Launching Transformative Programs & Curricula

Strategic Action Plan MapFive-Year Goal

Building on the greatest traditions of conservatory education, UNCSA will leverage contemporary innovations in performance and media to prepare emerging artists who engage new audiences with deeply relevant and outstanding work.

First-Year Objectives & Suggested Strategies

Focus initial efforts toward curriculum change on first-year students.

  • Develop the first-year experience program for incoming FY17 college students.

2015 – Fall Update

Goal: Develop a pilot FYE for fall of 2016.

Three excellent meetings that developed the following potential directions/themes:

  • College level thinking.
  • Collaboration
  • Interdisciplinary work.
  • Asking questions and having a conversation.
  • Developing capacities for wonder.
  • Permission to experiment.

How does this lead to a capacity for creativity?


  • Time to meet.
  • Time to gather information.


  • Work to answer general FYE questions.
  • Investigate Lincoln Center Education program as a model.
  • Work with alumni LCE fellows to help us develop the ideas.
  • Consult with Dan Freedman or someone else once we generate FYE ideas.

Next Steps

  • LCE Model
  • 4 slots/summer training
  • Pilot/next fall

2016 – Spring Update

The FYE committee five times over the 2015-2016 academic year, with conversations continued over email.  After our initial meeting we surveyed current students, alumni, and SGA representatives on developing a First Year Experience program. We received input from 165+ students.

Over the year we discussed a number of possible FYE themes and ideas, such as: College level thinking, collaboration, interdisciplinary work, asking questions and having a conversation, developing capacities for wonder, permission to fail (experiment). How does this lead to a capacity for creativity? We are wrestling with how we define each of these ideas.

Lincoln Center Education: Recognizing that the LCE Aesthetic Education program addresses a number of the ideas we had been discussing, the FYE committee met with representatives from LCE to discuss the program. The focus of this program is on developing in students the ability to: Notice Deeply, Embody, Pose Questions, Identify Patterns, Make Connections, Empathize, Live with Ambiguity, Create Meaning, Take Action, Reflect/Assess.

LCE Alumni: For the past fifteen years UNCSA has been sending a handful of students to Lincoln Center to spend six months studying the Aesthetic Education model. We contacted these 70 or so students to ask about their experience with the program.

Research and Development: Four faculty will be attending The LCE Aesthetic Education Immersion workshop this summer: Trish Casey (Dance), Meredith Hite (Music), Rosemary Millar (DLA), and Betsy Towns (DLA). They will share their thoughts on the program in the fall. This study was made possible by a Leadership grant from the Kenan Institute for the Arts.

FYE Committee Recommendations: Develop new name for program, with the understanding that this is not about how to be a college student, but how to be a UNCSA college student. The program can include such things as: wellness, poetry, visual arts, exercises, sociality, relationships, reflection, and aesthetic education.

2017 – Update

Create a First-Year Experience Program
Leader: Dean Wilcox

Two members of the First Year Experience committee, Rosemary Millar and Trish Casey, along with DLA faculty member Bob King, developed and offered an experimental course entitled The Embodied Mind that drew on the ideas developed by the FYE committee last year. 

Getting these ideas up on their feet and into the bodies and minds of some of our students produced some very interesting results. They will be offering the course again in the fall, with the possibility of offering two sections. Given the reaction across campus to the phrase "first year experience" we have been working to change the language to "first year seminar" - which you will see reflected in the link below. 

The plan at this point is to bring the FYS and pilot course instructors together early in fall term to discuss the course framework, issues, problems, changes, etc. This will give Rosemary, Trish, and Bob ample reflection time. 

Since the Lincoln Center Education model (along with a few others) was useful in developing this course we will, with Kenan support, be sending six more faculty to NYC for exposure to the LCE model this summer. 

For information about the development and trajectory of the class see: The Embodied Minds class blog.


Revise the production calendar to better support educational outcomes and student well-being.

  • Host a production calendar summit.

2015 – Fall Update

Goal: Create production calendar for 2017/18

  • Reflects best designs for student learning and preparation for the professions.
  • Is sensitive to work/life & wellness considerations.
  • Optimizes performance facilities & staff resources
  • Enhances patron/community experience.


  • Hired consultant
  • Day-long retreat with consultants and various stakeholders.
  • Generated recommendations for working group consideration.


  • Time needed for next steps.
  • Potential resistance to change.
  • Staffing


  • Prioritize use of Deans’ meetings to advance process.
  • Assess 2015/16 calendar changes.
  • Do 2016/17 calendar.
  • Consider DLA collaborations.
  • Complete 2017/18 Production calendar draft by May 1

Next Steps

  • Assess current changes – relative to next year.
  • May 30


  • Production calendar & Student workload


  • Production calendar
  • Cautious optimism


  • Production calendar – allows for so much more.

2016 – Spring Update

All stakeholders came together for a production calendar summit in January 2016. This was an important first step toward identifying and analyzing options for changes to the existing calendar to make it more effective for student outcomes and more efficient for operations. One major decision that resulted from the meeting was to change our approach to load-in and load-out of Nutcracker to save time and effort without affecting student outcomes.  This approach is built into the FY2017 performance calendar. We will watch how it works closely and refine the approach as needed for future years.

The new approach to Nutcracker also allows time in the calendar to make another desired change, moving the Collage Concert to the fall of 2016. 

In addition, the group agreed to work on earlier notifications of titles to allow for more robust planning and earlier promotion.

The group will continue its work in the fall of 2016 to build further refinements into future calendars and create the FY2018 calendar.

2017 – Update

Optimize the Production Calendar
Leader: David English

Using the input received from the Student Workload Action Group and building on numerous previous discussions amongst the Deans, the Deans met for two half-day back-to-back facilitated workshops to dive deeply into reviewing the definition of a credit hour, daily schedules, and the academic and production calendar. The work focused largely on reviewing credit hour requirements and prototyping new more balanced draft daily schedules.

Some of the considerations discussed are:

  • Spreading DLA requirements over 4 years
  • Working towards common class start/finish times to allow more flexibility and interaction between schools
  • When ready, need to involve more of campus in the process, including EPC
  • Student workloads drive faculty workload
  • Take credit for all we are doing

Building upon the substantial progress from the workshops, the Deans will continue to refine their work in the fall of 2017. 


Ensure a balanced student workload to optimize student performance.

  • Implement three priority recommendations from the Student Workload taskforce.

2015 - Fall Update


  • Develop Advising Mission Statement, Best Practices Spring 2016 and, given resources, Advising Manual by Fall 2016.
  • Bring in consultants to instruct and assist Advising Team.
  • Investigate value and purchase of Advising/Early Warning software such as those used on other UNC campuses that will facilitate the gathering of information about students so the advisor is fully informed and does not need to rely on the students to pass on information.

Time Tally

  • Create survey for faculty to measure all required student activities.
  • Complete survey & share results.
  • Demonstrate application of survey results on individual curricula/students.


  • Pilot projects in individual classes/studios
  • Research role of reflection in learning.
  • Remain in co-ordination with QEP.
  • Pursue original research studies to conduct on campus.


  • Research and share information with the campus about ways to individualize their education including:
  • flexibility in curriculum & production requirements,
  • interdisciplinary study,
  • international study,
  • student generated work and study.
  • Facilitate student-driven pilot projects for individual/groups that allow Process-Oriented, Interdisciplinary and Innovative Opportunities.


  • Advising Manual beginning
  • UNCSA Reps. attended UNC BOG conversations on advising this month.
  • Scheduled consultants to instruct and assist Advising Team.
  • Met with UNCC Associate Provost, Cindy Wolf Johnson, who runs Advising Program there. She has offered us ongoing support as we create our own materials.  Our goal is to use their existing structure and adapt it for our needs rather than start from scratch.

Time Tally

  • Survey Tool Identified and Construction of Survey for Faculty well underway. Estimate late February launch.
  • In process of attending meetings of various constituencies on campus to inform them of the process and its uses.


  • Committee head Jeff Gredlein has included Reflection measure in Gen Psy classes, and will have 60 data points by the end of the term.
  • Several other Faculty members are implementing modest Reflection Practices in their classes. Updates forthcoming on all.
  • Jeff Gredlein remains in co-ordination with QEP.


  • Informal Working Groups established to research and model several alternative curricular options.
  • Student Written/Directed/Performed Film Opera created in December will offer lessons in the process of Student Directed Intensive Arts Projects.

All Sub-Committees

  • TIME – TIME – TIME. Faculty workload makes collaboration across divisions during school year very, very difficult.  None of the four subcommittees has yet convened with full representation.
  • Advising – Several aspects of the Academic Advising initiative will demand significant time and money. In particular:
      • Creating the manual (modest expense)
      • Implementing a comprehensive system of Advising (significant time and expense).
      • Purchasing and supporting additional advising/EWS software.

All Sub-Committees

  • Administrative/staff assistance in scheduling meetings.


  • Some funds may be available through GA.
  • Other UNC Schools have offered support.
  • Potentially need to offer a lead faculty member or two significant course release time to direct this program for its first year (at least).


  • With QEP - 2 way

2016 - Spring Update

To date, the newly established subcommittee on Academic Advising has completed the first draft of the Advising Manual, worked with advising leaders from UNCC to determine best practices and is continuing to work with Provost’s Office to move forward with establishing a universal advising system for all undergraduates.

Aiming to make student workload clear, measurable, and accurately credited, a SWAG subcommittee worked with Institutional Research to survey faculty on requirements they supervise (90% participation!!!). Members of this committee are evaluating the data this summer in order to help all Academic identify areas of over- and under- crediting.

Faculty Members in Music, Film, Psychology and Humanities are researching the role of Reflection and down time in learning, creative thinking, and innovation to share with all faculty.

Toward the 2-5 year goal, Five-Year Goal to Advance curriculum development for inter- and multi-disciplinary degrees, we aim to pilot an interdisciplinary track with a small cohort of third year students from several different art schools in 2017-2018.

2017 – Update

Ensure a Balanced Student Workload
Leaders: Betsy Towns, Student Workload Task Force

Student Workload Action Group wrapped the major work for the year by sharing results of the Time Survey and Reflection Literature Research in March. Using this information, the Deans group will spend focused time working on the academic calendar and daily schedule this summer.  In the interim, members of the team continue to develop courses and curriculum concepts for transformative programs and curricula dependent on creating time and flexibility in the schedule and calendar.

On June 13 and 14, the Deans met to discuss credit hours, daily schedule, and the academic calendar. At the meeting the Deans began drafting new preliminary models for a daily calendar. Further work on the daily schedule and calendar will continue in FY18.  

Summary materials available at:


Continue to enhance efforts to maximize institutional effectiveness.

  • Submit Institutional Effectiveness (SACS) accreditation report including the approved QEP.
  • Engage two faculty in each arts school and DLA to test the QEP assessment tools. Collect assessment data to use as baseline data and revise the assessment plan based on feedback.
  • Host faculty development activities related to the three learning outcomes in the QEP

2015 – Fall Update


  • Get SACSCOC reaffirmation.
  • Avoid public sanction.
  • Get QEP approved.
  • Identify and acquire a tool for collecting and analyzing QEP assessment data.


  • Focused Report submitted.
  • Site visit planning underway.
  • Developed rubrics for assessing QEP student learning outcomes across the school.
  • QEP written.


  • Assessment and IE needs to be strengthened on campus.
  • Funding to bring in consulting expertise.
  • Support to acquire the assessment tool for QEP.


  • Bring in a consultant this spring.

Next Steps

  • Onsite visit SACS
  • QEP approved
  • Faculty development Summer 2016.


  • No option + Connected.
  • Does something different about a persistent challenge.


  • QEP
  • Energy


  • Production calendar!
  • Music School
  • QEP

2016 – Spring Update

It was a big year on all accounts in our efforts to improve institutional effectiveness.  A great deal of work was put into identifying and developing our Quality Enhancement Plan, QEP, and to writing our 10 year SACS reaccreditation report.  In March, UNCSA hosted our 10 year reaccreditation SACS on-site visit.  The visit was a great success.  Our Quality Enhancement Plan, “Tell Your Story”, was praised by the SACS on-site team and received no recommendations for changes.  Similarly, the review of our report, data, and processes to support our 10 year reaccreditation was received positively, with only 2 items that required follow up. 

Final approval of our reaccreditation will be considered by SACS in December 2016.

2017 – Update

Maximize Institutional Effectiveness
Leaders: David English, Jason Romney

Based on our SACS submission and site visit outcomes, UNCSA received final approval of our 10 year reaccreditation from SACS in December 2016.

This year 12 faculty pilot tested the QEP assessment plan. We revised the rubrics based on their feedback and will continue testing through next year. We hosted a workshop in March with Chris Boneau for faculty, staff, and students to receive training on how to talk about and advocate for your work with the press and potential employers. We plan to arrange a similar training opportunity next year, hopefully in self and peer critique. We are also in the process of identifying a second group of pilot testers to engage with the project next year. Our goal is to have at least 20 faculty participating during the 2017-2018 academic year.

Over the 2016-17 academic year, program representatives have worked to strengthen the collection of actionable data and to make explicit the connection between assessment data and program changes. 

In the fall of 2016, the Institutional Effectiveness Team (IE Team) was re-established under the leadership of the Director of Institutional Effectiveness.  This team, with representatives from each arts school, the Division of Liberal Arts, and the High School Academic Program, functioned as a think-tank and working group for assessment issues. The group provided peer feedback on departmental Student Learning Outcomes and assessment rubrics, discussed ways to best engage faculty in the assessment process, and shared best practices. The members of the group served as faculty leaders and mentors to their respective departments.

In addition to the leadership provided by the members of the IE Team, the Director of Institutional Effectiveness met with the full faculties in each academic department. The Director’s goal for the 2016-17 year was for each department to: revise mission statements and Student Learning Outcome statements to clearly focus on student learning, to develop and implement a new direct assessment tool for at least one of the newly revised Student Learning Outcome statements, to systematically collect and analyze quantitative data from new or existing assessment tools, and to encourage full faculty involvement in the assessment process

For the second year, each educational program submitted an Annual Program Evaluation Report. The template for the 2016-17 assessment reports includes:  1) program mission and goals, 2) student learning outcomes and assessment measures, 3) data findings, 4) data interpretation, 5) action plans and 6) reports on previous action plans. Also for the second year, the Director of Institutional Effectiveness provided feedback to each program using the Annual Program Evaluation Rubric. 

It is notable that, in 2015-16, the action plans for each educational program included the development of new assessment tools. Each department was successful in developing and piloting at least one new assessment tool. In addition, the data yielded by the new assessments was more carefully analyzed and detailed data analysis reports provided back to each department. In every case, the Findings, Interpretation, and Action Plans sections of the reports are more robust and more clearly linked to data. In addition, each department is planning to schedule time during the fall for the full faculty in each department to review the data and to provide additional feedback on the action plans. 

For the 2017-18 assessment cycle, focus will shift to making explicit the linkage between student learning outcomes and how the outcomes are incorporated into the curriculum.


Years 2–5

  • Advance curriculum development for inter- and multi-disciplinary degrees. 
  • Expand producing and presenting programming.