Ball State’s board reviewed plans to launch the university’s participation in the Navigate Student app at its December 17 meeting.
Jason Rivera, assistant vice-president of student success and dean of University College, said the app enables communication between students and faculty and gives students the ability to synchronize their schedules with their phone calendars.
Loren Malm, vice president of information technology and chief information officer, said if Ball State used the Navigate app his vision would be to merge with the bConnected app, which he said approximately 70% of students downloaded.
Susana Rivera-Mills, Senior Vice President and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs, said another goal for student success and retention is to hire more academic advisors and encourage advisers to stay at Ball State.
“There has been a lot of turnover because there is really little opportunity for them to be promoted to anything else,” said Rivera-Mills. “So we’re trying to take our flat structure and increase the dimensionality to provide other career paths.”
Ball State President Geoffey Mearns said he will invite Rivera to every board meeting for regular updates on student retention. Mearns said Rivera – who has been in his position for six months – “creates a real passion for this job, and I think we all know how important this job is.”
Also at the Academic and Student Affairs Committee meeting, Director of Counseling and Health Services Bill Betts provided an update on Counseling Center services. Betts said that after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Counseling Center increased its available services like the Let’s Talk launch, a one-time session with a staff member to discuss coping strategies for minor stresses. Betts said the Counseling Center is also experimenting Youtube videos and TikTok.
Due to the increased availability of telehealth and other virtual mental health services, Betts said he believed some students could get mental health care in their hometown and said he was difficult to determine whether or not the need for counseling center services was increasing.
“What’s interesting is that some students told me, ‘I haven’t had COVID, no one in my family has died, so yes, I’m in pain and I’m unhappy, but I don’t want to not take a place from someone else who really needs this service, ”Betts said. “So we had to do a lot of education for the students to say, ‘come here and we are ready to support you. “”
Betts said the counseling center was fully staffed for most of the COVID-19 pandemic and that it will continue its outreach strategies and new programs until 2022.
2021 Campus Master Plan
At the Finance, Facilities and Planning Committee meeting, Board members approved the 2021 Campus Master Plan presented by Associate Vice President for Facilities Management and Planning Jim Lowe , with Michael Johnson and Doug Kozma of Smith Group.
The campus master plan is still aligned with the goals of engaging the campus layout with the village and seeks to encourage people to visit downtown Muncie and local neighborhoods, Johnson said.
“We start with the first piece of the students,” Kozma said. “Some of the key initiatives culminate around this idea of a one-stop shop and a different perspective of the physical campus around the student cycle when it comes to recruitment and retention.”
Kozma said that over the next 15 to 20 years, student service offices like the Learning Center, Career Center, Counseling Center and Office of Student Life may move closer to each other rather than their current locations. in buildings around campus.
Voluntary early retirement for teachers
The board has approved a unique early retirement incentive plan for faculty over 55 who wish to retire in the spring of 2022. These faculty must have spent at least 10 years working at Ball State and their combined age and their years of college service must be equal to or greater than 70, Rivera-Mills said.
Full-time professors who meet the criteria must agree to retire on May 14, 2022 to receive a one-time payment of 125% of the base salary for the 2022 academic year. post-retirement health and dental insurance plans and may also apply for emeritus and honoratus status.
“Because we have been good stewards of our resources for many years, we are fortunate to be able to offer this unique opportunity to eligible faculty in the spring of 2022,” said Rivera-Mills. “The pandemic has created enormous challenges and extraordinary demands on our faculty and staff, and because of this, some of our faculty members may prefer to retire earlier than they originally anticipated. . “
Mearns said the application period for the early retirement incentive plan will likely be open from February to March 2022. The four to five week period, Mearns said, will allow college deans to discuss where Additional professors will need to be hired for the following academic year.
“This plan is voluntary, and we, many of our senior and experienced faculty, will want to continue with us on the journey we have talked about of where we are heading as an institution,” Mearns said, “but we also understand that some of them might prefer to speed up their retirement plans.
Mearns said this plan is rooted in Ball State’s dedication to increasing its impact on the community and preserving the university’s culture of gratitude.
In its chairman’s report, Mearns expressed gratitude to Sue Hodges Moore, chief strategy officer and interim vice president of marketing and communications, who is retiring this month. Hodges Moore came to Ball State in 2018 and helped create and implement a new strategic plan.
“She provided [students] with the opportunity to receive a quality education, which I know is an opportunity that she still cherishes today, ”Mearns said.
The Board of Trustees also approved the appointment of the Thomas E. and Karen Bumb Lauer Distinguished Professor Chair at the College of Science and Humanities. College of Sciences and Humanities dean Maureen McCarthy said the chair appointment was meant to support faculty retention in honor of two Ball State alumni.
The directors also said goodbye to Jean Ann Harcourt, whose term as director ends on December 31. Harcourt will be replaced by Julie Griffith, who Gov. Eric Holcomb announced he was appointing to the board in November.
Krystiana Brosher also contributed to this article.