February/March 2014 Updates
- “What gives you energy?”
- Planning for Faculty Commons for Academic Year 2014-15
- March Events
January 2014 Faculty Commons Updates
- A True Anecdote, Paradoxes Inherent in Our Day to Day Life, & An Invitation to Pay Attention to What Gives You Energy in the Work You Do.
- Electronic Advising Notes
- January 2014 highlights and keeping up with the Commons
- Title III
December 2013 Faculty Commons Updates
- It’s been a busy Fall semester
- Reflections on Two Events: Trans Inclusive and Trans Literate Faculty Conversation and World Philosophy Day
- What’s on tap for December?
November 2013 Faculty Commons Updates
October 2013 Faculty Commons Updates
- The Faculty Commons Space on the 3rd Floor of Glickman Library
- Fall Programming
- Call for Participation
- Collaboration at USM
- Hat's Off
Summer 2013 Faculy Commons Updates:
My January question was: “what gives you energy?” So, I have been paying attention to my own academic life more closely and I generated a long list of things that give me energy in my work at USM. I began this newsletter on January 28, when the sun was shining, and Amertah Perman and I spent the morning in the FC space in Glickman, with a variety of colleagues planning FC projects. My list of energizers range from reviewing student work (thank you, Mike Brady and Karen Day for introducing me to learning autobiographies—they are so helpful!) to planning Libra scholar events with John Muthyala and Lorrayne Carroll, and a chance and cheerful encounter with Jeff Beaudry. I find as February draws to a close I am in a more reflective mood—change, loss, grief and wonder compete for my attention.
Last year at this time Faculty Commons was an idea only. By the end of the spring term we had piloted a couple of programs (one was with Mike Brady and Karen Day where attendees learned about teaching adult learners, including the use of learning autobiographies). By the end of the summer, in addition to having much of the fall programming organized, in collaboration with staff in CTEL and the Offices of Professional & Continuing Education, we piloted a process for collecting event information and promoting events, a pretty efficient process that has become central to our program planning. In November 2013, Krista Meinersmann and I were chatting about various events, she said “There is too much going on.” I replied that with few exceptions, that it wasn’t that there was “too much” going on, we were just getting better at promoting events to the wider community leading me to another observation—the Faculty Commons has become a “clearinghouse” of sorts—not for approval at all but for consultation and promotion of various activities and events, including those that highlight the scholarly and creative work and interests of faculty and staff involved in teaching, service and research. In the decade I have been at USM I missed many events that would have been of great interest or benefit to me because I only became aware of them after they occurred. In the annals of organizational change, the sustained interest in and commitment to the Faculty Commons by so many stakeholders is notable. To me this is less about the what and how of its existence, than a testament to a hunger and longing—whether it is for professional development, information, or community and connection. Faculty Commons is an institutional change—so I wonder at it--in the sense of marveling--that the new Faculty Commons is “working” even as we face other institutional changes that may not feel so beneficial. I also wonder--in the sense of querying--can we learn anything from the launch of the FC about HOW to make and live the institutional changes we face as we listen to and live the outcomes of the Direction Package group’s work?
Another observation on change in classroom teaching was evident in the CTEL presentation, We’re Flipping Crazy, with Luci Benedict and Jim Ford—one that took a little longer but with beneficial results. We learned about a slow and steady change (over the course of 2 to 3 years) in teaching methods for their general chemistry course that resulted in improved engagement with, and reduced fear of, chemistry with concomitant improvements in chemistry exam scores and positive student evaluations. The presentation was also a wonderful example of faculty collaboration and support, adopting an innovation, and supporting each other in the process. In addition, the dialogue among the presenters and the audience was informative. Just as Luci and Jim succeeded in making students less afraid and more successful, hearing their story made me more willing to try something very different.
On a different note of loss and unexpected change, our USM community is mourning the loss of three USM students. Whether we knew the students or not, we are part of a community of students and colleagues who are feeling their loss deeply. On February 27, we paused, as a community to come together for comfort and solace. As many move on with their lives after this communal pause, those who are most affected and grief-stricken at the tragic and untimely loss of someone dear, may not pick of the strands of their lives so easily. What will we notice? How can we help? I know University Health and Counseling Services is eager to work with us—whether it is to remind us of what to pay attention to in the classroom or in advising or to make sure we know to what resources we can direct students. What do you need to know? What would you like to learn more about so you can support students as they process these or other losses? There is an event on March 7, Building Community to Support Students in Distress that you or your students can participate in for a nominal fee. If you have other ideas related to what could be offered through Faculty Commons, please e-mail me , or Bob Small.
In the next six to eight weeks I will be scheduling forums on all three campuses to solicit input for planning for next year. As I have said at many FC events, planning for AY13-14 involved many events to get an understanding of what drew people. I know there will be many more possibilities than we can implement so I will look forward to finding out what should be priority foci for Faculty Commons-sponsored events.
There are so many choices for you this month.
- Want to learn more about using online assessments in your courses? CTEL and the Office of Academic Assessment are offering a program to do just that – learn more.
- CTEL’s accessibility series comes to a close this week – learn more.
- If you want to find out more about the Title III grant, we are in the process of finalizing a brown bag event for March 11. (if you haven’t seen the Title III website, take a look: https://usm.maine.edu/titleiii)
- Interested in supporting students’ success in your classes or understanding more about keeps students once they have enrolled?
- There are several offerings—cooperative learning with Christy Hammer, changes in first year writing courses with Ann Dean and the role of learning communities in fostering student retention with Steve Romanoff and colleagues.
- Dan Sonenberg composition, The Summer King, is the basis for a panel discussion on the integration and demise of the Negro baseball leagues will be held and will include performance of an aria from the Summer King. Learn more.
- Our colleague, Travis Wagner will be presenting on mining for “gold” in landfills , as part of the L.L. Bean/Lee Surace Colloquium Series.
To learn more about all of these events go to the FC website: www.usm.maine.edu/facultycommons.
January 2014 Faculty Commons Updates
I realized as I began to formulate my January update to our community--all of you involved in our teaching, service, and scholarly enterprise—that you might think I was channeling a current or former president as I share this true anecdote: I was talking to one of our new faculty the other day. Even in frigid weather garb, we recognized each other; I had met her before at the Welcome Breakfast and then, again at the New Faculty Welcome sponsored by the FC in the fall. I congratulated her on one of her accomplishments that had been highlighted on the USM website. Her excitement was palpable—I learned more as I walked with her to show her where the Science building was. She was about to meet with Terry Shehata and Samantha Langley-Turnbaugh to discuss her scholarly agenda; she had spent the term working with Rucha Moda and Khusro Kidwai to develop the course she taught in the fall for hybrid online delivery using a new platform—so many things were coming together for her. Her excitement was real. She seems happy in her work at USM even as we struggle with our budget shortfall.
I was struck, as I often am, by the paradoxes inherent in our day to day life. In any given day, I hear from others about anticipation and disenchantment; creativity and stagnation; excitement and complacency. How, are we as a community, to manage these paradoxes and the tensions therein?
No one person or group can do all the work that faces us. As I consider my part, as coordinator of Faculty Commons Initiatives , I find myself contemplating the question: what gives us energy? How can we increase the proportion of things that are energy enhancing working from this patch of USM?
For the next month, I invite you to pay attention to what gives you energy for the work you do.
Where, in the midst of the challenges we face, do you experience a glimmer of hope or excitement? What would it take to fan that flicker of hope/interest/excitement into something larger, possible, and real?
I can tell you that you inspire me, fueling my enthusiasm and energy. Melissa, in a follow-up e-mail to me wrote: "I look forward to continued collaboration and involvement with the wonderful activities of the Faculty Commons."
So many faculty, staff and administrators have stepped forward to help this endeavor of the Faculty Commons grow. Because of all of you, our community can begin to respond to our varied needs for development in teaching, service, and scholarship; supporting community conversations about important issues; offering opportunities for knowledge and skill acquisition (see Electronic Advising Notes below); and for highlighting the contributions of USM. In fact, if you have volunteered to help with something and haven't heard from me, you will soon! We have some good systems in place for planning and promoting programs, which was the work of the Fall term. Now we can focus on some longer-term planning. Remember you can send feedback or ideas to email@example.com.
Last month we had a great mix of faculty and staff at the event we sponsored on Electronic Advising Notes led by Beth Higgins and Libby Bischof. I am one of those who require convincing that some new technological bell or whistle will improve the quality of my work life and/or make me more efficient. Libby described the “lived experience” of the old ways of following up after an advising session and the difference (increased efficiency) it has made for her. That session gave me the energy to try something new--using these electronic notes! She and Beth are happy to take their presentation to colleges and departments and we will work with them to offer it again through the Faculty Commons.
I hope some of the activities of the Faculty Commons will be among the sources of energy, inspiration, and/or information for assessing and identifying hope and possibility, even as we meet very real and difficult challenges. We have a broad range of Faculty-Commons-Sponsored events in January : a presentation by Trustee Professor, Monroe Duboise ; an event for USM staff, faculty, and administrators about the changing landscape for public comprehensive regional universities with leaders from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities; and an invitation-only workshop for new faculty on The Core Virtues of Teaching ; and a CTEL series on accessibility , among other events. I also want to mention the Science series at the Planetarium. The spring series kicks off On Thursday, January 16, with Jerry LaSala's talk: “Greetings from Stockholm: A Report from the 2013 Nobel Prize Events ” which Jerry attended as a guest and friend of the Nobel awardee for physics.
Please bookmark the Faculty Commons Page and check it periodically. Information about events typically gets loaded on the website before my monthly newsletter and the monthly listings and reminders are distributed electronically. Also, you will be seeing links on our site to other departmental/college events that highlight the scholarly work of faculty and staff.
As many of you know, the work of implementing this grant has already begun. I encourage you to become familiar with this proposal, the project team, and its activities: http://usm.maine.edu/titleiii
We have hired a GA who will be supporting the faculty development and Faculty Commons activities associated with this project. I am very excited that much of the support in this grant is aimed at the faculty's role in student success--not to mention support for applications that are aimed at improving infrastructure for things like course scheduling!
Be looking for Title III related e-mails from me and the other members of our project team that will keep you apprised of updates and opportunities.
Over 20 events have been sponsored, co-sponsored and/or promoted since September and many of these were recorded and are available for viewing on the Faculty Commons website.
Recently, when I was in our Faculty Commons Space on the third floor of Glickman, I was very pleased to hear Mark, the Facilities staff member in the library, offer his congratulations. He said, “I realized that you aren’t here every day so you wouldn’t know how much the space is being used. Every day I see more people using the space.” We have many more miles to go in developing our faculty commons but we are making progress thanks to the engagement of so many people.
Trans Inclusive and Trans Literate Faculty Conversation and World Philosophy Day were events held the week before Thanksgiving. It was particularly fitting that these two events occurred last week: The 2013 theme of UNESCO’s World Philosophy Day was Inclusive Societies, Sustainable Planets.
On Wednesday, November 20, 2013, the international Transgender of Remembrance, USM’s Women and Gender Studies Department sponsored Trans Inclusive and Trans Literate: A Faculty Conversation. I was able to get to part of this event and appreciated the thoughtful conversation about how we, as faculty, can become more inclusive and literate about individuals who identify themselves as transgender. Specific suggestions were offered regarding ways to be inclusive in the context of the classroom from framing introductions at the start of a course, inviting individuals to indicate the pronouns with which they identify. The conversation raised awareness of the ways in which personal and cultural assumptions about gender and identity can diminish or render invisible those whose gender identities do not fit into narrow categories of male and female. Thanks to the panelists, Wendy Chapkis (Faculty, USM), Lisa Walker (Faculty, USM), Lisa Bunker (WMPG) and Erica Rand (Faculty, Bates College).
If you want to learn more, I encourage you to visit the Maine Transgender Network Website. Among the several useful links,Gender 101, aligns with some of the information shared on Wednesday. You can also view Lisa Bunker’s winning Moth Story Slam online.
The remarks of the panelists for USM’s World Philosophy Day were aimed at reflecting on “Why in the world is philosophy needed?” The audience included students, faculty, and community members. I was privileged to moderate the panel; members included Julien Murphy and Jeremiah Conway, faculty in USM’s Philosophy Department, Susan Stark (Faculty, Bates College) and USM undergraduate students Jamie Barilone (philosophy) and Adam Hansen (STEM and also leader of the USM Philosophy Symposium.
Professor Murphy offered an impassioned introduction to the range of issues over the last decade or so which would or will benefit from more or closer attention from philosophers, including cybersecurity, ethics, and environmental concerns. Adam Hansen, a computer science student and President of the USM Philosophy Symposium, offered compelling arguments for the importance of philosophy and reflection, regardless of discipline. Professor Conway, reflecting Arendt’s analysis of Eichmann in Jerusalem—said, philosophy enables us “to protect our humanity” and build resistance to thoughtlessness; “the effort to be thoughtful is an action [that] pulls us to consciousness.” Professor Stark observed that “whether the world has a future depends on philosophy.” Philosophy student, Jamie Barilone, noted that philosophy is never static nor easy to define, characteristics she regards as strengths. This is just a sampling of the discussion; you can learn more when the recording is posted on the philosophy department’s website.
Professor Carol Nemeroff, PhD, will offer us new ways of thinking about contagion in her talk on Conceptualizing Cooties: Exploring expert and intuitive models of contagion in daily life. I am looking forward to learning more about “magical contagion!” Learn more about this presentation and RSVP today.
Also, a lot of buzz has been going on among faculty wanting more information about electronic advising notes. Come hear Beth Higgins and Libby Bishoff on December 12th guide us through the processing of using electronic e-tools to “make our lives easier.” If you are coming (or are considering coming), I encourage you to look at the event page. Libby and Beth have already made available some slides and information so that you can come with your questions. A light lunch will be served so please RSVP. Also, if you respond yes but find later that you cannot make it, please e-mail Amertah Perman.
Learn more about December Events.
Faculty Commons has done a lot of partnering to plan and deliver several events this term—the Teaching Naked Workshop held on October 16, 2013 reflected the hope, energy and excitement that can be mustered when we make investments in faculty development.
The conversations that began there will continue. Faculty member Luci Benedict has offered to coordinate an informal faculty discussion and reflection on this event and the ideas and challenges José Bowen described. Learn more about this event.
Luci Benedict, Chemistry, and James Suleiman, Business, were faculty who worked with me to plan the event. Thanks to them and Susan McWiliams—Davis Foundation funding supported the TN event.
The planning for the TN event began in April after the webinar with José. We had about 20 people at that session and, I have to say, it did not prepare me for the dynamic presentation we heard last week. A friend of mine in technology says that is not surprising—for many webinars there is no audience. So even though we had few opportunities to ask José questions, having a live audience made for a different experience. For those who weren’t able to attend the October 16th event, you can view a full recording of the event and download topic resources on the event page. Learn More
The evaluations are in and they are uniformly positive and provided good feedback.
Some folks might wonder why there was a separate lunch for administrators/department heads so additional information might be helpful—it was deliberate. The lunch with leaders was a different keynote address than the morning keynote and workshop: how to support faculty who undertake the risks of innovating. Both the planners and José felt it was important to help leaders understand how to support faculty who undertake the kinds of innovations he talked about in the morning session. We wanted faculty who attended the morning to have the chance to discuss with each other about what they heard in the three hour workshop. Of the 12 people who were at the administrative keynote, at least five (dean, department chairs, TN planners) had been at the morning workshop—something that we also planned deliberately. We would like to have had José here for the day but he was on a tight schedule.
Finally, I want to say something about the synergy between the TN workshop and the recent announcement of the Title III grant, called FIRST Steps with Project Director Dahlia Lynn. One of the four major activities in this grant is faculty development which I will be coordinating. The project team will be out and about sharing information about the grant activities and inviting your participation. It is such an exciting opportunity for us to help students be successful AND invest in faculty development!
Be sure to take a look at the November Faculty Commons calendar to see if there is a faculty development opportunity that is of interest to you.
October 2013 Faculty Commons Updates:
I am pleased to let you know that the Faculty Commons space on the third floor of the Glickman Library is available for faculty use. This has been a terrific collaborative effort among me, the provost, David Nutty and his staff, Monique Larocque and her staff, Bruce Thompson, and the folks in Facilities, particularly, Adam Thibodeau. The space has been painted and cleaned, we have some repurposed furniture, and are working on having coffee and tea available--nearly resolved. We have plans for the space that we will be able to use, if and when we can raise money to expand the space.
This month we will begin using Open Room (online software, already used for the Learning Commons) so you can book the space--it can accommodate individuals and/or two or three small groups--and there are swipe cards available at the circulation desk. I have asked Professor Bruce Thompson to convene a small group of interested faculty to develop guidelines for use of the space. Until we have them, here are working guidelines:
- the space is to be used for work that can be considered faculty development--this includes mentoring and collaboration; building community among faculty across units (including informal gathering and socializing with colleagues); your own work. There is a small office set apart from the larger space. I use that for my Faculty Commons office hours--a couple of hours a week--schedule on the FC website. The Faculty Commons space is not meant for office hours, meeting with students (the Learning Commons on the second floor has space for that), student advising or committee meetings.
- you will need your faculty ID to get a swipe card from the first floor Circulation Desk and need to return it there when you are done using the space.
- When coffee and tea are made available, you will need to document your meeting and its purpose (faculty development, mentoring etc), in order to be in compliance with the UMS Administrative Practice Letter governing the provision of food and drink (see link..). I have a faculty member willing to pilot our initial effort at documentation to help us minimize the burden and maximize compliance!
- Leave the room the way you found it (or better!)--put furniture back, turn the computer off, clean up the coffee area. There is a computer, a large screen, a phone.
Until Bruce and his group propose guidelines we can post, please use these. To volunteer to develop the guidelines , or, if you have used the space and want to offer him feedback, you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call --extension 4739
If you have not had a chance yet to participate in some of our programs, I hope you will. Some highlights from September included a Welcome Event for new faculty, the inaugural RSCA Showcase with Kent Ryden, Professor of American and New England Studies, and a co-sponsored event the library on using its Special Collections in teaching. In addition, we are promoting events by other units at USM on our Faculty Commons website.
In October, we have scheduled a panel to begin a faculty conversation on MOOCs (massive online open courses). It is a topic worthy of discussion and reflection so, we, as a university, can make wise choices. I have heard and experienced both sides--the excitement and advantages of some of the new technology and software and the distress at what we are or might be losing. I hope this will be the beginning of many faculty discussions and debates, with each other and our colleagues in CTEL, on how we integrate the best of face-to-face teaching with technologies that advance student learning. For those technologies we do adopt, we need good processes and systems for maintaining our knowledge and skill as users.
There is still room for faculty to participate in the October 16 workshop with Professor José Bowen, author of Teaching Naked. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP as soon as possible: http://usm.maine.edu/facultycommons/teaching-naked
Please see our calendar for additional fall events: http://usm.maine.edu/facultycommons/programming
We record as many events as we can for people unable to attend FC programs.
Accessing events after they have occurred
Thanks to funding from the Davis Foundation and collaboration with ITMS staff, we are able to record a large number of the fall FC-sponsored events for this semester. Once the recordings are processed, we will post them on the event pages.
I encourage you to view things such as the panel that presented at the Welcome for new faculty, the panel that shared the creative ways they use the Special Collections in their teaching, or Kent Ryden's thought-provoking presentation on eco-criticism for our inaugural RSCA showcase.
If we find that these recordings are used, it will help us in developing a budget for recording for the next fiscal year.
To develop the Faculty Commons further, we need your help. Follow this link to review some priority projects and to share your thoughts with me:
You may have other ideas but the ones listed are the ones at the top of my list. If one of these areas is of interest to you and you can contribute some time and effort, I welcome your participation. Some goals have a longer time horizon (like orientation) and others are short-term projects. See if something appeals and e-mail me at email@example.com. I look forward to working with colleagues to continue to develop and advance the Faculty Commons. Learn more.
This month we are posting three documents that can inform how we grow our collaborative efforts at USM.
- One is Professor Jerry Conway's talk at the Spring 2013 celebration of faculty RSCA: Document
- The other two are documents developed by faculty members--one for the USM Faculty Senate and one that was an outcome of a faculty workshop on interdisciplinary collaboration at USM in the spring of 2011:
Interdisciplinary Document #1
Interdisciplinary Document #2
- I will be convening a group of the leaders in the development of the documents to discuss how the Faculty Commons can foster and sustain the development of faculty collaboration within and across units.
Speaking of collaboration, there are so many people to thank for the work that has been getting done on the Faculty Commons: Faculty including Bruce Thompson, Luci Benedict, James Suleiman and the faculty and staff who participated in the September events; Monique Larocque, Amertah Perman, Cherie Tate, Khusro Kidwai, Liz Morin and many others in OCPE; David Nutty, Susie Bock, Michelle Dustin, John Warren and other Library Staff; Adam Thibodeau in Facilities; Angela Cook, Heath Bouffard and other ITMS staff. If I have left anyone out, there will be many more opportunities for us to say thank you!
Rev. Judith A. Spross, PhD, RN, FAAN
Professor of Nursing, College of Science, Technology and Health and
Coordinator, USM Faculty Commons Initiatives
University of Southern Maine
Ideas for Mission and Purposes
An overarching purpose of the USM Faculty Commons is to provide the virtual or physical space for people to come together around our teaching enterprise--whether it involve teaching, service, or research, scholarship, and creative activity. This might mean faculty development for new and experienced faculty; orientation; collaboration and innovation in teaching, service, and scholarship, showcasing our work; or other activities and initiatives that strengthen, inspire, support and motivate. The Faculty Commons can and should help us build community and capacity within and across disciplines, departments and individuals--critical emphases in the current environment.
These are emergent ideas from my work and many conversations this past spring, along with ideas from the literature and faculty common sites at other institutions. However, decisions about mission and purposes of the Commons require more conversations. I will work with you over the coming year to co-create a mission and purposes for this endeavor that are meaningful, and engage us in building a Faculty Commons that helps us grow and of which we can be proud.
I will be having weekly office hours in the Faculty Commons space on the 3rd floor of Glickman. If you would like me to come to a College or Department meeting to discuss the Faculty Commons, please let me know. I can be reached at 207-228-8366 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am very excited to be working with you on creating the USM Faculty Commons.Learn more about me and my background.
Rev. Judith A. Spross, PhD, RN, FAAN
Professor of Nursing, CSTH and Coordinator of USM's Faculty Commons Initiatives