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UPUA Hosts Provost Nicholas Jones

With election season underway and most big initiatives already in the books, UPUA’s 8th Assembly is winding down. Last night’s relatively uneventful meeting kicked off with an excellent presentation from executive vice president and provost Nicholas Jones.

Jones came to discuss the new Penn State strategic plan, which he is working on as a framework of sorts for the next five to ten years of Penn State’s future. He started by explaining that instead of reading through prior plans, he wanted to take a different approach.

“I didn’t like the sound of that when I came on board,” Jones said. “It sounded like too much planning and too much reading.”

Instead, Jones  reached out to all of the deans and chancellors and asked for one page of ideas for the future of the university. He incorporated the responses he got into the current working version of his strategic plan.

But the university’s relatively new provost wasn’t going to stop there when it came to crowd-sourcing for ideas. Jones told the assembly that he needs their help to tap into the student body.

“It is very important to ensure that our strategic plan represents the wisdom, judgment, and opinion of the entire Penn State community,” he said. “I need your help to figure out how I can reach out to 100,000 students and get those real gems of ideas that are sitting out there and have them bubble up.”

Jones ended his address with a bold promise for his coming strategic plan.

“We’re not focused on improving rankings; we’re focused on making a difference, and that will reflect through rankings,” he said. “This is going to be the best strategic plan that Penn State has ever built, and I can assure you of that.”

President Katelyn Mullen followed with her weekly address, letting the Assembly know that applications for the student-selected student trustee will be available this week. Mullen added that she is working on convincing the Student Activity Fee Board to allow funds to roll over from year to year, as well as finally forming an alumni interest group, a plan the UPUA apparently has had for several years but never created.

Vice president Brenden Dooley lauded the What To Fix (WTF) initiative, stating that it has “come into fruition in ways not imagined.” Addressing State Patty’s Day, he added that the only bar open this weekend will be Spat’s, but the establishment will only be serving drinks with food orders.

Borough Council Liaison Chase Englund had the most significant report of the week, discussing changes to State College’s Nuisance Property Ordinance procedures. In the future, fraternity presidents will be the first notified about house violations. Furthermore, the houses will able to appeal point assessments from violations.

Resolution 18-08 – Student Access to SRTEs:

The lone piece of new business on this week’s agenda was this resolution, which would push for the university to allow students access to qualitative and quantitative data on professors’ SRTEs going forward.

Essentially, the resolution encourages the University to compile the SRTE results into the University’s version of “ratemyprofessors.com”, and students would be able to access this information before scheduling courses. In an appendix to the bill was a chart detailing a number of other universities who allow students to see professorial evaluations and a section noting that one institution who implemented such a database saw a 45% increase in SRTE completion.

“I’ll be honest with you, I don’t think this is going to be as well accepted as online syllabi,” said College of Education representative Emily Miller. “We have all the research that the university is looking for and we’re bringing them a lot of benchmarking, so I think that this is something that is feasible.”

The resolution was passed by unanimous consent.

Quote of the Night:

During Comments for the Good of the Order, Mullen told the assembly that she will be bored once her presidency ends in early April and asked for any projects that the assembly could use her involvement in. Dooley chimed in to let everyone know that the same deal wasn’t on the table from him. “I’m chillin’,” he said to a roomful of laughter.

About the Author

Zach Berger

Zach Berger is a StateCollege.com reporter and Onward State's Managing Editor Emeritus. You can find him at the Phyrst more nights than not. If he had to pick a last meal, Zach would go for a medium-rare New York strip steak with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and a cold BrewDog Punk IPA. You can reach him via e-mail at [email protected] or on Twitter at @theZachBerger.

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