From the Dean's Desk
Frederick J. Antczak, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Keep your faith in beautiful things;
in the sun when it is hidden,
in the Spring when it is gone.
- Roy R. Gibson
Here’s hoping you are triumphing over the midwinter doldrums. One sure cure is to partake of two great opportunities in February: Black History Month and Asian Pacific American Heritage month—both of which we co-sponsor. For instance, on February 6, “The Origins of Black Classicism”, a lecture by Michelle Valerie Ronnick is being organized by our Classics Department, and, on February 11, three Asian Pacific American leaders in our community will be participating in a panel discussion. And do have a close look at the very appealing brochure for the Asian heritage events which was designed by Advertising major Anna Lawrence.
Of course, many of you are already busy with searches, and the interviewees tell us that you're leaving a great impression. It’s an investment of our time now that will pay off for us next year and beyond.
Several people in CLAS seem to be everywhere in the news, on everything from the election to mountain climbing. I’ve even been sticking in my 2 cents’ worth on political rhetoric. If you missed some of the radio interviews, do have a look on our website. We post as MP3s those we have permission to provide.
Departments are bringing in some fascinating speakers on everything from Forensic Osteology to Conservation Research. These are all posted on the CLAS website events calendar and bulletin boards.
Knowing that interviewing, committee work and other duties—planned and unplanned—can take you away from your students for longer than you’d like, the College Office is actively looking to streamline processes and free your energies for those more curricular kinds of fun. We are working with the Unit Heads to make sure any changes are truly beneficial.
Associate Deans have their work cut out for them this month. Gary Stark will spend February interviewing candidates, reviewing the workload implementation plans, analyzing requests for visiting positions and facilitating the CLAS governance elections. Jann Joseph continues her oversight of office moves and shuffles for the new academic building and PAD remodels as well as working on curriculum revisions for the comprehensive major for teachers, the RMSC Director Search, COT awards, Sabbatical Showcase preparation, candidate interviews, teaching HNR 242 and facilities requests. Maria Cimitile continues her work with the CLAS Curriculum Committee, PTEAC meetings, teaching, candidate interviews, and liaison with the CLAS Academic Advising Center. You can read more about the CLAS Academic Advising Center in the article below.
By about mid month, you will see seven additional CLAS faculty members on our website’s “Meet some of our faculty” feature. I’m told that the participants managed to be charming and brilliant in one or two takes. Special thanks to Kim Roberts and her colleagues in School of Communications for volunteering their expertise to make this happen.
When all else fails remember that February, even in a leap year, is a short month.
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The CLAS Academic Advising Center – An Update on Our Progress
Good advising may be the single most underestimated characteristic of a successful college experience. (Light, 2001).
In Fall 2004, after the completion of the university’s reorganization, Dean Antczak established a task force to review current academic advising services in CLAS and make recommendations for the future. This task force included faculty, professional advising staff and students. At that time, much of the academic advising in the college was assumed by faculty, although in recent years support was provided in some areas by three advising centers: the Arts and Humanities Teacher Certification Advising Center, coordinated by Jan Robinson, which serves students seeking teacher certification in one of the arts or humanities content areas; the Psychology Advising Office, coordinated by Caroline Cascini, which serves the majors and minors in psychology and behavioral sciences; and the SMART Center, directed by Betty Schaner, which serves students interested in the science and mathematics areas.
After an extensive review of advising data from faculty and students, as well as research into best practices in advising from our peer institutions, the task force recommended that the professional advising centers be centralized and enhanced in order to provide services to all students in the College, regardless of their major. This model was agreed by the Dean and Provost.
The first step in transitioning to this new model is to determine exactly what functions the center will serve in complementing faculty advising. Since the field expertise offered and the relationships that faculty build with students are critical to students’ success, our goal becomes to find the best way for the professional advising staff to support faculty efforts. Fortunately, the recent university self-study has provided us with key data in which to ground decisions. We would also welcome the opportunity to visit each academic department to gather additional information from unit heads and faculty, and eventually hope to offer focus groups with students to insure our intentions are meeting their needs.
Of equal importance is an achievable timeline based on the determined priorities – we need to address the most critical tasks for the new advising center first and to realistically assess what we can accomplish based on our resources.
Then we can lay the foundation for the CLAS Academic Advising Center and be ready to open our doors in Fall 2008. And where will those doors be? Space has been designated on the first floor of Mackinac Hall, on the corridor directly across from the courtyard in front of Einstein’s and the Commons. This central location will provide easy access for our students and faculty. The centralized space will help us deliver the highest standards of advising.
We anticipate that the assistance we offer to each academic program will be as unique as the programs themselves. We welcome the opportunity to work closely with each unit to enhance the advising relationship for all faculty and students of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Light, R. (2001). Making the most of college: Students speak their minds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Back row (left to right): Caroline Cascini, Joanie Hodson, Lorie Jager, Rob Freidhoff
Front row (left to right): Betty Schaner, Jan Robinson
School of Communications Set to Host February State Tournament
In December, the School of Communications brought together 53 secondary students from ten west Michigan schools for the regional competition of the West Michigan Legislative Debate Association. High school debaters from across the state are now looking forward to the Michigan Interscholastic Forensics Association state finals that will be hosted by the School of Communications in the Pew Center on February 9.
This month will be the first time Grand Valley has played host to the 20+ forensics teams from across the entire state. Working with teachers from Grand Rapids’ leading scholastic high school, City Middle-High, in order to coordinate the event, Dr. Roger Ellis, the School of Communications coordinator of the event expects more than 100 students and their coaches to attend the day-long festival competition. “These kids are the cream of Michigan’s crop,” Ellis notes, “so we’re very proud to have them here. And in this election year, they have plenty of role models in front of them to help them sharpen their skills.”
Dr. Ellis points out, “GVSU support for debate and forensics has grown out of the Theatre program’s recent success with outreach efforts. Every Fall, the Shakespeare Festival attracts nearly 1,500 middle and high school students to campus for a Shakespeare masterwork staged in the Performing Arts Center. The Festival also serves an additional 1,200 students statewide with its touring show, Bard-to-Go. And this year, GVSU’s touring Shakespeare students will also present shows at selected schools in mainland China.”