CLAS Acts Jan. 2010

January 2010
Volume 3, Issue 5

Our Mission: 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.  

CLAS College Office Monthly Newsletter for Faculty  
From the Dean's Desk 

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

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new  year find you a better man. 
~Benjamin Franklin

As we hurtle into a new year, there's a distinct feeling of turning a new page--of finishing some projects of long standing that will put us on firmer ground for the future, and of building the plans which will support the next stage of our evolution. The CLAS Inclusion Plan is now receiving a review by the Office of Inclusion and Equity and should become official very soon.  The Faculty Council has confirmed the passage by the Faculty of our CLAS Standards & Criteria for Personnel Evaluation.  Two departments undertook and completed reviews that included visits and reports by distinguished external consultants.   Many of us in CLAS undertook and completed the training to be Inclusion Advocates.   The number of faculty and staff seeking grants to support their work approximately doubled last year-and we honor this effort because, even though it does not come to fruition on the very first try in all cases, it has a way of panning out in the longer term.  The talent and hard work of our teaching was recognized by our alumni, our professions, and our administration.  Better procedures have been put in place for assessing our unit heads and deans so that we can better see our ways forward. Taken all together, these all seem to be indicators that we are putting in place measures to deal appropriately and efficiently and humanely with our current size and complexity.  It is perhaps fortuitous that we have arrived at the point of the next strategic planning cycle.  I urge you to give a close reading to the University's strategic positioning document.  At the College level, the CLAS Strategic Plan has begun review and reconstruction by a team of faculty members organized and facilitated by AD Mary Schutten and with support services from our Director of Communications Monica Johnstone.    I'll keep you informed of their progress. As is our tradition, we ask our graduating seniors about their plans.  Not all of the results are yet in, but of those that are, we can see some measurable success (such as admissions to graduate school), some wonderful jobs already landed, some weddings being contemplated, and I'm gratified to see some very reasonable plans in place among those hunting for jobs.  In addition to looking forward, this will be a year in which we have lots of opportunity to reflect on where we've been.  It is the 50th year of the entities that have morphed into GVSU.  We are shaped by all that came before and the aspirations of those who worked, built, and studied here before us.  But before we can get to all such grand pursuits, we must make it through the chills and thrills of January.  I'll be participating in new grad student orientation, a PSM meeting, the Deans' Council retreat, a University Leadership Team meeting, a capital campaign meeting (plus some fundraising), a CLAS faculty colloquium, two new faculty seminars and a new faculty lunch.  AD Mary Schutten will be presenting a paper at the Hawaii International Conference on Education and working on a health education/physical education collaborative project with UH, attending the annual AACU meeting in Washington, DC, coordinating the alignment of the CLAS strategic plan with the newly approved University plan, assisting CCC, continuing work on research projects in progress (Wii,  Where have all the physical education pedagogues gone?, and BMI, SES, and academic achievement in K-12 students), and supporting student welfare initiatives.  AD Jann Joseph will be teaching SCI 495 (the capstone for the Integrated Science Major), continuing new faculty orientation series, planning third year faculty workshop, presenting a paper at a national conference, supporting the review of the capstone course for the new Liberals Arts and Sciences for Teaching major.   AD Gary Stark will assist faculty with the personnel review and annual salary adjustment processes, interview candidates in Communications and Modern Languages, monitor Round 2 scheduling, and work with unit heads on visiting positions for 2010-11. May 2010 ring in new opportunities for you personally to chart the course that brings you professional fulfillment and finds you an even more vital role in the college and university.  Happy New Year!  

From Pushcart to Plays: The Prolific Work of Austin Bunn

by Monica Johnstone, Dir. of CLAS Communications and Advancement  

Austin Bunn, assistant professor of writing, has a lot on the boil.  A short story entitled "Everything, All At Once," was first published in the June 2008 issue of The Sun  and then  won a prestigious Pushcart Prize and has been included in the  2010 Pushcart Anthology.   While all of this was going on, Austin published "Greifer" in a short story magazine called Zoetrope (yes, related to Coppola who now has the film rights).  In this story a young married man is obsessed with online gaming.  The long-running game which has claimed the character's attention is being turned off, depopulated, and provides a increasingly apocalyptic scenario.  This work of speculative fiction was "thought strange", Austin tells me,  by some other literary magazines but found a happy home at Zoetrope. In addition to writing and teaching short fiction, Austin also teaches playwriting.  He's had his work produced in New York, Indiana, Iowa, New Jersey, Minnesota and Michigan as well as scripting "Kill Your Darlings" for a film. Last November, as part of the GRAM's Whistler exhibit, he was invited to provide a "dramatized lecture".  What resulted was a 20 minute, two-person play called "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies" (a nod to a book by the same title written by Whistler  in 1890).    As the program explains, "In 1877, the American artist James Whistler sued the critic John Ruskin for condemning Whistler's Nocture in Black and Gold as 'flinging a pot of paint in the public's face.' Whistler won his case.  Later that year, while sketching one evening on the banks of the Thames, Whistler encounters a mysterious woman determined to decide the matter for herself."   Ralph Lister and Amy Osborn played the characters James and Kate.  Called "Fun and flirty" by the GR Press, the performance played to a packed house. Austin looks forward to collaborating with the GRAM again in 2010 for Theatre Month (February). While sitting in his office listening to Austin describe his work, you are struck with two things: Austin's energetic pace and sheets of paper taped to the edges of his shelves.  On closer inspection, these seem to be inspiration pieces-poems and passages from the work of others.  Austin jokes that he needs an interior designer, but I suspect that no amount of trendy staging is going to compete with the necessary place of words in his environment.