Spring 2013 Letter to the Faculty
Dear Faculty Colleagues:
We launched the spring semester on January 25th with a Faculty Development Day (FDD) focused on“Beyond Lecturing through Student Engagement,” attended by over 120 faculty members. I want to congratulate the Faculty Development Day Committee, the Faculty Senate, and the Center for the Advancement of Teaching for putting together such a successful day of workshops. My thanks also to the faculty and staff who participated as workshop leaders.
The wonderful workshops offered by your colleagues reaffirmed the important relationship that you have with students as their primary point of contact at the college inside and outside of the classroom. You are in a unique position to identify those students who may be having difficulties that interfere with their academic success. To help you help them, my office has compiled the below Resource Guide for faculty (though it can be given to students as well). While this is not an exhaustive list of the resources for students at the college, it includes the primary student service providers. The first three pages give the hours of service and contact information for offices that address primarily non-academic issues. The last three pages give the same information for academic services, including academic integrity and tutoring.
One important way that faculty support student success and engagement is by holding regular office hours. Faculty availability to explain and expand on ideas discussed in class and to answer questions before mid-terms and final exams and before the due date of important assignments is a necessary component of faculty/student interaction. A good rule of thumb is to have at least one regularly scheduled office hour on each teaching day; you should post your office hours outside your office door and include them on your syllabi. You might find that the community hour (1:30-2:50) is an ideal time to hold office hours if you are not otherwise committed during that hour. It is also helpful to be available by appointment and to let students know that they have this option. In the age of email and Blackboard, we tend to think that these forms of communication will suffice. But we know from our own experience that there are times when face-to-face communication is indispensable.
Professor Janice Johnson-Dias, who gave the keynote at this spring’s FDD—a talk entitled “Academically Well”—suggests “ambulatory office hours,” walking with students to enhance your own health and theirs. The Jay Walk and many of our staircases and corridors are excellent places to do this. For the more virtually-inclined, please remember that when you choose to connect with students electronically, use your John Jay email account and reply to their John Jay email accounts as well. The guidance you give students often connects directly to confidential student information; therefore, these conversations should happen over the appropriate channels (Not Yahoo, Gmail, or other personal accounts). If you are interested in other innovative ways to expand your definition of office hours, I invite you to connect with our Interim Director for the Center for the Advancement of Teaching, Jessica Kovler, at JKovler@jjay.cuny.edu
To facilitate your face-to-face communication with me, I too hold office hours. For the spring semesters, I will generally be available from 3-4 on Wednesdays and Thursdays. I invite you to call Maribel Perez at 212-237-8802 to schedule an appointment during that time. I am also available by appointment as my schedule permits.
In addition to sending you information about resources for students, I write to remind you of two matters that connect to your support of students and the college.
For the past two years, the College has engaged in an institutional self-study which is part of our reaccreditation process with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. We undertake this effort every ten years for the purpose of self-improvement as well as for reaffirmation of our accreditation status. Many members of the College community—faculty, staff, and students—have worked assiduously to discover how we measure up against the fourteen Middle States Commission standards that define success for the College. Recently some of you met with our Middle States Evaluation Team Chair, President Robert Bogomolny, and Vice President Peter Toran, his associate, from the University of Baltimore, during their preliminary visit to the College. The entire team of ten individuals (administrators and faculty from other colleges in our region who will have read our self-study) will make a three-day site visit from the evening of April 21 through mid-day April 24. They will be meeting with various groups and individuals, walking around campus and engaging people in conversation, and studying the evidence of our effectiveness, which we will have assembled for them as part of our self-study. I urge you to familiarize yourself with the self-study and to talk about it and the team visit with your students. The self-study report and other information about the Middles States Reaccreditation process can be found at http://johnjay.jjay.cuny.edu/_mstates/.
For those of us in the “business” of educating, reaccreditation is truly a defining communal ritual, and one in which all students and faculty should be engaged.
Academic Integrity Policy
At its June 2011 meeting, the CUNY Board of Trustees adopted a revised “Policy on Academic Integrity,” which went into effect on July 1, 2011. The primary stated purpose of the revised policy is to afford “additional due process protections to students who deny allegations of academic dishonesty where academic but not disciplinary sanctions are sought.” This process is managed through my office by Kevin Nesbitt as the Academic Integrity Officer and Jennifer Dobbins as the Academic Integrity Specialist. More information about how to report suspected academic integrity violations is on the attached Resource Guide. Overseeing this directly, I have begun to give more institutional support to our faculty as they exercise their responsibility to discuss academic integrity with their students, to use all tools at their disposal for guarding against plagiarism and cheating, to report breaches of academic integrity, and to apply academic sanctions when warranted. I encourage you to discuss and report academic integrity violations with Kevin at KNesbitt@jjay.cuny.edu Kevin will be consulting with many of you as we refine our process and think about ways to address Academic Integrity in classrooms, at orientations, in the admissions process, and through mandatory workshops.
Finally, I want to thank you for your commitment to teaching, your fierce advocacy on behalf of our students, your service to the college, and your contributions as public intellectuals, activists, and researchers. I am proud to serve as your Provost and to partner with you every step of the way as we educate for justice individually and collectively each day.
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
John Jay @ 50
John Jay @ 50 will be, as it has always been, a college dedicated to educating for justice. When founded in 1964, John Jay College of Criminal Justice brought to life the novel and inspired idea that police officers could most fully realize their potential to contribute to the social good if they were educated in the liberal arts and sciences at an institution of higher education dedicated to influencing their actions by opening their minds. Three core principles informed that vision, define our identity, and distinguish us from other colleges. First and foremost, John Jay faculty, staff, students, and community partners share a commitment to ethical conduct, social justice, and the public good that daily influences our decision-making, informs our teaching and learning, and sustains us as a community. Second, the John Jay College curriculum integrates the liberal arts and sciences and professional education, promoting collaboration across disciplines to solve problems and create knowledge from an interdisciplinary perspective. Third, members of the John Jay community link theory and practice, intentionally building bridges between the world of the intellect and imagination and the world of practice.
Over the decades since its founding, John Jay College has moved beyond its beginnings as a "college for cops" while keeping faith with its founding principles. These principles have supported us and provided continuity in the past five years as the College has undergone a remarkable transformation. We have changed the profile of our students by phasing out associate degree admissions and raising baccalaureate admissions standards, changed our academic profile by reintroducing liberal arts majors, and changed our faculty profile by hiring over one hundred new faculty to support the new majors, bring new energy to the curriculum, and advance research and scholarship. As we look toward our fiftieth birthday, we honor the college we are, as we design the college we wish to become. Our transformation is not finished; we commit to continuing to pursue innovation and to following a program of continuous self-assessment and improvement in order to best achieve our goals and best prepare our institution to meet the challenges of the coming years. Specifically, we aspire to increasing excellence in five overlapping and interdependent domains: student success, teaching, research, strategic partnerships, and institutional effectiveness.
In the past we interpreted our mission as the transmission of knowledge to promote justice and focused our attention on delivering instruction and measuring our students' mastery of subject matter. This model of education will no longer serve. To produce graduates with the flexibility, creativity, competence, and self-confidence to be successful in the twenty-first century, we must shift our focus from transmitting knowledge to producing learning, from delivering instruction to empowering students to become co-producers of knowledge, and from counting credit hours to assessing student learning. We must provide the best possible learning environment for our students, public school graduates who reflect the diversity of our city and who commute daily to the college from its boroughs and surrounding communities. We will evaluate our effectiveness as an institution by the extent to which we have given these students, our graduates, the tools they need to become lifelong learners. To accomplish this shift in focus, we must become a community in which each and every member is dedicated to the goal of student learning. To create such a community, we must cross the borders and dissolve the boundaries that often fragment academic institutions and impede change.
One such border is the invisible but powerful line that is sometimes drawn between teaching and research. We will erase that line by creating an environment in which the teacher/scholar can flourish. We will recruit, support and reward faculty who aspire to excellence in teaching; who are active and productive scholars engaged in research; who value the participation of students, including undergraduates, in their research; who create assignments and adopt pedagogies that encourage students to discover and construct knowledge for themselves; who connect students to academic and professional circles; and who model how to be lifelong learners and how to subject ideas to the rigorous scrutiny of peers.
Graduates of John Jay College @ 50 will be expected to move beyond the single academic discipline in which they majored to solve problems from an interdisciplinary perspective, most often as part of a team. We cannot develop such graduates unless we become an institution that supports interdisciplinary inquiry and expects collaboration across organizational domains. Building on our history of cross-disciplinary scholarship and interdisciplinary pedagogy, we will create structures for and shift resources toward projects and programs that are cross-disciplinary and trans-institutional. We will increase collaboration among academic disciplines and between the strictly academic activities of the College and its other functions. In particular, we will take a holistic approach to student success, working not only to help students achieve their specific academic goals, but also to promote their personal and social development and maturation. We understand that students learn best when they are supported as they meet their life challenges and when they are provided with a healthy environment free of non-academic impediments to learning. Making this possible will require the cooperation of many people who do not usually think of themselves as colleagues -- front-line staff and distinguished professors, registrars and researchers, technicians and tutors. We will all play a role in student learning and success – and the more successful our graduates, the greater our impact on the world.
We also want to have a strong and positive impact on the world directly, by becoming an institution of consequence, which means transforming the College into an incubator for ideas that change people's thinking and enhance the public good. Achieving this means taking a new approach to partnerships, one that rejects the characterization of the rest of the world as external to the core business of the college. It means having professionals--community organizers and advocates, cultural, civic, and business leaders, and our alumni--join the members of the College community as philanthropic partners and active participants in producing knowledge. It means having students move outside the classroom to engage the world directly. We will blur the distinction between inside and outside and harness the intellectual power of these mutually enriching spheres of knowledge and action to design and initiate strategies for improving individual lives and remedying social problems not just in New York City, but around the world. John Jay @ 50 will translate ideas into social justice and action on a global scale.
To make sure we are successful, we will create a culture of continuous self-assessment and improvement. We will gather data about the extent to which our actions and programs produce student learning, and we will provide regular, public, transparent, and useful feedback on institutional performance to our community. Positive impact on student learning will be the yardstick by which we measure institutional effectiveness. Having the data in hand, we will hold all members of our community, including students, accountable for learning.
These data on student learning will inform strategic decisions about academic direction and programmatic and institutional investments. We will have the courage of our convictions, and the willingness to make hard decisions and stand firmly behind them. Student success is the touchstone that will guide the College's financial planning and budget processes, our space planning, and our academic, managerial, and enrollment decision-making going forward.
To be sure, there will be challenges ahead, especially in gathering the means necessary to realize our visionary ends. To meet this challenge, we commit to increasing the resources of the College by developing new streams of revenue, increasing our efficiency and effectiveness, and linking our institutional strengths with community and university needs and priorities. Most importantly, we commit to aligning our resources with our priorities so that our assets support student learning and success.
The accomplishments of the past five years have shown us that we are capable of great change and that the institutional center holds as structures, processes, and people are transformed. We count on the strength of our commitment to learning, the energy and spirit of our colleagues, and the firm foundation on which we stand as we look forward to the half-century mark—John Jay @ 50.