CLAS Acts July 2013

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Faculty E-newsletter July 2013
Vol. 6, issue 12 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.

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

I have a lot of pleasurable duties as the founding dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, but here's one that's really remarkable.  It is my great pleasure to declare the 10th anniversary celebration of our college officially open!  Over the coming year there will be time for all kinds of events.  I want to make sure we take time for reflection. But I don't want this anniversary to be primarily looking backward.  Our emphasis will be on where we are today, and where we are going, on our way to offering the best undergraduate liberal education in any public comprehensive university in the country.  This year, the centerpiece of our celebrations will be the many exciting events put on by our departments.  We hope that you will make it a point not only to explore the great events that the college sponsors, such as our Teaching Roundtables and Faculty Research Colloquium, but also to take in some of the fascinating programming put on by our departments-all of which deserve a large and diverse audience.   Parading down the blue bar to the left of this column are a few of these compelling events.  We will continue making our various calls for bringing everyone along, so please e-mail us on so we can add your departmental event to the festivities. First, to help me put the stopper in the previous academic year, some thank yous are in order. 

• Thank you to all of you who have a hand in finishing off the fiscal year-our first emphasis is always on education, but to be able to continue doing that at the highest level possible, balancing the books is a humble but necessary task.  I know it'll come as a shock to those who haven't done it themselves, but it's a task that is not always bundles of fun.  Thank you for doing what not everyone likes to do, all for the betterment of our students and colleagues.  • We also appreciate all of you who provided information for the Presidential Honor Roll.  Your assistance allows us to see and describe the full scope of the really impactful community contribution we are making.  Wait, that makes it sound too much like a dental condition; instead let me say that we are, in many irreplaceable ways, changing our communities for the better. And as you know, we are often called upon to explain to the public the breadth of what we do, and the height of what we accomplish.  Your help makes that possible.  • Thank you to the teachers and volunteers who participated in the second G3 Camp.  Your inventiveness is inspiring the next generation of students and helping their families better understand how well we do things here.  Whether the power on campus is on or off, courtesy of the random errant backhoe, the intellectual power our volunteers lend always shines brightly.

I'd also like to thank the CLAS on the Green committee, volunteers, golfers and sponsors.  We exceeded last year's total and through your efforts, we are now past 40% of the amount needed to "vest" the CLAS scholarship fund so that it may begin paying out.  • A big thanks to all of the unit heads who cast an eye over our inaugural pull of data from Digital Measures for use in the annual report.  We definitely learned some things-such as to urge everyone to include the DATE of your scholarly and creative achievements when you input-but even these minor setbacks showed us that we can make use of the database for purposes that we once had to request from the faculty. 

Thank you for the pictures you sent for our website and publications, too.  It's important these days to show "action shots" of learning and teaching. The feature article this month is about syllabi.  Many of you might be gearing up to tweak yours, which makes it timely and helpful to talk about ways the syllabus functions-I mean not only its functions during the term, but how it protects you and your students afterwards, too.  New faculty will find this a great starting place to find suggested language on several important topics. June turned out to be a month full of news, so we've provided links to the news stories.  Congratulations to all of our student and faculty newsmakers who are enriching learning and, not wholly incidentally, strengthening our reputation through their achievements, initiatives, and talents.

So, the 10th Anniversary!  This is going to be a spectacular year.  Not only will the new library (now open!) bring some fantastic new teaching and learning opportunities, we are going to be searching for the next Padnos endowed chair in Art (and several other searches), watching the science building take shape, enjoying a vibrant lineup in the Fall Arts Celebration, and engaging in some 2020 foresight.  Brilliant faculty accomplishments will blink on and light the way, new leaders will emerge, curriculum will be developed, students will have wonderful new opportunities and, whatever the state of the State, we will continue to move forward to our overall goal.  Which is-let's hear it, everybody!-to offer the best undergraduate liberal education in any public comprehensive university in the country. Until we feel the soft cool breath of fall (or the puffing breath of deans helping with move-in), I wish you many more summer adventures (and don't forget the sunscreen)!  

What the Deans are Doing in July

Dean Antczak notes, "July is a month of preparatory meetings as we turn from looking back at 2012-13 and begin looking at 2013-14.  I'll be meeting 1-on-1 with way more than half of the unit heads to discuss their goals for the coming year.  The deans will meet with the new ECS/UAS leadership team to see how we can collaborate and support each other's efforts.  Provost's Cabinet meets, as does the PSM committee, and, for that matter, the Board of Trustees-and that doesn't get us halfway into the month.  I'll be doing freshman orientation some more, and the transfer committee meets. And of course one of the big tasks of the last part of the month is to issue contracts for fall semester.  The big wheel of time keeps turning!" In July, Associate Dean Shaily Menon will complete deans office reviews of self-study and assessment reports submitted this summer for 8 programs. She will communicate relevant feedback to unit heads and submit final documents to UAC by the deadline of August 1. In addition, Shaily will plan 1st, 2nd and 3rd year faculty orientation seminars and other college events for 2013-14, help with organizing CLAS 10th anniversary celebration events, work on space related issues, proofread the CLAS annual report, and participate in a meeting with the ECS/UAS leadership team. As part of her outreach activities, Shaily will work with Ruth Stegeman on community engagement opportunities and attend a meeting of the Pierce Cedar Creek Institute Board of Trustees. She will continue to develop course materials and service learning projects for Environmental Ethics which she will teach as a Gen Ed Issues course for the first time in Fall 2013. Associate Dean Gary Stark will monitor enrollment for Fall and Winter and assist units with procuring additional staffing if needed, plan the August unit heads retreat, work with the provost and the dean to finalize authorized positions and inform units of upcoming searches, review sabbatical eligibility lists, attend meeting of the Provosts Cabinet, meet with the dean and unit heads to review goals for the upcoming year, and write a book review and a conference paper. Associate Dean Mary Schutten will be gathering data from units on out-of-state experiential learning for an annual report to the Provost's Office. She will be supporting student success by working with units who use mathematics as a prerequisite to clarify the mathematics placement processes to enhance advising of students.  She continues to work on student issues, support the work of the CLAS Academic Advising Center especially related to the Student Success Collaborative.  She will maintain involvement in registration and orientation activities, implement prerequisite errors processes, meet with the dean and unit heads to review goals for the upcoming year, and will continue to consult on curriculum proposals.  
Fall Arts Celebration Schedule WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11 5-7 p.m. Art Opening Reception "Cyril Lixenberg: An Artist's Journey" ART GALLERY, PAC Exhibition runs: Aug. 23-Nov. 1   MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 16 8 p.m. "Music from La Belle Époque: Chamber Music for Winds from Turn-of the- Century Paris" LOUIS ARMSTRONG THEATRE, PAC MONDAY, OCTOBER 7
7 p.m. Lecture-- Laurie Garrett "I Heard the Sirens Scream" 2ND FL L.V. EBERHARD CENTER, ROBERT C. PEW GRAND RAPIDS CAMPUS FRIDAY, OCTOBER 25 7 p.m. "An Evening of Poetry and Conversation with Christian Wiman and Pattiann Rogers" 2ND FL L.V. EBERHARD CENTER, ROBERT C. PEWGRAND RAPIDS CAMPUS MONDAY, NOVEMBER 4 8 p.m. Dance-- "Memories of Summer - The American Identity in Dance" LOUIS ARMSTRONG THEATRE, PAC MONDAY, DECEMBER 9
8 p.m. Holiday Celebration "A Very English Christmas: Music of the Season from the British Isles" FOUNTAIN STREET CHURCH


Syllabus For the Record--The Syllabus and You 

In addition to announcing the rules of the road for your courses, the ubiquitous syllabus functions in several ways that many have never had cause to consider.  Beyond announcing class policies, office hours, contact details, course texts, and policies ranging from late work to attendance, the syllabus contains information that establishes expectations in a range of areas-from grade calculations (what's an A, a B, etc., and how grades are figured)  to arrangements for disability accommodations to inclusive behavior.  Some of these elements protect the instructor as well as the student.  For instance, establishment of these expectations may help avoid student complaints or may protect the instructor should a student file a complaint with the dean's office.  Associate Dean Mary Schutten notes that when a student files a grade complaint, one of the first things she does is have a look at the course syllabus.  The situation is never helped by a syllabus missing some of its parts, especially one missing the grading scale.  Similarly, the Disability Support Resources website speaks of the importance of the syllabus in the shared responsibility to appropriately accommodate students with documented need: "Faculty/staff should state on the syllabus that students inform them of their special needs to ensure that those needs are met in a timely manner.  This approach demonstrates to students that you are someone who is sensitive to and concerned about meeting the needs of ALL students you teach. Such an invitation to discuss individual needs can go a long way toward encouraging the student with a disability to approach the instructor early." Mary explains that the third area that comes up repeatedly is academic integrity.  "When plagiarism or some other issue involving academic integrity has been detected--and there is no academic integrity statement--well, in its absence, students tend to claim ignorance of policy or faculty expectation." Well-constructed syllabi not only help students navigate course expectations, they also support students' future education.  When a syllabus contains all the information required in the Faculty Handbook, questions about final exam times, office hours and many other details are easily accessible.  Should a student leave GVSU for any reason, they will find that transfer credits are more likely to be granted by other institutions when the course syllabus does a good job of representing what a course covers, the text used, the credit hours and other important basic information.  Happily, there are resources faculty can use to improve their syllabi.  As an outgrowth of its Out-of-the-Box series, the CLAS Faculty Council has developed a webpage on academic integrity which includes syllabus statement samples.  The Faculty Teaching and Learning Center (FTLC) has syllabus resources available:

Resources for course development, syllabus preparation, and other topics: see FTLC Creating a syllabus for a new course: see FTLC The Syllabus of Record can also be an important resource.  This "rules of the game" document, which individual faculty use as a touchstone when developing their own class syllabi, contains the minimum objectives establishing consistency across multiple sections, continuity when the professor who developed the course leaves GVSU, and provides information to other institutions for transfer equivalencies.  The Syllabus of Record is also used for accreditation of departments, teacher certification, and here at GV there is an emerging trend to see requests for our SORs when other colleges are doing curriculum mapping. The reality is that not every course at GVSU has a perfectly up-to-date SOR just waiting to be utilized for all these purposes, so the University Curriculum Committee is working to improve this state of affairs.  A memorandum was sent March 22, 2013 from the UCC chair on Syllabus of Record Fast Track Processing ( Syllabus of Record Fast-Track Processing posted 03/26/13) with guidelines ( Syllabus of Record Guidelines updated 11/30/11).  While academic freedom means that there will be differences between sections, having a shared understanding of the range of difference and the shared commonalities in a course of many sections or the courses in a major is worthwhile. After all, students certainly make these comparisons.