Chancellor Netzhammer discusses topics from commencement to zzusis at annual Campus Update

Mel Netzhammer recently hit the half-year mark as chancellor of Washington State University Vancouver. At the Campus Update on Nov. 29, Netzhammer addressed WSU Vancouver students, faculty and staff, focusing on a range of topics impacting campus.

The WSU Board of Regents approved a proposal for no tuition increase this summer. Netzhammer said preventing tuition increases while promoting scholarships is a “top priority in our Campaign for Washington State. Affordability is key to growth here and throughout higher education.”

The university has proposed to keep tuition at the consumer price index as long as the state legislature supports funding needs, Netzhammer said.
Spring Commencement

The event is scheduled at 1 p.m., May 11 at Sleep Country Amphitheater. The possibility of moving commencement back one week so it takes place immediately after finals, and on the same day as WSU Pullman’s commencement, is being considered for 2014.

The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities will begin the re-accreditation process in April with a visit to the WSU Vancouver campus. The visit will focus on two standards: the standard on mission, goals and outcomes; and the standard on resources and capacity. WSU Vancouver must also respond to the 2009 recommendations on governance and assessment of student learning.

“Our ability to receive federal funding — student financial aid or grants and contracts — is dependent on maintaining accreditation,” Netzhammer said.

Five-day class schedule
Expanding class offerings to five dayes per week is still targeted for implementation at WSU Vancouver in Fall 2013. Netzhammer said WSU Vancouver is three years behind other WSU urban campuses in implementing the scheduling change.

“Moving to a standard course schedule will serve our students by reducing scheduling conflicts and making the path to timely graduation easier,” Netzhammer said. “it spreads classes more evenly throughout the day and week and will help alleviate ‘peak time’ pressure on buildings, staff, faculty and parking. It will also create a more vibrant, active campus all week long.”

Annual enrollment at WSU Vancouver is down by 160 students or 118 FTE this year. Registration for Spring 2013 is also down significantly.

“This is not an issue we can address with just marketing or admissions staffs, and it is not one we will address with a reduction in quality,” Netzhammer said. “The quality of a WSU education cannot and will not be compromised.”

Chancellor Netzhammer picture courtesy of Laura Evancich

Chancellor Mel Netzhammer addresses WSU Vancouver. Photo by Laura Evancich, WSU Vancouver Marketing and Communications.

Residence halls
Discussion and research about residence halls at WSU Vancouver is ongoing.

Emphasis on diversity
“Diversity will continue to figure prominently into our recruitment and retention efforts,” Netzhammer said.

Emphasis on online learning and WSU Global Campus
Netzhammer asked staff and faculty to help leverage digital technology and online resources.

“We have the opportunity to integrate technology more effectively to meet our enrollment targets, to enhance academic quality and to provide equity. We have the potential to be national leaders,” Netzhammer said. “This academic planning process will require us to assess the needs of our community, to develop program capacity in our current offerings and to develop new programs to meet the needs of Southwest Washington.”

Commitment to research and community
Netzhammer stressed the university’s commitment to Southwest Washington and community-based research.

“Our mission to support the communities of Southwest Washington is not just about degree attainment. It’s about a commitment to community-based research and to embrace a research program that has a positive impact on our region. Our research success is dependent, in part, on our ability to attract sponsored research.”

iTech Prep update
Vancouver Public School’s STEM high school, iTech Prep, is located in WSU Vancouver’s Clark College Building. Ninety ninth graders are currently enrolled. An additional class will be added over the next four years until iTech becomes a four-year high school in 2015.

“VPS has been very open about their desire to build a new school on WSU Vancouver property, and we will begin those conversations in the near future,” Netzhammer said. “The hope is that we will be able to create a seamless transition to WSU Vancouver for these students.”

Future growth
Netzhammer said WSU Vancouver will focus on new approaches to managing enrollment, student success and planning.

“At a recent WSU Board of Regents meeting, President Floyd said he expects WSU enrollment statewide to increase from 27,000 to 30,000 in the next couple of years. He anticipates that growth at WSU Vancouver will be a significant part of that…Degree attainment in Southwest Washington is still below that of the rest of the state. We have work to do.”

Relationship with Pullman
Netzhammer said he hopes to find greater clarity in WSU Vancouver’s relationship with Pullman.

“Our academic planning must focus, in part, on issues of infrastructure. As we move forward we will discover more about the appropriate governance structures for our campus,” Netzhammer said. “We will have passionate discussions and probably significant disagreements. But that is how academic communities come together.”

Employee compensation
Faculty and staff salary increases will be a “top priority for the upcoming legislative session,” Netzhammer said.

Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
A search committee is working to identify candidates for this position.

Employee recognition
Netzhammer acknowledged ongoing issues with zzusis and recognized the efforts of WSU Vancouver faculty and staff to support students in spite of these problems. He also recognized the advancement staff for raising $3.1 million over the past year. An employee recognition committee has been established to determine when and how to recognize university staff for outstanding performance. Bola Majekobaje was awarded the 2011/12 Staff Excellence Award.

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