And I am part of the reason for that.