In his first State of the College address, Dean Bud Fischer charted a new course for the MTSU College of Basic and Applied Sciences.
“It’s not for me to decide,” he told the audience of faculty, staff and administrators Nov. 8 in the Keathley University Center. “Chairs should be able to run departments the way they see fit.”
When it comes to decisions that are directly related to departmental operations, such as funding travel, Fischer said he would leave decisions to the departments.
“The new dean wants to give chairs and faculty in the departments more responsibility,” said Dr. Charles Perry, chair of the Russell Chair of Manufacturing Excellence in engineering technology.
“That’s his management style — set the guidelines and let them manage.”
After his address, the new dean said he “thought it went very well. It got the major points of how we can improve the college and set the expectations for the future.”
Students and student retention were key points.
“I’m happy to see we’re continuing to move forward with a student-centered focus on scholarship and teaching,” said Dr. Kim Cleary Sadler, an MTSU alumna, associate biology professor and university faculty member since 1996.
Fischer said he is bothered by the college’s freshman retention rates, which are lower than he would like. He shared that during a recent meeting of nearly 60 campus academic administrators, university President Sidney A. McPhee asked the leaders “what kind of things can we change?” to turn retention issues around.
“We need to be innovative in ways to improve retention,” especially in those early years, Fischer said.
The dean asked for volunteers to be a part of a new Strategic Planning Committee to develop the college’s mission, vision, core values, strategic advantages and strategic challenges.
Subcommittees will formed to create initiative plans, including input from faculty, and submit them to the executive committee. After faculty comment, a final revision will be completed.
Fischer also discussed numerous student and faculty achievements, the college’s budget, five strategic initiatives and how alumni donations are on the increase.
He mentioned 11 faculty who are new or returning to the university, including biology and chemistry chairs Drs. Lynn Boyd and Greg Van Patten and Lt. Col. Joel Miller, the new professor of military science. Dr. John Haffner also has rejoined the horse science faculty at the Horse Science Center adjacent to Miller Coliseum on West Thompson Lane.
The dean added that at least 16 new members will be added to the faculty, increasing the total number to 225.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)