Fischer, on the job for 100 days, gave more administrative control to the 10 departments’ chairs and faculty during his approximately 50-minute address Thursday, Nov. 8, in the Keathley University Center Theater.
When it comes to decisions that are directly related to the operation of the departments such as funding travel, Fischer said he would leave decisions to the departments.
“It’s not for me to decide,” he told the audience of faculty, staff and administrators. “Chairs should be able to run departments the way they see fit.”
“The new dean wants to give chairs and faculty in the departments more responsibility,” said Charles Perry, chair of the Russell Chair of Manufacturing Excellence in engineering technology. “That’s his management style — set the guidelines and let them manage.”
“I thought it went very well,” Fischer said of the annual state of the college address. “It got the major points of how we can improve the college and set the expectations for the future.”
Students and student retention were key points Fischer made.
“I’m happy to see we’re continuing to move forward with a student-centered focus on scholarship and teaching,” said Kim Cleary Sadler, an associate professor in the biology department, an MTSU alumna and university faculty member since 1996.
Fischer said he was bothered by the college’s freshman retention rates, which are lower than he would have liked. He shared that from a recent meeting of nearly 60 campus academic administrators, university President Sidney A. McPhee wanted to know “what kind of things can we change?” to turn things around with retention.
“We need to be innovative in ways to improve retention,” Fischer said, especially in those early years.
The first-year dean asked for volunteers to be a part of the initial Strategic Planning Committee to develop the college’s mission, vision, core values, strategic advantages and strategic challenges. Sub-committees would be formed to create initiative plans, including input from faculty, and submit this to the executive committee. Eventually, after faculty comment, a final revision will be completed.
In his presentation, Fischer shared numerous student and faculty achievements, the college’s budget, how alumni donations are on the increase and five strategic initiatives.
Fischer mentioned 11 faculty who are new or returning to the university, including respective biology and chemistry chairs Lynn Boyd and Greg Van Patten; and professor of military science Lt. Col. Joel Miller. Dr. John Haffner has rejoined the horse science faculty at the Horse Science Center adjacent to Miller Coliseum on West Thompson Lane.
Fischer added that at least 16 new faculty will be added in the near future, increasing the total faculty to 225.