Provost Communications

Office of the Provost Communications 

  • Strategic Planning progress report

    February 14, 2022


    On behalf of the Strategic Planning core team, I wanted to take the opportunity to provide a brief message and share updates that the core team has prepared.

    First, it is important to recognize the hard work and leadership that Dr. Jennifer Bott provided in developing the framework and process that we are moving forward with for Strategic Planning. As we move through this transitional period, I want to emphasize there are no plans to slow down the progress toward the creation of a Strategic Plan that will guide our University for years to come. We will continue to move forward, listen to our campus community and seek input on the direction of the University. I ask that you consider participating in the many opportunities that will be available over the coming months to provide your input.

    Thank you for lending your perspectives during the six town halls about mission and vision, with two additional sessions scheduled this month. These town halls produced nearly 300 structured responses that serve as the foundation for the steering committee’s reevaluation of our mission and vision statements. I ask that you continue to participate in the various opportunities that the steering committee and working groups host this semester. We need your input to make this plan a success.

    Our Strategic Planning website continues to offer engagement opportunities—mission and vision worksheet, suggestion box, listening and values session registration—and will also be the home of all data collected throughout the process. Please visit the site regularly to keep up to date on the progress being made.

    Steering committee
    Our steering committee meets biweekly to engage in discussion around the critical issues facing higher education and WMU. The group has been charged with providing leadership and guidance to the planning process, analyzing existing data and helping to set institutional metrics and targets. It is a fantastic group with representation of all of our stakeholders. We will continue to collect input from the campus community and ask for feedback at every stage of the process.

    Working groups
    Our seven working groups began meeting at the end of the fall semester and are tasked with establishing institutional recommendations regarding their specific priority area. Their work will continue through the spring semester, a feature of which is hosting themed listening sessions each week through the end of March. We continue this week with two sessions from the Community Building group and one from the Internationalization group. Please register to attend sessions on our website.

    Values discussions
    In addition to the themed listening sessions from our working groups, we will also host a series of peer-facilitated values discussions that will focus on our institutional values. The goal of these discussions is to create space for colleagues to identify WMU’s values through a strengths and aspirations lens. These asset-based discussions will be led by a group of outstanding facilitators from multiple divisions. I am grateful for the time and thought this group will contribute to this important discussion throughout the semester. The first session will be on Thursday, Feb. 24; please join us.

    Please join me in thanking all those individuals who are serving on the core team, working groups and steering committee. Their hard work and dedication to this process is very much appreciated. And, again, please consider participating in one (or more) of the many Strategic Planning events that will occur over the next several months.


    Chris Cheatham
    Acting Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
    Vice Provost for Budget and Personnel
    Academic Affairs

  • Interdisciplinarity update: What's underway for year two

    January 31, 2022

    Dear colleagues,

    I hope your spring semester is off to a great start! It’s been a minute since I’ve provided a campuswide update on our progress in the interdisciplinarity initiative. Our website summarized the round one proposal outcomes and feedback received from the steering committee as we moved into year two. The committee’s feedback was critical in streamlining and restructuring our efforts to be more effective as we begin our process of inviting more detailed proposals this spring. As a result, we’ve created three subcommittees:

    1. Communication
    2. Round one proposal evaluation
    3. Round two proposal evaluation

    We received an outstandingly high degree of interest, and several proposals were implemented in the last year. For example, the Native American Affairs Council was established to advise on outreach and retention efforts for our Native American community, students, faculty and staff. We are grateful that Dr. Dee Sherwood is leading this effort as director of the council through support from my office. Several other proposals are making their way through the curriculum process. Another example, a merger of the departments of theatre and dance into a new school, will allow two academic programs to function in tandem. Sharing infrastructure, equipment, financial resources, community partnerships, recruitment efforts and specialized staffing will not only maximize benefits for faculty and staff but also better serve our students.

    We spent the fall term reaching out to our colleagues that were forwarded to round two to determine their continued interest. We also spent time refining the template for round two completion. Those groups that expressed a desire to continue have been engaged and offered services through WMUx that include facilitating conversations with similar proposals and working groups, brainstorming different ideas to refine individual proposals, and gathering data about the demand and audience for proposals. We are excited to see the results of these discussions and research throughout the semester.

    In addition to the round two process, we also refined and improved the round one proposal template that we are relaunching, due on Feb. 18. Your colleagues are ready to review and provide feedback on these creative ideas.

    Finally, effective and timely communication is critical to the success of any organizational change initiative. To ensure we are keeping everyone informed, we designed a comprehensive, Universitywide communication plan that incorporates different audiences, channels and messaging. Look for more details in the near future!

    This continues to be an evolving process and I am immensely grateful to the work of the committee as we develop a culture and environment conducive to interdisciplinarity engagement. The group continues to discuss ways to encourage collaboration and welcomes your suggestions. I look forward to the continued opportunities for colleagues to partner, explore new ways to solve complex problems and create a thriving environment for our students to learn.

    With gratitude,

    Jennifer Bott, Ph.D.
    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

  • A little help that makes a big difference

    January 26, 2022

    Dear colleagues,

    We are thrilled to be welcoming prospective students back to campus for our Admitted Student Event Days (ASEs)! These events are incredibly important. Historically, 80% of students who attend ultimately enroll at Western. The first one of the semester is set for this Friday, Jan. 28, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. While teams across campus have been hard at work planning an impactful and memorable day, I want to invite each of you to participate. We know the campus environment is a crucial element in decision-making for our prospective students and their families; you are an incredibly important aspect of the power of our community and have a role to play in supporting student enrollment.

    As prospective students seek to learn more about the colleges that match their academic interests, they—and their families—want to find a campus that feels warm and welcoming and supports learning and career development. Very simple actions can make a big difference in this decision-making process. Whether that means offering a quick greeting in passing to families who are walking on campus or sharing directions to those who are lost—every interaction matters.

    Whether you encounter families or small groups of younger visitors on these days or anytime you are out on campus, I hope that you’ll take the opportunity to make them feel welcome. If you are in a position to have more interaction, either through conversation, email or other communication, please share the things that make you excited to come to Western each and every day.

    I know this request is probably one of the easiest, yet most important, things that I’ll ask of you. Our graduates share their stories about the impact that faculty members and staff had on the trajectory of their lives (Reading their notes that many of you shared with me over break was especially impactful). You have helped them not only find careers they love, but you also gave them the confidence to succeed through mentorship as well as outstanding classroom and experiential learning opportunities.

    By visiting your office during daytime hours on Admitted Student Event Days and walking around campus, please extend the same level of care to those who are considering joining the Bronco family. Your commitment to Western will inspire theirs. I know we are all up to the task.

    As always, to safeguard event attendees, we will be following and enforcing our COVID-19 protocols, including requiring the use of masks indoors and encouraging physical distancing to the degree possible.

    In addition to the ASE this Friday, look out for students and families at the Bernhard Center Feb. 11, March 18 and 25, as well as April 8. Newly admitted students and their families will also be here for a new event called Western Weekend, which will take place on Saturday, April 2.

    With gratitude for your continuing commitment to Western,

    Jennifer Bott, Ph.D.
    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

  • Help create Western's future by sharing your ideas for the Strategic Plan at our town halls

    October 28, 2021

    Dear campus community,

    As we move into the second half of our fall semester, we also continue to move forward in the process of creating Western’s future with our Strategic Planning efforts. Thanks to all who participated in our kick-off event last month and helped us get off to a great start! I am also delighted to share that we’ve received more than 250 nominations for the working groups we are forming. Thank you to all who have taken part in this important effort so far!

    When I announced the start of this process, I promised you would have many opportunities to tell us how you envision our University’s future. Next on the horizon is a set of three town hall meetings that will be open to our entire campus community. Two of the meetings will take place in person and one will be offered virtually.

    Town hall dates and times are:

    • Friday, Nov. 5, at 3 p.m. at 1920 Sangren Hall
    • Wednesday, Nov. 17, at 10 a.m. via Webex
    • Friday, Dec. 3, at 9:30 a.m. in room 208-210 Bernhard Center

    Each town hall session will have the same format and content, so you only need to attend one of the three meetings. During each session, we’ll share the timeline and structure of the Strategic Planning process, and we’ll give those in attendance the chance to take part in thought-provoking activities focused on our shared mission, vision and values. Please register for one of the sessions.

    I look forward to engaging with everyone as we take the next step toward our future together. And while these town hall meetings might be the next events in our process, you don’t have to wait to share your ideas or suggestions! Our Strategic Planning website has a set of one-question surveys, a suggestion box and virtual graffiti walls where you can add your thoughts whenever inspiration strikes. I hope you will take time to make use of them and encourage your fellow campus community members to do so, too.

    Thank you again for your early and sincere participation in helping us map a course for the University’s future. What we’re doing now will set the stage for years of success, but we can’t do it without you!

    With gratitude for your continuing commitment to Western,

    Jennifer Bott, Ph.D.
    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

  • Merze Tate College ceremony set for Oct. 8

    September 30, 2021

    Dear campus community, 

    I’m always proud to be part of the Western Michigan University community, but that pride was especially strong on Sept. 17, when our Board of Trustees approved the recommendation to establish Merze Tate College. 

    Merze Tate College, formerly known as University College, will honor the spirit of its namesake—the first Black graduate of what was then known as Western State Teachers College. Dr. Tate went on to become the first African American to earn a doctorate from Oxford University and the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in government and international relations at Harvard. She was one of the first two female history instructors at Howard University and taught at several historically Black colleges.

    Dr. Tate exemplifies what it means to be a Bronco. She was resilient, adaptable, determined and refused to let others prevent her from reaching whatever goals she set for herself. She was a Fulbright Scholar, teacher, filmmaker, author and inventor. Fluent in five languages, she was an advisor to world leaders and a staunch advocate of fighting racism through education.

    To say that Dr. Tate was an extraordinary woman is an understatement. Uplifting her as an inspirational guide for a college that invites students to explore their interests, embrace their potential and set goals in pursuit of a rich and rewarding future is an ideal tribute to her legacy. 

    Our entire Western Michigan University community is invited to celebrate the naming of our newest college during a special ceremony on Friday, Oct. 8 at 4 p.m. in the Bernhard Center Ballroom. We’ll honor Dr. Tate and commemorate the launch of the new college with her family and local leaders. There is no registration required for this event. Those who are unable to attend in person are invited to watch the livestream.

    With gratitude,

    Jennifer Bott
    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

  • Strategic Planning process begins with Sept. 28 event at Sangren Plaza

    September 24, 2021

    Hello colleagues,

    I’m delighted to write to you today with an invitation to take part in an important initiative focused on shaping Western’s future. We are at the outset of a new strategic planning process that will kick off on Tuesday, Sept. 28, from 3 to 5 p.m. at Sangren Plaza, and all members of our University community are invited to take part. This event will include refreshments and activities designed to encourage you to think about our University and how we can work together to develop a shared vision for its ongoing success.

    The kickoff is just the start of a process that will continue through this academic year, and it will be one of a number of activities being planned to gather community input. Additionally, you are invited to share your thoughts and ideas, or nominate someone to join one of seven working groups that will be formed to provide direction for key elements of the plan:

    • Well-being
    • Diversity, equity and inclusion
    • Sustainability
    • Academic excellence
    • Research and innovation
    • Internationalization
    • Community building

    Strategic planning is an important activity for our institution. It allows us to come together to develop a shared vision for Western’s future; a vision that demonstrates continuous improvement and campuswide collaboration. The best plans are achievable and inspirational; broad enough for aligned, unit-level planning; motivational and incentivizing to campus; as well as communicative to external agents. From the start, all of our efforts will be undergirded by a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion as well as scholarship and student success.

    I hope to see you at Sangren Plaza on Tuesday, Sept. 28, or in another strategic planning activity in the future. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me with your questions, and look for a strategic planning website that we’ll soon launch with more information.

    With gratitude for your continuing commitment to Western,

    Jennifer Bott, Ph.D.
    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

  • Joint Letter of Response on Vaccine Mandate
  • We did it! Western achieves re-affirmation of accreditation

    September 8, 2021

    Dear colleagues,
    It is with great pride that I share outstanding news: The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) has reaffirmed WMU's accreditation!
    Following its visit in April, the HLC team was clearly impressed by what and who they encountered at every level of our University. The sheer volume of evidence of this institution’s educational excellence over the past decade—demonstrated in our written report and confirmed by interviews with more than 100 of you—indicated we met every criterion and component with distinction. HLC voted on the report last week, and we learned Friday that WMU maintains full accreditation status through 2031. I could not be more proud and grateful.
    The comprehensive evaluation process convinced HLC evaluators of what we already know so well: This is a university community sincerely dedicated to discovering and applying new and better ways to achieve our educational mission to benefit our students.
    The HLC report is brimming with proof of your outstanding efforts, including:

    • WMU Essential Studies, the University’s general education curriculum revised to focus on student learning outcomes and launched in 2020.
    • Our focus on delivering comprehensive student support services through the new University College.
    • Our strategic planning process that, beginning this semester, builds on our commitment to continuous improvement as we look toward the next 10 years.

    The work of synthesizing and celebrating the last decade of our efforts—your impact—required a team of dedicated individuals and necessitated even more creativity and commitment in light of the pandemic. Join me in recognizing Andrew Holmes, Adriana Cardoso Reyes and Amanda Geer as the core leadership team. In their leadership, they counseled, coached and resourced the criterion chairs:

    Criterion 1—Mission: Jennifer Bott
    Criterion 2—Integrity: Jessica Swartz
    Criterion 3—Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources and Support: Devrim Yaman and Andrea Beach
    Criterion 4—Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement: Ciji Heiser and Megan Slayter
    Criterion 5—Institutional Effectiveness: Jeff Long
    Quality Initiative (WMU Signature): Evan Heiser

    These chairs in turn led incredible teams of faculty, staff and administrators; each team member is listed online at

    I also must highlight the talented HLC Peer Corps reviewers who had the weighty task of reviewing drafts of criteria: Andrea Beach, Stacie Fruth, Keith Hearit, Andy Kline and Monica Liggins-Abrams. Please join me in thanking them and all who participated in the HLC process!

    We are pleased and proud to have achieved re-affirmation of accreditation in recognition of our successes and progress over the past decade. But, never resting, our focus will always be on reaching ever higher levels of excellence. Together we will continue to build on what we've accomplished thus far and remain unmatched as a university committed to opportunity and helping ALL our students succeed.
    With gratitude,

    Jennifer Bott, Ph.D.
    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

  • Our multilayered approach to campus safety

    August 27, 2021

    Dear colleagues,

    With the start of fall term days away, I'm excited by the prospect of being together again as a full campus community. I'm even more excited—and grateful—for the many experiences you lead in the classrooms and beyond for our students. They benefit from your dedication and passion for teaching and learning.

    We find ourselves beginning another year of the pandemic that has certainly challenged us. But, based on the last 18 months, I have confidence we will respond because of our multilayered, community-based approach to campus safety. I have confidence we will continue to carry out our educational mission.

    Ahead of classes resuming next Wednesday, I'd like to provide some important updates on the safeguards in place to mitigate the risks posed by COVID-19. These include easy access to vaccination on campus, an indoor masking mandate, a weekly coronavirus testing requirement for unvaccinated students, faculty and staff, and our daily health survey and badging system.

    Color-coded badging
    The University’s daily health survey and badging system is designed to be an easily visible indication of an individual’s safety status. Please use it. Every day, students, faculty and staff are issued a digital badge that is based on verified vaccination status or answers to the daily health survey. The badge can be displayed on any electronic device—phone, tablet or computer. 

    Here's what each badge color means:

    Green: Individuals with this badge are permitted to be in campus spaces because their vaccination status has been verified, or they have reported no COVID-19 symptoms when filling out the daily health survey and have fulfilled the University’s testing requirement (as those without verified vaccination are required to do). The expectation is that anyone who is ill—vaccinated or not—should not be on campus.

    Red:Individuals with this badge are not permitted to move about campus because they have reported COVID-19 symptoms or have not fulfilled University-mandated COVID-19 testing for that period.

    Additional color-coded badges will soon be added indicating required isolation (
    purple) due to a positive COVID-19 test and required quarantine (orange) due to exposure to a confirmed case of the virus.

    You are strongly encouraged to use the badging system. If you are a faculty member, you can ask all students to display their badge while in class. Campus community members also should be prepared to display their badge at the Student Recreation Center, dining halls, at some ticketed events and other locations on campus. This is one way we are all working together to keep our community safe.

    Please follow long-established protocols in the event a student is ill and unable to attend class. Anyone needing to quarantine or isolate should be afforded the opportunity to make up missed assignments, just as we would for any medically excused absence.

    Similar to the previous academic year, masks are required indoors for all. The efficacy of this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation for unvaccinated and vaccinated people alike was especially demonstrated in our classrooms. We have not experienced transmissions of the virus in those spaces. We are fortunate to have a campus community that cares about protecting each member. That shows in our behavior. This past school year, our campus had a very high adherence to mask usage—nearly 100%, according to an observational study that was part of a national CDC initiative administered on our campus by public health students overseen by faculty members.

    Regular COVD-19 testing program
    Set to begin next week, the most recent addition to our layered safety protocol is routine testing of individuals who have not verified vaccination, a process easily done by uploading one’s vaccination record into the Sindecuse Health Center’s secure patient portal. Those who do not have a vaccination status on record are required to be tested on campus routinely. Those who do not comply will be subject to disciplinary action, and while out of compliance, their badge will display red, indicating they are not to be on campus. 

    Vaccine availability
    If you have not yet been vaccinated, I encourage you to do so as soon as possible. Vaccines are easily accessible here on campus. Next Monday and Tuesday, the health center is holding vaccination clinics. If you can’t make it during those days, set up an appointment with Sindecuse. Do it for yourself and for those around you.

    Thank you for your efforts to keep our community safe and our educational environment vibrant. It’s a responsibility we all share. 

    With gratitude,

    Jennifer Bott, Ph.D.
    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

  • Provost's end-of-academic-year updates

    May 4, 2021

    Dear colleagues,
    Congratulations on completing one of the most difficult and tumultuous academic years in memory! As you turn your grades in today, I hope you are able to take time to reflect on these past 15 months and all that we’ve found a way to achieve. Among these achievements: our outdoor, socially distanced collegiate graduation celebrations. I was inspired and elated to share time with many of you Saturday as we celebrated our 2021 graduates. While the traditional walk across the stage at Miller Auditorium wasn’t possible, the joy in our students' faces when they saw their favorite faculty and staff members was not diminished!
    I also wanted to share some important updates about campuswide initiatives, highlighting the collaboration and the contributions of time and expertise so many dedicated to accomplishing these critical outcomes.
    Interdisciplinarity Progress and Next Steps
    The response to our Interdisciplinarity at WMU initiative was outstanding. We received 69 proposals for round one review! This overwhelmingly positive response resulted in extending the original project timeline to allow for an ample period for thorough review and discussion. Each proposal went through two stages of review by the Academic Affairs Committee: (1) Scoring against a rubric on how the proposal contributed to solving a complex problem, engaged multiple disciplines, promoted innovative curriculum and scholarship, and evaluated feasibility (among others). (2) Smaller working groups that identified areas for collaboration and synthesis of recommendations for proceeding to round two. All feedback to those individuals who submitted proposals will be sent this week, along with next steps carrying into the fall. I am so grateful for the time and effort exemplified by the groups submitting proposals and the members of Team: Interdisciplinarity. I am inspired by the creativity flowing through the discipline-spanning ideas that were submitted, and I am excited to see where this next phase of the process takes us.
    Higher Learning Commission Reaffirmation of Accreditation Update
    WMU's HLC peer review visit has drawn to a close! The team wishes to thank the hundreds of stakeholders who participated in every phase of this process. Your commitment and dedication to fulfilling WMU's mission was evident to all. Your hard work over the past 10 years is impressive and was well-received by our reviewers. The HLC peer review team will now draft its assessment report, and we look forward to receiving a copy of this report (for factual corrections) in the next several weeks. The final report and institutional action from HLC are expected in early fall 2021. Again, thank you all for the countless hours of work, dedication and determination that went into making this valuable process a success.
    Leadership Updates
    Office of Information Technology. We celebrated Tom Wolf’s three decades of service with his retirement at the end of March. I am grateful to both Andrew Holmes and Arnold Taylor who assumed interim leadership roles for the Office of Information Technology (OIT) in early April. Andrew will serve as interim chief information officer and Arnold as interim deputy chief information officer through June 30, 2022. As director of student support services since January 2003, Arnold has established strong working relationships within and outside of OIT that will be critical to his success in leading the day-to-day operations. Andrew will work closely with Arnold and the OIT team to advance unit strategy and meet institutional goals. In his role as executive director of technology for WMUx, Andrew's collaborative work with OIT dates back to 2010, and it has intensified during the COVID-19 response.
    Office of Faculty Development director. It is my great pleasure to announce that Dr. Gwen Tarbox has agreed to serve as the next director of the Office of Faculty Development. Since joining the Department of English in 1999, she has been actively involved in teaching and mentoring students. A 2014 graduate of WMU’s Academic Leadership Academy and winner of the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2017, Gwen has been engaged with Universitywide initiatives surrounding teaching and learning, most recently as a Faculty Champion for WMUx during the transition to remote learning. Please visit the OFD homepage to learn more about Gwen (And don’t forget that applications for OFD Faculty Fellows and MAC Leadership Fellows are open until Friday, May 14).
    I have great hope as we move into our summer months—with vaccine available to anyone who is at least 16 years old—that our world will begin to turn back to normal(ish). Our WMU community matters more than ever; thank you for being part of it.
    With gratitude,

    Jennifer Bott, Ph.D.
    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

  • Letter of Response to WMU-AAUP
  • WMU-AAUP LOA Response
  • Interdisciplinary Initiative: Progress update

    March 5, 2021

    Dear colleagues,

    Thank you for the time, effort and thoughtfulness evidenced by the many conversations we shared around the interdisciplinarity initiative. These engagements help me better understand both what excites you about the effort as well as where you are cautious or have concerns. We continue to respond as facilitators as we work through this process together. One thing you’ve shared is that you would like frequent updates. That’s what brings me to writing today.

    The response to the call for proposals for year one is outstanding! I’m so grateful for the creativity and collaboration evidenced in the more than 50 proposals that have been received, with submissions from each college. The college-level committees, composed of more than 150 faculty and staff colleagues, are meeting and providing perspective and feedback on the proposals. "Team: Interdisciplinary," composed of more than 45 members, met Thursday for the first time and will be working toward development of a rubric to review both initial and later-stage proposals.

    Interdisciplinary work, both in the classroom and through our research and creative scholarship, has long been an area of strength at Western Michigan University. The interdisciplinary curricular programs designed by faculty members over the years have been outstanding; our efforts today are no different. Foregoing curricular programs were approved through our institutional channels; our efforts today are no different. While the structure and encouragement to hold these critical and innovative conversations around interdisciplinarity was provided by my office, the meaningful ideas and detailed direction starts with the faculty and then grows into collaboration among the departments and colleges.

    Our institution has undergone significant change in the past year and, for some, this interdisciplinary activity is seen as unwelcome and maybe even anxiety-producing. I want to emphasize that involvement is entirely voluntary. There are opportunities both now and in the future. You can choose to engage today, later or not at all. I truly believe as you learn more details about the proposals developed by your colleagues, new possibilities and inspiration that can improve our shared enterprise will emerge. I encourage you to visit the Interdisciplinarity website to learn more about the nature of the efforts and view and follow the progress of proposals, which will be posted online next week.

    I welcome the opportunity to visit your department, college or group to answer your questions directly. My office hours remain open every Thursday from noon to 1 p.m. If that time doesn’t work, please send me an email to schedule a time to talk.

    With gratitude,

    Jennifer Bott, Ph.D.
    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

  • Spring celebration, nomination deadline extended

    March 3, 2021

    Dear colleagues,

    It is finally starting to feel and look more like ​spring, so I wanted to take this opportunity to remind you our spring celebration of scholarship and teaching is this Friday, March 5​, at 10 a.m.

    Please join me in the virtual watch party designed to celebrate University award winners Drs. Jeffrey Angles and Leah Omilion-Hodges. Getting to know them better during this planning process has been a real pleasure, and I am excited to share their stories—in their own voices—with the greater campus community later this week.

    In addition, I would like to request your assistance in recognizing the exceptional work of our colleagues for the 2021 awards cycle. We cannot adequately celebrate those outstanding members of our campus community without nominations, so I encourage you to visit the Office of Faculty Development Awards website to learn more about the awards and submit electronic nominations as soon as possible. We’ve recently extended the deadline to March 15; I hope the two extra weeks provide you the time and opportunity to submit a nomination or two.

    I sincerely appreciate all you do.

    With gratitude,

    Jennifer Bott, Ph.D.
    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

  • Our fall planning efforts

    February 26, 2021

    Dear colleagues,

    Thank you for all you are doing to ensure our students continue to experience an outstanding education. I've been hearing stories from grateful students excited about their favorite classes and professors, despite the difficulties we’ve faced during this unusual year.

    While we have much of the spring term left, our attention naturally turns to fall as students begin planning their schedules. The advent of highly effective vaccines has created a new phase of the COVID-19 era and additional reasons for optimism. Dr. Anthony Fauci tells us vaccines will become more widely available this spring and through the summer. Equipped with lessons learned over the last 12 months and continuously guided by public health expertise, we hope our educational enterprise will look more familiar in the coming academic year.

    Given the positive projections of national experts, I’ve asked that we plan our courses for a normal fall. We’ve proven we can quickly move from in-person to distance education as necessary, but the effort we must undertake now is planning for a return to campus. Pedagogy, of course, should drive decision-making about course modality, as has been our practice over the last two semesters. Faculty members, working with chairs and deans, have been asked to choose the appropriate modality for their classes in preparation for the fall schedule. Similar to last year, I will convene a faculty group to provide recommendations about how to shift our plans, should that be necessary, as fall draws nearer. We will adjust plans as needed.

    These continue to be trying times, and I want you to know my door remains open. I maintain open office hours on Thursdays from noon to 1 p.m., so you can easily touch base with me to get a conversation started or share a concern. My offer to take part in meetings for your organization or unit stands, as well. I appreciate the groups that have invited me to engage thus far, as each meeting has been productive, enlightening and builds stronger connections and collaboration. I look forward to additional opportunities.

    To invite me to your organization's meeting or to connect with me one-on-one, please reach out to

    With gratitude,
    Jennifer Bott, Ph.D.
    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

  • Introducing the Dream Fellowship Program

    February 22, 2021

    Dear colleagues,
    It is with great enthusiasm that I write to share with you a new initiative to develop and diversify our leadership pipeline in academic affairs and across campus.

    The Dream Fellowship Program: A Coalition for Aspiring Leaders is an exciting new opportunity to transform the representation of new and aspiring leaders on Western's campus. Sponsored by the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) and the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE), the Dream Fellowship Program cultivates an environment for leadership development as an institutional priority. Given the underrepresentation of diverse leaders across the nation and within academic affairs at Western, the Dream Fellowship Program seeks to close this gap.

    The Office of the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs will select a cohort of three to four aspiring leadership fellows, drawn from the ranks of tenured faculty, to apply for a job-shadowing role in their academic unit or college. Applicants must identify a specific career aspirational goal and a unit sponsor, who has agreed to establish a professional mentoring relationship to support the development of the fellow for their "dream career."

    The applicant will also be required to choose a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) project to accomplish during their fellowship. The mentor and mentee will identify an agreed-upon area of DEI emphasis to support both the mentor and mentee’s needs and aspirations. Fellows will receive a course release for fall and spring semesters during the academic year; the fellowship must be completed within one year. The program will be facilitated by Dr. Staci Perryman-Clark, director of the Institute for Intercultural and Anthropological Studies, and Dr. Evelyn Winfield-Thomas, executive director of the Office of Institutional Equity.

    Full details on the program expectations and the application guidelines can be found on the 
    Dream Fellowship Program website.

    I encourage you to share this information widely, and I also want to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues in ODI and OIE for working together to make this a reality. In particular, I want to thank Dr. Perryman-Clark for providing the inspiration and vision for this critically important new project. I eagerly await the chance to welcome our inaugural program cohort this summer.

    With gratitude,

    Jennifer Bott, Ph.D.
    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

  • Mission and strategic planning- new episode in HLC video series

    February 19, 2021

    Dear WMU community,

    The latest video in our Higher Learning Commission education series, “Mission and Strategic Planning,” is live now at This episode focuses on Western's mission, the importance of strategic planning and the process and outcomes of Think Big, a major visioning and planning initiative for WMU.

    The HLC comprehensive evaluation is a collaborative effort that touches all corners of campus and impacts every individual in our community. Stay informed and get involved at

    Thank you,

    Jennifer Bott, Ph.D.
    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

  • Student opinion survey reminder

    February 16, 2021

    Dear student, 

    As Western Michigan University prepares for our 10-year regional accreditation evaluation by the Higher Learning Commission, we are gathering feedback about your experiences at the University through a student opinion survey. An email containing information about this important survey was sent to all undergraduates on Monday, Feb. 8.  

    If you haven't already, please complete this voluntary survey prior to Thursday, Feb. 18. Your anonymous responses are invaluable and will be used to help the visiting team of Higher Learning Commission representatives as they conduct their comprehensive review of the University this April.  

    Click here to begin the survey.


    Jennifer Bott, Ph.D.
    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

  • WMU Higher Learning Commission Student Opinion Survey

    February 8, 2021

    Dear students, 
    The Higher Learning Commission, the institutional accrediting association that comprehensively evaluates our University, will be completing its 10-year review of Western Michigan University in April 2021. Part of the review process is hearing from students about their experiences at WMU.

    A survey has been created to collect student input, and your perspective is very important to us. A summary of your responses will be provided to the team of Higher Learning Commission representatives that will be visiting our University. The answers you give on this survey are anonymous. Unless you include identifying information in your comments, the Higher Learning Commission and the institution will not have access to your identity. Your participation is completely voluntary. 
    Thank you for taking five minutes to complete this short survey, which will be open through Feb. 17, 2021Click here to begin the survey.

    Jennifer Bott, Ph.D.
    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs 

  • Recognizing excellence at WMU, call for nominations

    February 5, 2021

    Dear colleagues,

    Join us for a virtual watch party for the spring celebration of scholarship and teaching at 10 a.m. on Friday, March 5, 2021. As part of this virtual event, we will highlight the incredible work of two of our finest colleagues, Drs. Jeffrey Angles and Leah Omilion-Hodges. Considering the unusual circumstances and the fact that we were unable to properly celebrate in person the way we traditionally do at Fall Convocation, we are provided the unique opportunity to recognize Jeffrey and Leah in a new and focused way. Please note that if you are not able to view the event during the scheduled celebration, a recording will be available for you to view at your convenience.

    About the honorees

    Dr. Jeffrey Angles, professor of Japanese in the Department of World Languages and Literatures, has been named the 2020 Distinguished Faculty Scholar. This honor is the highest annual award WMU bestows on faculty members and pays tribute to individuals whose work constitutes a significant body of achievement that is widely recognized within the national and international academic communities. Jeffrey is an expert in Japanese Literature and was recently awarded the Yomiuri Prize for Literature, making him one of only a few non-native speakers ever to win the prestigious award for poetry.

    Dr. Leah Omilion-Hodges, associate professor of communication in the School of Communication, was previously recognized as one of two 2019 Distinguished Teaching Award recipients. The Distinguished Teaching award is the highest honor given by the University to those who characterize instructional excellence and outstanding guidance by fostering critical thinking and inspiring their students to be engaged, lifelong learners. Leah, who earned her award in 2019, was praised by her colleagues and students alike for her exceptional ability to connect with students and commit herself relentlessly to their overall success. Although Leah’s talents could not be appropriately showcased in spring 2020 as originally planned, we do not want to let that opportunity permanently pass us by.

    Fall 2021 Convocation

    Additionally, as we look ahead to recognizing the extraordinary accomplishments of our colleagues in 2021 and beyond, I wanted to take the opportunity to share with you some updates about our annual awards and nomination processes.

    • We will be hosting a Fall 2021 Convocation awards ceremony. The date, location and format are not yet known but will be communicated once those details become available.
    • Please take the time to submit your electronic nominations by the March 1, 2021, deadline. You are encouraged to recognize your colleagues for exceptional scholarship, teaching, service and more.

    I hope you will submit your nominations in the coming weeks and mark your calendars for our March 5 virtual celebration. The link for the event will be available via the awards website.

    With gratitude,

    Jennifer Bott, Ph.D.
    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

  • Preparing for WMU's Higher Learning Commission Peer Review

    February 2, 2021

    Dear WMU community, 

    This spring, Western Michigan University will complete our Higher Learning Commission (HLC) comprehensive evaluation. All accredited higher learning institutions undergo this process to verify the quality of their offerings and assess the alignment of their actions with their mission, values and recognized best practices. Western Michigan University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and our comprehensive evaluation process will cumulate April 12 and 13, 2021, with a virtual site visit from peer reviewers assigned by the HLC.

    In preparation for our site visit, we have created an educational video series for the campus community. In this series, you will learn about the comprehensive evaluation process, WMU’s past accomplishments and our aspirations moving forward. Celebrating our successes—and reflecting on how and where we can do better—enables us to remain committed to continual improvement.  

    The first two videos, “Preparing for Comprehensive Evaluation” and “So That All May Learn,” are live now at Please take a moment to watch these videos and keep an eye on our HLC website for updates and the release of upcoming episodes.

    Comprehensive evaluation is a collaborative effort that touches all corners of campus and impacts every individual in our community. Stay informed and get involved at  

    With gratitude, 

    Dr. Jennifer Bott
    Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs 

  • Thank you, update on interdisciplinarity effort

    December 16, 2020

    Dear colleagues,

    We have much to be thankful for, though the past year may make that difficult to imagine. While much has changed this year, the value and culmination of our work, gratefully, has not. Let us celebrate the hard work of our students and salute the dedication of our faculty and staff as Western Michigan University conducts our first virtual commencement ceremonies, during which 1,400 degrees will be awarded to our students.

    My feelings of thankfulness go further. I’m so grateful for the conversations we’ve shared since announcing the interdisciplinarity effort in mid-November. I have a few updates about submissions and timelines based on those conversations.

    I appreciate the opportunity to share time with those who have invited me to their departments, colleges or interest groups to continue our dialogue. Many of you have shared your measured excitement, tempered by concerns about the initiative, which we’ve captured and began answering on the FAQ section of the interdisciplinarity website. I am listening. The conversation is just beginning in our colleges, focusing on faculty voice, input and ideas. I’m greatly appreciative for the more than 150 faculty, staff and administrators who are currently engaged in this work at the college level. I'm also grateful 85 of our colleagues nominated themselves or have been nominated to serve on the institutional advisory committee. We look forward to seating that committee in January.

    To help us begin our work, the proposal template is now available. These questions will aid us as we explore how these interdisciplinary efforts will serve our research and creative mission and engage our students in empowering ways. Your collaborative interdisciplinary plans will show us the way and help us find creative paths to grow within the resources we have. Please keep in mind these first-round proposals are intended to be relatively brief and introduce the concept for further development in the second, full round of proposals.

    One of the most consistent questions we have received is about the timeline for year one planning. Several of you have indicated the timeline to develop meaningful proposals is complicated by the winter holiday recess. We hear you and have adjusted the timeline to create space for intercollege and intracollege conversations and now look forward to reviewing these short proposals in early March. Following your suggestions, we have also adjusted the academic program review calendar—creating a five-year rotational cycle to begin in 2022—to provide time to focus on interdisciplinarity in the coming weeks and months. Our review this coming spring will involve those programs that already submitted their review.

    Your time and investment in Western matters, whether it’s spent in the classroom with your students, on your research or creative scholarship or through your engagement with critical service activities. Thank you for your commitment to moving the institution forward. I continue to welcome conversation and the sharing of great ideas and good news during my office hours (every Thursday from noon to 1 p.m.) and through my website.

    Wishing you a restful, restorative and joyous holiday season.

    With gratitude,

    Jennifer Bott, Ph.D.
    Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs

  • More on advancing Interdisciplinarity at WMU

    November 30, 2020

    Dear faculty colleagues,

    I write this note in appreciation for the thoughts and concerns you’ve shared following our virtual town hall on interdisciplinarity on Nov. 18. Your ideas and candor have given me much to consider. Let me take a moment and share some additional thoughts about next steps.

    Higher education is at a crossroads, requiring us to bring new knowledge and approaches to solving the complex problems our world faces. I believe our University has a unique opportunity to bring incredible value to addressing these problems by developing disciplinary affiliations that leverage and extend our existing intellectual strength. In doing so, we will strengthen our community.

    This state of affairs prompted me to begin a conversation more than a year ago with other universities, external partners, deans, the senate and union leadership. At the same time, leaders of the Faculty Senate reached out with interest in examining our University curricula and programs in order to advance greater collaboration across disciplines. They took the next step by convening the Faculty Senate Ad-Hoc Interdisciplinary Studies Committee to study emerging notions of interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary programs. I encourage you to  review their report on the interdisciplinarity website and, again, I share my gratitude for their thoughtful work. While this report does not argue for restructuring, many of the advances necessary to embed interdisciplinarity throughout the campus require a more integrated and affiliated set of units and faculty.

    I am confident we are on the right path. And we need to look no further than our own campus to find exceptional interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary programming. I mentioned several during my presentation. Their success can serve as inspiration and understanding as we move through this journey.

    Given this backdrop, many have rightfully asked: Why now? We are grappling with uncertainty in our professional and personal lives which makes it difficult to dedicate time to a critical University initiative. The urgency is created by our past, current and future situation—both our enrollment and its impact on our classrooms and finances. The post-pandemic world will create struggles for higher education but also opportunities to explore new paths that can make our University stronger. The interdisciplinary programs we have at WMU have proven relevant for scholarly and creative activity as well as successful in recruiting new students and launching our graduating students into careers and further study.

    As with so much of shared governance, I see our process of expanding disciplinary collaborations as an opportunity—one that is voluntary. Each of you can decide what is relevant and appropriate for your disciplines. You, as a faculty body, are invited to shape this process. My presentation shared a framework that will engage faculty members and the Faculty Senate at all stages. While this dynamic undertaking does not change certain disciplinary fundamentals, it does advance our view of the world and how our disciplines address present and future problems.

    While I understand the word “restructuring” creates uneasiness, I encourage us all to remember restructuring of our disciplines is common as new knowledge and ideas are presented and interpreted by scholars. Further, our students need us to develop pedagogical approaches that deepen disciplinary knowledge while expanding the breadth of their cognitive skills. It is a tension our disciplines have faced for decades. Interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary engagement has proven an effective bridge between student needs and our existing structures and organization. In short, I view restructuring as a process of cultivation and growth through which we can expand and build upon, not tear down, the excellence we have.

    Broad engagement in this process is not only welcome, but critical, because one size does not fit all. As we move forward, we must carefully consider accreditation guidelines and professional and licensure requirements; we must consider how best to account for interdisciplinarity work when it comes to tenure and promotion criteria; and we must build structures across the University that support and reward, rather than inhibit, the coming together of colleagues from across disciplines and colleges.

    I understand some of you worry this vision is solely designed to enable further cuts. After more than a decade of enrollment declines and decreasing state appropriations, resulting in painful budget cuts, I can understand that skepticism. Let me state clearly: This is not a budget-cutting initiative in disguise. I shared that our efforts are intended to reduce administrative overhead and balance workload requirements for our faculty, a pressing concern many of you have expressed over the summer and this semester. My goal is for us to take control of our future, sustainably, and find ways to step off the constant cycle of cutting that has resulted in a culture of loss. Our emerging vision is for innovative affiliations among our disciplines that will lay the foundation for new directions for our University, a vision that honors our history, values and mission.

    Let me end by addressing the timeline I provided during the town hall. I laid a foundation from which to develop our collaborative approach to designing our future. At the town hall, I put forward a time frame that identified April 2021 as a starting point, not an endpoint. By that time, departments and programs may self-identify their wish to participate by putting forth ideas for consideration. As laid out by the Faculty Senate process for curricular and organizational change, we would then take the next year to flesh out ideas and begin down a path of creating sustainable, interdisciplinary programs. We will not have everything figured out by the end of April, nor will this new vision be "complete" a year from now. Instead, my hope is this new approach is an ongoing process that continues to evolve over time to meet the changing needs of our shared academic enterprise. With that in mind, I remain open to suggestions about adjustments to the process that might enable us to move forward effectively and collaboratively, while still mindful of the urgency of our situation.

    I look forward to continuing this important University discussion through open office hours, which I will begin holding Thursday, Dec. 3, at noon. Details can be found on my website.

    With gratitude,

    Jennifer Bott, Ph.D.
    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

  • Join us Nov. 18: Town hall on Academic Affairs restructuring to enhance interdisciplinarity

    November 12, 2020

    Dear colleagues,

    Over the last two years, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with many of you, in small and large groups, to hear what you are proud of and what concerns you have for our future. While there is great variability in these conversations, one thing is clear: your passion for your work and its impact on our community and world. Building on the report issued this summer from the Ad Hoc Interdisciplinary Studies Committee of the Faculty Senate, we have an opportunity to amplify that impact through an intentional move toward interdisciplinarity. Our many strengths in interdisciplinary scholarship, creative activity and teaching make us uniquely poised to do this critical work to solve our world's complex problems.

    At a town hall set for 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 18, I invite you to join the discussion about academic affairs restructuring to enhance interdisciplinarity. Well-designed and supported interdisciplinary programs would allow WMU to stand out among its peer institutions for its emphasis on integrative learning and discovery and further define WMU's identity as an innovative, relevant and responsive institution. We also will realize cost-savings through streamlining administrative structures and better leveraging our programming.

    During this conversation, I will share details and invite you to join a collaborative process to identify and recommend interdisciplinary programs within and across colleges. This two-tiered structure emphasizes shared governance and shared responsibility to create an innovative and sustainable future for the core mission of the institution.

    I'm excited about what lies ahead for our students and our academic enterprise as we explore this restructuring together. Your ideas and engagement are critical to shaping WMU's future.

    I look forward to seeing you at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 18, to begin these important conversations. Please look for a link to the town hall on my website on that date.

    With gratitude and hope,

    Jennifer Bott, Ph.D.
    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

  • Spring semester schedule now set

    October 26, 2020

    Dear WMU community,

    Thank you for your efforts to make this fall as safe and productive as possible across the academic enterprise, campus services and all other aspects of WMU's operations. As we are about at the halfway point for the fall semester, I'm pleased to announce the University's spring schedule is now set.

    Following winter recess, spring semester classes begin Monday, Jan. 11,2021, with the semester concluding Saturday, May 1. Spring recess is scheduled for March 29 to April 2. Following the break, classes resume Monday, April 5, in distance education formats through the end of the semester—with the exception of courses that support degrees requiring continued hands-on learning.

    This atypical academic year has asked many things of you and you’ve responded with diligence, hard work, patience and resilience. Amid the considerable challenges the world is experiencing due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, our campus community has demonstrated that, with careful planning and each of us committed to practicing COVID-19-conscious behaviors, WMU can continue offering its high-quality educational experience. I appreciate your sustained commitment in doing your part this fall and for the semesters to come.

    Be smart. Be safe. Be Broncos.

    With gratitude,

    Jennifer Bott, Ph.D.
    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

  • New leadership added to WMU University College

    October 8, 2020

    Dear colleagues,

    We are writing today to announce additions to the leadership team for our new University College. In August, we shared information about the new college’s structure and leadership. Today, we’re pleased to provide more details about this important new addition to WMU.

    Dr. Deveta Gardner has been named associate dean of University College, responsible for its day-to-day activities, including overseeing the Center for Academic Success Programs (CASP), Career and Student Employment Services (CASES), Student Success Services, the Office of Student Transitions and WMU Signature Program. Dr. Gardner received both her M.A. and Ph.D. from WMU’s College of Education and Human Development after earning her bachelor’s degree from Howard University. She has served at WMU for nearly 25 years, including in leadership roles in CASES, and most recently as the acting co-director of CASES and acting director of CASP. Dr. Gardner has contributed to a wide range of critical University committees, including the WMU Faculty Senate General Education Ad Hoc Committee and the Black Faculty and Staff Founding Committee. She served as chairperson of the MLK Communitywide Celebration Committee and currently represents WMU as a board member of the American Council on Education - Michigan Women’s Network.

    We could not be more excited about Dr. Gardner taking on this role. She is an outstanding, proven leader at WMU who is well-positioned to help build this new unit and to lead the design and delivery of academic student services and programs that meet the needs of all students in a holistic framework.

    Along with establishing Dr. Gardner’s associate dean role, several other positions in the new college have been finalized. Dr. Ewa Urban, who has long served with Dr. Gardner in CASES, has been named director of assessment and effectiveness. She will provide leadership and guidance to University College units regarding data management and interpretation and collegewide assessment; planning and program review related to student learning and student outcomes; and the ongoing improvement and innovation of programs and services. It is more critical than ever that our student success programs be evidence-based and driven by best practices, and Dr. Urban is passionate about using data to drive decisions and resources in ways that will ultimately benefit students.

    Adrienne Fraaza, who has been serving as interim director of the Office of Student Transitions, will assume the permanent position for that office.

    Rounding out the University College leadership team will be Dr. Evan Heiser, director of WMU Signature, and Katie Easley, program manager senior of Student Success Services.

    In the weeks and months ahead, the University College team will share additional updates about its future direction and implementation of the design team’s recommendations. Updates will also be shared out and posted on the One WMU website. We remain grateful for the many experts across campus who are contributing time, energy and great ideas to this effort.

    Please join us in thanking this team for taking on these new roles and for leading this critical work.

    With gratitude,

    Jennifer Bott, Ph.D.
    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

    Edwin Martini, Ph.D.
    Dean, University College
    Associate Provost, WMUx

  • Provost office staffing update: Interim leadership announced

    September 11, 2020

    Dear colleagues,

    The Office of the Provost recently restructured, reducing the associate provost footprint by half. I’d like to share an update on how these duties shifted, some permanently and others on an interim basis. In all cases, we will be working over the course of this year to determine how best to organize our efforts as we move into the future.

    Some specifics about these tasks and responsibilities include:

    • The work of engagement with the launch and assessment of the WMU Essential Studies transitioned from Master Faculty Specialist Mervyn Elliott as planned. Dr. James Cousins, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, has agreed to step into this interim role for the coming year.
    • Our curriculum management efforts, previously under the associate provost for undergraduate studies and assessment, are now being led on an interim basis by Dr. Nicolas Witschi, interim associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences.
    • The Office of Faculty Development was transitioned earlier this calendar year from the associate provost for undergraduate studies and assessment to WMUx under Dr. Ed Martini.
    • The work of institutional effectiveness and enrollment management (on a continued interim basis) will remain with Vice Provost Chris Cheatham. These additional units are reflective of the former portfolio of the associate provosts for these respective areas and were assigned to Vice Provost Cheatham in 2019.

    I’m grateful that our colleagues have stepped into these leadership positions supporting critical institutional functions. We look forward to sharing more in the coming weeks and months.

    Please join me in appreciating the work of our colleagues,

  • Solution Squad to launch Tuesday

    September 4, 2020

    Dear students,
    As you know all too well, the impact of COVID-19 has reached every corner of our WMU community. Navigating our campus might feel challenging or overwhelming at times, but we are here to help you succeed without the stress.
    We’ve created a team of top-notch problem-solvers called the Solution Squad who can provide comprehensive, personalized support to connect you to the answers, information and resources you need. The Solution Squad is available at a moment’s notice by phone, live chat, in-person at Swain Library in Sangren Hall or around campus on their mobile cart. Get in touch with the Solution Squad by calling (269) 387-1000 or visit their website at
    The Solution Squad goes live Tuesday, Sept. 8, at 10 a.m. We will adjust hours as we learn more about demand over the next several weeks and will post updated times at Any questions or concerns can be directed to Dr. Ed Martini, dean of One WMU/University College, at
    Our Western Michigan University community is resilient and stronger together, and our faculty and staff are committed to helping you navigate our student services. Whether you’re on campus, online or a combination of both, Solution Squad is here to help!
    Best wishes,

    Jennifer Bott, Ph.D.
    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

  • Thank you for your work in preparing for fall semester

    September 1, 2020

    Dear colleagues,

    The beginning of the fall semester is such a special time on campus—the possibilities lay open in front of us as we welcome new and returning students and engage with each other after productive summers. This year is no different and, at the same time, completely different.

    Our welcoming no longer allows for hugs and handshakes, and our enthusiasm is likely tempered by uncertainty.

    As we move into this strange yet still familiar routine of classes, labs, meetings, grading tests and papers, I wanted to pause and share my gratitude for what we have accomplished over the past several months by working together and listening to one another.

    When we began discussing what a fall semester on campus might look like, it was important that decisions regarding academics and instruction were driven by faculty. WMU faculty chose how best to deliver their courses, consistent with disciplinary and pedagogical expertise.

    Additional input from staff, faculty and other instructors drove our larger planning efforts for this term. My thanks to our great partners in the Faculty Senate Executive Board, the members of the Fall Contingency Planning Task Force, the Joint Instructional Advisory Committee (including representatives from the WMU-AAUP, PIO and TAU) and the faculty champions from each of our colleges. These individuals provided expertise and insight, along with significant time and energy to help develop plans, guidelines and strategies to support creative instructors teaching across the modalities developed by the fall contingency group. I am grateful for everyone who took part in these groups and provided guidance, input and constructive criticism at every turn.

    It would be a massive understatement to say that we have a challenging year ahead of us, but based on what I have witnessed in the way that you all have approached your plans for this coming semester, I am confident that we are well prepared to do our absolute best for our students. Your resilience, commitment to your discipline and your dedication to supporting our students and our community are truly inspirational.

    Thank you again for everything you are doing on behalf of Western Michigan University.

    With gratitude,

    Jennifer Bott, Ph.D.
    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

  • One WMU/University College initiative to begin in phases

    August 27, 2020

    Dear colleagues,

    Last week, President Montgomery shared that we are moving forward on our One WMU/University College initiative, and I write to share details of that important work, framed by the efforts and planning of so many across academic and student affairs for the past 12 months.

    Led by the design team, the One WMU teams completed their work over the spring, producing a robust set of recommendations. These teams and their leaders dedicated significant time and energy to developing truly collaborative plans and guiding our efforts in the coming year; we now turn our attention to actualizing those plans.

    As we’ve discussed in our town halls around the One WMU initiative, the college will be constructed in phases. Effective Sept. 1, the following units will be integrated into the college:

    • Center for Academic Success Programs (CASP)
    • Career and Student Employment Services (CASES)
    • Office of Student Transitions (OST)
    • Peer2Peer (P2P)
    • Student Success Services (S3)
    • WMU Signature (Signature)

    We are thrilled to integrate CASES and Signature into Academic Affairs. Holistic student success is the heart of this initiative, and I am so grateful for the partnership with Student Affairs. I want to thank Vice President for Student Affairs Diane Anderson and her entire team for their generous collaboration throughout this process. We look forward to continuing to build strong interdisciplinary structures for our teams to engage intentionally.

    Over the course of the year and into spring 2021, we will focus on the planned unification of advising and other student support programming. Our work in these areas will be guided by the teams’ recommendations and our engagement with the Excellence in Academic Advising and Powered by Publics initiatives. By fall 2021, our new college will have its full structure and staff in place, along with its permanent name, which will be determined through a yearlong design process.

    Finally, I’m very pleased to share with you the initial leadership team for the college, which will help to implement the recommendations from the design team and also chart the future structure and strategy of the college. Dr. Deveta Gardner will take a significant senior leadership role, overseeing our student support units. Dr. Ewa Urban will also take on a senior leadership role, focusing on assessment and effectiveness. Monica Liggins-Abrams, who has helped lead this initiative from the outset, will continue to guide implementation as part of the senior leadership team in University College while also working with my office on additional strategic initiatives.

    As you may recall, we had planned to search for a founding dean of the college last year as well. Given the reorganization of the Provost’s office, however, it seemed appropriate to add this initiative to the portfolio of an existing administrator with a relevant set of duties and experiences and a passion for student success. Student success research clearly shows that linking student success, faculty development and innovation are key to improving institutional conditions to support the success of all students.

    With that in mind, I’m pleased to announce today that Dr. Ed Martini, in addition to his current role leading WMUx, will become dean of University College. My thanks to Ed and the entire University College leadership team for taking on this challenge and leading this initiative forward.

    I look forward to sharing more details about our continued efforts in the coming weeks. I also look forward to reconvening our faculty design committee after the start of the fall term.

    With thanks for all that you continue to do for our students and our campus,

    Jennifer Bott, Ph.D.
    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs