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Wichita State University Physics Department External Review Recommendations of Review Panel S.Hinks, Y.Onel, P.Ratoff, R.Rosner 4 th December 2007.

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Presentation on theme: "Wichita State University Physics Department External Review Recommendations of Review Panel S.Hinks, Y.Onel, P.Ratoff, R.Rosner 4 th December 2007."— Presentation transcript:

1 Wichita State University Physics Department External Review Recommendations of Review Panel S.Hinks, Y.Onel, P.Ratoff, R.Rosner 4 th December 2007

2 The Charge To undertake a review of the activities of the Physics Department To advise the Faculty Chair & CLAS Dean on –future directions for education –future directions for basic & interdisciplinary research –the optimum number of faculty to sustain a viable program –the future of the graduate program –student recruitment & retention –equipment & infrastructure needs

3 The Review Process Dept Chairs open presentation – status & vision Individual interviews with faculty members Interviews with Dean, VP/Research & Provost Interviews with current students Interviews with several other representatives Tour of teaching laboratories Panel private deliberations Todays conclusions/recommendations are preliminary Final report due on 22 nd January 2008

4 Vision of WSU WSU is an urban-serving university in a city that is an aircraft manufacturing hub The main research niche is engineering, especially aerospace engineering The greatest support is felt by those research entities tied directly or indirectly to the main research niche Seeking ways to tether basic sciences to the applied niche research area Emerging research directions are –biomedical, supporting the second strongest sector of the regions economy (healthcare) –sustainable energy, aligned to state-wide initiative (but lower priority) VP/Research JD McDonald

5 Physics Department Mission Teach Physics to any of the 15,000 students at Wichita State University that need it. Offer a Physics BA and BS degree program. Scientific Research in Physics and Astronomy. Physics Graduate program, currently in suspension awaiting recommendation for its future. Faculty Chair N Solomey

6 Physics Department Profile Staff: –6 faculty (one of which is on phased retirement) –1 Lab Coordinator who is a lecturer in two classes –1 Secretary who does some administrative duties –4 Graduate Teaching Assistants (from Engineering) –Outside lecturers Students: –22 (?) undergraduate Physics majors Faculty Chair N Solomey

7 Population Distribution of Students in Physics Classes Faculty Chair N Solomey

8 Future of the Physics Department The Dean has made the statement that the nominal strength of the Physics Department is about 10 full-time faculty. The College of Engineering would like us to improve the quality of the introductory Physics classes. The VP for Research would like the Physics Research to improve. New hires: –(1) high energy experimental (started) –(2) low energy experimental nuclear physics (unique in Kansas) –(3) experimental astrophysics (possible cooperation with NIAR) Faculty Chair N Solomey

9 Funding the Growth Funding for this growth has to come from many sources: 1.LAS support for faculty 2.Outside funding for a faculty for supporting the graduate program for 4 years. Clair Booth foundation WSU foundation Physics department Benefactor 3.Support for Introductory Lab equipment: LAS Technology grants WSU Foundation STEM grants Industry (HP, MS, local companies) Faculty Chair N Solomey

10 The Panels Observations Anomalously small faculty –~50% of historical maximum (15 years ago) –excessive teaching loads for research faculty –failure to replace departing/retiring faculty –relative lack of junior faculty Teaching laboratory equipment in urgent need of updating Graduate program suspended

11 Panel Observations (Contd) Failure to satisfy educational needs of –physics majors –non-physics majors (engineering, health, etc) High student attrition rate (up to 50%) Research output is low (#pubs, cites, talks, PhDs…) Some successes –Astronomy (PHYS195) –Placement of graduates to elite programs –Student praise for some faculty

12 Panel Observations (Contd) Serious personal conflict within faculty is limiting departmental effectiveness in research & teaching –consistent message emerged from interviews –a long standing problem –has affected faculty and student retention –adversely impacts morale of faculty & students –jeopardizes future growth

13 Panel Preliminary Recommendations The serious personal conflict within the faculty needs to be addressed as first priority While this is fundamentally the responsibility of senior management, the panel will make some specific recommendations directly to the Dean of CLAS

14 Panel Preliminary Recommendations (Contd) The Department must improve its teaching effectiveness by –small class sizes or additional recitation sections for large classes –broader & higher level course options –more careful matching of faculty to courses –reviewing course content to meet needs of engineering & other departments –greater commitment by all faculty to high quality delivery of teaching

15 Panel Preliminary Recommendations (Contd) The Department must improve its research effectiveness by –strategic new hires –aligning research activities with WSUs niche research areas (biomedical & nanoscience, jointly with other departments) –investing in necessary research infrastructure –re-establishing a Masters program as soon as new hires & funding is in place (subject to further review) –consideration of PhD program in 3-5 years

16 Panel Preliminary Recommendations (Contd) New hires strategy –establish high energy focus –support WSU niche research areas –wherever possible recruit excellent teachers

17 Thanks The panel wishes to thank WSU faculty & senior managers for the invitation to carry out this review We hope that our recommendations will be helpful to WSU and enable it to re-establish the Physics Department as a viable and successful academic unit (in research & teaching) Thank-you for the warm welcome and hospitality that we received in Wichita Our final report will be submitted by 22 nd Jan 2008

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