December 2011
Vol. 5, issue 5 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 Faculty Research Colloquia: 2:30-5:00pm, 308 PAD Meet colleagues in other departments and enjoy the varied program and Dean-sponsored nibbles. Thurs., Jan. 19 Thurs., Feb. Thurs., March 15,   CLAS Deans Brown Bag Lunch Conversations As promised, the CLAS Deans will be available for two brown bag lunch conversations this semester-open agenda, everyone welcome, and we'll provide drinks and cookies. Only have a few minutes? -come for 20 minutes and a cookie; or brown bag with us the whole time. Here are the details: Thursday, Dec. 8, 12:00-1:30 in 271 LSH      


Frederick J. Antczak, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

"...potential for significant lake-effect snow and some general weak system snowfall next week." ~Bill Steffen, WOODTV8 (blog post November 28, 2011) 

At this time of the Fall term my thoughts always go to the newest faculty we've recruited from more southerly latitudes.  I hope someone has thought to offer them a bit of winter mentorship - to suggest that they acquire appropriate footwear, check their tires, put an ice-scraper in their car, and have a look at the Weather Emergency page of the GVSU website.  My mom taught me snow driving skills in a frozen parking lot; it turns out that the ability to do donuts under control has lots of applications to winter driving.  And it reassured me that with just a little instruction, most challenges are quite manageable.  These days, there are quite a few "snow driving skills" websites.  Whether Jack Frost is nipping at our noses or not, we are definitely looking forward to our annual CLAS Holiday Open House from 11:30 a.m. - 1:15 p.m. in the Pere Marquette Room (2204 KC) on December 7.  At this event our staff and faculty gather for a buffet (as usual, we'll post the menu on our website at least a couple days ahead) and to talk with colleagues before the end-of-term push.  And of course afterward, as our tradition requires, the CLAS Holiday Brass entertains with a half hour of seasonal favorites. At this time of year you are likely to receive multiple reminders about getting grades in before the deadline (noon on December 20).  Please have patience with the reminders.  Getting grades in on time is more important than many people realize, because the reports run immediately after the deadline take several hours (that means staff members stay until they are finished), and students are affected by what these reports say, especially in terms of aid eligibility for the coming semester.  But while some students have a scholarship hanging on the GPA generated, others are wanting to graduate, and still other students need to know whether they need to adjust their Winter schedules depending on their grade in a prerequisite course.  Our office staff takes no joy in playing Scrooge and spending the waning workdays of 2011 trying to track down faculty who failed to report grades.  Please, for the sake of your students and the sake of the staff in Records, be mindful of the deadline (did I mention, noon on December 20?) and get those grades in on time. But on to happier topics... In November, the Faculty Council ran a very informative and FUN series of Out of the Box meetings which attendees agreed gave them a new perspective on the resources here.  If you were not able to attend (or your groove is in such good shape that you didn't consider going) the Faculty Council would like you to know that a webpage has been created and is being enhanced over the next couple months to share the wealth of information more widely.  Kudos to the CLAS FC - you make this a better place to be! Over the last month our faculty raked in more than leaves.  Corey Anton's book received the 2011 Best Book Award from the NCA Philosophy of Communication Division on the National Communication Association.  Jeroen Wagendorp was recognized at the ninth annual Michigan Digital Government Summit for his work in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), where he has led the way as a pioneer in the public sector.  Polly Diven took three International Relations students to the Midwest International Studies Association conference to give their papers.  Shawn Bible saw his GVSU Dance Ensemble students perform in a professional production in Chicago-an opportunity that grew out of a relationship with a guest artist we hosted at GVSU.  Bill Ryan and the New Music Ensemble made a successful tour of cities on the East Coast.  All over America, Grand Valley scholars and performers are being recognized. Thanks to hard work by Biology's Erik Nordman, in early December a video chat will link people in the Netherlands who live and work near an offshore wind farm with representatives from the West Michigan tourism and government sectors, along with community members.  Paulus Heule, Honorary Dutch Consul for West Michigan, will provide opening remarks about the social and economic ties between West Michigan and the Netherlands and continued opportunities for cultural and scientific exchanges.    As always, I can only give you a taste of all that is going on.  No matter the tradition you follow, at this time of year your plate is pretty full already.  I'm reaching in vain for a Yuletide pastry reference to complete the analogy, and I'm sure I'll think of it shortly after I hit "Send."  But I hope these communications do convey a little of how proud I am to work with (and for) you, and how you make Grand Valley-in a time when other places are backpedaling frantically-a University clearly on the rise.  It's wonderful to be your colleague, and  I wish you only the best of the season's abundance, the sort of refreshment you don't regret the next day, and the reflection to see out the old with satisfaction in all we accomplished in 2011, and ring in the new year with the confidence that, together, we'll make 2012 better yet.

What the Deans Are Doing in December

Dean Antczak has a busy December planned. "In December, I'll be having my monthly meetings with several unit heads, chairing the unit head meeting and the last Student Advisory Committee meeting of the semester, participating in the meeting of the new Speaking Lab Advisory Board, attending an important fundraising planning meeting, attending the Academic Advising Fall Forum and the Deans' Academic Advising Meeting, participating in the transfer committee meeting and the Sustainable Development Committee meeting, attending Deans' Council and a meeting of UAS, and of course attending the President's party to honor our longevity award winners.  I'll join the CLAS Associate Deans at a Brown Bag.  And of course I'm looking forward to seeing you at the CLAS all-college Holiday Open House on the 7th in the Pere Marquette room from 11:30 to 1:15." AD Gary Stark will be checking Round 1 schedules, recruiting interviewers for the Awards of Distinction Scholarship interviews, monitoring Winter 2012 enrollments and staffing, preparing for Winter personnel actions and for the salary adjustment process, and running training sessions for Digital Measures. AD Mary Schutten will be supporting student success by overseeing the timely completion of grade reporting. She will continue to work on collaborative initiatives involving CLAS/COE related to student teaching, teacher tests, secondary admissions, and will participate in the PTEAC committee. She will be coordinating data gathering and dissemination procedures for CLAS teacher preparation programs to support the College of Education's NCATE accreditation site visit in February.   She will complete the coordination of the submissions for the alignment process of units' existing strategic plan objectives with the CLAS strategic plan. She continues to implement and assess degree cognate substitution requests, support the work of the CLAS curriculum committee as ex officio;, facilitate the curricular fast track process for study abroad course designations, and serve as coordinator for the School Health Education minor for Movement Science.   AD Shaily Menon will continue interviews of search candidates from several searches, do a few more visits of department facilities, participate in the Deans Brown bag lunch, plan two new exciting first-year and second- and third-year faculty seminars for winter semester on 'Engaged Service' and Scholarly Publishing in the Digital Age' respectively, help our graduate assistant finalize the database on unit strategic plans based on feedback from unit heads, and grade final student projects and papers. Contemplating Resolutions for 2012? The Out of the Box sessions generated some great suggestions that faculty in any discipline might like.  For instance: Bob Smart writes a one to two page white paper about his research agenda.  This comes in handy at conferences, for grant searches, for PR and more.  Forgetting what resources GVSU offers is half the problem.  Part of the solution can be found at  (a sample of Bob's white paper will be loaded soon) Need some accountability for the goals you've set?  GVSU provides free career coaching and health coaching. Need a change of venue to spice things up?  PIC has many international opportunities of various durations and intensity for faculty and staff. Need outside perspective on a paper or grant proposal?  CSCE has Faculty Fridays. Food for the soul, anyone?  Take in some wonderful music, theatre, art, photography or dance.

Faculty feature  

Blogging for New Audiences with Pablo Llerandi-Román (Departamento de Geología y Programa de Ciencias Integradas, GVSU)

While contemplating a hallway poster on the geochemistry of a particular element, Pablo Llerandi-Román asked himself the dangerous question, "who cares?"  Realizing that the answer was probably, "Geologists," he started to think about ways to reach additional people who might care. He was quite a busy graduate student at the time and wasn't able to address himself to the wide question of dissemination until some years later.  Happily, Pablo and a like-minded colleague now at Oklahoma State shared a willingness to try an extraordinary means to reach an underserved audience through a Spanish-language science blog with emphases on earth science, geology, and science education topics -especially those relevant to his native Puerto Rico. "While in Puerto Rico last summer doing research, we got the idea to write every other week.  It is still hard, real research not just opinion; it has a reference page," Pablo explains.  "It's a different kind of blog. When it comes to science, you can't be like what is out there in the blogosphere.  We wanted to entries supported by research and in Spanish to make it fun for us.  We write with our hearts in our mother tongue." It can be hard for many English speakers to realize that science is not always communicated in the vernacular of scientists everywhere.  As Pablo notes rather ironically, the " lingua franca" is English and that inhibits dissemination to some audiences he cares about very deeply. "Our agenda is to show science can be done in Spanish," he adds.  He also admits that the blog helps to reinforce and extend his composition skills.  They try not to import too many terms favoring instead to be guided by the language they love in a format that is not standard technical writing.  Over 150 people a week now look at the site, from nine different countries, but particularly those in Puerto Rico.  The Spanish-speaking public is treated to the history of science, Pablo's own experiences as a child with the natural world and-some of their favorite topics-about local hurricanes and landslides. The most popular topics are often about especially large natural events that can be seen in the geological record.  Despite the usual, well, geological timeframes of geology, many of these events of special interest are relatively recent, in the memory of his readers. A sample drilled inland contains sediments washed ashore by a very powerful hurricane.  The very high winds will lift ocean sediments and deposit coarser grains in relation to their power.  A thick, chucky layer indicates a big hurricane of longer duration.  By analyzing pulverized samples, geologists can show what sort of phenomenon led to the deposit.  His readers are quite taken with this research, and a blog article on a 1985 landslide is his most popular post so far. "This is highly emotional content.  I remember the floods. My brothers and I took people out of their apartments with our canoe.  I want to know why some topics capture the interest of our readers.  We write blind at the moment, and we want a more solid picture of that," Pablo concedes, seemingly unaware of his metaphor.  "And it's also fun for us." "Teaching about rocks and minerals, making it not boring, local-this will be good for our students," he says.  He isn't sure quite what his colleagues think of his blogging, but he has looked at the blogs of several of his GVSU colleagues and is impressed.  "They have value." "When I told my students, they immediately understood.  When I tell my colleagues, I need to explain." One of Pablo's early inspirations was the work of Ciencia PR, a resource network of about 5,300, which began in 2006.  It is also in Spanish but can also be accessed in English.  Through his association, Pablo contributed to discussions in a Puerto Rican middle school. The students' misconceptions about scientists included some they projected on him.  Not looking a bit like a bespectacled Einstein, Pablo was told that they didn't believe he was a scientist.  This only fueled his desire for more people to come to realize that science is for everyone. His association with Ciencia PR also led him to contribute to a book edited by a renowned research scientist.  This was an important experience for Pablo and has been empowering.  He knows he is on the right track when he concentrates in the blog on how science is done. The blog began last August and keeping the discipline of the twice-a-month schedule is challenging.  But now that teachers say they are incorporating the blogs into their lesson plans and Puerto Rican newspapers are requesting articles, he knows he has plenty of motivation to persevere with one of the only Spanish science blogs in his field. "We are becoming better communicators.  I'm learning a lot," Pablo concludes.  "There are lots of benefits." The next step is to conduct a reader survey that is "not annoying."  He hopes to consult colleagues in the School of Communication for consultation on that.  Student collaborators are also on the horizon so he'll be on the lookout for those who know their science and their Spanish. As he reflects on the experience he's had so far with the blog, he is thinking about how it fits with his professional service, and how it provides a non-traditional outlet to increase the visibility and contacts of GVSU.  "For Puerto Ricans it is important to know those of us living in the US still care about what goes on there.  It goes beyond borders and has cultural value.  How are we going to use our time and electronic tools?" Pablo muses.  "Reaching different audiences.  We need to evolve, be dynamic.  As geologists we are historians of the Earth. We are doing a good job with that at GVSU. "