Furton has ‘big sandals to fill’ as new provost

Camila Fernandez and Rebeca Piccardo/FIUSM Staff

President Mark B. Rosenberg appointed College of Arts and Sciences Dean Kenneth Furton to the provost position at a town hall on April 2. Furton will assume his new role summer 2014.

“He has big sandals to fill,” said Rosenberg referring to Provost Douglas Wartzok’s well-known use of wearing Birkenstock sandals to work.

But all jokes aside, Rosenberg addressed the Board of Governor’s performance funding model and the role of the provost in securing funds for the University based on academic performance.

Rosenberg noted that Furton has “incredible experience.”

“He has an understanding of how this institution works,” he said.

Before working as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 2007, Furton served as a member of the faculty senate, chair of the department of chemistry and associate dean of budget, facilities and research. He most recently has led Integrating Research, Engagement, Assessment and Learning commissioners in developing the 2020 strategic plan.

Rosenberg thinks Furton’s experience will allow him to come in respected by the other University provosts.

The University will start a national search for a new College of Arts and Sciences dean.

Elizabeth Bejar, who has been vice provost for Academic Affairs since 2012, will assume duties as vice president for Academic Affairs starting summer 2014 as well.

In 2009, Bejar was asked to serve as FIU’s first vice provost for academic planning and accountability.

According to a memo Rosenberg sent following the town hall, Bejar established “the institutional assessment and evaluation plans and policies that led to FIU having no recommendations for improvement in these areas in the 2010 SACS reaffirmation of accreditation review.”

In other news, Rosenberg presented how the new metrics system will determine the amount of state funding the University will receive and how it’s going to influence the new strategic plan.

He announced that in the years to come, state funding will only be directed to performance — thus, FIU’s new strategic plan will inevitably be influenced by performance too.

“This, in many ways, as much I don’t like to say it, is our strategic plan,” said Rosenberg, referring to the metrics system. “Because this is what will drive our state funding.”

Consequently, the University needs to reallocate funds and find new efficiencies to prepare for the absence of money.

“We have to take a very close look at everything we do as it relates to undergraduates. And we are not going to make excuses,” Rosenberg said. “We can do a lot better about the students who drop out.”

The performance model funding includes eight measures common to all Florida state universities that forces them to compete for new funds.

The measures are: employment rate, wages, the cost of degree, graduation rate, grade point average, the number of Pell Grant recipients, the number of bachelor’s degree in science, technology, engineering and math and the number of graduate degrees in STEM.

FIU placed third with the potential to receive $7,268,298 in new funds, but Rosenberg said this has implications.

There is “a laser focus on output and student success,” he said — and now more revenue is drawn from tuition than state funding

He noted a historic shift where the University has been drawing more money from students than from state funding.

“Students are increasingly carrying the burden of their education,” Rosenberg said.

He promised, however, that the University will not be increasing tuition for the next academic year.

Despite the University’s ranking on the metrics system, Rosenberg said that the University has been very efficient in its space utilization and has even won awards for being energy efficient.

“We’ve done pretty well so far,” said Rosenberg. “We’re very efficient and now we have to find new efficiencies.”

Rosenberg admitted that he was not comfortable with the reallocations in funding, and he said the University faculty and staff would have to be more thoughtful to help students graduate on time.

“It doesn’t mean we will dumb down our courses,” he said.

– news@fiusm.com


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