CLAS Acts August 2012


August 2012
Vol. 6, issue 1 The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is a student-centered and diverse learning community that engages in critical inquiry extending knowledge to enrich and enliven individual and public life.

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Faculty E-newsletter

CLAS Research Clusters The research clusters launched this year are getting their own webpage on the CLAS site. We'll provide the link later this summer when the pages are ready.                  

Thursday, August 23   College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Faculty and Staff Meeting
  Coffee and Conversation 10:00 a.m.    Louis Armstrong Theatre, Performing Arts Center, Allendale Campus     Faculty and Staff Meeting 10:30 a.m. Louis Armstrong Theatre, Performing Arts Center, Allendale Campus     Followed by "Follow the Dean to Lunch" Located Across from the Kelly Family Sports Center (Formerly the Laker Turf Building)                                                                                                  

FROM THE DEAN'S DESK Frederick J. Antczak, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

A liberal education is at the heart of a civil society, and at the heart of a liberal education is the act of teaching.
~A. Bartlett Giamatti

In August we welcome our new faculty colleagues in a flurry of orientation sessions, start-up ceremonies, and picnics while suspecting that their minds are on settling into offices, finalizing syllabi, and learning names.  I can assure them all that we all came into the university pretty much the same way.  In the hope that you will have it a bit easier than we did, we've developed a webpage for all the August events and another page just for things that new faculty might want or need to know. By mid-August we will be able to share with you the Quadrennial Report of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences 2008-2012.  This almost 40 page report celebrates our accomplishments together and highlights some examples of the great work being done here by our College.  In its pages we hope you'll meet some wonderful colleagues and surprise yourself with just how well we've been doing in many areas.  Some wonderful things happened last month, too.  Diane Rayor of Classics and Karen Libman of the School of Communications gave us a wonderful world premiere of Diane's new translation of Medea.  Music and Dance had an Olympic connection.  In addition to the good news last month about the science labs/classrooms/offices building, Political Science is getting some needed office renovations and several lighting and storage issues in the Calder Art Center have been addressed. Meanwhile, prodigious work has been done by the staff of the CLAS Academic Advising Center and faculty at the orientations going on throughout the summer.  The Board of Trustees adopted the budget and set tuition.  It is difficult to be definitive at this point in the cycle, but it looks like our new student numbers are right on track. This year I want us to work together on those things we have some ability to influence when it comes to retaining students after their first year.  It can be a tough transition between high school and college or a community college and GVSU.  Some students leave because they've decided to pursue a field we don't teach here (such as agronomy or architecture), because of family issues, or other reasons beyond our control.  But we can help all those students who could succeed here to find their niche and prosper--as in fact the vast majority of our students do.  It helps to remind ourselves that students may need an extra invitation to stop by office hours.  We may need to break down the misperceptions that only students in trouble come to talk or that professors are too busy with other things.  At orientation, students are being set the goal of getting to know two faculty members their first year; our availability helps to make that possible.  Betty Schaner, the director of our CLAS Academic Advising Center reminded me that early intervention means before midterms. The Center can e-mail students to let them know that there are signs that they need some guidance or to recommend that they talk to their advisor about their course selections, but that message is better delivered in a paper comment or an invitation by a professor to "come see me in office hours".  And we can help our students best when we are aware of campus resources. To assist in your re-entry after a long hot summer, a couple reminders.  First, if you have moved, please let not only HR know but also your department coordinator who will tell our office so we can update the college database. 

Second, as you review your syllabi and create new ones, please keep in mind:

  • Statements about academic integrity,
  • Disability Support Resources  (which has had a slight name and URL  change),
  •  SWS paragraph for appropriate courses, ·        
  • Inclusive language, ·        
  • Writing Center syllabus blurb, ·         
  • Single-user restrooms on campus,  ·        
  • The description of the Syllabus of Record on page 31 of the Faculty Handbook
  • And if you are planning co-curricular high impact experiences for your students, have a look at the website on Risk Reduction.

I look forward to seeing you all at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Faculty and Staff Meeting on August 23 and the several surrounding events .  Meeting documents will be linked to that webpage closer to the event. I'm eager to begin the class that I'll be teaching in the fall, and I'm sure that you are brimming with ideas about your own fresh approaches to the material you'll be teaching.  Nothing beats this time of academic optimism.  Make sure it is contagious.

What the Deans Are Doing in August

Dean Antczak is looking forward to the new academic year.  "August starts with the summer Student Scholarship Showcase.   I'll attend the summer retreat the Provost puts on for deans, participate in some inter-institutional articulation meetings, then welcome new faculty at the two university sessions and CLAS's New Faculty & Family Social.  Another Deans' Retreat, the CLAS Unit Head Retreat, then the familiar calendar returns: the FTLC Conference, our College meeting and picnic, and the University Convocation.  Then we'll dive into the school year.  I've been reading for and prepping my class all summer, so that's hardly an August-only activity, but I'm eager to meet my students and have the whole wonderful cycle begin again." Associate Dean Mary Schutten will be supporting student success by continuing to work with Records to create efficiencies, most notably the change in the prerequisite error process (more automation) and aligning the major declaration process for Banner and MyPath, summer "and beyond" project .  She is wrapping up the many ongoing data-gathering projects due this summer including the Presidential Honor Roll which lists service learning and co-curricular student activities and overdue incomplete grade resolution.  She will be co-presenter for the August 17 ED 431 start up meeting associated with fully implementing CLAS supervision in student teaching, ED 431.   She continues to implement and assess degree cognate substitution requests, work on student issues, support the work of the CLAS Academic Advising Center, and registration and orientation activities, the transfer research group, and will complete a consultation project with the Michigan Department of Education.  She will also support the grade reporting processes for timely and accurate submission of spring/summer grades.  She will participate in both CLAS and university Fall start up activities. In August, Associate Dean Shaily Menon will attend a summer retreat for deans organized by the provost's office, participate in a strategic planning meeting with the Office of Community Engagement Advisory Committee, and attend New Faculty Orientation and CLAS New Faculty Social. During start-up week she looks forward to attending the various start-up activities including CLAS Unit Head retreat, CLAS faculty and staff meeting, FTLC teaching conference, and Convocation. In addition, she will continue to work with unit heads and Facilities Planning to find adequate and appropriate office spaces in a particularly tight year for space, plan new faculty orientation and mentoring activities, and work with Monica Johnstone (Dir. of CLAS Communications) on developing our webpages for the Research Clusters to serve as a clearinghouse of information, updates, and a place for faculty to make connections. Associate Dean Gary Stark will be planning the annual unit heads retreat, monitoring Fall enrollments, supervising the  hiring of visiting and adjunct faculty, facilitating the use of Digital Measures, and serving on the University Internationalization Task Force.  


Practicing the Possible-Turning Student Elbow Grease Into Speaking Gold

In this time of accountability and assessment, we have more and more information about where the gaps are in student learning, and that awareness is driving many innovations.  Four years ago as the vision of our new library was taking shape, it became clear that this new and forward-thinking space would and should challenge us to think about pedagogies that meet the needs we now know so much about. One of the ideas that emerged was to address our students' need for oral communication skills by providing a resource that would serve everything from public speaking classes to oral presentations in courses in every discipline on campus.  The Speech Lab concept was born. With inspiration from campus resources such as the Fred Meijer Center for Writing, the Statistics Center, and specialized tutoring programs, the Speech Lab was designed as a place for undergraduate students to receive a little guidance, get  peer feedback, and gain confidence through practice. Directing this ambitious project is Associate Professor of Communications Danielle Leek.  With a background which includes over twenty years of teaching speech, coaching national championship winning college debate teams, hosting the Grand Valley State High School Debate Championship, not to mention speaking as a communications expert on WZZM 13 television, Danielle saw the Speech Lab as not only an opportunity to help the students who would come to work on speaking assignments, but also to offer a higher level opportunity for some of Grand Valley's most promising public speaking students as peer tutors. So that the Speech Lab would be built on best practices from around the country, on a review of the literature, and on our situation here, Danielle began doing her homework well in advance of hiring tutors.  During the 2010-2011 year, Danielle worked with student interns to conduct a needs assessment involving over 500 Grand Valley undergrads. The report showed some dramatic findings. Close to 90% of students write their speeches with less than 2-3 days before giving them, and often wait until the night before a presentation to complete their speech notes. Those same students make their in-class presentations with little or no practice. The situation for group presentations is particularly grim.  Students work in isolation, come together to present without much coordination of their efforts, time allotments are blown, and the last speaker suffers disproportionately.  What the needs assessment found is that group presentation projects were not being conducted in the spirit of the assignment by most students. Though space in the library is still a year away, the need is great so Speech Lab is already serving its first clients.  A temporary home for the Speech Lab was set aside in 240 Lake Superior Hall and there will also be walk-in hours on the Pew Campus.  A range of hours throughout the week are set and other meetings can be arranged by appointment.  A website is under development to help the tutors to direct the traffic and provide some 24/7 resources. An initial team of tutors has been trained and are already working with students in Danielle's summer COM 201 sections and our McNair scholars.  Summer GVSU students are overwhelmingly positive about their Speech Lab experiences so far.  They call it reassuring, helpful, and confidence building.  The literature agrees.  "Speaking across the curriculum research shows speaking is one of the places that peer response is most effective," Danielle explains. "Public speaking instruction goes back at least 2,500 years," notes Monica Johnstone, who will also be teaching Speech (COM 201) in Fall 2012.  "For the majority of that time the pedagogy was very low tech.  In the early 1990s it became commonplace to have a VHS recorder in the classroom and ask students to purchase a VHS tape to record their class speeches.  Students didn't like it at first, but came to see that feedback as absolutely key to their improvement.  In 2012, we are taking another large step forward.  New versions of speech textbooks come with many online resources such as speeches to watch and analyze, online functionality for commenting on peers' speeches, and ways to record their speaking outside of the classroom setting.  Having Speech Lab to close the gap on practicing-since students have always tended to use office hours for planning more than practicing-I'm hopeful that our students will be able to make more progress in a single term." In many professions, advancement is largely based on the ability to communicate.  Fear of public speaking holds people back both professionally and personally.  Already the tutors have had one student walk in to discuss and practice a toast she was asked to give at her sister's wedding.  She has since reported that it went very well. Danielle calls the Speech Lab initiative, "A really big project with real scope."  She's glad that so many students have been involved-not only a couple interns and the first group of  tutors, but eventually 15-20 tutors and  even students in Tim Penning's CAP 220 course who will to help the Speech Lab team design a marketing strategy.  The Speech Lab is an experiment in harnessing existing resources and seeing how much can be accomplished through students' efforts.  Danielle is quickly learning about managing many student employees and technology.   "Thanks to Jason Rutter (School of Communications) for his technological help," Danielle explains.  "There are two student coordinators-no AP or COT.  That's quite a leadership role for these students who designed some of the training for the tutors and are learning to manage schedules."  Danielle admits that there have been a few initial glitches as everyone learns, but that's part of the process.  Her crew knows the transformative nature of practice.