Memorandum March 2, 2018
- AU Community
- Sylvia M. Burwell, President
- Scott A. Bass
I am writing to express my gratitude to Provost Scott Bass for ten years of extraordinary academic leadership and service to American University. He has enhanced the quality of virtually every aspect of our academic community, including scholarship, curriculum, faculty, staff, and students. Provost Bass has informed me that he will step down on June 29, 2018, when we expect to reach substantial completion on the major elements of our new strategic plan. Dr. Bass will be transitioning to his faculty appointment in the School of Public Affairs effective July 1, 2018. In that capacity he will enjoy a well-earned sabbatical during which he will begin preparations for leading a new university-wide AU center focused on higher education.
During his tenure, Provost Bass has focused on strategic planning, diversity, and strengthening the academic infrastructure. He played a key role in the implementation, resource alignment, and measurement of our current ten-year strategic plan, which was lauded by the Middle States visiting team during our last accreditation. One of his signature planning initiatives—AU 2030—identified future-oriented academic areas for long-term investment, invigorated cross-disciplinary faculty collaboration, and was instrumental in the recruitment and hiring of 43 percent of the current full-time tenure-line faculty. In addition, Provost Bass oversaw the hiring of well over half of the current full-time term faculty. He supported a team effort to diversify the faculty, culminating in hiring 44 percent of new tenure and tenure-track faculty from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds in fall 2017. AU also became distinctive for the establishment of multi-year contracts for term faculty. Working with the Faculty Senate, an entirely new faculty manual was created, which was revised this year; the academic regulations were modernized and simplified; and the General Education program was replaced with a new AU Core that includes distinctive courses (e.g., AUx1 and 2; Complex Problems), strengthens the liberal arts curriculum, and focuses on important learning outcomes.
Under the leadership of Dr. Bass and his enrollment management team, AU increased undergraduate students' racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and geographic diversity, especially through greater investments in need-based financial aid. Admissions selectivity reached historic levels as applications reached record numbers and more students made AU their first choice. At the graduate level, Dr. Bass worked with the deans to establish AU's first online master's programs and to modernize the recruitment and admission process to be more responsive and nimble.
Dr. Bass established programs to attract highly talented students, like the Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars Program, a revised Honors Program, three 3-Year Degree programs, and a Community Based Research Scholars Program. In partnership with the Office of Campus Life, Dr. Bass expanded living-learning programs. Leading a university-wide team, he was instrumental in gaining support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the first phases of Reinventing the Student Experience (RiSE), which focuses on creating a model student experience that is matched to the needs of today's students. This effort has led to a major expansion of the student advising system and academic support services which will be fully implemented this coming fall.
The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education reclassified AU as a "Higher Research Activity" (R2) institution, following enhancements to the university's research infrastructure, increases in doctoral programs, creation of research centers, expansion in external funding, a focus on high impact research in the top journals and with leading manuscript publishers, and an expansion of national faculty awards. As a champion for the Myers Technology and Innovation Building and the proposed Hall of Science, Dr. Bass has sought to ensure that our academic facilities matched the quality of our faculty and students.
In so many ways, we are grateful for Provost Bass's leadership, which has been instrumental in the transformation of American University and the position it enjoys today. Certainly, the search for AU's next provost, which commences immediately, will attract strong candidates because of Dr. Bass's high quality academic leadership. Please join me in thanking him for a job very well done.