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Restructuring Academic Innovation to Better Support Faculty and Students

Published on Fri 03/24/23
The Office of the Provost has been engaged in developing strategic priorities over the past several months. Central to this effort was assessing the structure, organization and alignment of our component offices and services. One outcome of this process is a reorganization of the Office for Academic Innovation (OAI). This reflects a need to better support faculty and student use of our learning management system and move to a decentralized, and therefore more scalable and sustainable approach for our online academic programs.

Input from a wide range of constituents informed this decision. We received more than 600 respondents to a survey of faculty and graduate students, the predominant users of OAI services. We also held discussions with OAI staff, deans of the involved colleges and schools, the Faculty Senate leadership and Human Resources and Organizational Effectiveness also conducted an assessment.

There are still some details to be finalized, but the employees and functions of OAI will be reassigned to other units. The general plan is that the staff involved with online course design and construction will be moved to those colleges and schools interested in leveraging their talents. The employees providing technical support for Canvas will move to Technology Services, and the training and educational support programs and employees will move to the Center for Teaching Excellence. Administrative staff supporting these areas will move accordingly, as well. There will remain a central digital learning leader, most likely housed in the Provost’s Office, to coordinate programs, personnel and facilities across campus as well as to interface with the external array of partners, organizations and initiatives.

The assistant provost and OAI staff were informed of the change earlier this week. The stakeholder discussions to develop the management home for Canvas are underway.

We hope to develop a Canvas plan and reassign all the OAI employees by the end of the spring 2023 semester, with implementation occurring over the summer. Maintaining a high level of support during a historically busy Canvas period at the end of the spring semester is critical in this planning.

Alan Sams
Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs