BU alumnus, associate professor, former chair of Computer Science, and, now, associate dean for academic affairs—Lou Chitkushev (ENG’96) has a multifaceted vision for the future of Metropolitan College.
“MET is part of the fourth-largest private, research-based university in the United States. Ours is an enormous college with forty-plus years of history and diversity,” says Chitkushev. “In my opinion, we should take full advantage of the strengths that are so unique to us—the sooner the better.”
For example, Chitkushev explains,“We should be proactive in creating interdepartmental opportunities at MET and combining them with research—in areas such as big data analytics and applied social sciences or actuarial science; tourism management and gastronomy; information security and risk management; and many others. We must facilitate collaboration among MET’s academic and administrative units, and among all MET departments—and, specifically, Applied Social Sciences, Administrative Sciences, Actuarial Science, and Computer Science. We must have one common goal: the best educational experience for our students.”
This goal has been Chitkushev’s focus since becoming associate dean in February, and he identifies the three components that provide the foundation for an exceptional education: academic programs, faculty, and students.
“We have to make sure that our academic programs continue to be solid and, preferably, much better than those of our competitors,” says Chitkushev. “I believe that we can have the best programs in a number of academic subjects. We are boosting standards for our academic programs, looking at our competitors, exploring academic requirements, reviewing programs and assessing what makes them unique, analyzing enrollments, and strategizing how to improve in every area.”
For faculty, the College must establish a supportive environment to engage in research, teaching, and service, explains Chitkushev. “That’s why, last semester, we introduced research-based course releases for full-time faculty. Faculty members who have research agendas may release one course per semester for three years.”
Then there are the students. Since February, Chitkushev has been working on ensuring that each of MET’s 38 full-time faculty members is assigned a graduate assistant for research and teaching. “This has multiple consequences: first, the faculty will have support; second, the students will be immersed in research; and finally, graduate assistantships can be used in recruitment to attract students who perform well in research, and who will get to do research. It will be a value-added part of their educational experience,” emphasizes Chitkushev. “Students are the reason why we are all here. I think it is critical for them to be involved in research; that is the differentiator in the job market.”
Other efforts include improving standards for online, blended, and face-to-face programs, and setting consistent rules for academic conduct. “As it becomes tougher to get into MET, we will become more selective and, consequently, even better at educating people who are ready to join the workforce or advance in their careers,” says Chitkushev.
“As you can see, it’s been very busy since February,” concludes the associate dean. “To implement all of these processes, and to sustain our academic excellence while keeping the best interests of our students in mind, it’s essential to have strong collaboration between the academic chairs of each department and faculty. I am confident because we have an excellent team. I’m very optimistic about the future.”