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An Update on Provost Nancy Brickhouse

As announced on Monday, Saint Louis University Provost Nancy Brickhouse has decided to resign her position, effective Aug. 15, 2018.

Brickhouse joined the University as provost three years ago, at a pivotal time in SLU’s history.  She arrived at SLU when financially, operationally, and academically, SLU needed to adapt to a dramatically changing higher education landscape. Dr. Brickhouse has helped SLU navigate that landscape, and with great perseverance and integrity.

“It’s difficult for me to put into words how transformative my experience at SLU has been – personally and professionally," Brickhouse said. “I am so grateful to have been fundamentally changed by my engagement in SLU’s distinctive embodiment of the Jesuit educational ideal.”

Ken Olliff, Vice President for Research, noted that Dr. Brickhouse championed SLU’s quest to expand and increase the impact of faculty research and scholarship.  “Nancy has exemplified a deep commitment to advancing scholarship across the University, a vision for research in shaping undergraduate learning outcomes, and an expectation that the outcome of research improves human lives,” he said.   “I am grateful for the many ways she has helped move SLU’s research enterprise forward.”

School of Law Dean William Johnson added, "I have so appreciated Provost Brickhouse's willingness to take a long-term view and to be deeply supportive during a very difficult time for U.S. law schools. I've been especially grateful for the Provost's commitment to diversity, to equity and to maintaining high standards of academic excellence. And I'm pleased that the School of Law today is in a position of real strength."

Dr. Brickhouse’s commitment to excellence in teaching, and to an emphasis on student learning, were also cited by her colleagues as hallmarks of her work.  That includes moving SLU to develop University-wide undergraduate student learning outcomes, and to strengthen support for both the Reinert Center for Teaching Excellence and other forms of faculty development.      

A tenured Professor of Education and nationally-recognized scholar who has been awarded over $5 million in external grant funding, Dr. Brickhouse accomplished much in her time as provost.  Highlights include:

  • Development of new academic programs and expansion of existing programs: Programs in Computer Science, Software Engineering, Cybersecurity, Strategic Intelligence, Chemical Biology, Physician Assistant, and Communication Science Disorders were either created or expanded under Dr. Brickhouse. Thirteen accelerated degrees were created, enabling students to complete both undergraduate and graduate degrees at SLU in a timely fashion. These efforts contribute to $5.6M of projected new revenue for FY2019 and beyond.
  • Growth of the INTO SLU program: Helping internationalize our St. Louis campus, the INTO SLU partnership has prompted a 46% annual increase in new international students, and the program is projected to generate $3.5M in new revenue beginning in FY2020.
  • Advancement of equity and opportunity for faculty: Brickhouse collaborated with the Gender Equity Task Force to push for and help SLU, as a whole, eliminate a 5.6% gender-based compensation gap.  She also oversaw development of the University’s most diverse portfolio of faculty development programs, especially programs designed to support women faculty and others historically underrepresented at the full professor rank and in academic leadership positions. In Dr. Brickhouse’s time at SLU, the percentage of female full professors has increased from 29% to 34%, while those from underrepresented minority groups increased from 5% to 7%.     She also developed a new hiring policy to enhance the diversity of hiring pools.
  • Improved student success rates and debt loads:Under Dr. Brickhouse’s leadership, 4-year graduation rates have increased from 66% in 2014 to 73% in 2018; and six-year graduation rates have improved from 72% in 2014 to 78% in 2018.  These improvements along with new aid leveraging helped lower the overall student loan debt loads and allowed about 40% of the 2017 undergraduates to complete their degrees free of student loan debt.
  • Overhauled research operations: The decision to invest in new personnel has helped change SLU’s research organization into a service-oriented, faculty-centric unit. Research expenditures increased by 9% in the first year of the new organization; a revised F & A policy now means greater returns to principal investigators.
  • New undergraduate learning outcomes and a core curriculum development process: Brickhouse oversaw the development of SLU’s first set of University-wide Undergraduate Core Student Learning Outcomes; she hired SLU’s first Director of the Core and established the University Undergraduate Core Committee to lead the core curriculum development process, now underway. 
  • Enhanced infrastructure to enhance data-informed decision making: Brickhouse spearheaded efforts to adopt new systems to support academic advising and enhance student success; to manage the course catalog; to provide real-time operational metrics for academic units, benchmarked against peer institutions; and to enhance the effectiveness of research grant submissions.
  • Enabled distance education: Hired a new dean for the School for Professional Studies and Associate Provost for Distance Education; increased online options for summer and winter sessions and developed new policies to assure compliance with accreditation and quality standards; and engaging with an external vendor for marketing our highest potential professional and graduate online programs.
  • Restructuring of Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology: Brickhouse hired a new dean and worked with her to merge the engineering units into a single School of Engineering, transforming a very traditional engineering school into an interdisciplinary school better positioned to develop programs that can work across core engineering disciplines.  Additionally, the Aviation program has been reorganized into a financially self-supporting unit.
  • Strengthening STEM facilities: Brickhouse has helped lead the $28M renovation of Macelwane Hall, our main Biology building.  She also helped lead the design of a new $50M Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building to modernize our research facilities and increase our science teaching capacity.
  • Preparation for Re-Accreditation: The re-establishment and continual improvement of academic program reviews, as well as significantly increased expectations and support for assessment of student learning, were key accreditation-related initiatives of Dr. Brickhouse.  SLU is now on pace to submit a Progress Report on Assessment to the Higher Learning Commission in September, as the number of programs with robust assessment protocols has increased from about 45% to 85% under her leadership.   

After Dr. Brickhouse steps down on Aug. 15, she will take an academic sabbatical.