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The Provost's Newsletter

Message from the Provost

Dear faculty colleagues,

I hope you all had a restful holiday break. Welcome back to what I believe will be an exciting spring semester. As we continue to provide you with updates through this newsletter, we also welcome suggestions on topics that you believe would be of interest to the academic community.

Our commitment to academic excellence remains steadfast, and your role as faculty members is instrumental in shaping the educational experience for our students. As we continue our work on pillar 2 of the Strategic Plan, Academic Distinction—Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Research, I encourage you to remain curious and get involved in the numerous ongoing initiatives.

In this newsletter you have the opportunity to learn more about the new Venture & Innovation Center (VIC) and how it is rapidly becoming a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship for students and employees at St. John’s. We have a VIC speaker series for the spring semester, we have budding entrepreneurs developing their ideas into premarket and market-ready products, and we have begun incorporating start-up companies.

A critical aspect of pillar 2 is an increased focus on high-impact practices (HIPs) in our approach to teaching and learning. Many of you already successfully incorporate HIPs in your courses and we would like to expand this across academic units, where we identify successful HIPs, learn from each other, and develop the best learning environment for our students. In this newsletter you can learn more about HIPs and how they may enhance student learning.

As you all know, we are deep into the Middle States Commission on Higher Education self-study process and you have all been invited to several town hall meetings that will discuss the seven standards. As a successful self-study requires the involvement of our entire University community, your engagement and feedback are critical, so I encourage you to attend the town hall meetings. 

I often get asked, “What makes St. John’s special?” and my answer is always the same: our amazing students, our extraordinary faculty who truly believe in our students, and the dedicated administrators and staff who provide the framework to allow for the execution of our mission.

I am grateful that I can call you my colleagues, and I thank you for all that you do for our students, for all your scholarship, and for your service. Wishing you much success as we move forward together.

Kind regards,

Provost's Newsletter signature




Simon Geir Møller, Ph.D., Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Update on New Venture & Innovation Center

St. John’s University’s new Venture & Innovation Center (VIC) is on a path to establishing itself as an organization to incubate businesses and provide a connecting place for students, faculty, administrators, and staff to discuss, collaborate, and learn about entrepreneurship.

To help ensure that its activities are consistent with delivering its objectives, three strategic focuses have been identified: collaboration, entrepreneurial culture, and support to start-up businesses. The new logo, which depicts three interlocking squares, was conceived with these focuses in mind.

The VIC has developed a speaker program for the spring semester that is aimed at appealing to those with a strong interest in learning about entrepreneurship and innovation. Speakers represent a variety of fields, including the restaurant sector; health and wellness; import/export; athletics; the federal government (e.g., the US Agency for International Development); the United Nations Development Programme; and the tech sector.

In addition to speaker events, the VIC is convening a number of interdisciplinary projects that involve collaboration between The Peter J. Tobin College of Business and The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies. The projects are all tech-related (both hardware and software) and involve founder/inventors from outside the University who have products that they are trying to commercialize. These projects will facilitate greater collaboration between tech- and business-focused students from the six Schools and Colleges at St. John’s. The aim is to expand the number of intracollegiate activities of this type going forward.

The VIC has been working hard to raise awareness about its mission through speaking with students, faculty, administrators, and staff, and has started to promote itself on social media. Follow the center on Instagram @sjuvic and on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/showcase/stjohnsvic.

Self-Study Update: Register Now for Town Hall Meetings 

As our St. John’s University community prepares for its next Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) reaccreditation visit, we would like to provide you with a few updates.

  • A successful self-study requires the involvement of our entire University community, and your engagement and feedback are critical as we proceed with the self-study process. We welcome your participation in the below Town Hall meetings where working groups will present their analyses and findings to the University. These meetings will be conducted in person and light refreshments will be served. In addition, there will be a virtual WebEx option where attendees may submit questions.




Working Group


Thursday, February 15

1:50–3:15 p.m.

DAC 416C

Standard 3: Design and Delivery of the Student Learning Experience

2/15 LINK

Thursday, February 22

1:50–3:15 p.m.

DAC 416A

Standard 4: Support of the Student Experience

2/22 LINK

Thursday, March 7

1:50–3:15 p.m.

DAC 416A

Standard 7: Governance, Leadership, and Administration

3/7 LINK

Thursday, March 21

1:50–3:15 p.m.

DAC 416A

Standard 2: Ethics and Integrity

3/21 LINK

Monday, April 15

1:50–3:15 p.m.

DAC 128

Standard 1: Mission and Goals

Coming in March

Monday, April 22

1:50–3:15 p.m.

DAC 416A

Standard 5: Educational Effectiveness Assessment

Coming in March

Thursday, April 25

1:50–3:15 p.m.

DAC 128

Standard 6: Planning, Resources, and Institutional Improvement

Coming in March

  • The 2025 St. John’s Self-Study Design (SSD) is available for your review at www.stjohns.edu/middle-states-accreditation and updates regarding the MSCHE process will also be posted on this site.
  • The Steering Committee is on track with the timeline projections in our SSD. This is largely due to the significant efforts of our working group members who have reviewed previous accreditation reports; developed relevant lines of inquiry; assembled University-wide documents/data; and started writing analytical narratives. Steering Committee and working group members are acknowledged at www.stjohns.edu/middle-states-accreditation/steering-committee-and-working-groups  
  • During this semester, the Steering Committee will finalize working group reports and post a compiled document to the University’s website.

We encourage you to review the 2025 SSD, participate in the upcoming Town Hall meetings, ask questions, and provide constructive feedback. Collectively, we are stronger and can better demonstrate St. John’s dedication to our students, mission, and goals.

If you have any questions, please contact the Steering Committee Cochairs, Olga Hilas, Pharm.D., M.P.H., Professor/Industry Professional, Department of Clinical Health ProfessionsCollege of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and James D. Wolfinger, Ph.D., Dean, The School of Education, at [email protected].

University Focuses on High-Impact Practices

A critical aspect of St. John’s University’s Strategic Plan is a focus on the increased use of teaching and learning practices designated as “high-impact practices,” or HIPs. This is based on evidence that HIPs provide significant educational benefits for students, especially those from demographic groups historically underserved by higher education.

Identified by George D. Kuh, Ph.D., Founding Director of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, Adjunct Professor at the University of Illinois, and the Chancellor’s Professor Emeritus at Indiana University, in 2008, these practices take many forms, depending on learner characteristics and on institutional priorities and contexts (American Association of Colleges and Universities, 2024). Contributing authors to the article below, which highlights seven of the 11 practices, include

All are members of the St. John’s College Faculty Committee on High-Impact Practices.

What Makes Pedagogy “High Impact”?

There are eight key elements that characterize high-impact pedagogy. Every element will not always be relevant to a given course’s objectives, but these elements have been demonstrated to enhance student learning. In particular, student interaction with faculty and peers is especially valuable for the academic development of underserved student populations and can help create stronger connections to the campus as a community.

  1. Faculty performance expectations for student work should be set at appropriately high levels.

  2. Students should invest significant time and effort in the work over an extended period.

  3. Students should interact with faculty and their peers about substantive questions.

  4. Students should experience diversity through exposure to, and interaction with, people and circumstances that are different from their familiar social context.

  5. Faculty should provide frequent, timely, and constructive feedback on student work.

  6. Students should be offered periodic and structured opportunities to reflect on and integrate their learning.

  7. Faculty should create opportunities for students to apply their learning to real-world contexts to discover the wider relevance of their academic learning experiences.

  8. Students should be encouraged to publicly demonstrate their competence through participation in conferences, presentations, exhibitions, or demonstrations.

High-Impact Practices Defined

  1. Writing Intensive
    Faculty create courses that emphasize the process of writing in support of learning during the semester in ways that value and enhance students’ communicative resources. Students produce and revise a body of writing, in close consultation with faculty and/or classmates, in various genres or forms, and for different audiences.

  2. Collaborative Assignments
    Students engage in significant team-based assignments and cooperative projects related to the course. They learn to work and solve problems with others and incorporate insights informed by a variety of life experiences.

  3. Undergraduate Research
    In these faculty-mentored learning experiences, students are engaged in systematic investigation and research and apply the knowledge and skills obtained to answer actively contested questions through disciplinary methodology. If the research is taken for course credit, students must have academic supervision, which includes producing a culminating project evaluated by a faculty member or committee.

  4. Diversity/Global Learning
    Faculty create courses that compare different cultures, life experiences, and worldviews. Content may address US diversity and/or world cultures to explore racial, ethnic, and gender inequality, and struggles over human rights, freedom, and power. These courses are designed so that students learn from a variety of perspectives and experiences different from their own to explain interrelationships among personal, social, cultural, local, and global dynamics. 

  5. Service Learning, Community-Based Learning
    This is a credit-bearing educational experience in which students participate in activities that relate to, and are embedded in, course content in ways that benefit communities. Students reflect on the service activity to gain further understanding of the curriculum, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of the University’s mission

  6. Internship
    Students make connections within and across disciplines by adapting and applying skills, perspectives, knowledges, methodologies, and other relevant academic experiences to a work environment. If the internship is taken for course credit, students must have academic supervision, which includes producing a culminating project evaluated by a faculty member or committee.

  7. Capstone Course/Project
    These culminating experiences require students nearing the end of their college years to create a project of some sort that integrates and applies what they’ve learned under the close supervision of faculty and in consultation with classmates. The project might be a research paper, a performance, a portfolio of “best work,” or an exhibit of artwork.

Other News and Updates

The University-level mentoring initiative announced last semester, now named the FLEX (Fostering a Learning EXchange) mentoring program, officially launches this month.

Informed by listening sessions with this year’s cohort of mentees and mentors, discussions with the Deans of each School and College, and the Center for Faculty Success and Development’s newly formed advisory board, the program will offer three in-person workshops this semester for the mentees and mentors, along with three virtual meetings for the mentees that will each focus on different topics or area of campus life chosen by the mentees. 

Opportunities for informal and peer mentoring will also be provided through affinity groups and a mentor “pool,” which will be comprised of faculty who are willing to share their thoughts and expertise on certain topics or areas of interest with their colleagues.  

The FLEX program highlights the University’s commitment to our faculty’s success, and will provide them with the people, tools, and resources for their continued growth, both in the classroom and in their professional development. For more information on the program, contact Heather Ball, M.L.S., Director, Center for Faculty Success and Development; Critical Pedagogy Librarian for Student Success; and Assistant Professor, University Libraries, at 718-990-2876 or at [email protected].

As part of St. John’s University’s ongoing efforts to bring together data, research, assessment, and accreditation, a newly established Office of Institutional Effectiveness (IE) will bridge these efforts under Marc E. Gillespie, Ph.D., Senior Vice Provost for Clinical Operations, Graduate Research, Assessment, Accreditation, and Institutional Analytics. Focusing on providing all program constituents with the data needed to make timely and informed decisions, the Institutional Effectiveness group provides open and transparent access to community-wide information, driving research efforts and supporting the ongoing growth of a continuous quality improvement culture.  

Groups under this umbrella include the following subdivisions: Assessment and Accreditation, Data Science, and Institutional Research. These groups have established a centralized request form (found online at https://sjuit.formstack.com/workflows/ie_data_request) for all St. John’s University stakeholders to expedite the data request and review process.