Communicative Sciences and Disorders Strategic Plan for 2012 - 2017

The Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders (CSD) at the Michigan State University is undergoing significant growth and restructuring. This document describes the strategic aim and goals for the next five-year period. These aims are grounded on the Departmental and University missions. Briefly, CSD will:

  1. Advance knowledge through research
  2. Translate this knowledge to practical/clinical breakthroughs
  3. Achieve the highest standards of excellence in teaching programs and faculty/student body composition
  4. Increase fund-raising and other developmental activities to enhance the activities at CSD

[Opportunities for expansion of research at MSU include: Cognitive and neuroscience (with the Cognitive Science program), translational research (with Medicine esp. in Grand Rapids; Engineering; Health Communication), technology (with Engineering, and other departments in CAS), and global health (with Institute of International Health and other resources at MSU)]

Aims, Action Plans and Outcomes

Aims 1: Advance knowledge through research

  1. New Hires: CSD will seek to hire excellent new faculty with clear expectations for research productivity (as described in new bylaws). Success, or potential for success, may be determined by evaluation of their CV, personal statements, past experience and accomplishments, as well as personal interviews. In addition, CSD will seek to increase the diversity of the faculty by emphasizing recruiting efforts for candidates representing diversity, including diversity in terms of the candidates' racial and ethnic backgrounds and gender.OUTCOME: CSD will hire at least three new faculty within the next three years. New hires must have (or have potential for developing) a strong program in research and be successful in external research funding.
  2. Increase research publications: CSD faculty will publish their research findings in high-quality peer-reviewed journals. To achieve this goal, CSD will promote a culture of research in the department through a variety of initiatives, including, (a) a research colloquium series, (b) greater participation in campus-wide research initiative such as in CAS, Cognitive Sciences, etc., (c) increased student participation in research, (d) financial support for research, including conference travel, (e) cost-sharing for expanding research and external collaboration.OUTCOMES: Number and quality of publications from CSD faculty will increase. The goal is to achieve a minimum of three peer-reviewed publications per faculty per year in top-tier journals within each faculty member's area of specialty. (Note that "impact factor," though important, are not recommended as a metric for quality because these figures are discipline-specific. Instead, an alternative method to identify the top-tier journals in the broad areas of CSD will also need to be identified within the next year.)
  3. Increase external funding for research: Faculty will seek external funding, through federal, state and private sources, to support their research. To achieve success in this area, faculty will be supported through: (a) external and internal training in grant writing, (b) a departmental review of grant proposals prior to their submission, (c) incentives for grant preparation, e.g., funds for pilot research, course-release for major grant proposal preparation, etc., (d) facilitation/establishment of internal or external advisors/consultants for grant writing.
    OUTCOMES: Number of grants applied for annually (currently 8) will grow 50%, number of grants funded (currently 5) will increase to at least one-per-faculty, number of grants funded as PI (currently 2) will increase to at least one-per-faculty, and the amount of external funds (currently approximately $485,000/year) will double. Total percentage of faculty effort devoted to research grants will increase to a minimum of 25% FTE per faculty.
  4. Develop new collaborations: Faculty will develop collaborative teams to address important research questions. These may bridge expertise within the department, college, University or outside entities. This will be achieved through, (a) CSD research colloquia that will invite experts in other areas, (b) CSD faculty participation in non-CSD colloquia/meetings within and outside MSU, (c) CSD open houses, (d) recruiting doctoral students from non-CSD backgrounds either as CSD students or for "minor" in CSD.
    OUTCOMES: Number of publications and grant proposals with non-CSD collaborators will increase. In the absence of clear baselines, it is expected that there will be at least one major non-CSD collaboration for each faculty, resulting in a jointly developed grant proposals and peer-reviewed publications.
  5. Increase number and quality of Doctoral students (see Aims 3a, 3b). In addition, CSD will increase its efforts to recruit new doctoral students, seek external funding for supporting doctoral students, and devote the necessary resources to ensure successful training for doctoral students. These objectives will be achieved through, (a) CSD and/or laboratory open houses, (b) faculty participation in various research colloquia, (c) enhanced recruitment efforts from MSU's M.A. program in CSD as well as from other CSD programs in the state of Michigan, (d) recruitment of students from other departments at MSU (Cognitive Science, Neuroscience, Psychology, Engineering, CAS, etc.), (e) introduction of a mandatory grant writing course for all doctoral students that will require submission of a research grant. [Also see Aim 3a]
    OUTCOMES: Revise and reinvigorate the doctoral program with a new doctoral handbook, establish a position of doctoral program director, increase number of doctoral students to 2 per faculty (currently 0), increase funding for doctoral students through external grants (currently $0), ensure timely graduation of students (target time-to-degree: 4-5 years).
  6. Increase graduate student research: This will be achieved through, (a) recruitment research-oriented students (Aims 3a-3e); Foster faculty development for working with research-oriented students (Doctoral program director, regular meetings/interaction of faculty with doctoral students, seminars series for doctoral students) (Aim 3k).OUTCOMES: increase in number of M.A. and Ph.D. theses (Details in Aim 3). The target is to achieve two - three of theses annually (currently 0).
  7. Improve space, support staff and other resources, especially technology to enable growth in faculty, students, research and teaching activities. This will be achieved through: (a) Developing a space and technology plan in consultation with the CAS team (Rich Tibbals), (b) Upgrade of existing laboratory spaces, (c) lab addition and renovation with each new hire.OUTCOME: Added space for research, faculty offices and students. Additional support staff to assist with anticipated growth in research and teaching activities.

Aim 2: Translate knowledge to practical/clinical breakthroughs

  1. Hire new faculty (see Aim 1a), emphasizing the need for high quality research as well as diversity in our faculty. OUTCOME: (see Aim 1a) Increase in number of faculty and an increase in research productivity.
  2. Increase number of peer-reviewed publications (see Aims 1b, 3a, 3b)
  3. Increase external funding for translational work (see Aim 1c) d. Foster collaborations with faculty in Engineering, CAS, Medicine (see Aim 1d)
  4. Foster collaboration between faculty and clinical supervisors and between basic science researchers and clinical researchers (see Aim 3f); support faculty in translating research findings to clinical/other applications
  5. Foster collaboration with industry partners, licensing, and other sources for translational work (see Aim 3g). OUTCOMES: Improvements in non-traditional metrics for success including patents, copyrights, software, demos, industry-partnerships, etc. (Currently 0).
  6. Increase number of Doctoral and M.A. (Thesis-option) students. (Details in Aims 1f, 3a-3e) h. Improve space, support staff and other resources to enable growth in faculty, students, research and teaching activities. (Details in 1g).

Aim 3: Achieve the highest standards of excellence in teaching programs and faculty/student body composition

Doctoral Program

  1. Revise and re-invigorate the Ph.D. program: Revise doctoral program handbook; Enhance recruitment of quality students by (i) enhancing funding for doctoral students to levels commensurate with comparable programs (Aim 1c), (ii) advertising to students from diverse and non-traditional backgrounds (e.g., psychology, linguistics, working clinicians, etc.), (iii) developing a cohort model for entering research-oriented students which includes orientation and laboratory tours; Increase number of doctoral seminars offered; Reinvigorate invited lecture series. OUTCOMES: Increase publications/presentations among students and faculty (Aim 1b); Increase doctoral student enrollment (Aim 1e); Improve graduation rates; Enhance employment opportunities for graduates from doctoral program; Enhance the standards in student body composition (as quantified by admission criteria); Improved diversity in student body composition.
  2. Develop M.A.-Ph.D. program: Develop program guidelines; Attract research-oriented students from non-traditional academic backgrounds (e.g., psychology, linguistics; focus on diversity, broadly defined) (Aim 1c); Develop cohort model for entering research-oriented students which includes orientation and laboratory tours; Foster faculty development for working with research-oriented students (special advisors, meetings/interaction with Doctoral students, seminars).
  3. Leadership Training: Identify and implement methods to incorporate leadership training for all doctoral students, promote leadership within the student body. OUTCOME: Increase the number and stature of leadership positions applied for and secured by the doctoral student body in CSD.

Masters Program

  • Reinvigorate M.A. program: Reevaluate and revise M.A. program by evaluating and incorporating new models for clinical education and training, revise M.A. handbook; Revise M.A. curriculum; Streamline admission process; Attract top-notch students from diverse and non-traditional academic backgrounds (e.g., psychology, linguistics; focus on diversity, broadly defined). OUTCOME: New M.A. handbook, Enhanced and improved coursework and recruiting materials; Identify and implement funding for recruiting top students (currently - 0; target - 20% of students to receive some funding); Increase publications/presentations among students and faculty; achieve the highest standards in student body composition (quantified by the GPA and GRE of the incoming class); Improved diversity in student body composition.
  • Advance M.A. Thesis program: Revise M.A. program handbook; Identify and implement funding for recruiting top students; Develop cohort model for entering research-oriented students which includes orientation and laboratory tours. OUTCOMES: Increase number of student theses; Increase in student and faculty presentations/publications (Aim 1b); Enhance the standards in student body composition (as quantified by admission criteria); Improved diversity in student body composition.
  • Increase diversity in M.A. Students: Develop and implement recruiting strategies to enhance diversity in student body OUTCOME: Increase in diversity of student body as defined by gender, racial and ethnic distribution.
  • Clinical training: Formalize clinical training/supervision to ensure uniformity, high quality, continuity and growth. Provide continuing education opportunities to our supervisors. Formalize and implement procedures to elicit and incorporate feedback from clinical supervisors into the academic training programs. OUTCOMES: Develop supervisor training and feedback manual; Achieve excellence in teaching program quality quantified through alumni and employer surveys; offer ASHA approved CEU credits to clinical supervisors.
  • Increase enrollment in the M.A. program: The primary bottleneck in the number of graduates enrolled in the M.A. program is the limited number and variety of clinical placements available to the students. The department will explore opportunities to increase the strength of the M.A. program while improving the quality of the education through new initiatives such as, (a) collaboration and industry/employer support, (b) changes to the methods of content delivery, (c) changes in the structure of the M.A. program, etc. OUTCOME: Increase in number of placement sites by 20%; Increase in total number of M.A. students by 20%.
  • Leadership Training: Identify and implement methods to incorporate leadership training for all Master's degree students and to promote leadership within the student body. OUTCOME: Increase the number and stature of leadership positions applied for and secured by the Master's student body in CSD.

Distance Learning (DL) and Undergraduate(UG) Coursework

  • UG program: Develop a set of UG classes that can be offered as a CSD specialization to MSU students. OUTCOME: Approval of CSD Specialization
  • Increase reach within Michigan and the US: Deliver UG classes or CSD specialization via DL. OUTCOME: Successful DL CSD program
  • Increase reach outside the US: Investigate and formally develop CSD specialization offerings abroad (Mexico and elsewhere). OUTCOME: CSD DL program offerings abroad

Faculty Development

  • Provide the highest standards/excellence in education: Continually review teaching programs to develop graduate curricula and training to meet the needs of the future; Infuse knowledge of scientific findings and methodology into the curriculum; Develop enhanced research-oriented curricular options (Aims 3a, 3b); Develop/improve study-abroad, international partnerships, including non-traditional approaches. OUTCOMES: Achieve excellence in teaching program quality as measured through student evaluations, explore and possibly implement peer-evaluation of teaching.
  • Increase diversity in Faculty: Address diversity in hiring procedures; Faculty training to address cultural and racial diversity, implement procedures to encourage recruitment and retention of faculty (see "Diversity document" for more details). OUTCOMES: Greater diversity in faculty body composition.
  • Leadership: Identify and implement methods to incorporate leadership training for all faculty; emphasize and promote leadership qualities for faculty; encourage faculty to step into leadership roles within the MSU community and within their own professional communities. OUTCOME: Increase the number and stature of leadership positions in national and international professional associations, state and University, applied for and secured by CSD faculty (currently 2).

Aims 4: Fund Raising and Other Developmental Activities

  • Increase outreach and fundraising: CSD will improve its contact with alumni, elicit feedback about their MSU experiences and academic preparation and use this information for improving our academic programs. CSD will also make efforts to increase the number of gifts and gift amount raised through donors, alumni, etc. These will be achieved through increased outreach activities including, personal meetings with alumni across the country, open houses at major conferences, increasing contact via email, newsletters and social media, development and implementation of a marketing strategy, establish an advisory board, etc. OUTCOMES: CSD will increase the number of events and meetings with alumni (currently 0), use alumni feedback to improve its academic programs, increase the number and amount of gifts to CSD and/or CAS/MSU.
  • Identify and pursue new sources of revenue: CSD will explore new opportunities for generating revenue such as through distance learning programs, industry partnerships, etc. OUTCOMES: Identify and implement new programs that result in new revenue streams for CSD.
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