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Chat with April Mason

This is the official chat transcript from November 10, 2010. It reads top-to-bottom.

Joshua Zavala asks:Hello! Related to K-State 2025: According KSU’s website, we have a Fall 2010 enrollment of 23,500. Benchmarking us against other universities that have typically ranked higher than us in most of the 8 measures as defined by K-State 2025: Where Are We Now presentation, it is noted that they contain roughly 8% - 26% more students. How does that factor into the 2025 plan, and what is President Schulz’s & cabinet’s ideas for being more competitive on this benchmark?

April Mason More students (or less) is not the best measure of size and resources. The Cabinet has discussed having student to faculty ratio measures to help us compare K-State to our peer institutions. A smaller number of students to faculty number would mean smaller classes, greater access to faculty etc.

Danny Unruh Welcome to the online chat with Provost April Mason! We are glad you're here. Please begin posting questions now.

Kyle Reynolds asks:What is your opinion on the Univeristy's current policy regarding the week before finals each semester? What about the actual implementation or enforcement?

April Mason I assume you mean no tests the last week of classes. I think this is a very important policy and I would expect that the policy is followed.

Kyle Reynolds asks:How can we get more students to study aborad? How important of an issue is that for you?

April Mason Here is a passion of mine. I went to Junior and Senior High School in Rome Italy. I got to experience first hand what it meant to live in a non-English speaking country, experience different customs, culture, food etc. I have worked in Indonesia and Costa Rica. Our world is very small today. I encourage all students to consider a study abroad experience and I strongly encourage students to consider a non-English speaking country. Understanding the world from a different perspective is very important. Getting out of our comfort zone is important. I would like to see more scholarships available for students to do study abroad.

Danny Unruh Yes, there was a string of questions from user name "jaz5555" that were lost. If you would like to resubmit them, jaz5555, that would be great!

Joshua Zavala asks:On that same presentation, the benchmarks for measures #1-5 only contains data from 2004-2006. #6 has 2006-2008, #7 has 2001-2003 and #8 is currently not measured but guessed to be less than 1%. Is there a more current data set available, say within in the last 3 years, for all measures that can be compared to?

April Mason I wish there was more current information and data for us to use. We are using a national database maintained by Arizona State University. This data set is huge and I know the group is trying to keep it more current. We use this database as it has all the Universities in our peer group.

Justin Wiebers asks:How can Continuing Ed. justify the higher tuition/fees for distance courses? It uses the same K-State Online system utilized for all K-State courses. If anything, distance courses should cost less since the university does not have to provide physical classroom or parking infrastructure for distance courses.

April Mason Continuing Education courses are funded outside of the general fund resources of the university. Courses are developed, staffed, and delivered outside of the general funding of face to face courses on campus. We do not use the physical space or parking, but we use bandwidth, faculty and time for each and every course.

April Mason My question screen went away but I think I remember a question related to K-State 2025 and Undergraduate research. Currently we do not have a good way of measureing UG research activity. We know we have the Honors program, Developing Scholars and other programs. We have three faculty attending a conference right now looking at how other Universities address UG research. We would like to capture the great UG research that is going on and track how students succeed when they have been involved. Space and faculty mentors are key to this. K-State 2025 will indeed include aspects to increase our faculty numbers and increase quality research space.

April Mason Is anyone out there? My plans for the Thanksgiving holiday are to stay home and hang artwork in my new home. I have not had the time to do that yet since moving in mid-June.

Kyle Reynolds asks:How does the structure and practice of the Univeristy Honors Program here at K-State compare to what you've seen or heard of at other Universities? How can we contintue to grow the program?

April Mason Our Honors program here at K-State is entering its fifth year. That is a young program. The program is smaller than many I have seen, but the other programs I have seen have been older and more established. We want to grow the program by encouraging more students to participate and by sharing more widely the experiences students have in the program.

Joshua Zavala asks:Benchmark #3 talks about National Academy Members. What is this and why is it a benchmark?

April Mason There are three different National Academies we will track: NA of Science, Engineering, Medicine (you don't have to be at a Medical School to be in this academy). This is the pinnacle of academic success. That is why we want to track if our faculty are reaching this, the highest of awards.

Kyle Reynolds asks:How is the search going for new deans?

April Mason I charged the search committee for the Dean of Business Administration this morning. The committee is chaired by Engineering Dean English. The committee is engaged and ready to work hard to identify the very best candidates for this position. Students, both UG and Grad have representation on this committee. The search committee for Arts and Sciences was charged about three weeks ago and they have placed ads for the position. We will have two active web sites for these important positions to keep all updated.

Jacob Unruh asks:How does the devolpment of NBAF in Manhattan effect research here at K-State? Will we see significant change in undergraduate research opportunities?

April Mason NBAF will bring many different opportunities to our campus. First will be collaborative research with faculty and graduate students. Down the road, I think we will also see UG research opportunities. I type fast or I type accurately--I don't do both. Please excuse spelling errors as my fingers fly!

Joshua Zavala asks:Thanks for being here to chat and answer some questions. It has been a pleasure and insightful.

April Mason My pleasure.

Danny Unruh Friends, we are halfway through that chat, which means 30 more minutes with the Provost. Keep those questions coming!

Cynthia Sanders asks:Provost Mason, thank you for taking our questions. What can a professor do to help a student that desires to attend a class that has reached it max capacity, yet not all students attend? Can the professor drop non-attending students?

April Mason A professor cannot drop a student, but we can "over subscribe" classes. We know we need larger capacity classrooms at K-State and that not all seats will be full every class period.

Joshua Zavala asks:Welcome to K-State by the way. :-)

April Mason My sincere thanks for your welcome. It is absolutely my honor to serve as the Provost and Senior Vice President.

Kyle Reynolds asks:Provost Mason - we are glad to have you at K-State! What has been the most surprising thing to you about Manhattan, or K-State, in your time here?

April Mason Surprises at K-State: Noise in Bramlage. A tree falling on my car behind Anderson hall. The amount of purple already in my closet. The black cloud over Bill Snyder Family Stadium during the Central Florida football game. How quickly I have found it to be very much at home here.

April Mason OK, time for me to ask a question: What are favorite K-State things? April

Kyle Reynolds asks:Are you familiar with "K-State 8", which is a new approach to University General Education requirements? If so, what is your opinion of it?

April Mason Universities across the country are defining the general--not major related--educational factors needed for success. K-State has established the K-State 8. I think this set of courses, with many to choose from, represents key educational parameters needed for basic knowledge applicable to many different situations. I am supportive.

Joshua Zavala asks:Using 2006 data, it looks like we will need roughly 2.5x more external faculty awards to be competitive within the top 50 public research schools. What types of awards are you looking for and what would you suggest to faculty as far as steps to attain more?

April Mason Great question. There is a link on the K-State 2025 web site that talks about the types of awards we would count in this category. Last year, for example, 6 faculty at K-State campus recieved National Science Foundation career awards. This is one of the awards we count. That is a real prestigious award and we are so proud of each of them. As far as research grants, I am not looking for particular things--I would like to have faculty apply for grants in areas where they have the unique qulaifications to be competitive. One way to address our goal of getting more external grants is to collaborate with other institutions and faculty there.

April Mason I think our time is almost up. It was great chatting with you. I would enjoy doing this again!

Danny Unruh Well, it is 6pm, and our chat is concluded. A very special thanks to Provost Mason for spending some time with us this evening. Please join us as at our next chat with VP for Communications and Marketing Jeff Morris. Again, thank you Provost and thank you students. Have a great night!