Union College invites nominations for and expressions of interest in the position of Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College. The person filling this role will work with newly-elected President Marcia Hawkins and the Union College community in shaping and implementing the College's strategic plan, and will be directly responsible for working with faculty to strengthen and advance Union's academic mission and program. A broad academic background, a strong community orientation, and a deep appreciation for Union's compelling record of regional service are among the leadership qualities being sought.
Founded in 1879 and affiliated with the United Methodist Church, Union College is recognized as an important part of southeastern Kentucky’s rich history and impressive Appalachian landscape. Located in Barbourville, a rural community of about 3,600 residents, Union has enriched the region for over 130 years. Union is a member of the Appalachian College Association, a non-profit consortium of 36 student-centered, private four-year liberal arts institutions spread across the central Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia that collectively serve over 54,000 students.
Union is historically committed to local and regional communities. Seventy-three percent of Union students are from Kentucky, and while most of those are from the southeastern region, the college is ethnically diverse with students from many states and foreign countries. These students take advantage of a liberal arts core curriculum in an academic environment fostering critical thinking, writing, and reading skills. Union offers 33 majors and 29 minors and provides experiential learning opportunities through special programs, including study abroad and service projects. Notably, Union was one of only 27 colleges and universities in the United States selected to participate in the prestigious Bonner Scholars program, where service is rewarded through these scholarships.
Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Union’s total enrollment is approximately 1,200, which includes both full and part-time undergraduate and graduate students. Approximately 800 are undergraduate, degree-seeking students, who collectively receive roughly $6 million in financial aid. More than half of Union’s undergraduate students self-report they are first generation college students, a demographic traditionally benefitting from small class size. The average student-faculty ratio is 12:1.
Union College is located on a small but growing campus in the heart of Appalachia featuring expansive lawns and historic buildings, many of which are renovated or enhanced in preservative ways. One such building is Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Gymnasium. Built in 1919, through major renovation Soldiers & Sailors is now abuzz with daily life as an intramural center. The inside is state-of-the-art with a new gym floor and modern wellness center, while the outside appearance remains as it was just after World War I. Another notable mention is Sharp Academic Center, named in honor of Dr. Phillip A. Sharp and his wife, Ann, Union College Class of 1966. Dr. Sharp is the recipient of the 1993 Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology. This building houses both classrooms and offices for senior administrators, including the President and the Vice President for Academic Affairs, and is unique because it plays host to such a blended group. Another interesting facet is that the building is both old and new. The exterior brick of the former Stevenson Hall is now attractively exposed as an interior wall.
The newest addition is the Stivers Aquatic and Wellness Center, a $15 million comprehensive community center approaching 90,000 square feet, made possible by a joint effort with local governments and community partners. The center houses an Olympic-sized competition pool with ample spectator seating, a large therapy pool, facilities for cardio and strength conditioning, and pool party facilities. The Center supports Union’s swim team as well as academic programs in the health sciences.
Union College programs—both on site and online—continue to grow in number, while current facilities are being improved and additional facilities are being added to the campus to meet increased spatial demands. The ongoing revitalization and repurposing of the nearby former Knox County Hospital allows for planned academic program expansion, and will house “The Edna Jenkins Mann School of Nursing.” This new nursing school includes a newly dedicated traditional, four-year nursing program, which expands opportunities associated with Union’s existing and growing RN-to-BSN program, designed for practicing nurses. The College has recently secured a grant of over a half-million dollars as additional funding for the nursing program to provide state-of-the-art training facilities and technology. In addition to nursing, the natural sciences and health sciences programs, all presently located in Miller Hall, will relocate to the upgraded hospital facility when renovations are completed.
Miller Hall, an academic building for sciences erected in 1973, is also under renovation and now nearing completion. The migration of the programs listed above to the renovated hospital will open up space in the Miller Hall facility for the expansion of remaining programs as well as the opportunity to provide enhanced space for other departments currently located elsewhere across campus.
The National Science Foundation (STEM) has awarded Union a grant of $500,000. The grant will provide scholarship support for academically talented, underrepresented (first generation, low-income, women and minorities) students from the surrounding ten counties majoring in science and mathematics.
The recent award of Title III funding – almost $2 million over five years – will expand Union’s capacity for online course delivery. Until this grant was received, Union’s online classes had been designed to serve, primarily, graduate students and professionals seeking specific certifications. Union is providing a traditional face-to-face learning experience while augmenting online course offerings in already popular undergraduate programs, such as psychology, education, and business administration. Title III funding is providing for faculty training in online course development and delivery and for exploration of new curricular offerings.
Union is home to 21 intercollegiate varsity teams that compete in the Appalachian Athletic Conference, the Mid-South Conference, and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. During the last five years, Union enjoyed numerous successes on the athletic field. The cycling team won their second NCCA Division II National Championship. Other teams have celebrated victories on similar levels. The baseball team advanced to the NAIA World Series, placing fifth in the nation. The Bulldog football team made headlines for their first-ever appearance in the NAIA Championship Series. Union also boasts NAIA individual national track champions for the 60 Meter Dash, 110 Meter Hurdles and 4x100 Relay. In the past three years, 136 Union athletes have been named Academic All-Conference honorees, and 22 have been named as Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes.
The revenue budget for the 2013 fiscal year is approximately $16,000,000. Funds serving as endowment totaled over $19,600,000 at the completion of the most recent fiscal year.
Leadership Opportunity and Challenges
The Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College (VPAA)
The position offers an exciting array of leadership opportunities and challenges for a mission oriented academic leader. The person filling this role will have an opportunity to work closely with President Marcia Hawkins, and with the broad Union College community, including faculty, staff, students, and the Board of Trustees -- all who share a strong commitment to moving the academic program forward. The VPAA is regarded as first among equals and assumes the responsibilities of the President when s/he is absent.
More specific opportunities and challenges include the following:
The Union College community is currently working to update, refine and focus a five-year strategic plan for the future. The new VPAA will play an important role in moving this plan forward and leading the implementation of the plan in all areas of academic life and activity.
There is broad consensus on campus the new VPAA (within the context of the strategic plan) will have the opportunity to work with faculty, staff, and students in articulating a new and compelling vision that will energize, provide direction, and help prioritize academic initiatives, as well as future program developments and improvements.
ACADEMIC PROGRAM PRIORITIES:
The academic program of Union College is built upon the liberal arts (including a strong core curriculum) and several significant professional programs. In more recent times, graduate programs, including some distance learning, have been added. While there is both breadth and strength in Union's offerings, finding the appropriate balance that informs both curricular requirements and resource allocation, and encourages integration to maximize student learning, is a challenge. The need for academic program revision and new program development, as well as a strategy for integrating education and technology is widely recognized.
FACULTY ENGAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP:
A strong and vibrant academic community begins with a hard working and committed faculty. At Union, evidence of such dedication is clear. Now the faculty is anxious to work in collaboration with a new VPAA to address important issues such as faculty governance and personnel policies, growth and development opportunities, teaching loads, assessment and evaluation, and compensation. The Union College community is looking for a leader that both models and expects excellence and accountability. A strong communicator who, through transparency and engagement in leadership, is committed to building a sense of trust and partnership, will find a home at Union.
Union College is already preparing for its decennial accreditation review by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 2014-2015. The new VPAA will play a critical role in directing this process through the self-study and campus visit phase of the review.
Union College offers every student the opportunity for a learning experience that features small classes, personal support, advising, and mentoring. Students are excited by the prospect of an academic leader who is visible on campus and engaged in campus activities. The VPAA will be directly involved in efforts to grow the learning community through student recruitment and retention.
A COLLEGE LEADER:
The VPAA will work closely with President Hawkins as a member of her senior leadership team in leading and managing Union College, and, in that context, will serve as Dean of the College and the chief spokesperson and advocate for the academic sector, its priorities and needs. The VPAA will thus play a role in marketing Union, in identifying possibilities for philanthropic support, in allocating and managing financial resources, in representing Union College both on and off campus, and in building relationships with other schools, agencies, businesses, and communities -- all to advance the academic mission of Union College.
The successful candidate will be one whose education, experience, achievements, and personal characteristics most closely fit the opportunities and challenges described in this Profile as well as in the following list.
- A leader who is dedicated to the mission of Union College, and is excited by the distinctive role of the college as a private institution focused on regional service, expanding education opportunity, and contributing to economic development.
- A collegial, empowering leader capable of working with the faculty, the President, and other college leaders in shaping and articulating a strong academic vision for the future and advancing the new strategic plan for Union College.
- A knowledgeable and broadly prepared academic able to lead in addressing key curricular issues such as the balance between liberal arts and professional programs, the future of the core curriculum, as well as future directions in graduate offerings, diversity, and study abroad.
- Experience as a faculty member that contributes to a full understanding of the multiple challenges facing faculty and ability to work together in addressing such issues.
- Strong communication skills that allow effective advocacy on behalf of faculty and the academic program with the multiple constituencies of the college, including the Board of Trustees.
- A strong advocate for effective academic policies and processes concerning personnel issues, teaching loads, and instruction; recruitment, evaluations, and assessment; and faculty retention, growth, and development.
- Knowledge, and preferably experience, in working with new learning technologies including online and hybrid courses.
- A leader whose style and approach reflects the values of inclusion, respect, equity, and transparency.
- An understanding of, and a willingness to work with the entire College community, to increase student enrollment, improve class scheduling and attendance, and raise current retention rates, while maintaining high academic standards.
- An astute financial manager capable of allocating limited resources in ways that are fair and that reflect clear priorities within an academic setting, and who is proactive in identifying new funding sources.
- An involved community member who is visible on campus, interacts with students of all backgrounds, and is active in organizations and events beyond the campus.