CLAS Acts July 2010

Jodee Hunt in Nicaragua

July 2010
Volume 3, Issue 10

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  

Confirmed Speakers for the 50th Anniversary Distinguished Academic Lecturer series: Jill Ker Conway Author, First Woman President of Smith University, has served on many boards such as Nike Foundation, Colgate-Palmolive, Merrill Lynch & Co. etc.
September 30, 2010, 2

 August 28 The West Michigan Whitecaps will host the Women in Baseball night featuring the GVSU Veteran's History Project and its special project on the WWII era women's baseball league.                                                   

From the Dean's Desk

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

Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better. 
~Albert Camus

In the lead up to Independence Day, the campus is a little quieter and parking a little easier and all the while the behind-the- scenes work continues and 12 month employees sneak in a few vacation days. 

Thanks to the good work of unit heads (and acknowledging the invaluable help of Assistant Dean for Budget, Pat Haynes), we are closing out our financial year solvently.  Others have arrangements underway for fall events such as Grand Valley's 50th anniversary celebration (be sure to have August 24 saved on your calendar),  the Fall Arts Celebration which features your music, dance, art and communications colleagues-and some wonderful writers,  New faculty Orientation,  our science-theme Mindgating offerings at Homecoming, and  the Distinguished Alumni-in-Residence Program. 

This is also a time of transition.  Our colleague Paula Wicklund is going to join the team at the Annis Water Resources Institute (AWRI) in her hometown Muskegon.  In her three and a half years in our office, we have come to love her wicked sense of humor and the diplomatic talents that earned her the nickname 'student whisperer'.  Please join us in wishing her well in her new role in another part of CLAS.  And join us in a big welcome to Roxanne Mol who will join the Deans Office around the 19th.

Even in this quieter time of the academic year, the accolades continue to roll in for the work of our staff, students and faculty.  For instance, Jim Schaub's documentary film Up From the Bottoms was discussed on the Tom Joyner Morning Show which boasts an audience of 8 million.  The National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT)-U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Cooperative Summer Field Training Program, which I'm told is the longest continuously running internship program in the earth sciences, will this year include Christie Barszewski (B.S. Geology, GVSU, 2009).  John Kilbourne (MOV) continues to receive positive media coverage of his experiments which shake up our understanding of what it means to do desk work-most recently with standing-height desks.  Our annual request to know "what's next?' from our graduating seniors indicates that we are having great success placing our students in medical school, many different graduate programs, and interesting jobs and overseas programs.

CLAS was the star of its own video at this year's Enrichment Dinner (June 8).  Produced by University Development to feature our college for the 1,500 donors in attendance, this short film showcases our students, faculty, alumni and (gulp) dean in our relationship to the liberal education mission of the university.  Many thanks to our first Udall Scholar and sociology major Ashley Keller, History's Craig Benjamin, CLAS Alumni Board member Ed Cardenas, and many others who participated despite the tight shooting schedule.

I'm sure that you have many plans for your time over the summer, but please allow me to plug a couple activities which can benefit your career in the longer term.  First, a little time spent now on filling out your profile in Digital Measures will be well repaid later.  When it comes time to provide your FAR or an up-to-date vita for an award application, you'll be glad you did.  Also, we'd like to be able to make optimal use of Digital Measures as a tool to tailor communications and opportunities to relevant people.  The Deans Office would like to stop asking your unit head, who can stop asking you, for information that we can "self-serve" from the database when the university needs to report on service activities and the like.  Second, I'd like to encourage you to blow your own horn-and to do it in a timely manner.  While the achievements of the faculty are often built over months and years, "news" can be a more fleeting thing.  If you have some recent news to share, why not shoot us an e-mail today ( ? Here's wishing you a happy 4th and opportunities to enjoy the long days.    

What the Deans are Doing in July

For Dean Antczak, July is a month thick with meetings with department chairs, to discuss their own goals for the coming year in alignment with unit strategic plans.  "I've been meeting parents of incoming students at orientation, and will also meet with the West Michigan Humanities Council to discuss a humanities festival in 2011, and also with the Sustainable Community Development Initiative Advisory Council.  I'll be meeting with the Transfer Committee, and all the CLAS deans will be meeting with our opposite numbers at GRCC to work on transfer issues.  I'll be meeting with the internship office to try to increase opportunities.  And then at the end of the month begins the huge process of signing contracts, as the calendar wheel turns again."

AD Gary Stark will continue to monitor 2010-11 enrollments and course availability, analyze the use of reassigned time in CLAS, organize the August unit heads retreat, facilitate faculty use of Digital Measures, and compile a Handbook for CLAS adjuncts. During the month of July,

AD  Mary Schutten will continue to complete the alignment process for the CLAS strategic plan and collaborate with Provost's Office to develop an alignment process for the units to use during the upcoming AY,  coordinate the school health education minor, and facilitate any student appeals.  She will also continue to implement and assess degree cognate substitution requests, support MyPath implementation, submit a manuscript  for body mass, socioeconomic standing, fitness and academic achievement, as well as author the school health education report for NCATE. 

AD Jann Joseph will be working on the revision of the new faculty mentoring program and the preparation new faculty orientation, completing work on the library committee, serving on the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellows advisory board and evaluation team, reviewing for the NSF TUES program, and addressing existing space and safety issues.

Faculty Feature

Making Sustainability Ripples with Jodee Hunt and Friends

Jodee Hunt, Professor of Biology and self-described "wet person" knows better than most that a stone dropped into a pond creates many ripples.  Not only does her faculty web page show her sporting hip waders, her in-with-both-feet approach to sustainability has sent ripples as far as Nicaragua.

Despite limited international travel experience prior to 2007 and armed with only a tenacious enthusiasm to learn Spanish, Jodee joined her intrepid collaborators Paul Lane (Marketing) and John Farris (Engineering) on a trip through Nicaragua to explore the possibilities for sustainable eco-tourism.  Paul and John are involved with Estelí Innovation through the Padnos International Center. Several grant- and self-funded trips to this largest of Central American countries have provided additional opportunities to serve both science and the local people simultaneously.  Known as biodiversity hotspot and situated in the tropics between 11 and 14 degrees north of the equator, Nicaragua has proved a rewarding challenge. 

Subsequent visits continued to open up possibilities within and outside of the original collaboration. During the most recent academic year, Jodee has made two solo trips to Estelí, Nicaragua to work on educational and sustainability projects with the faculty of the Facultad Regional Multidisciplinaria (FAREM).  These trips marked not only a transition between "trip participant" and "independent expedition leader" but also a reliance on Jodee's increasing Spanish skills. 

Having performed a literature review including highly interdisciplinary material often unavailable online or in English, Jodee was able to provide a workshop which will be the basis for additional scholarly work with her Nicaraguan colleagues on the contemporary theory, practices and analyses of ecotourism and its sustainability with an emphasis on Central America.  They were also able to work together to develop appropriate interdisciplinary curriculum materials in Environmental Science. In addition to the scholarly review, extensive trips into areas such as the remote Milaflora region have provided Jodee with connections and data that help to undergird Jodee's work in support of appropriate eco-tourism.  These trips help her to understand the differing interests and needs of travelers including backpackers without specialized knowledge of the area, international birders who tend to have deeper pockets and a strong sense of their own environmental impact and those in the category of volunteer tourism with focused missions of various lengths. The developing bond between Jodee and the faculty of FAREM has lead to opportunities such as touring their experimental farm and biological field station and encouragement to develop workshops on experimental design.  

Jodee calls the increasingly collegial relationship a breakthrough and says, "I feel very optimistic about the future of my collaboration with them and the potential for conducting collaborative research as well as continuing our other projects." Thankful for the PIC Internationalization Grant that helped to fund her May 2010 trip, Jodee sees that it not only helped in her own development, but enabled her to assist the Nicaraguan faculty.  They rarely hold PhD degrees but are keen to explore the possibilities of hypothetical deductive methodology, experimental design and statistics that are the stock in trade of our scientists.  Nicaraguan students also got a taste of the collaborative research approach that we so much value at GVSU and a break from their more traditional lecture-based model.  19 FAREM faculty and students in a workshop in Estelí have certainly felt the ripples that originated in Allendale.