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A new start for a new year.

2 Jan

 

The official 2012 LMU Christmas Print.

The official 2012 LMU Christmas Print.

While many Lincoln Memorial University faculty and staff enjoyed an extended break to spend the holidays with their families and recharge from the fall semester, there was a small group of dedicated employees that worked throughout the break. With a December 31, 2012, deadline to get the University’s second application for accreditation prepared for the American Bar Association (ABA), the clock was ticking and the “war room” was a busy hub of activity throughout December.

Preparations for the second application commenced shortly after the announced changes to the administration on October 24. It was then that LMU hired seasoned legal consultant Leary Davis to guide the strategic planning process. In the weeks that followed LMU announced that it was dropping its lawsuit against the ABA and that it would reapply for accreditation with the waiting period waived by the ABA. Next, LMU welcomed a new director of admissions in Randy Mathews to help recruit new students. The final move in the overhaul was the appointment of Parham Williams as interim vice president, interim dean and professor of law.

LMU-Duncan School of Law Interim Dean Parham Williams. Photo by Patrick Murphy Racey

LMU-Duncan School of Law Interim Dean Parham Williams. Photo by Patrick Murphy Racey

 

All the while the pieces of LMU-DSOL’s new administration were coming into place, central figures since its founding — Associate Dean and Librarian Gordon Russell, Associate Academic Dean April Meldrum, key faculty members including Professor Bruce Beverly and librarians Katherine Marsh and Jordan Gilbertson — were working on LMU’s new self study, strategic plan and ABA application.

A base of operations was set up in what was became known as the “war room”, a conference room complete with round-the-clock snacks, reams of paper, files, documents and a white board. Steady preparations were made from October through November and the activity kicked into high gear once Dean Williams arrived. On one of the last official days that LMU was open before the holiday break the entire faculty of LMU-DSOL gathered to review the application. The day-long meeting wrapped up, yet there was still work to be done on the application. For the next three days the war room was abuzz with proofreading and revision after revision. Finally, the group took a brief three-day respite for Christmas before returning on Dec. 26 for one last push on the application.

It took a marathon session of round-the-clock work on Dec. 30, before the application was sent off right on deadline the next day. As 2012 came to the close, a new chapter for LMU-DSOL opened up. This next phase will span another year as the University moves through the ABA accreditation process. Later this month the chair of the site team will make its first visit to Knoxville to review the facilities and offer suggestions to the school in advance the full site visit which will happen later this spring.

Following the site visit, the team will make its recommendation to the Committee and Council on accreditation. The University won’t know the outcome of the application until possible December of 2013, which is why this is truly a new start in this New Year.

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Changes coming for fall.

17 Jul

I mentioned last week in strategic planning that there were at least four topics that I needed to address with press releases during strategic planning. Late last week, I tackled the first – the recasting of the Paul V. Hamilton School of Arts and Sciences.

The move to split the study of arts and sciences was an important decision for LMU. One that will allow further program development and help LMU serve its students better. The recasting created the Paul V. Hamilton School of Mathematics and Sciences and the School of Arts and Humanities.

Vice President for Academic Affairs Clayton Hess announced the changes during the strategic planning retreat and in a memo to faculty in the affected disciplines. The change took effect on July 2.

Dr. Amiel Jarstfer, the former dean of the combined school, will lead the Hamilton School of Mathematics and Sciences while Dr. Martin Sellers formerly the dean of research and service will head the School of Arts and Humanities.

The Hamilton School of Mathematics and Science includes the departments of mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics and will be housed in the nearly completed state-of-the art Math and Science center. The School of Arts and Humanities includes the departments of English, humanities and fine arts, social sciences and social work and is housed primarily in Avery Hall.

Among the program development are enhancements to LMU fine arts department. The University has acquired several buildings and land in the Town of Cumberland Gap with plans to move fine arts into the Gap and provide room to expand offerings in narrative arts. LMU had previously purchased the Cumberland Gap Convention Center and plans to use that to host dinner theater productions among other cultural events.

The creation of two new schools is another exciting change at LMU.